[OPE-L:5674] Re: Re: labor process and R&D labor

Francisco P. Cipolla (cipolla@SOCIAIS.UFPR.BR)
Tue, 4 Nov 1997 13:04:56 -0300 (WDT)

[ show plain text ]

On Sat, 25 Oct 1997, Gerald Levy wrote:

> 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?
I agree with your first phrase. Yet, it is interesting to think that
if we stick to the idea of the labor process as a process of producing use
values R&D is freer than normal production labor because capitalist
control which springs from the properties of the labor as producer
of value and use values are not
present here. Being not labor directed towards the production of a use
value known before hand two things related to capitalist control cannot
apply:1) conservation of the value of means of production (and therefore
control over the proper use of the means of production) and 2) no
socially necessary labor time is pre determined either (since no use value
is known in advance) and therefore there cannot be a control over the
expenditure of labor power (abstract labor).
You can still be fired for not being able to invent! In Marx there are
several places where he sees a new mode of production emerging within the
yoke of the old one. I think the rising role of scientific labor is one of
these examples.
P.S. Paul Cockshot has suggested a little bit of caution: sometimes the
new use value is known before hand. Even if you had specified to your team
of researchers that you wanted a totally transparent tenis shoes, there
would stil be no pattern to follow through in order to get there. I
think points one and two above would still apply.
Paulo Cipolla