[OPE-L:5490] Re: More Intense Labor

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Thu May 03 2001 - 05:08:54 EDT

Re Rakesh's [5486]:

In a previous post, Rakesh wrote:

>  Though with intensification a greater sum of
>  use  values is  needed to reproduce labor
>   power,

I then asked:  > >  Why?  < <

Rakesh has now responded:

> Consumption needs tend to be higher to repair 
> the greater wear and  tear on labor
> from a more intensified labor process.

It is true that there is some relationship between
intensity of labor and e.g. caloric and nutritional
requirements (a point Gil and I recently discussed). 
Yet, simply because 'consumption needs tend
to be higher' doesn't mean that workers real
wages will necessarily go up as a consequence.
It will require a struggle between capital and labor.
This, along with a change in culture specific to
a particular society about such things as diet
and nutrition, will almost certainly take 
considerable time *if* there is then a change
in the 'cultural' and 'moral' component to the 
wage. I, thus, think that it is entirely appropriate
to believe that there will not be short-run or
immediate or even necessary changes in the 
real wage or the value of labor-power as a 
consequence of changes in the intensity of labor.
Moreover, without a struggle by workers for
wage increases I think that there is every reason 
suppose that there _won't_ be a change in the 
VLP due to this cause.

I also, btw, think that it is highly misleading to
refer to the 'wear and tear' on workers in this
regard: workers are not machines. Moreover, 
the health needs of workers are not simply
determined by physiological requirements (e.g.
nutritional requirements) but are also culturally
and socially determined. Further, from a
strictly physiological perspective the human body
is capable of  quite amazing things that are not
'customary'  -- consider the intensity of labor
in Nazi prison camps. Thus while the human 
body is capable of sustaining amazing abuse
when survival dictates and humans can thus 
increase the intensity of work while simultaneously
diminishing food consumption, this is not what 
determines either the real wage, the VLP, or the
intensity of labor under capitalism. All of these
are determined, most fundamentally, by
class struggle rather than human physiological
requirements for food and health care.

> And I am not saying that it does. I am saying 
> that an intensification 
> of the labor process will tend to change the value > of labor power.

This is a strong area then of disagreement. See

> I of course said that. I explicitly mentioned that 
> only under certain 
> conditions could intensification result in the 
> production of relative 
> surplus value even on the assumption that the 
> wage remains equal to 
> the value of labor power.

What did you say those conditions were?

In solidarity, Jerry

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