Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

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Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Rebel Redneck 59 on Sat Apr 23, 2011 10:47 am

I would like to bring up the questions of wage labor. Some Socialists want to abolish it completely while others do not. I personally do not consider wage labor, in itself, to be an absolute evil. In many cases it is however in some cases it is not. For example I dont see why it is exploitative if a teacher is paid a wage as long as that wage is a living wage. After all a teacher is not producing any goods whose sale enriches someone who played no part in their creation. At any rate I would like to see what other members of this forum think about this topic. I am willing to change my mind about this subject so please feel free to put in your two cents.
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A recent work story

Post by mistek on Sat Apr 23, 2011 12:32 pm

Yes, the problem is the system, but those who work and abuse the system to their advantage.
I was hired for a job, led to believe it was full time, but told it was 6 hours per day, 30 hours per week. But then I was told I would work 9-6, sometimes later. I asked what the regular day was, and they said, about 9-6. I asked how the 30 hours a week fit in...they said, Yes, you work 30 hours a week. Shocked I was hired right in the interview, just like that, they liked my credentials and they said I was replacing someone who didn't fit in. This was a Friday.
They wanted me to start Monday.
I accepted the job. Filling out paperwork revealed the 30 hour week double-talk. I qualified for very little PTO hours, more expensive benefits, and less vacation, etc. I was considered PART TIME. For paid holidays, I would only get 6 hours a day, even if I had worked 8-10 a day all the time. It was my status as an employee.

They let go an unsavory character, who let me know she did not like me taking her job. She had connections with some of the higher ups, and solidified herself there. I was told after a week, they wanted her back. There had been some nit-picking against me, for things I didn't do, defended myself aptly on those, but it seemed some wanted her back, as she seemed to have some power foothold somewhere. So now my boss is stuck with this pompous ass coming back, and they let me go. I basically was covering while another person was gone and she is back, so poof.

It is amazing how finding a job is like taking your car in for repairs. You have to listen to them carefully, because hidden in all the babble are clues, but sometimes, not truthful clues, and you have to pick those out.

Many times, you are not being hired to do a job specifically, but because, they think you will fit in better than someone else. They fired 4 people prior to me for the same position. A virtual revolving door. Now they are hiring back the pompous ass to do some of the work, but all I can say is wow. An employer I do per diem work with complimented me and said,
"You are too good for them, you don't belong there." Well...that is a nice compliment, but I need a paycheck. I have tried to start my own business, and I will tell you, for all the capitalism babble out there, it is very hard now. The Small Biz Association and Score make a lot of money having seminars teaching people how to, in a very broadbased way, start their own businesses. It is very easy to say, "Well, just go into business for yourself..."

But I am telling this account, because capitalism works for those with lots of money or power. For the rest of us, the wage slaves, we are simply collecting a paycheck and getting by. Even if you make a good wage and have some money left over, you have to think about saving for retirement, bad times, etc.

I am not sure what the answer is, but I do know the morality out there sucks. Really good people are treasures, and they are hard to find, and they are not the majority.

mistek
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by godlessnorth on Sun Apr 24, 2011 11:44 pm

1. The rule of force needs to be reintroduced, that is the workforce remains in control by force.
2. 'Management' should be shot. Who can resist?
3. Workers distribute their own labor according to their own mandates.
4. 'Wage' is a gimick. You should get your share of the spoils unless you are an absolute lazy bastard.
5. Worker's collectives are self-governing. They work as much as they need to, and there's no one to tell them otherwise.
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Admin on Mon Apr 25, 2011 2:08 pm

Maintaining wage-labor entails either sustaining a capitalist mode of production (private exploitative property) or implementing a state socialist mode of production (nationalized enterprises). Neither option is desirable from the standpoint of a revolutionary socialist. (However, some industries, like finance, would essentially have to be nationalized in any socialist state.) Any enterprise that is generating a surplus that is not individually- or family-owned should be cooperatively owned. Such is the only way in which to genuinely transcend capitalism.

