[OPE-L:5090] the creation of labour-power

Michael Williams (mwilliam@compuserve.com)
Wed, 21 May 1997 14:46:17 -0700 (PDT)

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Jerry asks:
> What, then, determines the "creation" of labour-power within the
> capitalist mode of production?

Michael W:
I am not sure what you are getting at. So here are some probing comments:
1. I am concerned here primarily to say what the creation of L-P is *not*.
It is not capitalist commodity production. That is there is no 'domestic
labour process' driven by the imperatives of value production and
2. This does not preclude a variety of economic factors effecting the rate
of 'baby production', under some situations, quite significantly. So, in
certain rural cultures, children seem to be important for their economic
value (as agricultural laborers, for example). On the other hand,
increasing affluence seems sometimes to lead to a reduction in birthrates.
Under some conditions some kind of Malthusian population principle seems to
be at work.
3. Nor are the insights of human capital theory about rational economic
investment in one's own l-p, in order to enhance its salability (after, as
it were, the person has been created), obviously absurd.
4. As I have already intimated, the bourgeois private sphere is embedded in
the capitalist economy, and obtains sustenance by buying Commodities with
income generated, in the last resort by the sale of l-p.
5. If you are thinking of the macro supply of labour-power, then my point
is that it is precisely because l-p is *not* a commodity that
extra-economic intervention in pursuit of ensuring its adequate supply is
needed. This is one ground of the 'welfare state' (see, eg, Ian Gough
(1979) The Political Economy of the Welfare State, Macmillan).
I do not want to defend any of these particular claims. My point is simply
to note that procreation does not occur under direct capitalist relations
of production, so that which is created is not a Commodity.

Comradely greetings

Dr Michael Williams
"Books are Weapons"

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