[OPE-L:1616] Re: Temporality vs simultaneity

Massimo De Angelis (M.DeAngelis@uel.ac.uk)
Thu, 28 Mar 1996 12:59:05 -0800

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Hello everybody. I am been submerged by messages since I came back
from the States. (BTW, good to see you all - those who were there )

Here a quick reply to Bruce.

Bruce, of course if total living labor increases in relation to dead
labor and for a given wage rate, there is an increase in the rate of profit.
After all, the substance of capitalist wealth is abstract labor, and IF
(again IF) capital succeeds to impose more work well, there you have it.
To be honest this is indeed "an interesting case of disagreement" as you put
it, not for the reasons you suggest (we cannot derive hints about actual
capitalist "behavior" here as suggested by Andrew) but for clarifying the
fact that for a simultaneist accumulation is and can only be accumulation of
a physical product ["SSS logic says that capitalists are certainly
smart enough to realize that paying out more in order to get smaller products
(available for consumption and/or net investment) is a dumb way to
accumulate" Bruce on ope-l 556] and not accumulation of abstract wealth or,
which is the same for Marx, abstract labor, a class relation.

About the IF above. I think Bruce is here touching a crucial problem,
namely one of the most important contradiction of capitalist production,
the fact that the substance of capitalist wealth is abstract labor and at the
same time capital must get rid of it through the accumulation process etc.
Because, If the substance of bourgeois wealth is abstract labor, could
the capitalists simply put everybody to work, eliminate unemployment,
etc., and at the same time increase total mass of surplus value and the rate
of profit? This is after all what we could derive from TSS example made
by Bruce. Sure, if that L = 77.5 in Bruce's example is a pure accounting
number, if it expresses labor as simply a DEAD object rather than
LIVING labor, then yes, this is what would happen. But if
abstract labor is a social relation of struggle, that is, along with
capitalist work there is refusal of this work, along alienation there
is struggle against alienation and for another life, together with the plan
of capital imposing such and such rhythm to workers there is a counter
plan of the workers slowing down, taking more coffee-breaks, etc. etc.,
**THEN what looks nice on paper to capitalists as simple technicians
faced by a simple choice between techniques, will not look as nice to
capitalists as planners vis-a-vis the working class.**

What I am trying to say is this. Bruce, you example is correct , but
does not say much. Put some life in that L of yours and see what may
happen, and why capitalists may after all not choose the technique you
are suggesting TSS say they would, or if they choose it,
they may regret it.