Now, some self-identified socialists honestly feel that capitalism can be so controlled as to address the outstanding needs of a given population. And while this may be possible for some duration of time within the parameters of a revolutionary state, I would argue that the long-term risk involved in such a relationship far outweigh any short-term benefits it could potentially produce. The bourgeoisie, by virtue of its position within the capitalist mode of production, would still be in a position to exercise influence over the affairs of the state. It matters not how much a state may legislate against such; it would still eventually occur. (The Third Reich, for example, had some of the most comprehensive legislation regarding imposed barriers between capital and the state and many levels of the bureaucracy were still undermined, due to corruption within it.)

We should recall that there were certainly high points within the history of capitalism, wherein employment was high, unionization robust, and state regulation fairly adequate. What happened? Capital exercised its unparalleled power within government, which in turn led to the incremental abolition of high employment, robust unionization, and adequate regulation. We all know the story. It's so bad now in United States, for instance, that a federal jobs program —intended to compensate for the private sector's incapacity to accommodate the domestic labor market— is a nonstarter in Washington. Why? Because the revenue necessary to finance such would increase deficits (deficit spending is now exclusively reserved for corporate welfare), which might then compel the state to begin taxing concentrated wealth.

So, no, I don't think we socialists should pursue any half-measures when it comes to addressing capitalism. The institution must finally come to an end if we are to genuinely emancipate ourselves and future generations.
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Rebel Redneck 59 on Mon Apr 25, 2011 10:38 pm

Admin wrote:Maintaining wage-labor entails either sustaining a capitalist mode of production (private exploitative property) or implementing a state socialist mode of production (nationalized enterprises). Neither option is desirable from the standpoint of a revolutionary socialist. (However, some industries, like finance, would essentially have to be nationalized in any socialist state.) Any enterprise that is generating a surplus that is not individually- or family-owned should be cooperatively owned. Such is the only way in which to genuinely transcend capitalism.

Now, some self-identified socialists honestly feel that capitalism can be so controlled as to address the outstanding needs of a given population. And while this may be possible for some duration of time within the parameters of a revolutionary state, I would argue that the long-term risk involved in such a relationship far outweigh any short-term benefits it could potentially produce. The bourgeoisie, by virtue of its position within the capitalist mode of production, would still be in a position to exercise influence over the affairs of the state. It matters not how much a state may legislate against such; it would still eventually occur. (The Third Reich, for example, had some of the most comprehensive legislation regarding imposed barriers between capital and the state and many levels of the bureaucracy were still undermined, due to corruption within it.)

We should recall that there were certainly high points within the history of capitalism, wherein employment was high, unionization robust, and state regulation fairly adequate. What happened? Capital exercised its unparalleled power within government, which in turn led to the incremental abolition of high employment, robust unionization, and adequate regulation. We all know the story. It's so bad now in United States, for instance, that a federal jobs program —intended to compensate for the private sector's incapacity to accommodate the domestic labor market— is a nonstarter in Washington. Why? Because the revenue necessary to finance such would increase deficits (deficit spending is now exclusively reserved for corporate welfare), which might then compel the state to begin taxing concentrated wealth.

So, no, I don't think we socialists should pursue any half-measures when it comes to addressing capitalism. The institution must finally come to an end if we are to genuinely emancipate ourselves and future generations.
But do you believe that people ( who have jobs which do not involve producing goods that are sold) should form cooperatives as well? How is it exploitative ( for example) to pay a teacher a wage as long as it is a living wage? A teacher does not produce any goods whose sale a person ( who played no part in the process of the creation of such goods) profits from. Therefore I see no reason as to why workers who produce no goods should be organized in cooperatives. By the way what exactly does the word surplus value mean?
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Celtiberian on Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:01 am

Rebel Warrior 59 wrote:But do you believe that people ( who have jobs which do not involve producing goods that are sold) should form cooperatives as well? How is it exploitative ( for example) to pay a teacher a wage as long as it is a living wage? A teacher does not produce any goods whose sale a person ( who played no part in the process of the creation of such goods) profits from. Therefore I see no reason as to why workers who produce no goods should be organized in cooperatives. By the way what exactly does the word surplus value mean?

