(OPE-L) an empirical question re socialism

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Thu Oct 23 2003 - 09:11:32 EDT

Has anyone recently conducted an empirical investigation using
input-output data which explored the capacity of  a) a given 
capitalist social formation and b) the world-wide economy to 
provide for the material needs of workers _following_ the 
socialization of the productive forces, an end to 'luxury' production,  
and the abolition of 'waste' of  resources on the realization of 
surplus value,  etc.?

To rephrase the question and put it in context:  Many Marxists have
argued -- at least going back to Engels- that  the current state of 
the productive forces had developed to a point where with the
redistribution of wealth following a socialist revolution and with 
a change in the relations of production that would eliminate the 
waste of  labor and means of production that a society could,
among other things,  provide for the material needs of people in
that society and simultaneously reduce the labor time required
to produce that output.   To quote Engels:

"no individual can throw on the shoulders of others his share in 
productive labor, this natural condition of human existence; and 
in which, on the other hand, productive labor, instead of being
a means of subjugating men, will become a means of their
emancipation, by offering each individual the opportunity to 
develop all his facilities, physical and mental, in all directions and
exercise them to the full -- in which, therefore productive labor will
become a pleasure instead of a burden.  Today this is no longer a
fantasy, no longer a pious wish.  *With the present development
of the productive forces*, the increase in production that would follow
the very fact of the socialization of the productive forces, coupled
with the abolition of the barriers and disturbances, and the waste
of products and means of production, will suffice, with everyone
doing his share of work, to reduce the time required for labor to a
point  which, measured by our present conceptions, will be small
indeed." (Engels, _Anti-Duhring_, emphasis added, JL).

My question seeks to empirically test this proposition.  Suppose
we examine input-output tables for all nations: couldn't estimates
be derived of the capacity of society to provide for needs and wants
(assuming that there are assumptions made about the redistribution 
of wealth and the change in the division of labor, etc.)?  "With the
current development of the productive forces",  what  'basket' of goods 
could workers on average expect? ...  and what would be reasonable 
estimates concerning  the  working time/worker  to produce that
output?    Has anyone done such an empirical study?  Are there
problems with the way in which I have posed these questions?  If so, 
how would you re-pose the questions?  

I am particularly interested in an *international* empirical study
because of the differences in standards of living internationally
among workers (especially given the presence of mass poverty
in many areas of the world).   Just how big is the international
'pie' and how big a slice can each worker expect?

In solidarity, Jerry

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