[OPE-L:5502] Re: More Intense Labor

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Sat May 05 2001 - 22:32:38 EDT

Re Rakesh's [5501]:

> Fine. There is no purely physiological need; what > appears to be a
physical need for rest and
>  recuperation cannot be separated strictly
> speaking from socially and culturally determined > needs. The point
reamains that whatever the
> working class needs for rest and  rucuperation
> --  as physiologically/culturally/socially
> determined--  is   threatened by an intensification
>  of labor. The  working class will now
>  need" (though not in a  strict physiological sense
>  as you correctly  insist) more time for rest and
> recuperation.

The struggle over intensification of labor rarely
leads _directly_ to struggles over increased non-working time.  There is no
_necessary_ relation
between these struggles.

Indeed, it is more frequently the case that  workers
internationally who work more intensively  _also_
have less time off from work (i.e. they tend to work more hours/day;
days/week; weeks/yr).
This is because the same relative strength of the
capitalist class vis-a-vis the working class that
allows them to be able to increase the one also
allows them to more easily increase the other.
This tends to be particularly the case in economies
in which the relative size of the industrial reserve
army is significantly greater than the international average. This also,
btw, means that these
capitalists can expect less working-class resistance
to attempts by capitalists  to increase  relative
surplus value through labor-saying technical

> And in this case we don't have a clear case of
> relative surplus value.

Rakesh -- even with labor-saving technical change
workers can experience a decline in wages
below the value of labor power. Simply because
the two events can happen at the same time
doesn't establish a causal relation.

Indeed, to the extent that increasing relative
surplus value by increasing labor-power saving
technical change increases the relative strength
of capital, it also can help capital  to decrease
wages below the value of labour power,
increase labor productivity further by
increasing the intensity of labor, _and_ increase
absolute surplus value.

*All that need be shown is that an increase in
the intensification of labor does not necessarily
lead to a change in the VLP and/or a depression
of wages below the VLP to refute your

Carefully consider the following:

-- Suppose that there has been an increase in
relative surplus value due to labor-saving technical

-- Can there _then_ be a change in the VLP or
an  *increase or depression* of wages in relation
to the VLP?

     Answer to above: Of course. Either is possible.
Neither consequence is _necessary_. Whether
the VLP and wages relative to VLP changes
depends on *other* variables.

The same is true for what can happen _after_
there has been an increase in the intensity of
work. Thus, *since you have already recognized
how an increase in the intensity of work can be
understood as an increase in relative surplus
value*, we must comprehend an increase in the
intensity of work as a form of relative surplus
value. All of the other results that you mention
are _only_ possibilities and are not necessary
consequences of an increase in the intensity of

> So does the extra surplus value which derives
> om depressing the  wage below the value of
> labor power count as relative surplus value?

I don't accept your premise that increasing the
intensity of labor represents a decrease in wages
below the VLP. See above.

> The question you are not asking is whether the
> depession of the wage  below the value of labor > power counts as a form
of relative surplus
> value.

Answered above.

> Why do you say these are exceptional
> circumstances?

The VLP can be not understood in any country in
terms of the bare physical subsistence needs of
workers. The hypothetical circumstance I posited
in [5494] concerned a situation where workers
were currently on (quite literally) a starvation

>  You seem to be generalizing from the  factory
> (sic, JL) in which you  worked--there you found
>  to be many overfed  people? What does this
> prove?

No, I never suggested that my co-workers in
various factories were, in general, overfed or
obese. What I suggested, instead (and there
are lots of statistics available to show this --
indeed, it is a well-recognized fact) is that
workers and members of other social classes
in the U.S. tend to be chronically obese. This
is a trend and it is even more alarming in the
youth who are part of the non-working
population. This does not necessarily mean that
they are 'overfed' because, after genetic factors
are abstracted from (and I think they must be
when discussing such large statistical samples),
obesity relates more to nutrition and exercise
than to the volume of food that is eaten.
Actually, industrial workers who work on
assembly line operations tend _not_ to be
obese since the intensity of work requires
constant movement on their part and this
constitutes aerobic exercise which helps to keep
one trim (and it is good for the heart as well.
However, it can be very stressful -- and that
is bad for the heart). But, there are a lot easier
ways to lose weight!

In solidarity, Jerry

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