Re: [OPE-L] what is irrational in the functioning of capitalism?

From: Dogan Goecmen (Dogangoecmen@AOL.COM)
Date: Wed Nov 29 2006 - 06:56:26 EST

Hi Gerry

You say:

On a macro level, production without human beings is  science

fiction; on the  micro level, it is not.  Already, in the early 1980s,
there were  flexible manufacturing systems (FMS) where robots
and automated  machinery produced robots.  Indeed, these systems
can be  constructed in such a way that they are self-diagnostic.
Since that time there have been significant advances in robotic
vision, tactile ability, adaptive control, etc. systems -- and I haven't
even mentioned yet the early generations of 'intelligent robots'.

It is true that  the "factory of the future" -- *universally applied* --
remains science  fiction.  But, I think it is possible to *envision* a
system without  human labor directly in the production  process.


I worked more than 10 years in different car and lorry factiories like BMW
and MAN. I know from my experience that there could be sections in production
process involving no actual human labour. But I think Ajit's claim was going
much beyond this. He was sort of asking whether production as such could be
thought of without any human labour. As far as I know this question is
re-raised  by people like Peter F. Drucker in the context of the Knowledge Based
Economy.  And I think this is impossible, because even in those sections of
production  involving no actual human labour is needed in one way or another. Human
labour  is involved by the fact that robost and all sorts of fully automated
machines  are products of human labour. On the other hand, what about
maintanance,  programming, re-programming, switching on and off, observation and so  on
for example? In the long-rung Marx did not deny the possibility that  human
beings can step aside the direct production and work just as observers of
production process. But even as observers human beings are absolutely necessary
for production.

The question  shouldn't be whether production in general is possible
without human  labor; the question would be whether such a system
could be  characterized as capitalist.  I would say, no -- since  wage
labor is an  essential aspect of capitalism. Without wage-labor
there can be  production (as there was in pre-capitalist modes of
production) but  not capitalism.


But logically you cannot ask the second question without answering the  first
question affirmatively. I mean without implying that production without
human labour is possible you cannot the pose the question how this system should
be charcterised. This is pure speculation. I rather prefer to pose the
question  whether production is possible without capitalists.

Warm regards


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