[OPE-L:8241] Re: electronics and value

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sun Dec 29 2002 - 10:23:37 EST

Paul C wrote in [8240]:

> I agree, there is nothing essentially new in electronic
> production that was not already present in the mechanical
> automation that Babbage and Marx described.

Electronic production, though,  can significantly affect the
already existing trends.   The diffusion and further development
of the microprocessor and related commodities has resulted in new
production technologies which can:

a)  lower the turnover time of capital.  This is apparent with
the spread of  'just-in-time' (lean production) technologies.

b)  economize on the use of constant capital, in particular
constant circulating capital (e.g. with new more advanced
'energy-efficient'  means of production).

c)  Decrease plant size requirements, due both to miniaturization
and just-in-time production. This can further economize on constant
capital including building size,  circulating capital requirements,
and land.

d) Flexibility in the use-value of certain electronic production
technologies  has allowed for:

i)  the mass production and diminished cost of those technologies;

ii) lower barriers to exit. E.g. capitalists can readily resell robotics
to other capitalists  in the same or other branches of production
whereas this was not generally possible with hard automation;

iii)  greater standardization  in the use of certain production technologies
within the production process.  E.g. the same robots, with
different end effectors, can be used in paint spraying, assembly,
welding etc. operations.  This relative interchangeability can lower
the cost and time required for re-designing the production process
and can also decrease down time and  labor required to repair
malfunctioning production equipment.

e) Lower transport costs.  E.g. consider how the chip has led to
advances in air, rail freight, and sea  technologies.  This is
particularly noticeable as a factor  further promoting the
internationalization of capitalist production and sales networks.

f) Improved and lower cost communications technologies are
important in the coordination of  cross-regional and cross-national
production networks.

g) in some cases,  there is deskilling and hence lower wages and
greater control over workers in the labor process.  E.g. consider the
impact of CNC (computer numerical control).  Training requirements
and time can also be diminished through computer and video, etc.
technologies.  A decrease in the demand for labour-power with
certain skills and an increase in the demand for labour-power with
other skills often results.

h) electronic monitoring devices are a means whereby the
intensity of labor can be increased.  This can also decrease
the costs of supervision.

i) the 'factory of the future' (a fully automated factory) creates
the possibility of 'electronic scabs'.

j) the use of electronic technologies by the state, the
media, educational and other social institutions can impact
mass consciousness and hence change the bargaining power
of capitalists and workers which can manifest itself in the
production process (e.g. by altering the intensity of labor).

Don't you (and other listmembers) agree?

Did I omit something?

In solidarity, Jerry

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