[OPE-L:3562] causes of tecnical change

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 30 Oct 1996 12:53:31 -0800 (PST)

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RE: Andrew K's [OPE-L:3560]:

When Paul C asked Andrew for empirical evidence in [OPE-L:3552], this is
what he asked for:

> Do you have any real world costings
> to show cases where new means of production have been purchased to
> reduce repression costs rather than labour costs?
> What do you reckon the current repression costs born by US firms are
> as a fraction of their turnover? How much have they been reduced
> over the last 20 years by employing machinery?

In Andrew's responses in which he claims to be responding to Paul C's
questions regarding empirical evidence, he has not addressed the above.

I think this is a worthy topic to discuss in its own right since the idea
that deskilling and increased control by capitalists over the work
environment (and "repression") are viewed by many radicals (e.g. from the
Social Structure of Accumulation school) as the *primary* reason for
technical change. My own understanding of the empirical and historical
evidence suggests that while this is a factor in some cases (most notably,
where the new process technology affects *skilled* workers, e.g. with
numerical control machine tools), the greater body of evidence suggests
that the *primary* motivation for the diffusion of new technologies is the
pursuit of increased relative surplus value (and, thereby, increases in
the productivity of labor) and surplus profits by individual corporations.

In Solidarity,