(OPE-L) the _struggle_ over the length of the working day

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Mon Jun 09 2003 - 07:21:32 EDT

Re: The 'cultural and moral' component (was Meillassou[Was: The 'cultural and moral' component (was Meillassoux on population and wages)]

(The following is an attempt to address an issue being discussed
in this thread a bit more concretely be singling out an individual
struggle for discussion.)

Marx gives us an explanation in _Capital_, in his analysis of
absolute surplus value,  for why capital strives to increase the
length of the working day.  He notes that, in addition to physical
limits (there are only 24 hours in a day and workers need time
to sleep and eat to be productive for capital), there are *social
limits*.  On this point, he does not expand greatly other than to
suggest that capitalist efforts to increase absolute s will meet 
working class resistance.  (Why didn't he expand on the topic
of *social* limits when introducing the concept of absolute s?
I think Mike L would say it was a topic that logically fits better
within the design of Book 3 on "Wage-Labour" than Book 1 on 

Let *us* ask: what then determines the length of the working day?  
Clearly, the "needs of capital" _alone_ do not determine the
outcome. What of the "needs" of workers?  

The struggle for the 8 hour day occurred during Marx's
lifetime and indeed he helped launch and guide that movement
since it was initiated by the International Workingman's
Association (i.e. the First International).  This movement was
not simply or even primarily an attempt to preserve jobs
in the face of technological unemployment.  It was rather a
struggle between capital, which only conceives of workers from
the standpoint of what's good for capital,  and workers, who
conceive of themselves not only as wage-workers but as 
living people with their own goals and aspirations.  This is
the point I think Mike L is making.  

Consider the slogan in the US (and possibly in Europe as well)
of the 8-Hour-Day movement: "8 hours for work, 8 hours for
sleep, 8 hours for what we will."   How can this possibly be 
comprehended _only_ as resistance to the 'needs of capital'?

To comprehend class struggle as a real *struggle*, i.e. in 
actuality, one must recognize that the demands of the working-
class do not arise _only_ in a 'defensive' manner: they, not
infrequently, are also expressions of a deep-seated desire to
make their lives better and *more* (fuller; more complete).
The slogan above captures an expression  of that -- a desire
for leisure time to do "what we will."    The next question to
ask might be: why do workers desire more leisure time? ...
what do they want to do with more leisure time?  

Unless the working-class is conceived multi-dimensionally
with subjectivity (i.e. as real human beings) than class struggle
in its various forms and more concretely can not be comprehended.
Class analysis requires that workers be stripped of their
"character masks."

In solidarity, Jerry

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