[OPE-L:3445] RE: slave labour conditions

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Wed, 16 Oct 1996 01:08:54 -0700 (PDT)

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>> Paul C:
>> This, however, is a strange social system since it abstracts from the
>> most fundamental requirement of humans - to eat. It is not a social system
>> at all, containing as it must, no people. Who is it that can live on air?

>Nobody, this is excactly why it was simply assumed. Does Paul C. have
> some problems about assumptions? Isn't this what people do all the time as
>soon as they deploy a mathematical/statistical model? I seem to
>remember Paul C. is quite learned on the subject.

Paul C:
Yes, one has to make simplifying assumptions when creating mathematical
models of systems. What one is trying to do there is encode in symbolic
terms certain regularities that occur in the material world. Any such
model however, has a certain restricted domain of application. One is
implicitly assuming that the variables from which one is abstracting
remain within the range which will produce the regularities that one
is modeling.

When modeling the bulk behaviour of hydrogen one would normally assume that
it obeys the gas laws, in doing so one is implicitly assuming modest
and pressures, at jovian ones one would have to stop treating it as a gas
and treat it as a metallic solid.

The apparatus of analysis that people are using to discuss capital accumulation
involves variables and relationships whose domain of applicability are the
conditions of capitalist economy, among which are a rate of surplus value
of the order of 100%. It is invalid to assume that this mathematical apparattus
can model conditions far outside its original domain of application. If one
pushes the rate of surplus value to infinity, then the underlying regularities
upon which one built ones model would break down. Indeed, it is dubious that
it even represents a possible situation at all.

Another point is that one must always be cautious to verify a model that one
is building against reality, otherwise one can be let astray, believing that
internal mathematical consistency of the model is a certificate of validity.
Because the model made simplifying assumptions one may, on comparing it with
what actually occurs, find that things one assumed to be fixed are in fact
highly variable, and as a result, invalidate the relationships upon which one
had placed one's confidence.

> I regard speculation about spiritual social systems
>> to be rather idealist.
>. . . but Paul I made an example, the example of people having to
>care about their reproduction outside the market economy and then
>been forced by the state to sell part of their crop to pay taxes.
>Isn't v here = 0? And aren't we here talking about concrete poeple
>and not angelic spirit?

Yes but here v would not equal 0. Agriculture by worker's families may
well lower the level of wages, but it does not make them zero.
Paul Cockshott