[OPE-L] More about exploitation

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Fri Jun 15 2007 - 15:11:35 EDT

Jerry expressed surprise at my heretical idea of workers exploiting workers. Well, just to illustrate, this week was a rotten week for me and I did significantly less work output than usual, I had this problem with Kliman and so on, not getting my rocks off and so on, too many things on my mind, and then I botch things in the supermarket etc. Sort of like, Dr Klutz. Anyway, feeling rather braindead, I was discussing some this with my workmate this afternoon, who commented among other things that if I did 1/3 of my workload then he would have my 2/3 as extra workload, i.e. if people don't pull their weight, they make more work for others. 

Now whether you regard this case as "exploitation" is a moot point, but if it lasts, or if it is "structural" in the economic sense, you start to think of exploitation, i.e. there's people earning their income without doing anything much, making more work for others. You can have regard for personal circumstances, but there are also limits. This way of thinking is not the simplistic way of thinking about exploitation by Marxists, but it is the real experience that you have to deal with in the workplace, i.e. the fact that work burdens can be shifted from one person to another, or from one group to another. And you have to be able to manage that, so that things stay fair, otherwise you don't have a healthy workculture, you have a lying workculture, where people specialise according to their ability to delegate work to others, rather than according to what really needs to be done. Which can wreck the whole purpose of why you are there, and then you get all sorts of perverse effects, because people no longer know what their charges are.

In terms of theory, what this means is that general ranting on about exploitation at the point of production is of limited use. What is really needed is a theory of the dialectics of cooperation and competition, and an effective way of working informed by such a theory. Then you have a "system". I am not talking about managerialist blah blah, but about a good theory.  I have been working on such a theory but I haven't the peace of mind at the moment to really relate all the concepts required together in a rocksolid manner (although Marxists are derisive about Sam Bowles etc., at the very least Bowles asks the questions which really need to be asked, as I realised in 1979). So it's still on the drawing board and also with these things, you have to be really sure that you get it correct, and that there is sufficient practical experience behind it. Obviously you cannot lead anybody (least of all lead yourself) if you don't think things through to the end, and you can only do what you are capable of doing at the time. Writing it all up is another story, you have to present things to the appropriate audience at the appropriate time.

Our life is really hellishly hard. We have to abolish competition among workers, so that we may rule ourselves and rule the world, for the benefit of all, no one left out, sort to like, "self-steering teams". And that's hard, there's always one who thinks he's better than the rest, for no good reason, and then you have to balance that out. The Marxists will cite to us plenty dead authorities from the past, but we are headed to the future, and we need "living authorities", as if all the good ghosts from the past came alive again, and evened out all the injuries and miseries of the past. And that's hard. Very hard.


Yeah, mama and papa told me 
I was crazy to stay 
I was fag in New York 
A gay in L.A. 
So I saved my money 
And I took a plane 
Wherever I go, they treat me the same 

When the whip comes down 
When the whip comes down 
When the whip comes down 
When the whip comes down 

I'm going down fifty-third street 
And they're spitting in my face 
I'm learning the ropes 
Yeah I'm learning a trade 
The east river truckers 
Are churning with trash 
I make so much money 
That I'm spending so fast 

When the whip comes down 
When the whip comes down 
When the whip comes down 
When the whip comes down 
When the shit hits the fan 
I'll be sitting on the can 
When the whip comes down 

Yeah, some called me garbage 
When I was sleeping on the street 
Out on the road 
I'm on the cheap 
I'm filling a need 
I'm plugging a hole 
My mama's so glad 
I ain't on the dole 

When the whip comes down 
When the whip comes down 
When the whip comes down 
When the whip comes down 
(Yeah, go ahead check it out) 

- Rolling Stones, "When the whip comes down" (1978)

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