Re: Labour aristocracy

From: dashyaf@EASYNET.CO.UK
Date: Mon Jan 05 2004 - 10:47:55 EST


It is unclear to me what you mean by production workers. David C Korton
pointed out that 'in the modern global economy, production accounts for
only about 25 per cent of the selling price of a typical product. Another
way to put it is that 75 per cent of the value created by those who produce
real goods and services is now being captured by those who do only money
work.' When Corporations Rule the World (1995 Earthscan) Crudely put maybe
but you get the point. How is this possible? The high standard of living of
significant sections of those workers employed in financial and business
services - my articles have pointed out the changing nature of the working
class and, therefore, labour aristocracy in the contemporary imperialist
economy - as well as the vast array of other assorted highly paid 'middle
class' professionals,  can only be explained on the basis of imperialism.

I think the division between productive and unproductive workers is more
significant and it is pertinent to ask how the imperialist economies can
sustain such a high proportion of unproductive workers - with significant
sections of such workers having a very high standard of living. Yes, at the
same time,  ever greater numbers of  unproductive workers are being forced
into very low paid jobs in the imperialist countries as well. This is a
measure of  the crisis of imperialism.

There can be no doubt that the intensity of work of productive workers has
increased considerably without significant compensation in pay etc
especially in the US. But this level of pay is still as high as it is
because of the very high rates of exploitation and dismally low rates of
pay of the vast majority of the world's working class in the underdeveloped
world. This point seems to escape you.

There is little doubt that the numbers of privileged workers that
imperialist economies can sustain is diminishing and will eventually return
to a small influential minority of the working class  dominating the trade
unions and other labour organisations , similar to the proportion  in the
last quarter of the nineteenth century in Britain (estimated at around
15%). This still is some way off however.

The issue of the labour aristocracy needs discussing again in some serious
way. The stability of the capitalist system since the beginning of the
twentieth century cannot be understood without recourse to an explanation
along such lines.

David Yaffe

At 13:14 05/01/04 +0000, you wrote:
>>Paul B wrote:
>>What is actually clear is that relatively few producers/corporations  in the
>>world, lets say 300, headquartered in very few states lets say 10, but
>>mostly in the US, have a monopoly ( in the sensible sense of over 25% of the
>>market ( UK Competition regs)), and that this 'monopoly' allows huge profits
>>which are in part are used to provide payments to sections of the work force
>>to ensure loyalty and stability to the system.
>I don't think this is actually clear. What sections of the work force are
>being referred to? My computations for the US, using BLS statistics for
>hourly wage rates of production workers in all sectors of the economy (83
>per cent of employed workers), making very rough adjustments for direct
>taxes, social security contributions and receipt of state cash benefits,
>and deflating by the NDP deflator, seem to show that
>in 1978, real hourly product wages were 11.79 and by 2000 had risen to 11.97.
>A total of 18 cents of a 1996 dollar over 22 years doesn't seem like an
>increase which would ensure loyalty and stability to the system.
>For nonproduction workers (17 per cent of the workforce), real hourly
>product wages were 20.88 in 1978 and 34.89 in 2000. Is it these workers
>(with supervisory responsibilities) to which the labour aristocracy
>hypothesis refers?
>Simon Mohun
>Centre for Business Management,
>Queen Mary, University of London,
>Mile End Road,
>London E1 4NS,
>Tel: +44-(0)20-7882-5089 (direct); +44-(0)20-7882-3167 (Dept. Office); Fax:

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