The issue of exploitation involves capital appropriating the surplus value derived from the goods and services labor produces. However, socialism should also be defended on the grounds of the juridical principle of imputation (see my essay, "The Petite Bourgeoisie" for an explanation). Using this socialist Labor Theory of Property, in conjunction with an opposition to labor being deprived over control of its surplus product, allows for a much more inclusive moral opposition to exploitation—which includes so-called "unproductive labor" (or labor which isn't directly involved in the production of goods and services).

Your example of teachers is indeed an exception to the usual notion of exploitation, since teachers aren't being exploited by capital—by virtue of the fact they're public employees, and thus derive their salaries from tax revenue, not wages paid by a capitalist. However, since the society some of us seek to achieve is one based upon the foundation of cooperative production, it's important to foster an environment which promotes such values. Therefore, a participatory structure should be encouraged across all sectors, including education. Since education cooperatives have been shown to work just as efficiently as traditional school structures (see Mondragón's Hezibide Elkartea, for example), I see no reason to prohibit teachers from practicing the principles of self-management.

The formation of Syndical Schools for laborers will also be of significant importance in a socialist economy, but that's a topic for a separate thread.


Last edited by Celtiberian on Tue Apr 26, 2011 11:38 am; edited 3 times in total

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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Rebel Redneck 59 on Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:08 am

Celtiberian wrote:The issue of exploitation involves capital appropriating the surplus value derived from the goods and services labor produces. However, socialism should also be defended on the grounds of the juridical principle of imputation (see my essay, "The Petite Bourgeoisie" for an explanation). Using this socialist Labor Theory of Property in conjunction with an opposition to labor being deprived over control its surplus product allows for a much more inclusive moral opposition to exploitation—which includes "unproductive labor".

Your example of teachers is indeed an exception to the usual notion of exploitation, since teachers aren't being exploited by capital—by virtue of the fact they're public employees, and thus derive their salaries from tax revenue, not wages paid by a capitalist. However, since the society some of us seek to achieve is one based upon the foundation of cooperative production, it's important to foster an environment which promotes such values. Therefore, a participatory structure should be encouraged across all industries, including education. Since education cooperatives have been shown to work just as efficiently as traditional school structures (see Mondragón's Hezibide Elkartea, for example), I see no reason to prohibit teachers from practicing the principles of self-management.

The formation of Syndical Schools for laborers will also be of significant importance in a socialist economy, but that's a topic for a separate thread.
But how does a Capitalist appropriate the surplus value derived from services? What exactly is surplus value? Is it the unearned profit a Capitalist receives ? Or is it something else?
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Celtiberian on Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:15 am

Rebel Warrior 59 wrote:But how does a Capitalist appropriate the surplus value derived from services? What exactly is surplus value? Is it the unearned profit a Capitalist receives ? Or is it something else?

Services are performed by labor, which create profit in the market, which capital then owns and appropriates. Surplus value is simply the difference between the value produced by the workers and the wages they receive.

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"Nationality. . . is a historic, local fact which, like all real and harmless facts, has the right to claim general acceptance. . . Every people, like every person, is involuntarily that which it is and therefore has a right to be itself. . . Nationality is not a principle; it is a legitimate fact, just as individuality is. Every nationality, great or small, has the incontestable right to be itself, to live according to its own nature. This right is simply the corollary of the general principle of freedom."
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Admin on Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:19 am

Celtiberian wrote:Services are performed by labor, which create profit in the market, which capital then owns and appropriates. Surplus value is simply the difference between the value produced by the workers and the wages they receive.

Which is a big difference.
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Celtiberian on Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:25 am

Admin wrote:Which is a big difference.

Absolutely, and a difference which capital ceaselessly seeks to widen.

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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Rebel Redneck 59 on Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:29 am

Celtiberian wrote:Services are performed by labor, which create profit in the market, which capital then owns and appropriates. Surplus value is simply the difference between the value produced by the workers and the wages they receive.

