Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

 :: General :: Theory

Page 2 of 2 Previous  1, 2

View previous topic View next topic Go down

Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by hermeticist on Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:04 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.

As I see it, they are indistinguishable. For me to be exploited by an employer, the "market" has to dictate wages and conditions. If an employer offers me $7 an hour, he does it because he knows I am virtually forced to accept it because the "market" will not offer $10 an hour. Those market forces are rigged by the class of capitalists. So ostensibly I am a free man, free to choose who I will be indentured to -- in reality these market forces -- controlled by a plutocratic elite -- are just as effective a bond as the slavery of yore. Almost the same holds for small businesses, for small subcontractors -- the "market" dictates what the going rate is. We see this most clearly when the "market" is one or a handful of giant concerns -- e.g., Walmart -- which then dictate/s the prices of the goods they buy and their exact specifications. This is capitalist power and it works by creating certain overall conditions of indirect power and domination (albeit masquerading as the "free market").
avatar
hermeticist
___________________________
___________________________

Posts : 92
Reputation : 48
Join date : 2011-04-02

Back to top Go down

Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by hermeticist on Thu Apr 28, 2011 7:07 am

alpine joe wrote: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 agree. Indeed, "market forces" are the velvet glove through which the capitalists exercise their power. They shape the terrain in which the individual offers of buying and selling labor take place.
avatar
hermeticist
___________________________
___________________________

Posts : 92
Reputation : 48
Join date : 2011-04-02

Back to top Go down

Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Celtiberian on Thu Apr 28, 2011 12:07 pm

hermeticist wrote:I agree. Indeed, "market forces" are the velvet glove through which the capitalists exercise their power. They shape the terrain in which the individual offers of buying and selling labor take place.

I certainly sympathize with the anti-market sentiment expressed in this thread, and it's true that market forces will force the self-employed and labor-managed firms to make choices they otherwise wouldn't make. I happen to agree with most of the arguments put forth by market abolitionists, and (ideally) the day will come when we can transcend the market itself; however, careful experimentation is obviously a necessary precondition to this. We all know about the various failures central planning featured—though, to be fair, it did prove quite successful in certain aspects (e.g., industrialization, military production, etc.). The cybernetic economic management promoted by Cockshott & Cottrell, and the participatory planning favored by Albert & Hahnel, are intriguing possibilities for the future, but immediately following a revolution, we need to stick with what we know can work, and worker self-management within the confines of a market works.

Now as for whether or not the market itself is exploitative, that's been the subject of much contention within socialism. As I acknowledged above, even within the context of a labor-managed socialist economy, the market will push workers to behave in manners they normally wouldn't. However, the same thing would essentially occur within a planned economy as well—efficiency councils could force you to work harder than you'd otherwise prefer; if your plan was voted down, your firm might be forced to produce a quantity of items it hadn't intended on; etc. Furthermore, I would argue that the market isn't a singular entity, but rather three distinct entities: the labor market, capital market, and the market for goods and services. The first two markets are obviously capitalist and need to be abolished, but a relatively competitive market for goods and services doesn't necessarily need to be. Incidentally, it's primarily neoclassical and Austrian school economists who conflate the market with capitalism:

"The identification of capitalism with the market is a pernicious error of both conservative defenders of laissez-faire [capitalism] and most left opponents . . . If one looks at the works of the major apologists for capitalism . . . one finds the focus of the apology always on the virtues of the market and on the vices of central planning. Rhetorically this is an effective strategy, for it is much easier to defend the market than to defend the other two defining institutions of capitalism. Proponents of capitalism know well that it is better to keep attention toward the market and away from wage labour or private ownership of the means of production."
Schweickart, David. Market Socialism: The Debate Among Socialists, p. 11

Socialists since the early 19th century (see the work of Thomas Hodgskin, John Francis Bray, Charles Hall, and Pierre-Joseph Proudhon) argued that exploitation occurs within the workplace, and is the direct result of workers being forced to sell their labor time to a capitalist. The capitalist could then use his/her privileged position to extract surplus value from his employees. Karl Marx agreed with this assessment, arguing:

"Property in money, means of subsistence, machines, and other means of production, does not as yet stamp a man as a capitalist if the essential complement to these things is missing: the wage-labourer, the other man, who is compelled to sell himself of his own free will . . . Capital is not a thing, but a social relation between persons which is mediated by things."
Marx, Karl. Das Kapital vol. I, p. 932

Transcending the production of commodities for their exchange value has long been the objective of many socialists, but overcoming exploitation is something else entirely.

As for the issue of competition, it should be noted that the current level of competition exhibited in capitalist societies would not be featured in a socialist market economy. The implementation of tariffs would insulate the economy from having to compete with Third World sweatshop labor, and due to the less expansionary nature of labor-managed firms, the domestic economy itself would become less competitive.


