[OPE-L] [CHRIS] Re: Kliman's Draft (Automation)

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sun, 18 Jan 1998 12:21:07 -0500 (EST)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 18 Jan 1998 15:51:18 +0000
From: "C. J. Arthur" <cjarthur@pavilion.co.uk>
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] [GIL] Re: Kliman's Draft(Automation)

Chris wrote
>>Andrew might like to look at Ian Steedman's paper in New Left Review 151 in
>>which he argues that in a totally automated economy there could be positive
>>The numbers are fine. What is at issue is what they MEAN. Rather than
>>profit we have here quasi rents.
To which:
>Why only "quasi"?
>Gil Skillman

I reply: "Quasi rent" because rent is rooted in scarcity as such of
privately owned natural resouces. An automated factory is an unnatural
resource but is not ipso facto scarce but reproducible so we are talking
about a return to capital invested in it, hence Steedman's 'profit'. The
social surplus product is distributed according to the size of capital and
time for which it is locked up.
But unlike in capitalism there is now no important difference between the
time of production and the time of circulation because 'producton' is now
simply the time 'second-nature' takes. Missing are two key relations: a)
the human-nature creative transformation since now the quasi-natural system
runs itself (one could even imagine it developing new products); b) the
exploitation relation of capital to labour leading to the struggle to 'pump
out'. Both these relations neo-Ricardianism typically abstracts from hence
the identification of capitalist profit with the present returns. Capital
now appropriates the surplus product in virtue of the ownership of resouces
(similar then to land) and does not produce it in any meaningfulsense
(unlike capitalism). But since capital is not scarce as such (although
socially scarce if monopolised by one class), I call this appropriation a
Chris Arthur