Re Allin's 5279]: > It's a statistical issue. If you want to know, > How much SNLT did worker X perform in > the last 2 hours? then there may well be no > good answer (although if X is working in a > production line context, or otherwise closely > supervised, and if she's working for an employer > of roughly average profitability, then "2 hours > worth" is probably not too far off). But if the > question is, How much SNLT is embodied in, > say, a Ford Taurus, then the clock-time measure > is quite reasonable: the car embodies a wide > variety of different sorts of labour, and, in > the absence of information to the contrary, it's > reasonable to suppose that divergences > between actual hours spent and SNLT will > roughly cancel out. As Rieu  suggested, this doesn't really confront the issue I raised. To begin with, this is not most fundamentally a "statistical issue" -- rather, it is an analytical issue. Your example of a Ford Taurus is interesting. This model, an example of a "world car" (a trend that began in the early 1980's), is built -- I believe -- in a number of different plants in different countries. In the case of all such instances of the production of "world cars" by transnational automobile corporations, it has long been known that *even where the technology remains the same* the assembly labor requirements differ very significantly depending on what country the production facility is located in. What accounts for this divergence? Most fundamentally, it is a result of significantly different intensities of labor. What, then, determines the divergence in the intensity of labor in different firms, regions, and/or nations? I would assert that the two main determinants are: 1) *the size of the industrial reserve army* as a proportion of the total working population. Viewed internationally, there are very wide divergences in the size of the IRA and, relatedly, the prevalence of mass poverty. An increased size in the IRA helps capitalist firms to raise the intensity of labor because it increases their bargaining power vis-a-vis workers. In the case of countries where the size of the IRA is particularly high (NB: where often trade unionization rates are relatively low) the loss of a job can come to represent more than a short-term hardship -- it can be tantamount to a death sentence (not only for the worker but for other members of her/his family). To the extent that the IRA is systematically larger in less developed capitalist economies than in more advanced capitalist economies, this can be expected to lead to systematic and significant variations in the intensity of labor internationally, ceteris paribus. But, the ceteris paribus assumption must be dropped so that we can comprehend the next major determinant, which unlike 1) above, does not primarily concern the logic of capital alone but instead concerns the dynamics of class struggle. 2) While capital everywhere attempts to increase the intensity of labor, its success depends critically on the *resistance of the working class*. The resistance to speed-up is a major part of the day-to-day struggle between capital and labor whether that struggle takes place on the factory floor or in an office. The resistance of the working class to attempts to increase the intensity of labor varies *in terms of its effectiveness* on two critical related factors: a) the solidarity of the workers; b) the militancy of the workers. Of course, a major factor for a)-b) is whether the workers are organized in trade unions. This should, after all, be remembered because it is *not* the case that the majority of workers in all regions and nations of the world economy are members of trade unions. Moreover, trade unions vary significantly internationally in terms of "quality" (i.e. a-b). Thus, there are significant differences in labor intensity internationally that are attributable to how effectively workers organize against speed- up. The extent to which there is or is not *international solidarity* is also a major determinant of the intensity of labor which should not be forgotten. What 2) helps us recall is that what is "socially necessary" is determined in large part by class struggle. And it helps remind us that workers in different nations have different "cultures" that are in large part a consequence of the history of class struggle in each nation. This might mean, in consequence, that the more advanced capitals in terms of the productivity of labor due to technological change might at the same time have a lower intensity of labor *if* the size of the IRA is smaller in the region and/or country *and* if workers are less successful in terms of resisting attempts by capital to increase the intensity of labor. To ignore these factors is tantamount to assuming a uniform percentage of the working population in each country that are members of the IRA in every capitalist nation *and* that the solidarity and militancy of the working class is uniform across regions and nations. Both of these assumptions are clearly counter-factual and can be easily refuted by the empirical and historical evidence. For the above stated reasons, I don't find your answer to be satisfactory. This, then, returns me to the original questions asked: *how is SNLT measured? * what is the "solution" to [this aspect of] the "SNLT problem"? In solidarity, Jerry PS to Charlie re : you ask: [measuring value] "cannot be done in an anarchic capitalist economy, no?". You haven't given me enough of a reason why you believe that value can't be measured for me to respond to yet. Please expand upon what you wrote. Thanks.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Apr 02 2001 - 09:57:30 EDT