[OPE-L:8321] Re: Electronics and Value

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sun Jan 12 2003 - 20:18:06 EST

Re Paul A's [8316]:

> 1. at the aggregate, empirical level:
> * the overall skill level -- understood as "socially necessary
> education and training time" to take us back to value categories --
> of the US workforce as a whole, of its non-managerial/non-supervisory
> component, and even of its manual component taken separately, is
> higher today than 100 or 200 years ago.

Yes, I agree that the level of _education_ understood to be socially
necessary has increased in the US and elsewhere over the last
100-200 years.  It is certainly the case that a certain level of reading
and math competence by workers is deemed to be necessary by
capitalists that wasn't the case 200 years ago.  The _training time_ for
many (most?) jobs in industry has gone _down_ with the emergence
of "modern industry":  indeed, how many millions of workers today still
require in industry (and sometimes in the office) no more than a
few days (or even hours) training?  

> While it is interesting to study the skill
> trajectory of individual occupations and industries, if we're
> interested in capitalist development's skill requirements, we should
> allow that overall requirement evolve in part due to shifts in the
> industry and occupation mix.

Yes, this might have significance especially for a regional or
national economy especially if that region's or nation's economy
is very dependent on only a few industries.

> * notwithstanding the impression left by David Noble's work, much
> pre-NC machining involved very little skill.

Harley Shaiken also wrote quite a bit about this.  I think that Noble
and he were pretty much in agreement on the effect of CNC.

Before NC,  skilled machinists were required.  _Even if_ many of
their routine tasks required little skill there were other tasks that
required a significant level of training and experience (and hence 
the apprenticeship requirements).  One has to remember that in the 
pre-NC days machinists were among the most skilled workers in 
many factories, along with tool and die makers, electricians and others.

> * hospitals are a nightmare. The main issues in hospitals have little
> to do with our current discussion tho, and much more to do with
> ruthless cuts in staffing levels.

Agreed -- but the desire by capital to raise the productivity of
labor and ruthlessly cut staffing levels is a _typical_ (but not by
any means the only) motivation for automation.   

> (snip, JL) But the valorization
> process is not only what happens when surplus value is realized in
> sales: it is also the force shaping the labor process for surplus
> value creation within the enterprise.


> In the software factory as on the shop floor, purely coercive
> dependence cannot entirely displace collaborative interdependence,
> else production would cease. The effect of the supercession of formal
> subordination by real subordination -- combined with the related
> development of the forces of production -- is to progressively deepen
> and broaden the collaborative interdependence of the collective
> worker, and thereby exacerbate the contradiction between the
> increasingly socialized forces of production (here embodied in the
> capabilities of the collective worker) with exploitative relations of
> production.

What of some more recent trends, e.g. the transition from the 'pre-
industrial office' and 'industrial office' to the so-called 'information
age office' (see Vincent E. Giuliano "The Mechanization of Office
Work", 1982)?    While these workers are still  interdependent, they
are  no longer in the same place necessarily as in the industrial
office.  Trends such as 'home work' are increasing the prospects that
workers are frequently more isolated on the job. What does this trend
mean from the standpoint of the "collective worker"?

Solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Tue Jan 14 2003 - 00:00:01 EST