Last edited by Celtiberian on Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:50 pm; edited 4 times in total

_________________
RSF Executive Committee (Chairman)
"The dogma of human equality is no part of Communism . . . the formula of Communism: 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs', would be nonsense, if abilities were equal."
—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
avatar
Celtiberian
________________________
________________________

Tendency : Revolutionary Syndicalist
Posts : 1523
Reputation : 1615
Join date : 2011-04-04
Age : 30
Location : Florida

http://www.wix.com/executivecommittee/home

Back to top Go down

Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by hermeticist on Thu Apr 28, 2011 1:09 pm

I'm not competent to enter into a learned debate. I would, however, make a distinction between capitalism (as a system of oligarchic control and domination exercised through the velvet gloves of "market forces" and ideological indoctrination) and free enterprise. From the little I know of history, free enterprise and trade has existed for millennia -- and most of this has been free of the dynamic of plunder and capital accumulation that has defined the modern era for perhaps the last couple of centuries.

I will not conflate free enterprise and competitive markets with capitalism; indeed, I would make sharp distinctions. Our capitalist masters of course seek to conflate the two. One of the ways this conflation takes place is by ascribing to "market forces" decisions they feel compelled to make. Yet these "market forces," as I've suggested previously, have been set up by them. To cite an example other than the purchasing of commodified labor power, the current debate on "shrinking the deficit" illustrates the way a manufactured reality of supposed economic compulsions and constraints -- caused largely by offshoring and the reduction of taxes on the rich and the corporations -- is being used as a pretext for draconian cuts in provisions for the general public.
avatar
hermeticist
___________________________
___________________________

Posts : 92
Reputation : 48
Join date : 2011-04-02

Back to top Go down

Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Celtiberian on Thu Apr 28, 2011 2:13 pm

hermeticist wrote:I'm not competent to enter into a learned debate. I would, however, make a distinction between capitalism (as a system of oligarchic control and domination exercised through the velvet gloves of "market forces" and ideological indoctrination) and free enterprise. From the little I know of history, free enterprise and trade has existed for millennia -- and most of this has been free of the dynamic of plunder and capital accumulation that has defined the modern era for perhaps the last couple of centuries.

Quite right. The market antecedes the capitalist mode of production by thousands of years. People have been exchanging goods and services with one another since at least the neolithic era, and perhaps as far back as the paleolithic. Capitalism (as defined by the wage-for-labor-time contract, or as it's more aptly described: wage slavery), on the other hand, is only a little over 200 years old. This isn't to say that the pre-capitalist modes of production were any less exploitative than capitalism is—surplus value was obviously extracted in both slave and feudal societies, and I don't think anyone (a few anarcho-primitivists notwithstanding) wants to return to hunter-gatherer societies. What we, as socialists, should strive to achieve is the formation of fundamentally non-exploitative work relations.

I will not conflate free enterprise and competitive markets with capitalism; indeed, I would make sharp distinctions. Our capitalist masters of course seek to conflate the two. One of the ways this conflation takes place is by ascribing to "market forces" decisions they feel compelled to make. Yet these "market forces," as I've suggested previously, have been set up by them. To cite an example other than the purchasing of commodified labor power, the current debate on "shrinking the deficit" illustrates the way a manufactured reality of supposed economic compulsions and constraints -- caused largely by offshoring and the reduction of taxes on the rich and the corporations -- is being used as a pretext for draconian cuts in provisions for the general public.

I completely agree. The commodification of labor has allowed the bourgeoisie to defer to the "general equilibrium" market wage rate to defend the (often meager) wages they pay workers. Surplus value is swept under the carpet, so that the ethical validity of private profits aren't even taken into consideration by the population. This allows capitalists to demonize unions (since they "cartelize" labor) and, during periods of economic crisis, shift the blame onto other external entities such as: taxation, minimum wage laws, regulation, central banking, and so forth. Due to the power capital exerts over the political establishment, they are then in the position to implement austerity measures onto the working population, while nevertheless extending tax cuts for themselves.

As you rightly point out, we should ever bear in mind that the "market forces" currently referred to by the media are capitalist market forces, not merely the market for goods and services.

_________________
RSF Executive Committee (Chairman)
"The dogma of human equality is no part of Communism . . . the formula of Communism: 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs', would be nonsense, if abilities were equal."
—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
avatar
Celtiberian
________________________
________________________

Tendency : Revolutionary Syndicalist
Posts : 1523
Reputation : 1615
Join date : 2011-04-04
Age : 30
Location : Florida

http://www.wix.com/executivecommittee/home

Back to top Go down

Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by mistek on Thu Apr 28, 2011 9:24 pm

Rebel Warrior 59 wrote: 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.

The owner profits off of the business as a whole, not an individual employee. The Janitor, as an employee, contributes to the facilitation of business. So if it looks like the owner doesn't directly profit off of him, he does...because without the janitor, the building would not have the maintenance it needs, etc.
The decent wage is subjective. The owner may feel he is paying the janitor a decent wage at $15.00 an hour and minimal or no benefits. But in the world we live in, it is very lean.

mistek
___________________________
___________________________

Posts : 18
Reputation : 8
Join date : 2011-04-03

Back to top Go down

Re: Wage Labor: Absolute Evil or Not?

Post by Sponsored content


Sponsored content


Back to top Go down

Page 2 of 2 Previous  1, 2

View previous topic View next topic Back to top

- Similar topics

 :: General :: Theory

 
Permissions in this forum:
You cannot reply to topics in this forum