[OPE-L:5471] Re: More Intense Labor

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Tue May 01 2001 - 08:04:16 EDT

Re Rakesh's [5469]:

> Jerry, the bundle of use values which workers
>  will have to consume will increase after an
> intensification of labor.

Lucky workers!

Consider the political implications:
The "bundle of use values", by which I think you
mean the real wage, increases as a consequence
of an intensification of labor.  Thus, the standard
of living of the working class increases as a
result of speed-up.  This gives rise to
a new slogan: "Workers of the world divide and

(What kind of a message is that to send to
workers on May 1?  Speaking of which --

>  How long it takes
> workers to adjust that bundle is another
> question. However long that
> lag, the greater the extra surplus value
> appropriated.

But there's a happy ending because the
customary standard of living of the working
class must increase ....

> But I am talking about an exceptional capitalist
> here, one who coerces his workers to put in
> hours of greater intensity than hours
> which are average or customary in intensity at
> any given point in the business cycle.

It is not such an 'exceptional capitalist' who
succeeds in coercing a higher than average
intensity of labor out of her/his workers. Indeed,
this would be the case for all of the cases where
the actual intensity is greater than the customary
average -- this might approach 50% of all
capitalists. In any event, this is what all
capitalists (most often through the effort of capitalism's overseers, i.e.
managers) attempt to
accomplish. Some are more successful than
others, though.

> A hour of socially necessary labor time is not
> simply determined by clock time

Agreed. I made that same point recently.

> By this standard then the
> exceptional capitalist has got his workers to put > in more hours by
> intensifying the labor process. This may seem
> counter-intuitive to
> you since the more intensely exploited workers
> seem to be working the
> same 8 hour day as those putting in hours of
> customary or average
> intensity.

It remains an 8 hour day.
You might want to consider why Marx chose
the word "absolute" for absolute surplus value.
Absolute is not a word that allows for any

> But this appearance is quite deceiving.

Well ... it's not the same working day -- workers
are working harder and faster. But, the *hours
of labor* remain the same.

>  Sometimes eight hours of labor time can be
> sixteen hours of
> labor time (say if a capitalist has doubled the
> intensity of labor),
> and sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Some workers can perhaps, utilizing the same
means of production,  produce in 8 hours
what other workers require 16 hours to
produce.  This means that the productivity
of the former group is greater.

I don't want to get into the cigar question.

> And the capitalist has got those workers to put
> in 25% more hours in  terms of the standard of  > what counts as an hour
of average or
> customary intensity.

Suppose that those workers are currently
working at an intensity that is 25% below the
customary intensity of labor in that society.
Now suppose an increase in intensity by 25%
so that their intensity exactly equals the
customary average. Has there not been an
increase in the productivity of labor (as
measured by output / worker hour) by 25%?
Notice here that the hours of work remain

> You're just stuck with the fetishism of absolute
> time.

I'm not the one who referred to an expansion
of surplus value by an extension of the working
day (or workweek or working hrs / year) as
ABSOLUTE surplus value.

Again -- the word "absolute" doesn't allow for
any wiggling room.

In solidarity, Jerry

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