Race, Gender , and Class

zhao

there are no accidents
Capitalism and its agents/apologists propose that it is ahistorical, that it is the end-point of history, both post-history and the 'meaning' of history, that there is no alternative.
that is exactly what you are doing. deifying capitalism as some evil alien force which invented itself out of nothing, divorced from the social realities which lead up to, gave rise to it, made it possible.

THAT, my dear waffle, is a-historical.

No. It is alien to them, busy wiping then out. Successfully.
wiping out other systems is the effect of the virus, its modus operandi; not its precondition of being.

of course capitalism EVOLVED out of, and was only possible with the existence of a set of historical conditions. feudalism and agriculture based economy gave way to big industry, and with technological "advancement" came the necessity of a new organizing principle with which to control the workers, a new mechanism that would regulate the flow of production.

Not really. Because night chronologically follows day, it is 'caused' by day?
not an apt metaphor. a better one is when moisture in clouds reach a certain density, rain occurs.

Your concept of history is ahistorical, that it is pre-determined, and not contingent.
no, i do not believe in pre-destiny. but i do believe in causality.

i know where you are coming from:

The principal instrument used to undermine the old rural communities was land enclosure. By this means common land, to which common rights had become attached by ancient custom allowing even the poorest to have access, was now expropriated into large estates and private hands. Enclosures actually began in the reign of Henry VII at the end of the 15th century. The number of enclosures increased rapidly after the Reformation in the 16th century with the breaking up of the monasteries and the land rights associated with them. But in our period a new systematic approach to enclosure began to develop with the power of the state behind it.
but this is predicated on an evolution of the means of production, and more importantly, the pre-existence of a deeply divided class structure in which the powerful few subjugated the majority of farmers/workers.

The process by which the soil was transformed into capital became more and more intensive. The agricultural revolution of the earlier part of the 18th century had massively increased food production by the systematic application of more scientific farming principles such as crop rotation, liming and manuring of the soil, and selective breeding, and had provided the basis for an increasing population. ... The confidence of the new 'progressives' was secured by a new world view which abhorred the untidiness of the natural landscape and which worshipped above all order, system and symmetry - the celebration of nature found in Wordsworth and Constable came as a later reaction against these rationalists.

The optimism of the age, however, meant absolutely nothing to the labourer. For the mass of the rural population the enclosures were devastating. Whole regions became depopulated. Small farmers now became day labourers and hirelings. Some emigrated to America. Many joined the bands of the destitute who roamed the agricultural districts. Finally they were drawn with a terrible inevitability into the black holes of the growing industrial ghettos.

The ruling class regarded the whole scene with delight. To them the small landholders had been unproductive and wasteful. They sermonised about the fecklessness of the poor and celebrated their plunder with visions of their own advancement and human progress. In fact the ruling class, despite their ideological pretensions, were clear about the benefits of this shift both for the new capitalism they were inaugurating and for their own interests within it. One Mr Bishton wrote the following: 'The use of common land operates upon the mind as a sort of independence.' When the commons are enclosed 'the labourers will work every day in the year, their children will be put out to labour early' and 'that subordination of the lower ranks which in the present times is so much wanted, would be thereby considerably secured'.

"We make history, but not in circumstances of our choosing."
EXACTLY. our choices are limited to the realities we face, are born into.

power, which is to say power over others, already existed for thousands of years prior to capitalism. and only with this given, this precondition, was capitalism, admittedly a radical shift, possible.
 
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zhao

there are no accidents
one of us has the wrong definition of "ahistorical".

is it me? (i'm probably the lessed versed in theory one)

but even if it is my position stands regardless of what label is readily slapped onto it.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Why do you think that? I'm guessing your answer is related to some kind of LTV-type analysis of profit -- but do such notions really have any validity nowadays?
Well yes, and yes.

I don't see how you can have capitalism without an antagonism between workers and bosses.

No doubt we differ on that. :)
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Turning this upright again, capitalism's deterritorializing of traditional social and geographic (nationalism, religion, family) structures, including gender and racial divisions, along with the pomo obsession with identity/cultural politics, would indeed produce a 'pure capitalism', where all that would remain is the primary social antagonism - the real of class conflict, so increasing the likelihood of revolution.
Thanks for responding. Yes I can see that, and it seems to me that a "pure" capitalism is unlikely to come about soon as real life is too messy.

