[OPE-L:8337] Re: Re: Education and Value

From: Gil Skillman (gskillman@wesleyan.edu)
Date: Tue Jan 14 2003 - 12:24:14 EST

To follow up on my remarks in 8330:

Paul writes:

>* 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),

Two things:  first, again I don't see why there is any question of 
"reduction" involved here:  to measure the value of either type of labor 
power, you determine the labor socially necessary to produce it.  Other 
things equal, complex labor power requires more labor to produce because of 
the labor expended in education or training.  Second, determination of the 
relative wages of simple and complex labor is a separate issue, since 
nothing guarantees that prices of commodities correspond proportionally to 
their respectie values.  But supposing that this is the case, then the 
wages of complex labor will be higher than that of simple labor.  Having 
said that, what is there to "reduce"?

>  and a question of whether capitalist development actually simplifies 
> complex labor by deskilling.

Isn't this a separate issue?  Whether or not capitalist development 
involves deskilling of labor processes is an empirical matter, while the 
matter of "reducing" complex to simple labor is an analytical matter.  My 
question is, what's the point of the analytical exercise of "reducing" 
complex to simple labor?


>  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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