[OPE-L:5509] Re: Re: Re: Re: More Intense Labor

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Mon May 07 2001 - 12:28:17 EDT

re Jerry's 5508

>Re [5505]:
>>  Is there a necessary connection between any
>>  two things?
>Yes. E.g. an increase in absolute surplus value
>will of necessity decrease the average amount of
>non-working hours for those members of the
>working class who are productive of surplus

Not if with a lengthening of the working day there are then more 
vacation days. Total non working hours could remain the same.

>>  What do you mean by necessary?
>In this context, I mean a logical cause-and-effect
>relationship. _All_ that you have shown (which
>I never disagreed with) is that an increase in the
>intensity of labor _might_ then lead to an
>increase in the VLP and then the depression of
>wages below the VLP.

Why isn't this enough to show that intensification is not necessarily 
a form of relative surplus value?

>  This does not, though,
>establish a _necessary_ cause-and-effect
>relationship between these two events if they
>happen at the same time.  This is because
>struggles to change the intensity of labor are
>relatively independent of struggles that lead
>to changes in the VLP and/or the wage.

Relatively independent is a fudge word. You are implicitly granting 
that there may be some connection here.

>As a historical footnote: I can't think of a single
>historical instance in which it can be shown that
>increases in the intensity of labor led directly to
>increases in the VLP.  Can anyone else think
>of such an instance?

Taylorization, the Bourdeux system.

>As for the rest of your post, you appear to have
>repeated arguments made in earlier posts.
>Rather than also just repeat arguments I have
>advanced elsewhere, let me instead summarize
>the discussion:

the point of not responding to my post is to evade the question which 
I put to you: does a depression of the wage below the value of labor 
power count as a form of relative surplus value? You said that you 
would not answer this question because you don't accept the premise 
that intensification necessarily entails such a depression, but then 
I reminded you that you didn't have to accept that premise since it 
doesn't appear in the question which I am putting to you. Your 
tactics of evasion are something to be marvelled at.

>At the outset of the discussion you claimed that
>an increase in the intensity of surplus value
>should be seen as an increase in absolute surplus

And at the outset of the discussion you said that intensification is 
necessarily a form of relative surplus value.

>I claimed that an increase in the intensity
>of labor to the extent that there was no increase
>in working hours and that it results in an increase
>in output/working hour (i.e. productivity) should
>be seen as a form of increasing relative surplus
>value (although, not the predominant form once
>there has been the real subsumption of labor
>under capital).

I then argued that only if some capitalists were able to intensify 
labor process without changing the norm what already counts as a hour 
of normal or customary intensity, then those capitalists had 
effectively lengthened the working day of those "in their employ." In 
this case intensification can be a form of absolute surplus value: 
Intensification is not necessarily a form of relative surplus value.

>   You claimed, in contrast, that
>it was highly 'misleading' to refer to an increase
>in the intensity of labor as an increase in
>relative surplus value and that an increase in
>labor intensity would depress wages below the
>VLP (by leading to an increase in the VLP
>while maintaining constant money wages) and
>hence further 'immizerization' of the working
>class. I countered by explaining that there is no
>necessary relation between changes in the
>intensity of labor and changes in the VLP.

But there is a likely connection. And it is more than likely that 
workers will experience immiseration, real physical deprivation if 
they are forced to expend more labor without a commensurate increase 
in consumption, rest or recuperation. You say this is not necessary 
but I argue that the needs are real.

>In the course of the discussion your position
>shifted _from_ arguing that an increase in the
>intensity of labor should be thought of as an
>increase in absolute surplus value _to_  arguing
>that such an increase could (depending on the
>circumstances) be thought of as representing
>_either_ an increase in absolute surplus value and
>a depression of wages below the VLP _or_
>an increase in relative surplus value.

Yes you are right that I was wrong not to recognize that in some 
cases intensification could be a form of relative surplus value, but 
I see no reason why it will likely work out this way. So in the 
course of argument I did shift and came to see that intensification 
could be one of three things: relative surplus value; absolute 
surplus value; depression of the wage below the value of labor power.

>position has remained the same throughout this

That's too bad!

>  I argue that one must separate out
>necessary consequences from contingent
>possibilities and that a change in the VLP due
>to a change in labor intensity is the latter.

I don't think the necessary/contingent distinction is viable in 
studying causality in the social sciences. But I have yet to study 
Goodman and Quine.

>  You
>disagree, I guess. So that's where we're at.
>Perhaps the best thing to do at this point is to
>pause and listen for others on OPE-L to
>advance fresh arguments into this exchange.
>In solidarity, Jerry



This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat Jun 02 2001 - 00:00:06 EDT