Ah so the Capitalist earns the difference ( also known as surplus value) which they did nothing to create? The picture appears to be clearer to me now. As for services: Some services do not generate direct profit for a Capitalist. For example an employer does not generate profit by employing a janitor. That is why I fail to see why having someone work for a wage as a janitor ( or any similar job which generates no profit for a Capitalist) is exploitative as long as the wage is a living one. After all what earnings does a Capitalist appropriate from such jobs? I dont understand why all workers must be organized into cooperatives even if their line of work generates no profit. Certainly they should be allowed to but I see no reason to force them.
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Rebel Redneck 59 on Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:50 am

Celtiberian,
I dont want to be argumentative but I fail to see why all workers must be organized into cooperatives for the purpose of overcoming Capitalist exploitation ( via their appropriation of profit that does not rightfully belong to them). Let me use the example of a janitor. Let us say a person is hired to work as a janitor in some building. This supposed person is paid a wage in exchange for cleaning the building. What I fail to see is how the employer profits off the work of the janitor. In some cases the employer can profit off the work of said ( for example if the building is one which people pay to visit) janitor but not in all cases. Therefore I do not see why workers ( of the sort I described) must be organized into cooperatives in order to overcome Capitalist exploitation since there is no exploitation occurring unless they are paid a decent wage.
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Celtiberian on Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:05 am

Rebel Warrior 59 wrote:Ah so the Capitalist earns the difference ( also known as surplus value) which they did nothing to create?


Correct.

As for services: Some services do not generate direct profit for a Capitalist. For example an employer does not generate profit by employing a janitor. That is why I fail to see why having someone work for a wage as a janitor ( or any similar job which generates no profit for a Capitalist) is exploitative as long as the wage is a living one.


Well, here again you're referring to the distinction between "productive" and "unproductive" labor. Productive labor is directly/physically involved in the production of goods or services, whereas non-productive labor is the work which enables the production and distribution of those goods and services to transpire. Nevertheless, if one adheres to the juridical principle of imputation (which I do), the distinction between productive and unproductive labor is ultimately meaningless—since all labor plays a role in the overall process of production—thereby giving justification for "unproductive" laborers to also have a say in the allocation of the surplus product. If a labor-managed firm decided it didn't want to allow, say, janitors to have an input in how their surplus is appropriated, they could simply contract with a separate janitorial cooperative (to which they would pay a fee, which that cooperative would then allocate among itself). It's a very simple solution, and one which many cooperatives currently use.

After all what earnings does a Capitalist appropriate from such jobs?


If they weren't necessary in some capacity, a capitalist certainly wouldn't hire them. Janitors keep the workplace clean, which is obviously important; secretaries answer phones and file paperwork, which is also important; etc. Without these tasks being accomplished, production couldn't occur.

I dont understand why all workers must be organized into cooperatives even if their line of work generates no profit. Certainly they should be allowed to but I see no reason to force them.

The socialist Labor Theory of Property (to distinguish it from John Locke's theory) posits that everyone who collaborates in the process of production deserves to have a say in how the joint product is allocated, on the basis of the juridical theory of imputation. The implications of an acceptance of this ethical theory entails a generalization of self-management across the entire economy. It's fine if you choose reject the LTP—though its logic is impeccable, in my opinion—but in so doing, you'd be rejecting one of the most forceful objections to wage slavery that currently exists. Moreover, I see absolutely no value in retaining any capitalist social relations whatsoever. If anything, enabling the continuity of petit-bourgeois social relations will serve to undermine the revolution in the long term.


Last edited by Celtiberian on Tue Jul 12, 2011 9:19 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Rebel Redneck 59 on Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:20 am

Celtiberian wrote:
Rebel Warrior 59 wrote:Ah so the Capitalist earns the difference ( also known as surplus value) which they did nothing to create?


Correct.

As for services: Some services do not generate direct profit for a Capitalist. For example an employer does not generate profit by employing a janitor. That is why I fail to see why having someone work for a wage as a janitor ( or any similar job which generates no profit for a Capitalist) is exploitative as long as the wage is a living one.


