[OPE-L:2589] Re: class demarcation

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Wed Mar 22 2000 - 07:20:43 EST

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 13:11:33 +0100
From: Ernesto Screpanti <screpanti@unisi.it>

Jerry wrote in [2549]

>A short and belated response to Ernesto's [OPE-L:2507]:
>> Let me focus on the problem of class demarcation. The question is not
>> wether workers' savings enable them to achieve some social mobility. The
>> theoretical problem is: if you define the capitalist class as made up of
>> the owners of capital, then a worker who saves and owns some wealth (and
>> earns a proportion od surplus value in the form of interest payment) is not
>> different from the capitalist. It might be a quantitative difference (small
>> or big wealth) but not a qualitative one.
>> This is why I hold that the class demarcation critirion is not ownership,
>> but control of the labour process.
>I don't think that the issue is whether class is defined in terms of
>ownership *or* control (since no one has suggested that class can be
>defined _only_ in terms of ownership of the means of production) but
>whether it is to be defined in terms of ownership *and* control (or not).
>> Then a worker who owns some wealth and even some shares of "his" company,
>> remains an exploited worker so long as he has to obey the employer in the
>> factory.
>Even when workers (through some kind of profit-sharing system, for
>example) have some "ownership" in a corporation, the level of ownership is
>generally marginal and they don't have ownership *and* control.

It is not a question of marginal ownership. One could imagine a situation
in which the workers have, through a pension fond, the majority among the
shareholders', and yet have no control on the managers of their comapany. A
more dramatic case is when the workers have total ownership of nation's
capital, through the "socialist" state property, and yet they have no
control on the "soviets" and therefore on the labour process.

>In solidarity,

Ernesto Screpanti
Dipartimento di Economia Politica
Piazza S. Francesco 1
53100 Siena
tel: 0577 232784
fax: 0577 232661

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