[OPE-L:5082] Re: question

Ajit Sinha (ecas@cc.newcastle.edu.au)
Tue, 20 May 1997 03:39:19 -0700 (PDT)

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At 03:53 PM 5/16/97 -0700, Jerry Levy wrote:

>[The following is a digression].
>This may be a bit off-topic, but as a former autoworker, having spent 5
>years of my life working "on the line" at General Motors and Ford, I
>can't resist commenting on the above.
>Putting aside the question of those in the skilled trades (e.g.
>electricians, tool-and-die makers, machinists), in a sense labor is
>"abstract labour" _most_ *at the moment when workers are hired*
>(i.e. *before* they have even entered into the labor process)! This can
>readily be seen by the hiring practices of most auto corporations in the
>US whose main criteria (of course, there are exceptions and differences
>among companies) is the ability to perform labor in general. I.e. they
>require humans with two legs and two feet, two arms and two hands,
>normal dexterity, and all major senses (e.g. eyesight, hearing, smell,
>etc.). Basically, that's it! (really).

I think any kind of work, no matter how simple or difficult it is, is
concrete labor. Some literary Marxist scholars like Lukacs tried to suggest
that capitalist factory production has reduced concrete labor to abstract
labor in its concrete form. This may be a nice poetic way of looking at
things, but as a theoretical concept it is problematic. With the advent of
so-called team work etc., what are we going to do? Now, the "labor" cannot
be abstract labor at the moment when the workers are hired simply because
what is hired is labor-power and not labor. Labor is an activity which is an
input in concrete production process. Most of what you say suggest to me
that overall you agree with me that abstract labor is in the end nothing but
unskilled labor, and the theoretical problem is the problem of reduction of
skilled to unskilled labor. Cheers, ajit sinha