Well, here again you're referring to the distinction between "productive" and "unproductive" labor. Productive labor is directly/physically involved in the production of goods or services, whereas non-productive labor is the work which enables the production and distribution of those goods and services to transpire. Nevertheless, if one adheres to the juridical principle of imputation (which I do), the distinction between production and unproductive labor is ultimately meaningless—since all labor plays a role in the overall process of production—thereby giving justification for "unproductive" laborers to also have a say in the allocation of the surplus product. If a labor-managed firm decided it didn't want to allow, say, janitors to have an input in how their surplus is appropriated, they could simply contract with a separate janitorial cooperative (to which they would pay a fee, which that cooperative would then allocate among itself). It's a very simple solution, and one which many cooperatives currently use.

After all what earnings does a Capitalist appropriate from such jobs?


If they weren't necessary in some capacity, a capitalist certainly wouldn't hire them. Janitors keep the workplace clean, which is obviously important; secretaries answer phones and file paperwork, which is also important; etc. Without these tasks being accomplished, production couldn't occur.

I dont understand why all workers must be organized into cooperatives even if their line of work generates no profit. Certainly they should be allowed to but I see no reason to force them.

The socialist Labor Theory of Property (to distinguish it from John Locke's theory) posits that everyone who collaborates in the process of production deserves to have a say in how the joint product is allocated, on the basis of the juridical theory of imputation. The implications of an acceptance of this ethical theory entails a generalization of self-management across the entire economy. It's fine if you choose reject the LTP—though its logical is impeccable, in my opinion—but in so doing, you'd be rejecting one of the most forceful objections to wage slavery that currently exists. Moreover, I see absolutely no value in retaining any capitalist social relations whatsoever. If anything, enabling the continuity of petit-bourgeois social relations will serve to undermine the revolution in the long term.
Thanks for answering my questions Celtiberian. I never really understood what surplus value meant until now so your answer was helpful. I will look into the Labor Theory of Property. Much of this information ( you wrote about) is quite new to me so it will take some time for me to digest it and think it through. Im not relapsing into Capitalism at all, its just that Im unfamiliar with most of the things you just wrote about so I will have to take some time to think it through. Again thanks very much for answering my questions.
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Celtiberian on Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:26 am

Rebel Warrior 59 wrote:Thanks for answering my questions Celtiberian. I never really understood what surplus value meant until now so your answer was helpful. I will look into the Labor Theory of Property. Much of this information ( you wrote about) is quite new to me so it will take some time for me to digest it and think it through. Im not relapsing into Capitalism at all, its just that Im unfamiliar with most of the things you just wrote about so I will have to take some time to think it through. Again thanks very much for answering my questions.

I'm more than happy to help in anyway that I can, comrade. I surely hope that the tone of my previous posts didn't come off as sounding confrontational in any way, as I certainly didn't intend for that. I know that you weren't necessarily suggesting that we should retain capitalists in certain industries. All of your questions were perfectly understandable, especially given how many people tend to view exploitation as occurring solely within the realm of productive labor.

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—J. B. S. Haldane Hammer Sickle

"Nationality. . . is a historic, local fact which, like all real and harmless facts, has the right to claim general acceptance. . . Every people, like every person, is involuntarily that which it is and therefore has a right to be itself. . . Nationality is not a principle; it is a legitimate fact, just as individuality is. Every nationality, great or small, has the incontestable right to be itself, to live according to its own nature. This right is simply the corollary of the general principle of freedom."
—Mikhail Bakunin Red Star
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by hermeticist on Tue Apr 26, 2011 6:50 am

Rebel Warrior 59 wrote:As for services: Some services do not generate direct profit for a Capitalist. For example an employer does not generate profit by employing a janitor. That is why I fail to see why having someone work for a wage as a janitor ( or any similar job which generates no profit for a Capitalist) is exploitative as long as the wage is a living one. After all what earnings does a Capitalist appropriate from such jobs?

Celtiberian has already answered this at length. Mine is mere personal anecdote. I have worked for capitalist bastards. I have seen owners of largish concerns scrutinise menial service jobs and ask, "Do we really need this job function? Is this person really contributing to the bottom line?" When the concern is employing tens of thousands of workers, then onwers and senior executives look at ratios: for instance for every direct production worker, there may be 0.67 support workers (quality assurance, administration, finance). And there are ways of assigning monetary values even to these support jobs. In capitalism, everything gets quantified, valorised -- which is a precondition for sucking out surplus value.
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Rebel Redneck 59 on Wed Apr 27, 2011 9:44 pm

Celtiberian wrote:I'm more than happy to help in anyway that I can, comrade. I surely hope that the tone of my previous posts didn't come off as sounding confrontational in any way, as I certainly didn't intend for that. I know that you weren't necessarily suggesting that we should retain capitalists in certain industries. All of your questions were perfectly understandable, especially given how many people tend to view exploitation as occurring solely within the realm of productive labor.

