FROM PRICES SET BY CAPITAL TO PRICES DIRECTLY SET BY LABOUR TIME.

pricing socialism pdf

10 Responses to FROM PRICES SET BY CAPITAL TO PRICES DIRECTLY SET BY LABOUR TIME.

  1. Anti-Capital says:

    Interesting article, to which I will respond to in some detail separately. The question that I am concerned with is the wage. Do workers draw wages in your settings? If so, are there wage differentials? Or differentials in the wage equivalent, i.e. the labor voucher? Does someone working as a janitor draw less than a skilled machinist? Is the janitor required to work more hours than the skilled machinist to draw the same quantity of product?

  2. Let us use the word wage stripped of its capitalist content, that is part payment for labour time. Yes a janitor will receive a lower wage than a skilled machinist because their coefficient of labour is lower. Yes a janitor can work extra hours to increase their wage to the level of a skilled machinist. Here an increase in quantity is compensating for quality. The best way to see a voucher system is to assume that it is priced in UNILATs and it does not matter if this is an electronic or paper voucher. The voucher is good for x UNILATs which depends on the time worked adjusted for the coefficient of labour. So if a day-time janitor with a coefficient of 0.8 works eight hours, their voucher signed off by their workplace would register 6.4 UNILATs. If a skilled machinist with a co-efficient of 1.2 works the same hours, their voucher signed off by their workplace, would register 9.6 UNILATS. This enables them to withdraw from the stock of products items which add up to 6.4 and 9.6 UNITLATs respectively. I hope this answers your question. Of course the whole science and art lies in determining and agreeing these coefficients.

    Just after I wrote this article I was listening to a programme on civil engineering and how they cost mega projects together with their contractors. I was amazed that their modelling allowed them to produce projects whose end cost was within 98% of estimates. One point made was the drive to maximise controlled work places adjacent to the projects in order to pre-fabricate as much as they can. In this way to reduced the uncontrolled elements.

  3. Anti-Capital says:

    Yes, you answered the question, and I believe the answer is its own critique. Maintaining wage differentials and using that to distribute the product of social labor is in my opinion antithetical to Marx’s vision.

  4. Anti-Capital says:

    Re the “labor coefficient” differential between the janitor and the skilled labor, the first response I would give is a quote from Engels who comes close to hitting the nail squarely on its head: “In a society of private private producers, private individuals or their families pay the costs of training the qualified worker; hence the higher price paid for qualified labour-power accrues first of all to private individuals: the skilful slave is sold for a higher price and the skilful wage-earner is paid higher wages. In a socialistically organized society these costs are borne by society and to it, therefore belong the the fruits, the greater “values” produced by compound labor”

    Comes close, because even though the higher wage accrues to the skilled worker, in capitalist society, the training of the skilled laborer is paid for by the working class as a whole.

    The task then is to, above all else, to equate the access of the entire society to food, shelter, education, medical care, clothing etc. and not reintroduce a wage-form through compensating “different” labors at different rates, thereby reviving the ability to labor, as a means of exchange.

    As for “intensity of labor”– good luck with that. Marx makes several references to the intensity of labor and never proposes or suggest anyway of measuring it, or distinguishing that “more intense” labor, which he claims ADDS more value in a unit of time, from more productive labor which does not and cannot add more value in a unit of time but can only increase the mass of use-values. In regard to Marx’s claim, either value is a quantity of labor-time, is measured by the labor-time embedded in the commodity’s production, as mediated by the social necessity of reproduction, or it isn’t. To suggest that value is altered by “intensity” and yet have no way of showing how that intensity actually creates exchange value, undermines the entirely of the labor theory of value.

    “Intensity” is in fact invisible to value production. Which labor is more intense? That of manual labor, say, of a worker using a shovel, or that of worker operating a bulldozer?

    Either Marx was right when he wrote in The Poverty of Philosophy that “Time is everything. Man is nothing. He is at most time’s carcass” or he was wrong, and we have to be able to show how exchange value is derived from, determined by labor intensity.

    • A valuable contribution by Engels but one contradicted by the Critique of the Gotha Programme: “But one man is superior to another physically, or mentally, and supplies more labor in the same time, or can labor for a longer time; and labor, to serve as a measure, must be defined by its duration or intensity, otherwise it ceases to be a standard of measurement.” and “Thus, with an equal performance of labor, and hence an equal in the social consumption fund, one will in fact receive more than another, one will be richer than another, and so on. To avoid all these defects, right, instead of being equal, would have to be unequal.”

