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

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Thu Jun 12 2003 - 08:44:56 EDT

Re: (OPE-L) Re: the _struggle_ over the length of theRe Rakesh's message dated Wednesday, June 11:

Previously I wrote:

> Your memory, on Monday, had Marx writing that in nine out of ten cases
> "workers struggles are in fact defensive."  The paragraph that you cited
> does *not* deal with workers' struggles in general -- *or* the specific issue
> under discussion in this thread, namely,  struggles over the length of
> the working day -- but _only_ with struggles for increased wages. It
> would be a very big mistake, imo, to conceive of workers' struggles as
> _only_ struggles over increased wages.

Rakesh responded:

>  Jerry, are you saying that Marx did conceive of wage struggles as, 
> if not defensive, then as  responses to the previous action and 
> enroachment of capital?

I'll deal with the issue of wage increases in another thread -- one
with another subject line.  What I *am* saying here is that what Marx 
wrote  in _VPP_ in the paragraphs that you cited concerned *wage 
struggles* -- not workers' struggles in general or the struggle over 
the length of the working day in particular.

The point remains that Marx did _not_ write that struggles over 
the length of the working day can be conceived as "defensive"
struggles.  And -- more to the point -- regardless of what Marx
did or did not write,  struggles over the length of the working
day are expressions in part of the aspirations of the working class
for additional leisure time which collide with the drive by 
capital to -- wherever possible -- increase absolute surplus value. 
To conceive one-sidedly of such struggles as primarily "defensive" 
fails to grasp what workers are fighting *for*.

Related struggles by workers -- e.g. for increased vacation time per
year, for pension plans, for early retirement, etc. -- which are fought
either through the collective bargaining process or as social movements
which demand public entitlements by the state can also not be
comprehended merely as defensive "reactions" to the "previous
action" and "encroachments of capital."    To treat such struggles
as if they were in general struggles against "givebacks" is, once
again, to miss the concrete goal that workers are struggling *for*.  

In solidarity, Jerry

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