[OPE-L:2578] Classes and wage-labor

glevy@acnet.pratt.edu (glevy@acnet.pratt.edu)
Thu, 27 Jun 1996 19:22:32 -0700 (PDT)

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Andrew wrote in [OPE-L:2519]:

> LOts of workers do not receive "wages," but do labor for
> capital. Take the workers in Stalin's slave labor camps, [....]

Whether workers in the former "USSR" labored "for capital" depends on how
you define and understand capital in that social formation. It is true,
though, that laborers can exceptionally take the form of non-wage earners
under specific historical circumstances in capitalist social formations
(e.g. slave labor in the pre-Civil War South). These laborers (slaves),
however, were not proletarians any more than laborers in "slave labor
camps" could be counted as being proletarians.

> ... or the kids whose
> *parents* get the wages (Marx himself notes that even the formal appearance
> of the labor contract as the metting of free individuals is absent here, as
> is the reality absent when we examine the reproduction of the capital/labor
> relation).

The wage relation exists above. The (primary) question is *who* receives
the wages in the working-class family. This relation is still common in
certain areas of the world today, most notably for factory workers in some
Free Trade Zones in South Asia. Significantly, the patriarchal relation
in the family is used by capital as a way of enforcing disciple and
authority within the factory.

> Or the small proprietor who exploits him/herself and is,
> therefore, as Marx notes, his (her) own wage laborer.

As I recall, Marx said something to the effect that the
*petty-bourgeoisie* can exploit him or herself. Yet, a "small proprietor"
does not perform *wage* labor and is not a "proletarian."

> All of these people
> are proletarians, functionally speaking.

I don't agree. Slaves aren't proletarians. "Small proprietors"
(e.g. petty-bourgeoisie) aren't "functionally speaking" proletarians.

In OPE-L Solidarity,