- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Exploitation of whom by whom

Posted by: Gee ( si ) on November 26, 1999 at 22:32:05:

Question for the weekend

Exploitation is levelled at capitalism on the basis that the market value of the good produced by a set of workers is more than the sum of their income, and the difference is exploited from them in the form of capitalist profit.

I assume workers include everyone up to and including the board of directors, and 'capitalists' are only those people who have ownership in the company and do no work toward it. Defining who those poeple are (bondholders, pension trusts, other companies, individuals) is probably for another post - as there are many spinoff arguments there.

In other words unless the workers themselves own the company they are being exploited by those that do. Lets leave aside who owns what proportion for now and consider these scenarios.

A. One capitalist owns the whole factory, for whom 100 people work. She exploits them out of the difference between the market value of produce and the sum of their income (which may be a minus figure btw!). Employees who buy, or are offered, shares in the company can have a stake to the extent of their % ownership (the 'capitalists' control drops accordingly).

B. The 100 workers own the factory. They cannot exploit themselves as they control their income. We add the (dubious) assumption that theyre all happy with their agreements for setting aside resources to invest, their agreements as to what ach takes home etc. No worker is unwillingly exploited here.

C. The factory is 'socially' owned by everyone which includes the 100 workers and everyone else. The workers cannot control what happens to the values they create, they cannot realize 100% of it - because the company is not theirs - its 'everyones' which hypothetically, even assuming the sum of 'everyone else' is only 10000, means the workers only have a 1% stake / vote, and thats as a group.

The difference between A and C is only in the detail. For the worker involved their relation to the means of production is the same. They come to work, produce values and do not keep the whole of the fruits of their labor for themselves - instead it goes to the owners. In case A - the shareholders, in case B - 'society', in both cases the workers' say in the matter is thoroughly drowned out by their lack of ownership and their miniscule proportional vote in the matter.

If socially owned means of production is supposed to represent an improvement I can see why it is less than popular, and certainly alot less popular than B.

A further point - Neither doing away with a means of exchange nor instituting a practice of 'producing for needs' will resolve the potential feelings of inequity and injustice burgeoning in the exploited workers of scenario C, especially if what they produced is valued more than whats others produce (or perhaps more to the point - dont produce). How is this to be resolved?

I understand Job Rotation proposes to resolve the potential of this inequity building up. However, for the same reason someone in a post below said something along the lines of;

'would you want your brain surgeon to be a lifetime trained expert or have just come off his salt mine shift, and not seen surgery since his last medical shift 4 years ago'

I would argue that socialist job rotation just would not happen in reality.

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