[OPE-L:5633] Re: labor process and R&D labor

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sat, 25 Oct 1997 09:25:33 -0400 (EDT)

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Paolo C wrote (on Fri, 24 Oct):

> This would
> imply that R&D labor is a purely social form of labor as it is only
> concrete. This is a question of interest for the process of liberation
> from abstract labor as a form of allienated labor. That is, the grwing
> role of research and science from within the capitalist system is leading
> to the development of forms of labor which, while still under the yoke of
> the profit motive, point towards direct social labor.

I don't really see the "liberation" that you are talking about here.
Although scientific labour engaged in R&D for capital is not abstract
labour, isn't it still a form of alienated labour? Relatedly, aren't
(most) other skilled workers alienated and exploited even though their
labour is inherently concrete?

As for R&D, we should remember that increasingly the brunt of expenditures
on R&D are borne by the *state*. In a kind of "trickle-down" effect,
private capital often benefits by state-employed (and/or financed)
scientific labour. Thus, there are many (especially) product innovations
that began as a result of military and/or space research. This works to
the benefit of some (but not necessarily all) capitalists, but to the
extent that it is paid for by taxation, it is also in part paid for by
the working class. Marx's assumption, which perhaps corresponded more to
his own time than ours, seems to have been that the taxes would be borne
by capitalists and landowners rather than the working class.

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: volume and participation have been way down this month. Suggestions
for new threads are always welcome. Perhaps some of you have some
research-in-progress or a draft of a paper that you would be willing to
share with us?