Re: [OPE-L] fully automated economy and capitalism

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Dec 06 2007 - 04:09:14 EST

It would apply to a maglev train in a vacuum

-----Original Message-----
From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Ian Hunt
Sent: 06 December 2007 02:07
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] fully automated economy and capitalism

Dear Jerry,
There is dispute about whether there can be real cases of movement under
gravity on inclined plane without friction. Certainly, there can be
cases where there is no air friction (as in a vacuum) but whether there
can be cases of absolutely zero friction between the object and the
plane it slides on is another matter (perhaps with supercooled objects).
But even so, it is wrong to say that it has absolutely nothing to do
with or is completely removed from reality. One can infer, for example,
that the acceleration in the frictionless case is an upper bound of the
acceleration in the real case,

>     That is a very easy point to grasp. Sraffa's analysis of
>     capitalism holds for w (wages) greater than 0. However, we may
>     step outside capitalism to look at what holds when w=0, just as
>     when studying physical motion, we may step outside the motion of
>     bodies  subject to friction on inclined planes by looking, as
>     Galileo did, at the case where friction = 0. That too, is a not so
>     simple but still relatively easy point, I think,
>     Hi Ian:
>     Examining the case where friction equals zero is
>     perfectly valid because their can be settings
>     (including a vacuum) where it exists.  It is not
>     merely an empty abstraction completely removed from
>     an analysis of the real subject matter.
>     Stepping outside capitalism is legitimate, of course,
>     if you want to develop a trans-historical theory
>     that can be applied to analyze non-capitalist modes
>     of production (real or imagined; on Earth or elsewhere
>     in the Universe).  If that is the case, then go ahead
>     and assume that w = 0.  If it is intended
>     to be part of a  (Marxian or non-Marxian)  analysis of
>     capitalism, then there are insurmountable obstacles.
>     For instance, under capitalism, what is the intensity of
>     labor consistent with the assumption of V = 0?  What
>     are the implications of the length of the working day if
>     V = 0?  If  "wage-workers  live on air" why would they
>     work at all?   Wouldn't they be better off being
>     part of the industrial reserve army? Unless there was a
>     severe labor shortage, why would "capitalists"  seek to
>     increase relative surplus value through technological
>     change?  Questions like this arise because the
>     limit case is outside of the legitimate parameters of
>     the subject matter.
>     In solidarity, Jerry

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