Even if it did, the standard liberal angle on that would be "look how far we have come - capitalism has solved all these evils". Which serves to mystify just as much as:

Identity politics, which is what mainly characterizes political discourse in the West, denies and deflects from the critique of political economy, seeking to re-territorialize against capital's obliteration of all social significations, often seeking out and inventing easy scapegoats (immigrants, the foreign Other, the poor, etc) and/or resorting to 'unifying' nationalisms (Obama certainly appealed repeatedly to the latter in his campaign, invoking everyone to 'come together' etc), or ultimately, (imperial) war. Many are currently arguing that Obama's success reflects a move from identity politics on to an emphasis on the economy; this may be so to a token extent, but the emphasis appears to be a continuation of neo-liberal policies via an appeal to nationalism ("We can make America Great Again" etc).
Certainly I can see that scapegoating and moral panics distract attention from the main conflict (cf the socialist cliches about "dividing the class" etc).

I'm not sure that identity politics is the "main characteristic" of political discourse in the west?

Surely this depends on the economic conditions anyway - nobody talks about the economy when the economy is running smoothly. And during a crisis everyone is very keen to insert caveats into their speeches "oh well ultimately it's all out of our control but we will do what we can to help".

It's probably obvious I haven't worked all this through... :slanted:
 
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vimothy

yurp
I don't see how you can have capitalism without an antagonism between workers and bosses.
But doesn't that rely on a particularly industrial model (cliche?) of organisation?

What about in, say, financial services -- at what point do people there stop being the exploited and alienated producers of labour and start being merely overpaid but underperforming actuaries?

It's quite easy to come up with stuff that contradicts Marx's theories. Which isn't to say that there isn't an element of truth to Marx's writing (some people do badly; others do not), but it does seem a bit strong to say that there can be no capitalism without antagonism between workers and bosses. I can think of two examples right off the top of my head of non-antagonistic/non-exploitative capitalism: self-employment, and robots!
 
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john eden

male pale and stale
But doesn't that rely on a particularly industrial model (cliche?) of organisation?
Not in my experience, and I haven't worked in a factory for 18 years.

Everyone I know who is self-employed still has to sell their labour to an employer.

I am completely in favour of full automation alongside the abolition of money and the class system.

However the introduction of robots under capitalism is usually a way of getting rid of large chunks of the workforce (i.e. another attack on the working class in order to reduce overheads). For example - Wapping.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Everyone I know who is self-employed still has to sell their labour to an employer.
How so? If you're self-employed you have clients, rather than employers, right? Or would you counter that in this case it's not a meaningful distinction?

I'd argue that there are big distinctions: the self-employer is obliged only to provide the client with a certain product or service, and how he goes about this is totally up to him (i.e. he sets his own hours and conditions); secondly, the fees he charges for his services, minus overheads, are his to keep as profit. Both of which are generally untrue for an 'employee' in the normal sense, right?
 

john eden

male pale and stale
How so? If you're self-employed you have clients, rather than employers, right? Or would you counter that in this case it's not a meaningful distinction?

I'd argue that there are big distinctions: the self-employer is obliged only to provide the client with a certain product or service, and how he goes about this is totally up to him (i.e. he sets his own hours and conditions); secondly, the fees he charges for his services, minus overheads, are his to keep as profit. Both of which are generally untrue for an 'employee' in the normal sense, right?
I think those distinctions are basically correct, but pretty minor ones.

The reason I know so many people who are "self-employed" is that there has been an explosion of downsizing and contracting out. I.e. employers have found it to be a cost effective way of getting the same work done.

This is largely through not having to pay out for holidays, sick leave, pensions or bother which large chunks of employment law (or trade unions). But the work is the same and in general the actual hours worked are the same, if not more.

The value of what is created for the employer/client is still much greater than that paid to the worker/contractor.

And of course, the fee paid will be cheaper in some way than what would have been been paid in wages and other benefits to a full employee - otherwise why bother?

To my mind it is the same thing, except you might have the benefit of getting up when you fancy it and working in your pyjamas. However you then have to scrabble around and compete for new work every few weeks, or run the risk of not getting paid.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
The value of what is created for the employer/client is still much greater than that paid to the worker/contractor.

And of course, the fee paid will be cheaper in some way than what would have been been paid in wages and other benefits to a full employee - otherwise why bother?
This is the crux of it, I think.

Firstly, in what way is the 'value' of the service greater than that paid to the self-employed worker? How can 'value' be described other than as how much people are willing to pay for something? Your statement makes sense for a normal company, which is run by bosses who don't actually do the work that directly leads to the completed product/service (although they are in theory doing something useful to earn their wages - though I know a few people who'd dispute that...) and, moreover, is usually paying dividends to shareholders. But if the fee charged by the worker goes straight into his pocket, how can this be differentiated from the 'value' of the service he provides? (Let's assume for the moment the companies or individuals that hire him aren't operating a 'reverse cartel' to keep prices artificially low, as the major supermarkets are often accused of doing to farmers.)

