- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Your assignment sir!

Posted by: Gee ( si ) on November 16, 1999 at 14:32:34:

In Reply to: Capitalism & technology posted by Alan on November 16, 1999 at 10:38:40:

: "Braverman claims that under capitalism technology is used to reduce the poer of the workforce in the production process by centralising knowledge and control in the hands of management".....

: Any critical evaluation of the above quotation would be most appreciated !

(shall we all do this fellow's homework for him?)

Knowledge and control are two distinct things.

Technology 'captures' knowledge. A lightbulb is the physical embodiment of the genius of its creator and the productive innovation of all the thinkers who have added to it, and to its production techniques, since.

Buying a light bulb for $1 means you are getting all that knowledge. For all Ayn Rand fans (i'm sure there are some, david?) it is this which made her say that no productive genius could ever earn enough millions in relation to the billions he/she made possible for others, that such people are the greatest benefactors of all humankind by leaving behind their genius in concrete form. This is true of inventors of things and of productive technique.

The quotation above seems to imply that a capitalist buying a light bulb is denying those who had the knowlegde of how to provide electric light the chance to 'do it all over' fopr a wage.

In factory terms - when you buy a machine which paints cars you capture the knowledge involved and it is no longer necessary for people to paint cars. If you are an optimist then you'll state that these people are free to pursue ever more opportunities. If you are a pessimist then you believe that this throws people onto a scrapheap. Stable and low unemployment over the long term is suggesting that the optimists were right.

The idea that this reduces the power of the workforce is, I imagine, based upon the belief that the workforce now has no say in the job of painting cars - and as more technology is introduced has no bargaining power with regard to the tasks technology is able to undertake.

What appears to have happened however is that people have not been left behind en masse (otherwise unemployment %s would be always rising rapidly) but are finding new jobs in services & productive work (where technology is not usurping their role) where their bargaining power is evidently still as strong, infact stronger than when technology did not do those jobs it now does, than ever before - observe the many labor laws as one example of this, and the many 'perks' many employers offer ontop of salary accross all staff compared to yesteryear.

In terms of control (of the means of poduction) observe again the many regulations upon ownership compared with the past and also the far greater number of people (in the west atleast) who own shares in one form or other than ever was the case previously.

If there is a trend this hints at it.

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