[OPE-L:5439] Re: the intensity of labor and surplus value (again)

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Date: Thu Apr 26 2001 - 18:12:12 EDT

In response to this comment by Paul C, 

>> The only three ways the rate of surplus value
>> can change are
>> 1. changes in the length of the working day
>> 2. cheapening or dearing of the wage bundle in
>> labour terms
>> 3. changing the wage bundle in real terms

Jerry writes

>These are not the 'only' ways in which the
>rate of surplus value can change: the rate of
>surplus value will also change when there is
>a change in the intensity of labor.

But changing the intensity of labor leads directly to effect (2) above by
altering the socially necessary labor time embodied in the wage bundle. It
might also indirectly lead to effect (3) by changing the average caloric
requirements of workers, or effect (1) by making it possible to extend the
working day (because workers are expending *less* effort per hour) or
making it necessary to reduce the working day (because workers are
expending so much extra effort per hour that they're too exhausted to
perform well in the marginal hours).  Bottom line, changes in labor
intensity would necessarily show up in at least 1 of Paul's 3.  Gil 

>As we have discussed previously, there are
>*international and regional* variations in the
>intensity of labor which then lead to international
>and regional variations in the rate of surplus value.
>The intensity of labor, I would suggest, also
>varies over the course of the *business cycle*,
>e.g. the bargaining power of management
>vis-a-vis labor tends to be increased with the 
>increase in the industrial reserve army that 
>accompanies the contraction which helps to 
>increase management's ability to squeeze more 
>surplus value out of workers be speeding them 
>The assumption that there is a uniform intensity
>of labor is defied by capitalists the world
>over who constantly seek (with varying rates
>of success and failure) to increase the intensity
>of labor.  Capitalists and workers both
>recognize the importance of struggles over the
>intensity of  labor -- so should we.
>In solidarity, Jerry

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