Re: [OPE-L] Why aren't non-labourers sources of value? creativity

From: Ian Hunt (Ian.Hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU)
Date: Thu Apr 14 2005 - 18:40:45 EDT

Dear Rakesh,
You introduce  a number of other reasons why 
slaves and machines might not get on: my primary 
point though is that a master can dictate what 
slaves consume, whereas under wage labour for 
capital, capitalists can limit workers' 
consumption only though  a surplus labouring 
population that maintains competition between 
labourers in the free market for labour, as 
accumulation continues. This requires persistent 
"downsizing" of the workforce,

>At 2:21 PM +1030 4/14/05, Ian Hunt wrote:
>>Dear Rakesh,
>>I think you have not understood my point- sorry for not expressing it
>>clearly. I agree there is conflict between slaves/serfs and their
>>masters. I agree that in slave commodity production, surplus value is
>>produced. Labour time also plays a role. However, the drive for
>>relative surplus value present in capitalism, with a salient role for
>>labour displacing technical change, would not be part of the dynamic
>>of slave commodity production. Capital in this form can afford to be
>>technically lazy, since necessary labour time is set at the master's
>>command, not through competition between labourers in the market
>Dear Ian,
>Yes, yes, you had not mentioned the concept of 
>relative surplus value, and I certainly see the 
>logic of this argument that the transition from 
>absolute to relative surplus value depends on 
>the attainment of the civic equality of labor; 
>however, we should check this argument against 
>the history of technical change on the 
>plantations. For their time, they may not have 
>been technological laggards. Why would  a 
>plantation owner  have been more reluctant to 
>carry out mechanization where this was possible 
>and could be profitable. If mechanization 
>rendered redundant slaves that had already been 
>paid for or were inherited gratis as progeny, 
>those slaves could be sold or forced to purchase 
>their freedom through commodity production as 
>independent peasants. Were slaves more likely to 
>mishandle machines than free wage laborers (as 
>Cairnes and Olmstead suggested)? Charles Post 
>convincingly argues that there is no reason why 
>with the right mixture of coercion and 
>incentives slaves could not work machinery as 
>effectively as free wage laborers. Slavery may 
>not have fettered mechanization.
>Whether indentured, slave or free wage labor had 
>been used, there may have simply been limited 
>possibilities of mechanization in the cleaning 
>of tobacco leaves, the picking of cotton seeds 
>and the harvesting of sugar. In other words, 
>slavery was resorted to exactly because 
>mechanization was difficult, the demands for 
>labor were high and the treatment of labor 
>terrible in these agricultural activities (so 
>free labor would not do it).
>Moreover,  the eventual lag  in the 
>industrialization of the American South 
>vis--vis the Northeast was probably in part the 
>result of the plantations using the child and 
>female labor on which early industrialization 
>depended. Children and women were not as 
>extensively used in the kind of farming 
>practiced in Northeast and Midwest.
>Thanks for the clarification.
>Yours, Rakesh
>>  Obviously, I did not mean for you to extrapolate from my words
>>that there is a more fundamental difference between industrial
>>capitalism and others forms of capitalism based on slavery, merchant
>>or financial capital than the above.
>>>At 11:47 AM +1030 4/14/05, Ian Hunt wrote:
>>>>If  can chip in here too. It is not clear that in total
>>>>mechanization, labour time would retain its significance: as Chris
>>>>suggests, the issue is that of a conflict of interest between
>>>>labourer and capitalist, when both have a formally equal social
>>>>standing. Machines, no matter how ingenious or creative, would have
>>>>no interests in potential conflict with capital unless they had lives
>>>>of their own and consciously pursued their own interest in those
>>>>lives. If they did and had formally equal social standing, then the
>>>>social relations of capital would have a place. On the other hand, if
>>>>they were persons but lacked equal social standing, we would have
>>>>slave or feudal commodity production: labour time no doubt would play
>>>>a role here but not the same as under capitalism.
>>>I don't understand this--there is no conflict between slaves/serfs
>>>and masters? Why is equal standing necessary for there to be a
>>>conflict of interest? Why must there be a conflict of interest among
>>>people of equal (juridical?) standing for surplus value to be
>>>produced, and to be the aim of production. Certainly surplus value
>>>can be produced even if people do have equal juridical standing, but
>>>this does not prove that they must for it to be produced.
>>Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
>>Head, Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
>>Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
>>Flinders University of SA,
>>Humanities Building,
>>Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
>>Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

Dr Ian Hunt
Associate Professor in Philosophy,
Dept of Philosophy ,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
School of Humanities,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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