[OPE-L:5492] Re: Re: More Intense Labor

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Thu May 03 2001 - 12:02:03 EDT

re Jerry's 5490

>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.

Jerry, you are simply confusing the wage with the value of labor 
power. That the value of labor is higher in the sense of the use 
values needed to reproduce it does not mean that the wage in any of 
its senses will be higher. It is thus possible that while 
intensification will change upward the value of labor power, the real 
wage will lag behind; thus intensification can easily result in the 
depression of the wage below the value of labor power. I do not think 
this is best understood as a form of relative surplus value since in 
the analysis thereof Marx always assumes that the wage is at the 
value of labor power.

>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

I don't see why you say this. The intensification of the labor 
process has an immediate physical effect which should change the 
requirements for the reproduction of labor power in the short run.

>  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.

I don't think it's reasonable to assume that capital could double the 
intensity of the work process without there being an immediate change 
in the value of labor power.

>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.

There won't be an immediate change in the wage, to be sure; this is 
why intensification will be experienced as immiseration as the wage 
falls below the value of labor power.

>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.

Of course the value of labor power is ALSO culturally and socially 
determined, but intensification is first and foremost a physically 
exhausting process. Note Slaughter and Parker's research on the 
elimination by JIT methods of  downtime to an absolute minimum of a 
few seconds in a working minute.

>  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.

That there is a cultural or moral component of the value of labor 
power does not mean that there is not a physical determinant as well. 
In fact you implicitly grant this by saying that class struggle 
*fundamentally* determines the value of labor power. Well in the case 
of intensification, physical needs also play an important, if not yet 
fundamental, role.

>>  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

And see my above.

>  > 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?

If you would cut and paste my posts in reply, you would have noticed it.


>In solidarity, Jerry

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