[OPE-L:8324] Re: 'Gewinnst' from the standpoint of the working class?

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Mon Jan 13 2003 - 06:58:11 EST

Cologne 13-Jan-2003

Re: [OPE-L:8315]

gerald_a_levy schrieb Sun, 12 Jan 2003 10:18:34 -0500:

> For more on  "Gewinnst", discussed by Michael E in  [8243],
> see Part 7 of  "Capital and Technology: Marx and Heidegger" :
> http://www.webcom.com/artefact/capiteen/captec07.html
> How do you understand "Gewinnst" from the standpoint of the
> working-class under capitalism?  If "Gewinnst" represents the
> process of valorization under capitalism, isn't there also a
> 'auto-valorization' of the working class (Negri) -- a different form
> of "Gewinnst" -- which represents a contrary dynamic?
> Solidarity, Jerry

Thanks for writing.

I don't know Negri's concept of 'auto-valorization'.

If the working class is constituted by all those subsumed under the
value-form of wages, then every worker also has an interest in
(monetary) gain. Such an interest conforms with capital's interest in
making a monetary surplus through commodity production insofar as
capital and wage labour come together by mutual agreement. There is a
symbiosis between capital and wage labour. Neither can be what it is
without the other. But insofar as the wages which the workers are
interested in earning are a cost for capital, the workers are contrary
to capital in their striving for gain. Capital and workers have opposed
interests within their symbiosis on the quantitative level of wages and
also on how much labour is to be performed for a given amount of

I was wondering whether, in your recent post [OPE-L:8305] about old
films showing the pace of work at the Ford River Rouge plant ("If one
also views film from the 1920s and 30's and compares it to the 1970's,
then one can see that the intensity of labor was dramatically higher in
the earlier period before unionization.") was an effect of fewer frames
per second in old film? But that aside, if unionization as a weapon of
the workers in their struggle against capital has the effect of lowering
the intensity of labour whilst maintaining or raising wage levels, then
one can see how both capital and working class belong to the Gewinnst as
the gathering of all opportunities for gain. Without the striving for
gain on both sides, i) there would be no class relation at all (since
there would be no reason to come together) and ii) the class relation
would not be antagonistic. i) is a win-win situation, ii) is win-lose.
The "contrary dynamic" which the working class represents is that of the
tendency toward inertia, i.e. maximal possible earnings for minimum
performed labour.

If the workers' interest in earning wages is only a means for the
ultimate end of living well, this interest could be said to differ
fundamentally from capital's interest in making a surplus, which _is_ an
end in itself and moreover is an endless, circular end. The working
class' interest in living well could then be interpreted as moderation
in contrast to the excessive measurelessness of capital. But does this
distinction stand up to examination?

Living well for the working class means in the first place having a high
material standard of living. This is achieved by struggling for high
wages for minimum work and also by ensuring the standard of living
through state welfare. The welfare state, an invention of Western Europe
which had its beginnings in the nineteenth century (the first German
social insurance schemes, for instance, were launched in the 1880s as an
answer designed to appease the militant workers' movement), changes the
face of the Gewinnst by opening up further opportunities for gain. The
Gewinnst as the gathering of all opportunities for gain is the way an
historical world opens for the working class as well.

Under the developed welfare state, the Sozialstaat, every last minute
aspect of everyday life becomes subject to a paragraph intended to
insure against every imaginable possible mishap in everyday life. Money
as medium of sociation is complemented by bureaucratic regulation of
life as a further medium of sociation. Opportunities for material gain
(money, goods and services) now open up to those who learn to orient
themselves in the endless labyrinth of paragraphs administered by
bureacracies which tirelessly refine and tighten the regulatory net cast
over quotidian life. The welfare state's clients, in turn, seek maximum
gain from the welfare state by taking advantage of the benefits it
provides to the maximum extent. The rules for welfare benefits are
broken or bent or simply exploited to the hilt.

The welfare state becomes increasingly degraded through exploitation by
its clients and sags under its cost burden, or it struggles against
overuse and abuse by tightening the mesh of regulations even tighter,
cutting benefits, etc. Since the welfare state is financed by the
capitalist economy, it has to draw on the capitalist surplus generated
by the economy. Whereas capital in its ceaseless striving for profit and
insofar as it is exposed to competition against other capitals on the
markets is a dynamic force which cannot afford to be left behind in
efforts to improve productivity, to employ new technologies, etc., the
working class with its interest in a high material standard of living
tends to inertia in the habits, routines and customs of everyday life
and to resisting every change which capitalist competition makes
inevitable for it.

The law of inertia of quotidian social life is that social life persists
in its habits, routines, customs and traditions without end unless
subjected to an external social force. The law of social inertia can be
seen perhaps best of all in the phenomenon of insurance, including
social insurance. Every preconceivable risk and danger in everyday day
should be removed by a plethora of insurance policies to cover any
future eventuality. Social life should become risk-free, the future
should become protected by blanket insurance cover, allowing the members
of society to become self-satisfied, complacent in their well-padded
social cocoon. Insurance policies too reveal themselves to be
opportunities for gain (i.e. part of the Gewinnst). The interpretation
of insurance policies becomes a lucrative business, fraudulent insurance
claims (by capitalists, workers and by all and sundry members of
society) become a further source of income which, as unlawful, has to be
combated by the state.

In capitalist societies, the external social force which intervenes in
everyday life, disturbs its inertia and lends it a dynamic, for better
or worse, is first and foremost the movement of money as capital itself.
Capitals are forced under pain of extinction to respond to unpredictable
and uncontrollable, groundless markets (as long as they are not
monopolistic or managed behind the scenes by a cartel). The welfare
state, on the other hand, cements the inertia of everyday life, as does
politics too. Any political change is invariably hindered by the
conservative inertia of a multitude of diverse social interests which
are satisfied with the status quo and do not want to be disturbed.

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
http://www.webcom.com/artefact/ _-_-_-_-artefact@webcom.com _-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

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