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

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sat Apr 16 2005 - 10:52:04 EDT

At 8:10 AM +0930 4/15/05, Ian Hunt wrote:
>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.

Dear Ian,
I don't know if the only works here. What then of 
wage and price controls? What of the history of 
maximum wage laws? And I am not clear about how 
this difference between slave and wage labor 
(note that Banaji defines wage labor in such a 
way that it includes some forms of slavery; the 
wage can be paid in provision lots, in use 
values, scrips, etc., though not everyone paid in 
such a form is ipso facto a wage laborer) speaks 
to the question of value.
Yours, Rakesh

>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 
>>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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