[OPE-L:3330] RE: accumulation of capital revisited

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 9 Oct 1996 05:44:41 -0700 (PDT)

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Having already discussed the implications of the v = 0 assumption in
[OPE-L:3329], let's see what we can say about the process that Andrew K
is talking about in [OPE-L:3326] when v > 0.

> None of this is obvious to me. What about sabotage, slowdowns, strikes,
> sitdowns, and other S'es? Machines are used to bring an ahuman, "objective"
> discipline to the labor process, and the subjection of the worker to this
> discipline. This incentive to substitute dead labor for living is *also*
> present when v = 0, but since it (this particular incentive) is
> independent of wages, it is most clearly seen when v is set equal to 0.

How do capitalists maintain control over wage-workers? What is it that
allows capitalists to increase the intensity of work, substitute dead
labor for living labor, etc.?

After producers have been separated from ownership of the means of
production [after we assume wage-labor] ... then capitalists are able to
exercise control in the workplace because workers know that they need jobs
in order to obtain money with which they can buy means of consumption. It
is the threat of losing one's job, the threat of *unemployment*, that
conditions the relation between workers and capitalists (and managers) in
the labor process.

For the sake of simplicity, assume only abstract labor and uniformity of
wages both within a firm and among firms in all branches of production.
Also, assume no state intervention. If there was *full employment*, then
*any* attempts by individual capitalists to increase capitalist control
over the workplace would not be effective since workers would know that
(given these conditions) they could switch jobs and work for another
capitalist at the same wage.

If, however, the industrial reserve army is greater than 0 (i.e. there
is *unemployment*), we can observe a different relation between capital
and labor. Ultimately, the ability of capitalists to increase absolute s,
the intensity of work and/or substitute dead labor for living labor
(putting aside for now, the question of natural limits to the first two)
depends on whether workers are willing to risk losing their jobs and,
thereby, being unemployed and, thereby, no longer having money with which
they can purchase necessary (understood in a social and moral sense)
consumption goods.

None of the above can be seen if we assume v = 0.

In solidarity,