[OPE-L:5280] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: state and workers'ownership and (un)productive labor

From: paul bullock (paulbullock@ebms-ltd.in2home.co.uk)
Date: Wed Mar 28 2001 - 16:45:58 EST

Dear Gerry,

I shall be rather too busy in the coming period to keep up with further threads, but if you will allow me to end this one by adding a comment, that is, I think that (1) one must be very careful not to mistake the legal form for the economic relation. and (2) The notion that value of constant capital can be reproduced in an industry without the addition of surplus value is a  negation - in thought - of the capital relation (ie given the pre existing socially necessary labour time for the reproduction of those commodities  consumed to reproduce labour power itself, and the normal working day), seems to me very mistaken.
Best wishes

Paul Bullock.
    -----Original Message-----
    From: Gerald_A_Levy <Gerald_A_Levy@msn.com>
    To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
    Date: 27 March 2001 13:30
    Subject: [OPE-L:5274] Re: Re: Re: Re: state and workers'ownership and (un)productive labor
    Re [5272]:
    Paul (B) -- thanks for the stimulating engagement. 
    On the question of nationalization, I will now modify
    my position as follows:
    1) Due to transient and exceptional circumstances,
    the capitalist state may come to temporarily direct and own a capitalist enterprise. The reasons for 
    these actions by individual nation-states have
    been discussed in previous posts but tend to either
    be specific to an individual capitalist nation and/or
    2) When there are nationalizations under the
    circumstances previously discussed, the state 
    takes, in effect,  "temporary custody"  of the
    enterprise. While in "foster care" by the state,
    the state tends to continue to operate the enterprise 
    in the same manner as it was operated when it
    was under private ownership and control. During
    this time -- similar in some ways to when firms
    go into "receivership" when declaring bankruptcy
    -- there is "capital in seek of an owner" as the
    state seeks to arrange for a buyer. Due to the
    specific circumstances this might be a protracted
    period and the state may come to (temporarily)
    resign itself to continued ownership.
    3) Whether the enterprise, now directed by agents
    of the state,  realizes surplus value and profit
    depends -- most fundamentally -- on whether the
    value created is greater than the VLP and the value
    transferred by the means of production. I.e. it
    depends on whether surplus labor time has been
    expended and whether the commodity output is
    sold (at value). There is no guarantee that this will
    take place. And, indeed, due to the exceptional
    circumstances that occurred prior to being taken-
    over by the state, the state may resign itself for
    a period of years to owning a firm which is not
    profitable and indeed might have to be operated
    temporarily at a loss. Once a surplus is generated,
    the state would, as we would anticipate, come to
    expect  that it will be re-paid out of profits for its 
    previous financing.  
    4) One might view this anomaly of nationalization
    as a productive appendage which is temporarily
    attached to an unproductive shell. [NB: we are
    *only* talking now about a specific type of
    nationalization where the nature of commodity
    production remains constant]. A further
    anomaly concerns the payment of wages. To the
    extent that the wage-laborers at the nationalized
    industry are paid checks issued by the state and
    are now officially state employees, then it would
    seem that wages are exchanged with revenue (i.e.
    out of state funds). Yet to the extent that this
    is only an accounting convention and that the firm 
    remains a capitalist enterprise, one could say that
    wages are really exchanged with capital.
    5) A crucial question in terms of whether there
    will be continued surplus value production is whether
    there is productive consumption of s and thereby
    continued accumulation of capital. If, for
    example, the state does not invest in c and v at
    the enterprise and instead siphons s off for 
    (unproductive) state expenditure outside of the
    enterprise (i.e. for other state activities), then
    this could limit or prevent the generation of 
    continued s at the enterprise. Yet, the state 
    understands well that this would cost them in the
    longer-term even more money than they would gain 
    in the short-term and thus the state acts to
    accumulate capital at the enterprise level and
    thereby increase investment in c and v. Of
    course, none of this can happen unless the
    enterprise "turns the corner" and actually
    becomes profitable again.
    6) Once it becomes obvious that the enterprise 
    is now capable of earning at least the average
    rate of profit, then demands for de-nationalization
    grow.  However, as you suggest, it may take a
    crisis to force privatization. In any event, 
    these events are all conjunctural and do not
    fundamentally concern "basic theory".
    Note that the above only discussed the issue of
    nationalizations of the specific type that we
    have been discussing. Other issues such as
    roads built by state labor and workers' ownership
    have not been addressed here.
    Once again I want to thank you for your continued
    comments and I, as Fred is fond of writing, look
    forward to further discussion.
    In solidarity, Jerry

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