[OPE-L:5448] Re: More Intense Labor

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Date: Fri Apr 27 2001 - 16:23:26 EDT

In response to this passage from me,
>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 

John writes:

>Gil, you seem somehow to be able to reckon the intensity of labor 
>without any reference to money or prices.

As a first pass, John, I'd say I'm able to reckon the intensity of labor
without any reference to money or prices because at the level of productive
activity labor intensity is not a matter of money or prices but of
concerted human effort.  Therbligs per hour might be an appropriate measure
for this, but not money or prices.

As a second pass, I'd say that the issue here is the determination of the
rate of surplus value, and I don't need to refer to money or prices, other
than the wage rate (and the latter only indirectly), to determine this.
Quoth Marx:

"Since, on the one hand, the variable capital and the labour-power
purchased by that capital are equal in value, and the value of this
labour-power determines the necessary part of the working-day; and since,
on the other hand, the surplus-value is determined by the surplus part of
the working day, it follows that surplus-value is in the same ratio to
variable capital as surplus labour is to necessary labour.  In other words,
the rate of surplus value, s/v = surplus labour/necessary labour." [I, p.
326, Penguin edition.]

My comment was that increasing labor intensity would in any case reduce
necessary labour, by reducing the labor time necessary to produce the wage
bundle; and that changing the prevailing level of labor intensity might
also change the levels of surplus labor or the wage bundle for the reasons
mentioned; but there's no other apparent avenue by which changing labor
intensity would affect the above ratio.


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