[OPE-L:5498] Re: Re: Re: More Intense Labor

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Fri May 04 2001 - 15:44:03 EDT

>Re Rakesh's latest:
>>  It does not necessarily go up.
>That was my point.
>>  But it's reasonable to assume that
>>  with greater intensity there will be a need for more consumption
>>  and more time off at some point.
>I already dealt with the issue of whether the VLP changes with an
>increase in the intensity of labor. As for "more time off", I
>don't quite see your point.

What's there to get?  If you burn yourself out, you need time to 
recuperate, i.e., not work. If you are not working, you are not 
getting paid. Your wage then has to be high enough to allow you to 
take days off in order to heal yourself of wear and tear and thus 
reproduce your labor power. If these days off can't be afforded, then 
the wage has fallen below the value of labor power.

>  Assuming that there is _only_ an
>increase in the intensity of labor (rather than being combined
>with an increase in the hours of work) I see no reason to suppose
>that workers need, in some physiological sense, additional time
>each day for rest.

Then you are missing the obvious. Not additional time each day 
necessarily but more days off  if the working day has become more 

>  On the other hand, an increase in absolute
>surplus value by lengthening the working day can run afoul of
>workers needs for non-working time if it means that they are
>unable to get the minimum required amount of sleep each day that
>is necessary to avoid fatigue and function efficiently on the
>job (thus an increase in absolute surplus value beyond some point
>might lead to a decrease in the intensity of labor and output
>per worker per working hour, i.e. productivity.)

It's obvioulsy not just a matter of getting more time off per day 
(though this is of course important); it's also a matter of vacation 

>>  Workers will need to make more to enjoy
>>  unpaid leave to get the rest they will need.
>I don't get this point. Indeed, it seems more reasonable to suggest
>that the more intensively they work, the more they will 'enjoy'
>non-working time.

And I truly don't get this point. the more intensively workers labor, 
the more non working time they need.

>  In any event, I see no reason to suppose that
>capitalists will give workers additional time for rest with an
>increase in the intensity of labor so that they can 'enjoy' their
>non-working time better.

Again this is not the question. If after intensifying the labor 
process the capitalists don't raise the wage so workers can afford 
more days off, then the wage falls below the value of labor power. 
And this of course happens often. It leads to the immiseration of the 
working class.

>>  Yes this is not
>>  necessary, I just consider it highly likely.
>Once you admit that it is not necessary, there is no longer a
>necessary link between changes in the intensity of labor and the
>VLP. So ... perhaps we are moving closer to each other after all.

There is not a necessary link between intensification and relative 
surplus value as long as we assume that relative surplus value does 
not include the case of the depression of the wage below the value of 
labor power.

>>  And they need more time off as well. Which means that they have to
>>  make enough to be able to take unpaid leave.
>See above.
>>  I think the conditions of many workers in the world's factories
>>  are indeed this dire.
>This indeed is a condition which varies internationally. I think
>A.G. Frank had some statistics on this issue in _Crisis in the
>Third World_.

How are you responding to the criticism I made of your argument? You 
said that intensification does not endanger the depression the wage 
below the level needed to meet certain physiological needs. I said 
that this was not clear at all. You are simply not responding.

>>  drinking water often has to be purchased
>... but it normally isn't in most parts of the world. In any event,
>drinking water is often provided gratis in factories.

Still there are caloric and other physical needs to be met. It's not 
clear that intensification never endangers the workers vis a vis 
these needs.

>>  My claim elsewhere to which you did not respond is that once
>>  we have a stable level of intensity which is customary or normal,
>>  then an  hour of labor more intense than that counts as more than
>>  an hour. In this case intensification is an elongation of the
>>  working day, a form of absolute surplus value.
>Didn't respond to ? ? ?  I responded to precisely this point in a
>whole bunch of posts in recent days. You might not have been
>satisfied with those responses, but that's another issue.

I understand that given how Allin and Paul want to measure the OCC, 
they have a good argument that an increase in the annual rate of 
surplus value is just another expression of a reduced OCC, though I 
am still not satisfied with it and will thus have to come up with a 
better argument. But I don't understand what you are saying in 
response to this.
Again the thesis under question is that intensification is ipso facto 
a form of relative surplus value. I am arguing that this is not 
necessarily true.

>>  Well once we introduce an exogeneous shock to the system such as a
>>  doubling of the intensity of labor
>Changes in labor intensity should not be thought of as constituting
>"exogeneous shocks".  Changes in labor intensity are a direct
>consequence of class struggle ... and class struggle is not an
>"exogeneous" force re the production of surplus value within a
>capitalist system.
>In solidarity, Jerry

Again non responsive. Once the working hour of a laborer is twice as 
intense, there is an immediate change in the value of labor power due 
if not to the need for a higher level of consumption then to the need 
for a shorter working day or more days off. If the wage does not 
increase to allow higher consumption or the same wage for shorter 
hours or the same wage with more days off, then the wage will fall 
below the value of labor power.

I suggest that this is what is most often happening with the 
intensification of labor--the wage is falling below the value of 
labor power. This is *not* a clear case  of relative surplus value at 


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