[OPE] Question about books that are sound introductions to economics

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Wed Sep 22 2010 - 01:55:14 EDT

Marx wrote in Capital Vol. 3:

Surplus-labour in general, as labour performed over and above the given
requirements, must always remain. In the capitalist as well as in the slave
system, etc., it merely assumes an antagonistic form and is supplemented by
complete idleness of a stratum of society. A definite quantity of
surplus-labour is required as insurance against accidents, and by the
necessary and progressive expansion of the process of reproduction in
keeping with the development of the needs and the growth of population,
which is called accumulation from the viewpoint of the capitalist. It is one
of the civilising aspects of capital that it enforces this surplus-labour in
a manner and under conditions which are more advantageous to the development
of the productive forces, social relations, and the creation of the elements
for a new and higher form than under the preceding forms of slavery,
serfdom, etc. Thus it gives rise to a stage, on the one hand, in which
coercion and monopolisation of social development (including its material
and intellectual advantages) by one portion of society at the expense of the
other are eliminated; on the other hand, it creates the material means and
embryonic conditions, making it possible in a higher form of society to
combine this surplus-labour with a greater reduction of time devoted to
material labour in general. For, depending on the development of labour
productivity, surplus-labour may be large in a small total working-day, and
relatively small in a large total working-day. If the necessary labour-time
= 3 and the surplus-labour = 3, then the total working-day = 6 and the rate
of surplus-labour = 100%. If the necessary labour = 9 and the surplus-labour
= 3, then the total working-day = 12 and the rate of surplus-labour only =
33?%. In that case, it depends upon the labour productivity how much
use-value shall be produced in a definite time, hence also in a definite
surplus labour-time. The actual wealth of society, and the possibility of
constantly expanding its reproduction process, therefore, do not depend upon
the duration of surplus-labour, but upon its productivity and the more or
less copious conditions of production under which it is performed.

If surplus labour "must always remain" then getting paid the "full value of
hours worked" is a pipedream. Recently Raul Castro discovered "complete
idleness of a stratum of society" in socialist Cuba and is sacking a lot of
state employees. How can this be squared with Marxist-Leninist ideology?

It was possible in the USSR to earn a "fair wage" of roubles reflecting work
done, while at the same time the roubles were useless. Why? Because there
were no goods in the store that could exchange for these roubles, due to
shortages, or because the pricing of these goods was completely at odds with
the roubles actually earnt. The effect of that was the emergence of an
informal trading and bartering circuit operating alongside the formal
trading system.


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Received on Wed Sep 22 01:57:04 2010

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