[OPE-L:4774] Re: RE: SV and the F of D (reply to Paul C.)

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@MAIL.WESLEYAN.EDU)
Date: Sun Jan 14 2001 - 12:11:25 EST

In response to this passage from my discussion with Paul C., 

>>it does not 
>>follow that
>>large-scale production precludes worker self-sufficiency.  
>>Rather, it says
>>that workers can generally (not all production is large-scale) 
>>only achieve
>>self-sufficiency in *groups*, say groups the size of the labor force
>>required in such large-scale productive enterprises.

Julian writes:

>Really? How are the workers at say General Motors to make themselves
>self-sufficient in relation to e.g. the workers at Firestone?
>I suppose you could answer this by saying that the groups have to be
>*really* large -- completely vertically-integrated enterprises. But given
>that, indirectly, virtually every commodity-type enters into the production
>of virtually every other type, I still don't think this strategy would save
>your point.

"Self-sufficiency" is Paul's term, Julian, not mine.  But I wasn't
referring to "autarky", as you seem to suggest here, and I don't think Paul
was either.  "Self-sufficient" was rather used in the sense of "free of the
necessity of working for capitalists."  The point of reference here--and
the starting point for this discussion--is Marx's analysis in Volume I, Ch.
33, where Marx discusses just this issue.  He's clearly *not* saying that
the alternative to working for capitalists was autarky--indeed, in his view
the capitalists' problem in the colonies is that would-be employees became
market competitors.  

>> Alternatively,
>>workers might have ownership shares in several different large-scale
>>enterprises, as envisioned in Roemer's models of market socialism.
>Or as envisioned by those who would like to abolish public pension provision
>and force everyone to "save" for their old age by contributing to private
>investment funds?

No.  This is not at all comparable.  One could have Roemer's system, for
example, along with "public pension provisions," if desired.  

>At the risk of making my point over-pointedly, this seems to say that
>present-day Chile is a workers' paradise.

See above.

>2) I wonder how far the various contributors would agree to the following
>summary (a) to (c) so far:
>a) If the only tools were acres and mules, and we had enough of them, we
>could share them out individually and re-establish simple commodity
>b) History has irretrievably destroyed the first premise of (a), and modern
>tools are "too big" to redistribute to individuals. 

To individual workers perhaps, but not to collectives of workers.  See my
responses to Paul C and John E., which the above comments about Chile and
abolishing public pension provisions don't really engage.

>c) The disagreement is what to do about (b).
>Gil I understand to say that capitalism can be abolished without abolishing
>market relations in respect of commodities (presumably including capital

No, I'm saying something much more specific:  that if it's legitimate to
read Marx as indicating that DOSPA (differential ownership of scarce
productive assets) is a necessary condition for capitalist exploitation--a
point still being discussed--then it follows that sufficient redistribtion
of productive assets would eliminate capitalist exploitation.  The issue
here is what *Marx* argues is the systemic basis of capitalist
exploitation, and what inferences might be drawn from that argument.


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