RE: [OPE] labor tokens and efficiency

Date: Fri May 08 2009 - 07:52:09 EDT

>> * There is an unstated ethic to such a system. "From each according>
>> to her abilities, to each according to her hours of labor" is
>> a slogan which might find favor with those who embrace the
>> Protestant work ethic. I see the possibility of a caste of "neo-
>> Stakhanovites" emerging - the neo-Stakhanovites, unlike the originals,
>> would not attempt to maximize labor intensity or be motivated by
>> the perceived effect of their labor on the socialist project; they
>> would attempt to maximize their working hours and would be motivated
>> instead by a desire for an increase in individual wealth
>> over the social average.
>> The latter two related issues suggest that there would need to be
>> a ban on working beyond a certain amount of hours per day and per week.
> That could be argued within the framework of such a system, but I don't
> understand your objection.
> Provided a normal work week is sufficient for a decent standard of living,
> if some individuals desire to devote more time to work than the social
> average, either because they enjoy their work or because they want to
> increase their individual consumption by obtaining more labour tokens,
> it is to the benefit of society.

Hi Dave Z and Paul C:

Increasing work time isn't socially beneficially for a variety of reasons:

1. As the length of the working day and workweek increases so does fatigue.
This leads both to an increase in industrial accidents and long-term
adverse physiological and mental health problems. These costs would be
paid for using social resources and hence the decisions of individuals
could represent an unnecessary social burden.

2. Increasing work time would lead to the creation and reproduction of
'one-dimensional' individuals: i.e. a segment of society, who through
their own individual work choices, works so long that they don't have
time to be with family, friends, participate in community events, engage
in voluntary non-work leisure activities, branch out in new creative
directions, et al.

3. This would lead not only to income inequality but the creation and
reproduction of groups of people who are motivated primarily by personal
enrichment and a desire to acquire material goods beyond the average
which are available to others in society. This would lead to social
stratification between those who are motivated primarily by social
interest and those who are motivated primarily by a desire for personal

4. Democratic socialist society requires the full participation of its
members in the decision-making processes. But, if people are working
longer hours then they have less time for participation in
decision-making bodies. This materially punishes those who volunteer
their time to be part of decision-making bodies and materially rewards
those who opt out in favor of increased work time.

5. There is an often unrecognized danger for those who work non-
alienated jobs. Given the experience which most workers have of
working at jobs that they don't like, if they suddenly have jobs
which they have a high degree of job satisfaction with, there is a
tendency to work themselves _too_ long and _too_ hard in ways which
are damaging to physical health, mental health, and the maintenance
and enhancement of social relationships. I have seen this happen to
some people I know (including a good friend who is part of a
software producer collective and another who works as a community
organizer) and it has even happened to me (when I worked in the
UAW Research Department).

6. A more general but relevant consideration: building socialist
society isn't just a matter of increasing the forces of production.
It's also a matter of changing social relations and cultural
praxis. There is an element of social psychology here which needs to
be considered and thought through.

In solidarity, Jerry_______________________________________________
ope mailing list
Received on Fri May 8 07:55:14 2009

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