[OPE-L:8338] Re: Re: Education and Value

From: Tony Tinker (TonyTinker@msn.com)
Date: Tue Jan 14 2003 - 12:29:54 EST

Paul (Adler):  The are a number of parts to your thesis that I wonder about.

First, a minor item,  Braverman does not argue that deskilling is the
dominant tendency. Rather, his thesis is that there is a 'polarization' (his
last chapter for instance).  Given this, any empirical studies (that we
cite) must be careful not to focus on just one end of the continuum (e.g,
the skill level of worker in  West/ North" and ignoring those in the

Second, contrary to vulgar popularizations (i.e, the morbid deskillers)
Braverman states in his, 'Reply to my Critics' in the Monthly review, that
"obviously" the average skill level has gone up!  But he makes the
distinction (that I haven't noticed in the listserv discussion so far)
between "skill" of the kind that is productive of surplus value, and skill
that enhances the consciousness and capacities of the full person as social
being (see my "Fourth" point below) .

Third, you seem to step a bit too quickly from aggregating dated labor time,
to 'valuing' dated labor time.  The latter is a valuation, involving a
discount rate, or more problematically, multiple discount rates/ solutions.
It takes us into a Sraffian world of switching of techniques and the absence
of no unique equilibrium (or better, no counter-intuitive equilibrium).  All
such problems apply to 'valuing' labor expended over time in developing
skill (or any 'asset').

Fourth, the notion of 'education levels' has to be viewed in a critical.
'Education' under capitalism acclimates workers for producing surplus value
product (look at the pap served-up in most business schools for evidence).
How is this kind of education 'productive' in producing a consciousness that
ripens the possibilities of social change?  Surely, we might argue that an
increase in these 'education levels' diminishes the chances of social
change?  (I assume that we agree that MBA's are now wage labor and therefore
productive of surplus value).

Finally, 'educational levels' cannot be viewed in a monolithic manner.
Insofar as consciousness is productive of social change (and that needs to
be researched, not taken for granted) it surely must be a consciousness that
is aligned with specific historical dis-junctures in time and place.  If
this is so, does it still make sense to talk about 'levels' of education?
As Chris Arthur has so lucidly pointed out previously, the order of
measurement is important (here, we would seem to have a classificatory
variable, not a cardinal or ratio measure).

Fraternally,  TT

Tony Tinker
Professor and Editor
Critical Perspectives on Accounting
The Accounting Forum
Baruch College: CUNY Box B12-225
17 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10010
Email: TonyTinker@msn.com
Tel: 646 312 3175
Fax: 646 312 3161
Critical Conference Site: http://zicklin.baruch.cuny.edu/critical/
----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Adler" <padler@usc.edu>
To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Cc: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 8:06 AM
Subject: [OPE-L:8333] Re: Education and Value

> 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?
> P
>   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?
> >
> >Yes.
> >
> >>  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
> >practices.
> >
> >In describing 'simple average labour',  Marx notes that it "varies in
> >character in different countries and at different cultural epochs, but in
> >particular society it is given"  (_Capital_, Volume 1, Penguin ed., p.
> >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
> >
> >* 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
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