[OPE-L:8253] Re: 'entrepreneurial ability' in late capitalism

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Tue Dec 31 2002 - 08:25:37 EST

Re Michael E's [8252]:

> > > Some workers enjoy their work, work willingly and well and do not need
> > > a supervisor to "extract" work from them.
> > Yes, indeed.  Some prisoners also enjoy being in prison and can't
> > imagine living outside of a prison.  Some residents of insane asylums
> > claim to be perfectly happy there and do not desire a change in
> > residence.
> Such an analogy implies that many workers are imprisoned and insane.
> Insanity, an unsoundness of mind, implies a distorted view of the world.
> The question is  how to get to the truth of capitalist society without
> falling into Weltanschauung. Do you call people who enjoy their jobs
> insane prisoners of capitalism? How do they respond?

I'm afraid you missed my point which was not to imply that many workers
are imprisoned or insane.  Rather, my point was to suggest that whether
many workers work willingly, enjoy their jobs, etc. can not be used as a
barometer for  determining whether or not they are exploited.  E.g. serfs
commonly believed,  influenced by the culture and set of  customary mutual
obligations of  feudalism,  that they were _not_ being exploited.  Yet they
_were_  exploited whether or not they recognized their relation with lords
as constituting an exploitive relation.

> > > After all, the workers agreed to work  when they entered the
> > > employment  contract.
> > This highlights the element of choice in the employment contract but
> > does not grasp the *essentially* coercive character of the relation.
> The only coercion I see is the coercion to earn a living. In being a
> human,  there is also the 'coercion' to lead one's life, to bear this
> burden and cast  one's own existence in some more or less satisfying
> way, sharing  it with others.  As human beings we also live under the
> 'coercion' to share  a world with each other.

The coercion results from the following condition:  one class is
characterized by its ownership and control of the means of production and
one  class is characterized by its non-ownership and non-control of the
means of production.  For the class of non-owners and non-controllers of
m of p, to be able to obtain the goods, which now take the commodity-form,
with which they need to survive they must sell their labour-power on the
market to capitalists in exchange for a wage.  This is essentially coercive
since the members of this class have no other real options for meeting
their subsistence requirements.

> Okay, capitalist exploitation has to be conceived more specifically. How
> do you  characterize human being under capitalism?

As a creature whose movements and actions are limited by the set of
class relationships associated with this mode of production.  Thus,
individual human beings have choice but that choice is limited by the
existing  social relations.  As a species, our capabilities and potential
are vastly underutilized  (we only use what % of our brains?).   Our
attitudes and desires are shaped by existing social institutions and we
can say very little about what is "natural" for our species (and when we
do say something is "natural"  it  generally  turns out to be a
rationalization for the existing social understandings and conditions, i.e.
the status quo).  As a species which relates to other species  with a
human-chauvinist and human-centric conception of the world.

> Before apportioning blame, and before trying to comprehend causes it could
> be  important to _simply_ consider phenomena such as stealing, cheating as
> kinds of  social exchange relations.

Why before trying to comprehend causes?

In solidarity, Jerry

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