[OPE-L:5135] RE: Memorial Day, 1997

Michael_A._Lebowitz (mlebowit@sfu.ca)
Wed, 28 May 1997 01:08:28 -0700 (PDT)

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I think the questions that Jerry asked at the end of long post may have
been missed but are some of the most intriguing ones posed on OPE-L yet. I
hope we can get some discussion of these started. (As suggested in a recent
note, I don't think we are getting very far in this endless discussion of
value theory and am hoping we can break out.)
in solidarity,

In message Mon, 26 May 1997 10:25:52 -0700 (PDT),
Gerald Levy <glevy@pratt.edu> writes:

> II. Questions
> ---------
> a) During Marx's life there were already mass movements of workers for
> first the "10 hour day" and later the "8 hour day" throughout Europe and
> North America. The "8 hour day movement" was championed, as well, by the
> First International. Contemporary labor historians are somewhat divided in
> their interpretation of the causes of this movement. One group of
> historians emphasize the demand for additional *leisure time* and thus
> point to one of the most popular slogans of the time: "8 hours for work, 8
> hours for sleep, 8 hours for what we will." Another group of historians
> emphasize the connection between hours of work and levels of microeconomic
> employment, i.e. the possibility that shortening the workweek can be used
> as a way of combating "technological unemployment."
> Q: How is the demand for additional leisure time important for workers'
> struggles today? Does it represent, for example, an expression of the
> "auto-valorization" (Negri, Cleever) of workers?
> Q: What is required for struggles around the short workweek to be
> effective? Is state action required?
> Q: Given the disparity of hours of work internationally, what type of
> international trade union solidarity is required for workers to win a
> reduction in working hours. Why has international bargaining by unions had
> only limited success to date?
> b) The *state* played an important role in first repressing the "Little
> Steel Strike" and then creating the conditions, through changes in labor
> law, that led to the unionization of the steel industry.
> Q: Can this tension and contradictory role of the state be best grasped by
> the tension between "civil society" and the state (a position that
> Geert/Mike W seem to suggest) or by viewing the state, more "classically"
> as a tool of class repression (perhaps best emphasized by "Open Marxists"
> like Massimo). Or, is this an example of "overdetermination" (such as
> Althusserians like Steve C, Paul Z, Ajit, Bruce might claim)?
> Q: In a period of increasing regional trade associations (e.g. EU,
> NAFTA), where blocs of capitalist nations confront workers, how has the
> role of the *individual* state changed vis-a-vis labor?
> In solidarity, Jerry
Michael A. Lebowitz
Economics Department, Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C. Canada V5A 1S6
Office (604) 291-4669; Office fax: (604) 291-5944
Home: (604) 872-0494; Home fax (with warning): (604) 872-0485
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