Dont worry you didnt come off as confrontational at all. By the way how inclusive is the definition of wage labor? For example should someone mowing another person's lawn according to mutual consent be considered a form of wage labor? I think the definition of wage labor is payment according to contract but I am not exactly sure if its correct since contracts can be informal ( while most ones today are formal). I agree with you that unproductive labor should be organized into the cooperative model in most cases but I do not see the necessity of organizing State employees who dont perform a form of productive labor into cooperatives. They should be allowed to however I do not see why they must be as long as they are paid a decent wage.


Last edited by Rebel Warrior 59 on Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:36 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by GF on Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:04 pm

I believe that all the workers who wish to should be allowed to take part in the management, i.e., I think it's a great idea, but I'm not going to force anyone to.

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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Celtiberian on Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:31 pm

Rebel Warrior 59 wrote:Dont worry you didnt come off as confrontational at all. By the way how inclusive is the definition of wage labor? For example should someone mowing another person's lawn according to mutual consent be considered a form of wage labor?

No, self-employment (i.e., mowing someone's lawn) is not an example of wage labor. In order for a job to be classified as wage labor, it necessarily implies a person has signed the wage-for-labor-time contract—wherein a worker "agrees" to sell his/her labor time to a capitalist in return for a wage dictated by said capitalist. Owning your own means of production and being self-employed is fundamentally non-exploitative, in the socialist definition of the term.

I think the definition of wage labor is payment according to contract but I am not exactly sure if its correct since contracts can be informal ( while most ones today are formal).


The hiring of wage laborers can be informal at times (i.e., paying a few neighbors to help you put up a fence), but such cases are fairly rare.

I agree with you that unproductive labor should be organized into the cooperative model in most cases but I do not see the necessity of organizing State employees who dont perform a form of unproductive labor into cooperatives. They should be allowed to however I do not see why they must be as long as they are paid a decent wage.

I don't believe that it's essential to organize public employees into cooperatives, but I do think that it should be an option available to them nevertheless.


Last edited by Celtiberian on Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:47 pm; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Rebel Redneck 59 on Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:41 pm

Celtiberian wrote:No, self-employment (i.e., mowing someone's lawn) is not an example of wage labor. In order for a job to be classified as wage labor, it necessarily implies a person has signed the wage-for-labor-time contract—wherein this worker "agrees" to sell his/her labor time to a capitalist in return for a wage dictated by said capitalist. Owning your own means of production and being self-employed is fundamentally non-exploitative, in the socialist definition of the term.

Very well I understand. I was a little confused by the definition of the term wage labor but now I understand it. Again thanks for your help Comrade. Very Happy
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Celtiberian on Wed Apr 27, 2011 10:49 pm

Rebel Warrior 59 wrote:Very well I understand. I was a little confused by the definition of the term wage labor but now I understand it. Again thanks for your help Comrade. Very Happy

No problem at all, comrade. Smile

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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by alpine joe on Thu Apr 28, 2011 6:16 am

Celtiberian wrote:No, self-employment (i.e., mowing someone's lawn) is not an example of wage labor. In order for a job to be classified as wage labor, it necessarily implies a person has signed the wage-for-labor-time contract—wherein a worker "agrees" to sell his/her labor time to a capitalist in return for a wage dictated by said capitalist. Owning your own means of production and being self-employed is fundamentally non-exploitative, in the socialist definition of the term.

I'm not sure I agree with this. Self employment is still wage labour imo. For example I have to sell my labour to a capitalist to get work, just like everybody else, and if I don't make myself competitive (when making the quote etc.) then I won't get employed. In theory I may be able to choose my own rates and jobs but in practise this doesn't happen and I have to go along with the rest of the market.

