RE: [OPE] questions re transition

Date: Tue Jun 02 2009 - 07:43:11 EDT

>> [Howard wrote:]There's no precedent for
>> this. That is, the most important productive force is living labor itself,
>> and I'd want to look to advances in forms of organization as well as to the
>> material transformation of things. We'd expect the discovery and
>> transformation of forms of organization to lead to the transformation of
>> material things. But forms of collective managment of production, forms
>> that draw on and develop from each according to ability, are significant in
>> their own right. Kimberle Crenshaw's attention to intersectionality argues
>> listen first to those at the intersection of multiple oppressions. As we
>> find forms of organization to do so we will have developed the forces of
>> production of living labor. That would be a measure.
[Paul C replied:]
> But none of the above actually says anything about the productive
> forces, nor about the development of labour productivity. It is all, and
> rather vaguely at that, about social relations.
Hi Howard and Paul:
Maybe the discussion would be more concrete if you considered the question
in terms of case studies. Actually - I'm sure paul remembers - there was a lot
of literature by radical scholars produced on the design of new technologies
(circa 1980-1985). Although these studies primarily concerned the application
of new technologies under capitalism, an important theme of the literature
related to the criteria selected in the *design* of new technologies.
The capitalist criteria of efficiency, which sometimes coincides with the
development of the productive forces and the social productivity of labor
is what socialist societies should NOT be trying to replicate. Obviously,
this doesn't mean that we are in favor of inefficiency or that we have
no concern for the social productivity of labor, but technologies should be
designed with other social goals in mind.
Within capitalist society, new technologies are designed and built with a clear
objective: produce the technology at the lowest possible cost and maximize
capitalist efficiency. If there are externalities and market failure, then
(after their is unnecessary suffering, death, environmental degradation,
protests, demand for change, etc.) the state may pass regulations to ensure
that the same problem doesn't arise again. It is an after-the-fact (ex post)
way of reckoning with the social consequences of (private) decision-making
regarding technological change.
This dynamic is different than what we would anticipate in a socialist society.
To take a case from the news: have any of you been wondering about the loss
of the Air France flight from Rio to Paris? THe reporting explains that
the plane was in an area of the Atlantic beyond radar coverage. OK. But,
why wasn't there a continuous GPS beacon which relayed the position of the
plane? This would have been relatively inexpensive and the technology is
already widely applied in marine transportation and has global coverage.
Had they had that technology then airline authorities should have at least
known - immediately - _exactly_ when and where the plane went down.
Could the reason be simply that they were not _required_ to have such an
automatic GPS-based beacon on-board? Well, after all, why would you expect
them to have safety devices which are not state mandated?
So, maybe there will be additional safety regulations imposed by states on
airlines, but the point is that which technologies to design and adopt
are not being made within capitalist society with the focus on the social
consequences of the technologies.
Socialist society has to develop very different standards for
what efficiency represents. For instance, the environmental consequences
of possible technologies must - from the outset - be part of the
design criteria.
In solidarity, Jerry_______________________________________________
ope mailing list
Received on Tue Jun 2 07:47:47 2009

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