[OPE-L:6244] [PAUL C] Re: value and the transformation of work

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 4 Mar 1998 07:23:45 -0500 (est)

Date: Wed, 04 Mar 1998 09:36:41 +0000
From: Paul Cockshott <wpc@faraday.org>

I think it is too simple to attribute the relatively slow fall in the working
day solely to the rational of value maximisation. It is not clear why a
economy should choose to reduce the working day further as an objective
over and above increasing access to material goods.

Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

> Leda wrote: "What Marx puts on in these same pages is something linked to
> the force of value as a social form, i.e., something linked to fetichism
> (this form would insist to remain despite the loss of its "material"
> basis)."
> I find this a provocative formulation. As suggested by William J Blake,
> perhaps the history of humanity can be understood as the history of
> overcoming anachronistic fetishisms (it provides a better basis for
> speculative history than Adorno and Horkheimer or Kracauer after all): from
> the fetishisms of the savage; to the mercantalist fetish of gold; to the
> physiocratic fetish of agricultural labor; to the bourgeois fetish of the
> value form.
> Do you know Moishe Postone's Time, Labor and Social Domination: a
> reinterpretation of Marx's Critical Theory. (Cambridge University Press,
> 1993):
> "The difference between material wealth and value becomes an increasingly
> acute opposition according to Marx because value remains the essential
> determination of wealth in capitalism even though material wealth becomes
> ever less dependent on the expenditure of direct human labor. Hence, direct
> human labor though it has become superfluous in terms of the potential or
> the forces of production that have come into being. The enormous increase
> in productivity under capitalism, then, does not result in a corresponding
> reduction of labor time and a positive transformation of the nature of
> work. The basic contradiction in capitalism, seen thus, is grounded in the
> fact that the form of social social relations and wealth, as well as the
> concrete form of the mode of production, remain determined by value even as
> they become anachronistic from the viewpoint of matieral wealth-creating
> potential of the system. In other words, the social historical possibility
> of its own determinate negation--a different form of social mediation,
> another form of wealth, and a newer form of production no longer based on
> fragmented direct human labor as an integral part of the process of
> production. On the other hand, this possibility is not automatically
> realized; the social order remains based on value."
> p. 232
> Best,
> Rakesh