Re: [OPE-L] the working class and the informal sector

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Sun Dec 12 2004 - 20:04:16 EST

>          I think those definitional criteria below are the easy ones.

Michael L,

Right.  I was just trying to determine what we agree on.

> How
> about people working in the sphere of circulation within the circuit of
> capital who would choose to be wage-labourers if that option were present
> but who are compelled to function as retail workers who must bear a risk
> because they have no alternative?

What people are we talking about?  For example, consider some informal
sector cases  mentioned by Drakakis-Smith  (_The Third World City_) in
which there are owners of pedicabs which are rented out daily to others
who then operate the pedicabs to earn money or there is the case in which
money is regularly advanced for itinerant food hawkers to make purchases at
wholesale markets so that these peddlers can purchase the food that they
will then cook and sell.  Drakakis-Smith thinks that these constitute
exploitive relationships even though the exploiter is not a capitalist in
the  traditional sense and indeed is poor and needs to do this this or
otherwise  take on a different role within the informal sector in order to
survive.  But,  the point I am making is that there is frequently
exploitation  _within_ the sector by the poor  'entrepreneurs' and the
laborers.  Are they _all_ part  of the working class? I don't think so.
Are they _all_ part of the petty-bourgeoisie?  I don't think so -- although
the 'entrepreneurs'  in the above cases who rent out means of production
or advance money in exchange for more money are (very) petty-bourgeois,
imo. What I object to is a tendency among some Marxists, it seems to me,
to say that people are either capitalists or members of the working class.
The reality of capitalist society and the degree of class stratification is
more complex than that.  In any event, if one were to say that the poor
who rent out pedicabs which are used as means of production or who
borrow funds to purchase means of production are not part of the working
class, does not imply that we should not support their struggles and build
alliances with them.

In solidarity, Jerry

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