Your second point sounds like a great argument for why someone working for himself is really a paradigm of a Marxist collective in miniature: of course he can undercut a company, that's because he doesn't have to earn his boss's wage in addition to his own! In fact he could split the difference and pay himself more than he'd earn if he were working for someone else, while still charging less for equivalent goods/services, right?
 

vimothy

yurp
We may be talking at cross-purposes here.

Let's say I own a record shop. I employ an under-nourished teen with an asymmetric haricut and pay them the minium wage. I am the boss; they are the (exploited, alienated) worker. A straightforward relationship. And what if I didn't employ anyone, but did the work myself? I would be both boss and worker (surely self-employed people do not sell their labour to anyone else, by definition!) and thus there would be no antagonism between the two groups. So it's false to say that there can be no capitalism without antagonism between the owners of capital and the owners of Arbeitskraft, labour power -- sometimes they are the same person.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I dunno it seems pretty simple to me.

Acme solutions conctracts out the design, editing, and writing of a book.

The designer, editor and writer get paid £a + £b + £c respectively.

There are other costs, which may also be contracted out (printing, marketing, distribution).

The aim is to sell the book for a profit.

£a + £b + £c +(other costs) +(X) = projected income revenue from book.

(X) = what we are interested in. It includes the wages of the people who hire and fire the contractors, the profits/dividends to shareholders etc.

The designer, editor and writer do not get a share of (X).

They do therefore have to "earn their bosses wage" and the profits.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
OK, so in that case there is another company, which of course has to make its own profits, intermediate between the workers and the customer (who buys the book). But what about Vimothy's self-employed record-shop owner? Who's exploiting him? He sells for £X a record that cost him £Y, and his overheads average out at £Z per record sold - so his profit is £(X-Y-Z), right? The only two parties involved in the transaction are the self-employed worker and the customer, so there's no room for any 'exploitation' because there's no boss separate from the worker.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
OK, so in that case there is another company, which of course has to make its own profits, intermediate between the workers and the customer (who buys the book). But what about Vimothy's self-employed record-shop owner? Who's exploiting him? He sells for £X a record that cost him £Y, and his overheads average out at £Z per record sold - so his profit is £(X-Y-Z), right? The only two parties involved in the transaction are the self-employed worker and the customer, so there's no room for any 'exploitation' because there's no boss separate from the worker.
That does complicate things - it has been (rather tritely) called "managing your own alienation" and is afaik the classic "petit bourgeois" model.

Presumably the aim in the record store is to end up employing at least one other member of staff?

The "record store model" is not my experience of people who are "self-employed" however - it mainly seems to be based on the model I described above.
 

matt b

Indexing all opinion
OK, so in that case there is another company, which of course has to make its own profits, intermediate between the workers and the customer (who buys the book). But what about Vimothy's self-employed record-shop owner? Who's exploiting him? He sells for £X a record that cost him £Y, and his overheads average out at £Z per record sold - so his profit is £(X-Y-Z), right? The only two parties involved in the transaction are the self-employed worker and the customer, so there's no room for any 'exploitation' because there's no boss separate from the worker.
there is exploitation undertaken by the record company, record distributor, owner of building record shop is in, utilities etc.

profit is a form of exploitation :)
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Sorry Vim, I missed your post at the bottom of page two. I just don't think it is even theoretically possible for everyone to be sole trader like your record shop guy.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Presumably the aim in the record store is to end up employing at least one other member of staff?
Well since it's a business the only aim (other than a sheer exuberant love of music, man) is presumably the making of money. If taking on staff facilitates that, then that's what you do, in which case you of course become their boss - but it may well be the case that it's better business sense not to.

The "record store model" is not my experience of people who are "self-employed" however - it mainly seems to be based on the model I described above.
OK, fair enough, in your example it sounds like the writer/editor/designer become 'proxy' employees of the publisher - but my point was that it's possible for people to be genuinely self-employed in a way that doesn't involve a profit-making third party. And the idea of 'self-alienation' sounds to me suspiciously like someone twisting a theory to breaking point. :)
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
there is exploitation undertaken by the record company, record distributor, owner of building record shop is in, utilities etc.

profit is a form of exploitation :)
I suppose you can look at it that way. If you like.
 

vimothy

yurp
No, of course not. I was just trying to establish that there are possible capitalisms (forms of capitalism) that are not based on the mutual antagonism of the bosses and workers.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
No, of course not. I was just trying to establish that there are possible capitalisms (forms of capitalism) that are not based on the mutual antagonism of the bosses and workers.
That is a model of activity within capitalism, though.

As is being on the dole for your whole life.

Both still rely on the game carrying on as usual for most people though...
 

Slothrop

Tight but Polite
What about cooperatives?

Still a form of activity within capitalism, but they could in principle (obviously not next week, but then the abolition of private property doesn't look likely to happen next week either, financial crisis notwithstanding) be an organizing principle for the economy that doesn't rely on a boss / worker division.
 
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