[OPE-L:2651] RE: slave labour

From: Chai-on Lee (conlee@chonnam.ac.kr)
Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 03:37:49 EST

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Alfredo says:
I am not convinced by Chai-on's argument that the free mobility of labour is
what determines the creation of value. This is probably my fault, but I see
no argument here, only a definition.

Well, let us think about the social function of commodity values. If there is no free mobility of labor, there can be no point even if the commodity values are determined by the labor amounts contained in them.

I tend to agree with Chris, Patrick and Duncan. Slaves produce value if they
are part of a generalised system of commodity production.

If then, automated robot machine could also produce a value. Why not?
If the slaves are part of a generalised system of production, the slave owners might prefer the wage labor system because if the slaves die of a disease, a loss occurs to the capitalist. But capitalists can always replace deteriorated laborers with little cost. Wage laborers will not resist in the generalised slavery system.
Better efficient slaves produce extra profit (not extra surplus value) because the fixed capital is not a variable capital.

The structural disadvantage of slave labour vis-a-vis 'free' wage labour from
the point of view of capital lies on the difficulty to introduce new
technology. Hence, in a competitive struggle slave-owners will tend to lose
because they can produce more absolute surplus value, but less relative
surplus value than wage-paying capitalists.

I agree for a different reason, however.

Slave-owners tend to find it difficult to introduce new technologies because
the slave is *better* able to resist the imposition of (new patterns of) work
than wage workers.

Slavery system is introduced by deteriorated capitalists who need little technology.

The purchase of the slave 'freezes' a substantial capital
value (the purchase of wage labour power involves much less money because
it's for a limited period only). Punishment against slave resistance can be
very harsh, but the slave-owner has to balance the 'incentive' provided to
the slave(s) with the valorisation of his capital; if he kills every
disobedient slave the capitalist may become destitute. The wage-capitalist
has a much easier time: by threatening to dismiss inefficient workers, paying
piece wages, etc, he can obtain more complete control over the labour

Yes. So, the slavery is not appropriate to the capitalist system.
But if the slaves resist, they will become human beings sooner or later. At the moment they are slaves, they are not human beings but animals. The animals that can understand vocabulary.

I think all these questions were already resolved in Marx's life time. Why are they raised again from the burial?

In solidarity


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