[OPE-L:8367] Re: Education and Value

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Mon Jan 20 2003 - 19:38:52 EST

Re Paul C's [8366]:

> If we
> take a materialist view, we can hardly expect social groups to act
> against their own percieved interest.

But, how they identify and change their understanding of their own
self-interest can be more complex.  E.g. they may identify it in their
own self-interest to fight for jobs other than the ones they have now.
Thus, many bank workers (especially at lower levels) might be
readily convinced into being re-trained for jobs in another sector
if they felt that they were being upgraded  (just as many industrial
workers, such as assembly workers,  might perceive it in their own
self-interest to change jobs).

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

I don't think there is any country where large proportions of the
workforce are in financial services (although, this sector is a significant
employer in a small number of cities: here in New York City, the
single biggest group of workers are employed in  the F.I.R.E.  [finance,
insurance, real estate] sector).

> You have to account for the massive conservatism if not outright
> reactionary  nature of the political process in the anglo saxon
> countries.

Too big a question for me to tackle now, but I see no apparent
causal relation between that conservatism and the political perspectives
of financial sector employees.

> My hypothesis
> is that the long term influence of the financial/rentier interest and
> its associated servant classes accounts for this.

If we add up all of the workers in this sector, it is still a small
fraction of the workforce and their political perspectives can not
be seen as the locomotive which drives the political climate in
advanced capitalist nations.   Also, it should be noted that in the
US the single largest group of employees in the financial sector
are low-wage and low-benefit workers, such as bank tellers,  who
are disproportionately minority and women workers who
certainly don't tend towards conservatism.

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

I'm  not clear on how you think they can be "politically exploited", but
it is true that there are real conflicts between  industrial workers
and _some_ state employees.  E.g. there is often a real conflict of
interest between the police and the rest of the working class.

> 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.

And the other state employees might still be won over to socialism.
Thus,  soldiers and sailors tend to be nationalistic and conservative.
Yet, every successful revolution has involved winning over a segment
of  that social layer or at least getting them to step aside at a critical
moment and not open fire on other workers.  Remember the "Aurora"
and the role that the sailors at the Kronstadt Naval Station played in

> 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.

This suggests that all state employees are "flunkies".  This is not a
designation that will help win some over to the side of socialism
regardless of whose "flunkies" they are.

> 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.

I agree that it is important to distinguish between workers who are
productive of surplus value and workers who can assist individual
capitalists obtain a profit since a proportion of the latter group can
be unproductive laborers if their labor does not create value but
rather only helps to distribute surplus value.

> 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 accommodate the
> interests of the financial sector employees you end up with
> Tony Blair's version of socialism.

Blair, like other Social Democrats, is class accomodationist.
He accommodated British and US imperialism rather than the
interests of the financial sector employees in the UK.

As for the first part of your sentence above: what -- in broad
outline -- would such a program be from your perspective?

Solidarity, Jerry

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