[OPE-L:5485] Re: Re: More Intense Labor

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Wed May 02 2001 - 21:46:55 EDT

re Jerry's 5471

>>   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 ....

No, the rate of exploitation may rise; the wage may fall below the 
value of labor power for protracted periods; workers' gains remain 
limited by the process of capital valorization.

>>  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

doesn't affect my point. I am arguing that intensification is not 
necessarily a form of relative surplus value: it can in some cases 
represent a lengthening of the working day; in other cases it can 
allow for the wage to be depressed below the value of labor power; 
and it can indeed in yet other cases be a form of relative surplus 

>  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.

no impact on my point.

>>  A hour of socially necessary labor time is not
>>  simply determined by clock time
>Agreed. I made that same point recently.

But you haven't understood the implications of your own point then.

>>  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

this is non responsive. Once you agree that an hour is not any clock 
hour but an clock hour of average or customary intensity, then an 
hour of more intensified labor is simply more than an hour. This 
follows from what you have written.

>>  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.

Again you have failed to think through the implications of your own argument.

>>   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.

non responsive.

>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.

then they have only put in 6 hours of work.

>Now suppose an increase in intensity by 25%
>so that their intensity exactly equals the
>customary average.

Now they work eight hours.

>  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

Due to their increased productivity these workers now put in 8 hours 
of work. If their intensity were now to double, their labor would 
count as 16 hours of work.

>>  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.

But you are the one trying to wiggle out from the consequences of 
your repudiation of clock time.


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