I suppose what I'm saying is that being self employed and owning your own means of production is in no way a guarantee against being exploited by the people you work for, not in the present climate at least, and that even if we formed a socialist country we'd still have to compete with the capitalists when it comes to selling our goods abroad. So, even then owning our own means of production and being self employed wouldn't necessarily stop us being exploited because we'd still have to be competitive or the other countries will just buy their goods off the capitalists.

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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Leon Mcnichol on Thu Apr 28, 2011 6:45 am

alpine joe wrote:I'm not sure I agree with this. Self employment is still wage labour imo. For example I have to sell my labour to a capitalist to get work, just like everybody else, and if I don't make myself competitive (when making the quote etc.) then I won't get employed. In theory I may be able to choose my own rates and jobs but in practise this doesn't happen and I have to go along with the rest of the market.

I suppose what I'm saying is that being self employed and owning your own means of production is in no way a guarantee against being exploited by the people you work for, not in the present climate at least, and that even if we formed a socialist country we'd still have to compete with the capitalists when it comes to selling our goods abroad. So, even then owning our own means of production and being self employed wouldn't necessarily stop us being exploited because we'd still have to be competitive or the other countries will just buy their goods off the capitalists.

But in this (very relevant) case you are being exploited not by a "wage-slave" standard of a capitalism system, but by market forces. It's important to make this distinction.

That problem was what centralized planning economies tried to deal with.

In my personal view, altough the market can be a form of injustice, it also has valid points that are hard, if not impossible at this point to get by without. Competition is of course important in some degree, as is the relative "freedom" inside a market to search new ways of production, or new products.

About the competition with capitalists in an international trade, i am not too worried with it. First because an essencially corporative socialist economy would protect it's internal market from such forces, and also because the added value of exporting is overrated by a global capitalist economy. Nevertheless, i believe that competitive cooperative enterprises would always arise, even in terms of exports.

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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by godlessnorth on Thu Apr 28, 2011 6:56 am

alpine joe wrote:I'm not sure I agree with this. Self employment is still wage labour imo. For example I have to sell my labour to a capitalist to get work, just like everybody else, and if I don't make myself competitive (when making the quote etc.) then I won't get employed. In theory I may be able to choose my own rates and jobs but in practise this doesn't happen and I have to go along with the rest of the market.

I suppose what I'm saying is that being self employed and owning your own means of production is in no way a guarantee against being exploited by the people you work for, not in the present climate at least, and that even if we formed a socialist country we'd still have to compete with the capitalists when it comes to selling our goods abroad. So, even then owning our own means of production and being self employed wouldn't necessarily stop us being exploited because we'd still have to be competitive or the other countries will just buy their goods off the capitalists.

Good point.

An argument for Central Management?

Is Totalitarianism out of the question?
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Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by alpine joe on Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:03 am

Leon Mcnichol wrote:But in this (very relevant) case you are being exploited not by a "wage-slave" standard of a capitalism system, but by market forces. It's important to make this distinction.

That problem was what centralized planning economies tried to deal with.

In my personal view, altough the market can be a form of injustice, it also has valid points that are hard, if not impossible at this point to get by without. Competition is of course important in some degree, as is the relative "freedom" inside a market to search new ways of production, or new products.

About the competition with capitalists in an international trade, i am not too worried with it. First because an essencially corporative socialist economy would protect it's internal market from such forces, and also because the added value of exporting is overrated by a global capitalist economy. Nevertheless, i believe that competitive cooperative enterprises would always arise, even in terms of exports.

But we're still wage slaves, so making the distinction between whether it's the capitalists or market forces that are exploiting us is academic imo. Because the end result is the same.

I think we should be worried about foreign trade as well. If we don't trade with foreign countries then we (as a country) can't generate any wealth as all we're doing is shuffling money around between ourselves. In order for any business to make money, be it a one man venture like myself or the country as a whole, then it must source work from outside, otherwise it'll go bust in no time. And to do that, whether we like it or not, we must compete with the capitalists, or market forces if you'd prefer that term.

And we do need to keep generating wealth, otherwise we wont be able to pay for schools, hospitals, etc. etc..


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