[OPE-L:1467] Re: The audit of war

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Wed, 13 Oct 1999 10:09:05 -0400 (EDT)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 13 Oct 1999 13:57:07 +0100
From: Paul Cockshott <wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk>

At 08:36 13/10/99 -0400, you wrote:
>Well, this _sounds_ good, but how true is it? (I think that too many
>radicals take a position on something based on whether it "sounds good").
>In particular, this seems to too narrowly limit what categories of labor
>are productive to what labor produces "essential" goods (for e.g. only the
>most basic consumer goods). Thus, by this standard, labor producing
>"kipper" in Scotland prior to WWII would be productive labor, but since
>"kipper" was viewed (I think) as "unessential" during the war, the state
>would re-classify the labor as now unproductive.

Are you sure of your facts here. Protein production was regulated in
the war, but, proteins being in such short supply I have difficulty believing
that Boyd Orr would have recomended eliminating smoked fish as a source.

> > All unproductive workers except those in the
>armaments industry > are then liable to be shot.
>Aren't most workers in the "armaments industry" unproductive? Indeed,
>isn't the proportion of workers in that sector who produce *commodities*
>which are sold on the market (e.g. handgun sales to individuals) rather

That is just what I say above, all unproductive workers other than
those in armaments were called up. I specify that armaments workers
were unproductive of surplus. Their output was the prefered materialisation
of the surplus product.

>This is somewhat irrelevant, though, since workers -- *regardless of
>whether they are productive of surplus value or not* -- are sent to the
>"front" to be shot.

No, the system of exempted labour categories was designed to ensure
that, as far as possible, workers in the basic sector survived. A Sheffield
foundary worker was less likely to be called up than a city of london bank

>What is significant is not necessarily the material
>form of the product that the worker produces, but rather the *skill* of
>the worker. Thus, if one worked on an assembly line producing tanks then
>that person might be *more* liable to be called up for "military service"
>than, say, a skilled machinist or toolmaker in the toy industry. That is
>because the assembly worker who is unskilled is easily replaceable --
>"expendable" -- whereas the machinist can usually be re-assigned to
>an "essential" military job.

This is true enough, the war involved an increase in the effective labour
force, since the unemployed and women who had not previously worked
were liable to labour duties.

>In solidarity, Jerry

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