[OPE-L:5443] Re: Re: the intensity of labor and surplus value (again)

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Fri Apr 27 2001 - 06:51:41 EDT

Re Gil's [5439]:

It is your conclusion that I disagree with, Gil.
You claim that the 'bottom line'  is that labor
intensity would 'necessarily' show up in at least
1 of Paul's 3 ways is not supported by what you
write below. Rather,  what you suggest below
is that a change in labor intensity *might*
lead to a change in Paul's 3 ways.  This is a
point I *agree* with, but it is a weaker claim
than your conclusion. (more comments below)

> 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
> altering the socially necessary labor time
> embodied in the wage bundle.

I agree with John E's comment in [5442] here.
Also,  I think that  while the standard for what
is 'socially necessary' in SNLT can change due
to a long-run change in what the 'average amount
of exertion and the usual degree of intensity' is
(see Vol 1, Penguin ed., p. 303), short-run
variations in labor intensity don't normally
change SNLT.  I.e. over a long historical period
labor intensity can lead to a change in SNLT,
by virtue of changing culture and customs
(including class struggle), in regard to what is
the 'average' exertion and the 'usual' degree
of  labor intensity customary in that (particular)
society.  Over a shorter period of time,
variations in labor intensity that don't
(ordinarily) lead to changes in what is socially
understood to be SNLT.  (Allin, Rieu and I
discussed this issue last month.)

> It
> might also indirectly lead to effect (3) by changing the average caloric
> requirements of workers,

I agree that this _might_ be a consequence
but I also believe that it is not a _necessary_

Also, while there is a connection between
labor intensity and food requirements, this has
to be understood in terms of the customary
food requirements of the working class in
particular societies and historical periods rather
than in a human physiological sense. From a
purely physiological sense, workers are capable
of much greater labor intensity with diminished
food intake than is customary (this was a
point well understood and put into practice
by the SS at Nazi labor and death camps.)

> 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).

Again -- what is possible is not necessary.
A change in the length of the working day must
be seen in terms of  class struggles whose
outcome in this regard is not pre-determined.

On your last point, I agree that there is the
possibility than an increase in labor intensity can
lead under certain circumstances to loss of
efficiency and a decline in productivity (as well
as a rise in industrial accidents and deaths).

>Bottom line, changes in labor
> intensity would necessarily show up in at least
> 1 of Paul's 3.

As I explained above, it is your 'bottom line'
that I disagree with.

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Wed May 02 2001 - 00:00:06 EDT