[OPE-L:2469] Re: the employment contract and capitalism

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Thu Mar 02 2000 - 09:25:48 EST

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Re Ernesto's [2461]:

> Of course there can be bargaining in a real competitive economy. But if
> competition is of the kind that makes the law of value hold, then there can
> be no bargaining, for commodities !must! exchange at their real market and
> production prices.

The LOV, according to my understanding, does not claim that all
commodities will exchange at their real value or at their prices of
production. Rather, it was claimed that commodities *on average* will
exchange at their value. This, along with the process whereby PofP are
formed, means that there will be a *systematic* deviation of values from
market prices with one set of commodities being sold above their value and
another set of commodities sold below their value. How true or untrue this
is as an empirical matter is another question in which Paul C and Allin
have done some research.

> Does this mean that you do not believe a state ownership system to be a
> capitalist system?

Where state ownership is the predominant form of ownership, I believe you
are no longer talking about a social formation where the capitalist mode
of production dominates.

I agree with Riccardo when he stated elsewhere that generalized commodity
production, the market, and wage-labour and capitalists are all (amongst
other characteristics) distinguishing features of capitalism.
> But I would say that the employment contract necessarily defines
> the boundaries of authority with some imprecision that gives the workers a
> certain degree of freedom to oppose and resist commands. For instance they
> can "shirk", "strike", "sabotate" etc.

Well, I don't think this is a matter of imprecision in the employment
contract. Indeed, most employment contracts state very explicitly what
are "management prerogatives" and "shop rules" (and "labour law"
established by the state) specify what constitutes "insubordination".
Thus workers know that they are not "allowed" to "shirk" or engage in
"sabotage" but they do it anyway if they think it is in their interests
and if they think they have the power to pull it off successfully. This
highlights, once again, how the employment contract *by itself* is
insufficient to establish the command over labor in the production
process. Thus, for example, "supervision" is required to ensure that
workers don't "shirk" and are punished if they do.

In solidarity, Jerry

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