[OPE-L:224] RE: wage labor and CAPITAL

Michael A. Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Mon, 9 Oct 1995 09:58:05 -0700

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In message Thu, 5 Oct 1995 07:37:34 -0700,
Tony Smith <tonys@iastate.edu> writes:

> Just a few final remarks on the place of wage labor in CAPITAL:
I won't respond to each of the points that Tony makes because by now
everyone knows the position I've advanced, it would involve repetition and
the implications will presumably become apparent when we look at CAPITAL. I
know there are many who aren't convinced by my argument but suspect that in
the same situation I would resist it in the absence of the more extended
development such as appears in the book or articles mentioned.

> 2. The idea that wage laborers are treated solely as objects in CAPITAL
> does not jibe with my reading, or the reading of my students. We have
> come away from the book with an appreciation of the role of the working
> class as subjects in history, as seen especially in the long discussion
> of struggles over the length of the working day in Vol.1, the discussion
> of cooperatives in Vol. 3, etc. of CAPITAL.

o The discussion of the struggle over the workday is, I agree, important
in conveying an aspect of the side of workers. I argue in the book that this
discussion lacks adequate development of the premise for the struggle by
workers (ie., comparable to that provided for capital). Raya Dunayevskaya
argued (CAPITALISM AND FREEDOM) that this discussion was a late addition,
but I haven't checked the drafts to confirm.

> CAPITAL is a book about social antagonisms; it does not
> construct an ideal type of a perfectly functioning social system.

Yet, there are other readings. Eg., Iwao may be able to comment on this
with respect to Uno's concept of the "pure economy" in his reading of

> 4. As a point of interest, Marx in fact does not consider merely the
> K-WL-K circuit; he does discuss the WL-K-WL circuit in Volume II (if I
> recall correctly, he calls it the L-C-L circuit). The main point he
> stresses is that consumption of the part of the working class is
> connected to the reproduction of total social capital. It seems to me
>ethat any separate book on wage labor would have to repeat the stress on
> this point; consumerism is not the path to the self-emancipation of the
> working class.
Yes, but those moments are looked at only from the perspective of the
reproduction of capital and not from that of the reproduction of the working
class, which is the necessary conditon for the former. Again, this
is explored in the book (Ch 3).
I hope that in my attempt to shorten my answers and this stage of our
discussions I haven't avoided what you see as a particularly damning point
for my position; if so, please don't let me evade it.
in solidarity,
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
Office: (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 255-0382
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e-mail: mlebowit@sfu.ca