[OPE-L:5697] Re: The Six Percent Solution

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Fri, 7 Nov 1997 19:34:39 -0500 (EST)

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Duncan wrote on Fri, 7 Nov 1997:

> This kind of think doesn't move the discussion along very fast. It is true
> that modern labor is extremely productive, though I don't believe their
> estimate of the rate of exploitation--in U.S. manufacturing, using
> production labor as a proxy for productive labor, you get a rate of
> exploitation more like 3--3.5 rather than 15.

I agree, but there's something to be learned via critique of even poor
exercises in political economy. In this case, what I find most interesting
is the apparent research programme and methodology used to come up with
the 6olution.

I think it went along the following lines:

1) identify what Marx said.

2) identify, or assert, important political principles and goals.

3) Conduct "research".

4) The outcome of the "research" must of necessity support what you have
already determined in 1) + 2).

This is the methodology used by many "classical Marxists" on the Net,
IMHO. Actually, I think a more accurate term would be "vulgar Marxist"
rather than "classical Marxist."

The source, perhaps, of this methodology is the desire to defend a
pre-determined "orthodox" interpretation of Marx. In other words, it is a
reflection of dogmatism, a problem that is all too visible on many Net
lists. In many cases, the worst offenders are those who are relatively new
to Marxism and political economy. For them, the acceptance of propositions
associated with "orthodoxy" can serve as a substitute for genuine research
and analysis.

> But the Critique of the Gotha Programme is way ahead of this in terms of
> trying to come to grips with the problem of organizing a post-capitalist
> society, and it is pretty weak on the whole question of politics and
> governance. How can one tell the difference between a hierarchy and a
> bureaucracy and an apparatus for the popular control of production?

That reminds me: today is the anniversary of a pivotal event in human
history. Hint: it happened earlier this century. Another hint: it happened
80 years ago today. Wouldn't all of you agree that this is a topic worth

Hierarchical and bureaucratic structures entail an unequal access to power
and privileges. Thus the bureaucrats might be expected to resist "popular
control of production" since that would put them out of a job and would
lead to a movement against special privileges for the elite.

The assertion by the "Kamunist Kranti" group seems to be that we live in a
period of abundance and the problems of (excuse the use of the following
"bourgeois" terms) scarcity and opportunity cost have been overcome. If
one, however, rejects the 6olution as being utopian, then that raises a
very thorny issue: the redistribution of world wealth. Thus, if there
aren't enough "pieces of the pie" to satisfy the wants and needs of workers
internationally, will workers in advanced capitalist nations be willing to
accept a decline in their living standards within the context of a
international socialist commonwealth? I have my doubts on that score.

In solidarity, Jerry