[OPE-L:8333] Re: Education and Value

From: Paul Adler (padler@usc.edu)
Date: Tue Jan 14 2003 - 08:06:01 EST

Jerry -- I'm not sure where the line of questioning you open up will 
lead, nor how it impinges on the questions we've been addressing so 
far. So perhaps I'm missing your point. But a couple of thoughts:

* There are two quite distinct issues under the "reduction" from 
complex to simple labor: a question of how to measure the value of 
complex labor power relative to simple (expressed as relative wages), 
and a question of whether capitalist development actually simplifies 
complex labor by deskilling. On the former, presumably we can rely on 
the relative amounts of "socially necessary labor time involved in 
producing" the relevant capabilities. On the latter, my view is, 
obviously, not. (Just so I know where we're up to in this discussion: 
do you really think deskilling is the dominant tendency?)

* Globally, I think we might agree that international competition 
tends over the longer term to bring wages into closer alignment. As 
imperialism reaches into less-developed regions to exploit low wages, 
wages do tend to rise relative to advanced countries -- as we saw 
with the "Asian tigers". The demands of capitalist industrialization 
lead these countries to build their education system, upgrading the 
country-specific standards of simple labor and the supply of complex 
labor. (As you can see, my paleo- proclivities have led me close to 
Bill Warren's position!) The state and workers' movements can help or 
hinder in this upgrading, and give it the skill-formation 
institutions their specific shape.

Are we moving forward in this?

  At 4:22 PM -0500 1/13/03, gerald_a_levy wrote:
>Re Paul A's [8327]:
>>  To focus on overall skill levels -- I'm curious if you and others on
>>  the list would agree with me: while the data are very difficult to
>>  synthesize, have not the cognitive resources of US workers -- the
>>  combined result of childhood socialization, education, training,
>>  on-the-job learning -- increased on average over the last 100 years?
>>  If you grant that these cognitive resources have increased, then as
>>  marxists, we have to ask ourselves whether and where this fits with
>>  our basic story. (Of course, out story also has to accomodate the
>>  many cases of real deskilling we observe --such as the supermarket
>>  cashiers.) It seems to me that it fits nicely with the paleo-marxist
>>  story I summarized.
>How does this fit in with 'our basic story', you ask.  Presumably you
>and others will also grant that the standard for what has become
>simple average labour varies internationally and temporally.  Indeed,
>if one focuses on the effect of education on workers 'cognitive
>resources', one can easily determine that there are different standards
>internationally as a result of differing educational/social/cultural
>In describing 'simple average labour',  Marx notes that it "varies in
>character in different countries and at different cultural epochs, but in a
>particular society it is given"  (_Capital_, Volume 1, Penguin ed., p. 135).
>When we look at different social formations and expand our time horizon
>so that a society and culture can itself change, we see that the 'basic
>story' becomes more complex.
>* How would you and others explain more concretely this complexity
>vis-a-vis the 'reduction' from complex to 'simple labour' in world markets?
>* Is there any kind of  social mechanism that leads over time to  less
>international disparity for simple average labour standards in different
>social formations?
>* What has been the role of the state -- and  workers' struggles -- in
>changing social standards for simple average labour?
>In solidarity, Jerry

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Prof. Paul S. Adler,
Management and Organization Dept,
Marshall School of Business, 
University of Southern California,
Los Angeles, CA 90089-0808
USC office tel: (213) 740-0748 
Home office tel: (818) 981-0115
Home office fax: (818) 981-0116
Email: padler@usc.edu
List of publications and course outlines at: http://www-rcf.usc.edu/~padler/ 
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