[OPE-L:8366] Re: Re: Education and Value

From: clyder@gn.apc.org
Date: Mon Jan 20 2003 - 16:57:05 EST

Quoting gerald_a_levy <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>:

> Re Paul C's [8359]:
> Let me begin on a point of agreement: I agree with 3. in [8359].
> Putting aside that source of agreement for now,  I want to take issue 
> with a couple of points you made:
> > 1. For a group to have a potentially progressive role, they have to
> >     see their activity as persisting and being better rewarded in the
> >     future society. (snip)
> Groups of workers can't even be _potentially_ progressive unless
> they view themselves as being better off in a future (socialist) society???

This seems to me to be an obvious and uncontroversial point. If we
take a materialist view, we can hardly expect social groups to act
against their own percieved interest.
> Let us recall here that we're talking about the productive/unproductive
> labor distinction and that the ratio of productive to unproductive
> workers has been steadily declining over the long term (as the empirical
> work by Anwar, Fred and others demonstrates).  For you to then say
> that large segments of workers who are unproductive of surplus value
> can't even be _potentially_ progressive is tantamount to saying that
> large amounts of workers -- perhaps even including a majority -- will
> not be supportive of  socialism. Oops ... there goes the revolution.

Well I had not noticed any revolutions taking place in the countries with
large proportions of the workforce in financial services!

You have to account for the massive conservatism if not outright reactionary
nature of the political process in the anglo saxon countries. My hypothesis
is that the long term influence of the financial/rentier interest and
its associated servant classes accounts for this.

> > 4. Reciept of surplus value as an income source puts banking workers
> >    objectively opposed to the working class and this is reflected in
> >   politics - see how they vote.
> State employees receive wages that are paid out of revenues, i.e. they
> are in receipt of surplus value as an income source,  and hence
> are unproductive of surplus value.  Does this then also mean that they
> are "objectively opposed to the working class"???

One must be quite clear that there are real conflicts of interest between
state employees and industrial workers. These can be politically exploited.

On the other hand some sections of state employees, constitute a servant
class of the proletariat in that their services are consumed in large
part by the working class - most obvious examples of this are people like
cleansing workers, teachers, nurses in public hospitals etc. As such
these groups tend to identify with the working class, and tend to be
favourably disposed to socialism since socialism would retain them
as a category, and offer them better living standards.

> There is a very real
> political danger of  identifying the criteria  for determining whether
> groups are productive of surplus value with the criteria for determining 
> which groups are members of the working class.  Indeed, if we simply 
> identify productive labor with the working class, i.e. treat the two 
> expressions as synonymous,  then we give up on the possibility of real 
> working class unity and solidarity and with it the possibility of 
> socialism.

I agree, that simply identifying if a group are productive or unproductive
is not in itself enough. One needs to also see whose flunkies they are.

> We also have to remember that what is analyzed in _Capital_ is
> which workers are "productive" or "unproductive" from the
> *standpoint of capital*.  

It is, I think, slightly more subtle. In Capital the key feature,
is whether the workers are productive for capital as a whole 
not whether they are productive for individual capitals.
Thus workers who appear to be productive to a firm of investment
bankers, and who get fat annual bonuses as a result, can
be unproductive from the standpoint of capital as a whole.

> In _recognizing_ this distinction, we can not
> take it over wholesale since the *working-class perspective* on who
> is "productive" is not the same as the capitalist perspective. From
> a working-class perspective,  workers need to comprehend how they
> are *united*  regardless of their diversity even while coming to terms
> with that diversity.  This *unity-in-diversity* by the working class
> presupposes that alliances will be developed among all workers
> including those who political economy defines as being unproductive.

You should not wish for the impossible. You have to be able
to formulate a program that will unite a sufficiently broad
coalition to be effective, but if you try to accomodate the
interests of the financial sector employees you end up with
Tony Blair's version of socialism.

> (NB: this does not, though, necessarily mean that managers are
> productive of surplus-value.  In addition to your point 3. in [8359],
> we should note that although they receive wages, they are not necessarily 
> wage *workers*.   Even capitalists themselves, after all, can pay 
> themselves wages: this accounting maneuver does not miraculously 
> transform them into wage-workers.)
> Solidarity, Jerry

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