[OPE-L:2061] Re: May Day Greetings

Iwao Kitamura (ikita@st.rim.or.jp)
Thu, 2 May 1996 09:50:47 -0700

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May Day Greetings to all.
Last evening, I was actually invited as a lecturer to a local union meeting
celebrating May Day. The topic there was not a sort of thing Jerry
raises but the current political problem of japanese housing loan companies.
Criticizing the government's decision of pouring 685 bil. yen (or more) state
money into dissolvation of those companies was my task there.
I pointed the most serious problem related to that lies in the current
structure of japanese capitalism that continously creates excess of
monetary capital.
BTW, I try the following excercise, though I couldn't do it completely.

Jerry [2052]:

>Suppose you were asked to give a lecture later today to a meeting of
>trade unionists on the causes of unemployment and the micro and macro
>employment effects of new technology. Develop an outline of your speech
>*which includes a listing of ***all*** of the determinants of
>unemployment*. Then, publish the outline on OPE-L.

[I don't think I can list up ***all*** determinants of unemployment.
(but in what sense do you say ***all***, Jerry?)]

The followings would be my 'memo'.

1. The recent unemployment situation in Japan since the current depression began.
The concrete examples how capitalists have reduced the number of employment.
Most serious problems occur among new comers and part-time workers.
Why? It's the easiest way to reduce workforce immediately untill now.
But drastic firings began to be seen recently. = Shin Nippon Steel for example.
Then what thread of workers are targeted to be reduced now -- 'white collar' elders.
Why? Two reasons -- (1) relatively high wage rate, (2) their inability to adapt
themselves to new technology = PC and network.
Firing workers often comes with out-sourcing which means employment of lower wage
labor-power. This is a reduction of wage rate in total.

2. Looking back the history of rationalization in Japan.
Rapidly burst-out automation in '60. Computerization of manufacturing sectors in '70.
Organizational innovations combined with computerization in '80. Each case associated
mass firings especially in manufacturing sectors.
What a nonsense is the legend that Japan is a country of lifetime-long employment!
Then the development of electronics technology cheapens price of computers and
other communication tools and enables capitalists to re-organize the task processes
with mass-use of computers in order to reduce workforces.

3. Why new technology doesn't gain working class under capitalism?
It is not new technologies but capitalism that is against workers. Capitalists never
will or are forced to adapt new technologies if they don't reduce the cost of
production. If using a better maschine reduces workforces directly and the price
of it is lower than wage sum of estimated reduced workers, this results rise
in unemployment directly. (+ cases of indirect reduction of employment.)
As a result, rise in productivity derives decrease in value and price of products.
Without struggle, all capitalists can reduce wage rate proportional to the decrease
in prices of products for the reproduction of labour-power. Thus capitalists can
up-lift the exploitation ratio by introducing new technologies.

4. Why capitalism can't survive without unemployment -- reserve army?
There is a particular temporal period when the level of unemployment becomes
very low at the heated business boom. At the peak of this boom, rise in wage
rate caused by the low unemployment makes capitalists profit decrease and then
results in downturn of accumulation and often causes a particular crisis.
In ordinary period, capitalist accumulation do not proceed proportionally among
sectors. Some increase employment at the slower technical change and
others create unemployment at the more rapid change of technology. This
process inevitably creates unemployment in total because no more required
workers cannot avoid being unemployed untill they find next jobs while total
accumulation process is going on.

Reading recommendation -- Capital Vol.I, chapter of the general law of
capitalist accumulation.

<This would take approximately one and half an hour.>

>For *EXTRA CREDIT* answer the following question as well:
>In the question and answer period following the speech, a young
>militant Marxist woman asks you the following off-topic question that you
>decide to answer anyway: "How does domestic labor affect the
>value-creating ability of laborers and the reproduction of the commodity
>labour-power?". Answer her question and publish your response on OPE-L.

It's obvious the reproduction of labour-power requires some domestic
labor. - cooking, loundry, education etc. So the reproduction of commodity
labour-power contains the reproduction of labour-power for necessary
domestic labour. But as long as domestic labour remains as domestic,
it is not under capital - wage labour relation.
If the products of capitalist production == some durable consumer goods
like cleaners, dish-washers, electric-loundry or services like catering
are cheap enough to replace or reduce necessary hours of domestic labour
and allows those who do domestic labour into labour market, value of commodity
labour-power and wage rate will decrease.

>Note that neither of the above -- important -- questions have been
>addressed yet on this list.

I hope the discussion about the general law of capitalist accumulation
would develope toward the former problem - inevitability of unemployment
under capitalism.

in solidarity,


Iwao Kitamura
mailto: ikita@st.rim.or.jp