[OPE-L:2497] Re: The employment contract

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Wed Mar 08 2000 - 11:00:01 EST

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Re Ernesto's [2496]:

> Here is the second problem with Marxian theory of capitalism I hinted at a
> few weeks ago: *The class demarcation problem*.
> Marx - In capitalism there are two typical social classes: the capitalists
> and the workers.

Marx: In capitalism there are *at least* two major social classes.

[For instance, Marx was quite adamant that landowners are "one of the
three great classes of modern society based on the capitalist mode of
production" (_Capital_, Volume 3, Penguin ed., p. 1025). He is also
adamant in the "Critique of a Gotha Programme" that landowners constitute
a distinct social class.

I also think that Marx would have insisted on including the
"petty-bourgeoisie" as a distinct, although not "great" , social class
associated with capitalism. Among other reasons, the existence of the
petty-bourgeoisie is important for explaining the process of increasing
proletarianization that accompanies the concentration, centralization, and
accumulation of capital.]

> Mrs Thatcher - Please define them.

I don't think that Marx would give Mrs. Thatcher the time of day let alone
getting into a serious discussion with her.. Indeed, I think that the
disdain that he would have had for her would be equal to or greater than
the disdain that he had for "Parson Malthus".

> Marx - The capitalists are the owners of the means of production, the
> workers are the owners of nothing.

The working class owns their own labour power. This is part of the meaning
of "free labour".
> Marx - Because they are compelled (by their inability to control the means
> of labour and the means of living) to accept the condition of wage labourers.

Marx would not be so careful about avoiding the term "means of
> Mrs Thatcher - Why are they not able to accumulate their own wealth?
> Marx - Because their income is a subsistence wage, so that their
> saving propensity is nil.

The assumption of zero savings by workers is a simplifying assumption
which can be relaxed at a more concrete level of abstraction. And, of
course, the "subsistence wage" is not really a "subsistence wage" since it
includes a "moral" and "cultural" component.

> Mrs Thatcher - Fine! You are ready to enrole in my party.

Marx would not be amused!
> Marx - What is your party program?
> Mrs Thatcher - I hold that in modern capitalism there are no longer any
> social classes in your sense, or, at least, that there is a tendency to
> abilish class differences. My party aims at accelerating the process.
> Marx - How is it possible to abolish class differences in capitalism?
> Mrs Thatcher - Very simple. Wages are no longer subsistence incomes. The
> workers save and accumulate capital.

Marx - simply because workers save some portion of their wage does not
mean that they "accumulate capital". Please do not assert the false and
reactionary claim that capital is a result of the "thrift" of the
capitalists. That is a position of the political economists that I have
put pen to paper to ridicule.

> Their income is made up of wages and
> surplus value. Just like the capitalists.

Marx - I knew I shouldn't have wasted my time talking to you! [Marx was a
man who was not known for suffering fools gladly].

> A manager, on the other hand,
> receives a salary for his work in the firm and, possibly, some dividend
> from his shares. Everybody is a capitalist and a worker at the same time.
> The differences are in degree, in income brackets, not in quality. There
> could be pure rentiers (as Keynes used to complain). But certainly this is
> not a social class in your sense.

> Marx - My pupil Vladimir used to speak of "worker aristocracy" ...

Hmmm. Now that would make an interesting hypothetical lunch date -- what
would Marx and Lenin say to each other?
> Mrs Thatcher- I would not dare making an aristocracy with the workers. I
> would be quite satisfied with accelerating the historical process that
> transforms all of them into capitalists.


> Enters Engels - Karl you certainly did not read Capital, vol III.
> Marx - Volume III? Who wrote it?

Marx to Fred E: don't you remember what I wrote about the "artistic
whole"? If only I could have lived another ten years then I could have
finished Book One and then written the remaining five books on
"Economics". Unfortunately, I am deceased. Which reminds me -- I have to
return to Highgate Cemetery now. It was good talking to you, Fred. I hope
that reactionary Thatcher is dead like us. Gotta go. Bye.

In solidarity, Jerry

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