[OPE-L] More about exploitation

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Thu Jun 21 2007 - 16:11:25 EDT

OK Jerry... all I am saying is that exploitation can occur in production, distribution, circulation and consumption and can affect all social classes, and that Marx's exploitation is only a sort of "foundational exploitation" without which other forms of exploitation could not occur, or would be more difficult to operate. 

I cannot even pretend to know all the different modalities of exploitation there are, I'm a bit of an innocent in that respect I guess, whatever my experience of exploitation I have seen or suffered. I have sometimes talked about it sociologically in terms of the "porosity of (susceptibility to) exploitation" of different populations, and people laughed at me, but I think it is a reality. 

In free markets, typically the strong (i.e. those with superior bargaining power) defeat the weak, and the weak are precisely those who are most vulnerable to exploitation for one reason or another (and there could be innumerable reasons). 

Classic social democracy therefore aims to protect/defend the weak against the strong, using the levers of state intervention to promote social solidarity. I was thinking about that recently, because what is the social-democratic response from the Dutch Labour Party to the success of the Dutch Socialist Party? 

In their scientific journal "Socialism & Democracy" (Vol. 64, no. 5, 2007), Eefje Steenvoorden (from the Labour Party youth group) provides an example which she claims illustrates the difference between them and the SP. 

"The SP wants to free solo-parents in the "bijstand" [the lowest form of benefit in the Dutch system] from the legal requirement to apply for jobs until the children are twelve years old. This seems very generous and social. Until we look at what that will mean for a woman who does not work for twelve years. (...) The Labour Party gives solo-parents exemption from the duty to apply for jobs until their children are five years old, but requires compulsory job-training. After that period, the Labour Party requires that the solo-parent starts working again. And because that will most probably be part-time work, a tax break will be guaranteed. The SP offers a solo-mother only a slightly larger budget, but does not think of the consequences. By thinking out of protest and fearfully rejecting every reform, the SP brakes the chances of the people they claim to represent." (p. 6). 

So according to Steenvoorden, the point of honour of the Dutch Labour Party, the distinguishing difference, is that they want to force solo-mothers on the lowest form of benefit back to work, once their children are 5 years old, rather than permitting these people to choose themselves whether to take on work (which they will, if they can), until their children are 12 years old. Well if that is all they can argue in favour of social democracy, it is not very convincing.


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