[OPE-L:2489] Re: Re: Copy of Hugo's paper

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Mon Mar 06 2000 - 12:10:59 EST

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Hugo noted:

>The most important implication of these developments is that they reflect a
>more integrated global labour market of a very particular kind: one in
>which, with some exceptions, labour itself is not mobile, but capital and
>commodities are...
>The competitive pressures transmitted through international flows of money,
>capital and goods have generated sharp increases in rates of exploitation
>of labour.

The globalization of production, as allowed by reduced telecommunication
and transportion costs, may be quite important as a fetter on labor saving
technology the advancement of which has been the historical mission of
capitalism. Since machinery is only adopted if it costs less than the
value of labor power (not the total labor time) it replaces, Marx showed
for the first time that it follows that it may well not pay to buy any
machinery especially where the value of labor power is low (this is of
course the critique of Babbage who equated capitalist rationality with the
choice of labor saving technique). The argument must be something like that
as the gap widens between the value of labor power and total labor
time--that is as the rate of exploitation increases--it becomes more
difficult to justify adoption of technology by which total labor time would
be reduced since capital is already paying so little for labor power.
Globalization now allows even a further leap forward in the devaluation of
labor power. But that's just an intuition that would have to be worked out

At any rate, from this perspective, it is possible that the globalization
of production is encouraging technological regress or at least stagnation.
Only if surplus value or the wage form were abolished could the total labor
basis for calcuations on the adoption of machinery be greatly augmented and
the advances in mechanization correspond fully to the full technical
knowledge of humankind. This task is quite complicated by globalization
though perhaps made more urgent thereby. Nonetheless, proletarian
revolution on a global scale would be the greatest of productive forces by
destroying the capitalist relations of production.

Yours, Rakesh

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