      If you relook at what you wrote there is a contradiction. First you say in the third last paragraph that higher intensity adds more value in a given time, because the volume produced in that time expresses a greater expenditure of labour, then you go on to say that more value cannot be added by intensity because it cannot be shown.

      However, you do have a point which is why I propose the homogenising of intensity after the revolution. It is difficult to set intensity as a standard (Marx) when it varies. It is also politically incorrect, because a failure to set a common standard of intensity under workers control will only lead to bickering, infighting and sectionalism.

      With regard to Engels quote on education, the problem is legacy: “What we have to deal with here is a communist society, not as it has developed on its own foundations, but, on the contrary, just as it emerges from capitalist society; which is thus in every respect, economically, morally, and intellectually, still stamped with the birthmarks of the old society from whose womb it emerges.” Do you propose that skilled workers be paid only an average wage because their education has been paid for by the working class as a whole. For example, are student fees being paid for by the working class as whole. They are not but this is besides the point. The point is that skilled workers contribute more in a given hour than do unskilled workers. To reconcile this division of labour the receipt of labour has to express this differential contribution.

      I understand your motivation, but your programme leads to barrack socialism, where everything is averaged out, where the differences that make up individuals are forcibly set aside. “Right, by its very nature, can consist only in the application of an equal standard; but unequal individuals (and they would not be different individuals if they were not unequal) are measurable only by an equal standard…” The task of our programme must be to reconcile an unequal class by means of equal rights in order to create a dynamic society were inequality is eliminated thus ending the epoch of rights.

  5. Anti-Capital says:

    “First you say in the third last paragraph that higher intensity adds more value in a given time, ”

    No, I don’t claim that. I say Marx claims that. I disagree with Marx on that.

    The “cure” or prevention of barracks socialism is twofold: 1) abundance 2) not “seeing” or constructing, or really objectifying labor as means of exchange, as a means of compensation.

    I think we have an obligation, stemming from the roots of revolution, to materialize the most radical equality we can, at every stage of revolution, including the critical “transition period.” Would you suggest that a janitor is entitled to less healthcare than a skilled worker? That’s in part what a wage differential will create. I know you wouldn’t support that, but it is intrinsic to a “compensation theory” of labor.

  6. Anti-Capital says:

    Anyway, good discussion.

  7. In response, we need to distinguish individual consumption from the social fund. Having read most of my posts you are aware how much importance I place on the democratic involvement and resolution of the amount to be deducted from the social product for the social fund. I would consider it an attack on workers democracy for the state to decide this in anyway on behalf of the workers. Only the workers who have produced this product have the right to decide on its disposition. So, out of this fund education is met. As a dynamic socialist society develops more is available for this fund. It grows relatively and absolutely to the point when it is now possible to educate every member of society to the level of the highest. This is why I use the terms the purpose and the function of workers rights. The purpose is to reconcile an unequal class, and the function is to end its inequalities. Thus the purpose of the equal right to receive in proportion to contribution unites an unequal class making possible an enlarged social fund whose function is to end this inequality. I am sure you will stand shoulder to shoulder with me protecting that most fundamental socialist right, the right of workers to determine the deductions from the social product, because if it becomes a surplus once again, good bye socialism.

    With regard to the issue of value you address. I stand on the side of Marx while you do not. I suspect you stand with Marx on the issue of intensity whereas I do not. The only time I have ever disagreed with Marx is over the issue of intensity. In the Critique he refers to duration (time) and intensity as the two standards of labour. But time does not alter. An hour is an hour anywhere on the planet, though it may vary on a fast space ship. Intensity does alter. People have different endowments. That is why I place such stress on homogenising intensity so that it may be used as a standard, universal labour time. Fortunately, the invention of power tools, power steering, hydraulics has reduced the issue of muscle power and therefore intensity. Indeed, every survey I have read shows that measured by job description, the biggest fall in employment has been those areas of work most dependent on muscle power alone, at least in the advanced capitalist economies.

  8. Anti-Capital says:

    Yes, I am well aware of your commitment to workers democracy in these matters, which is why I found you proposals unusual.

    Nope, Marx agrees with you. He repeatedly states that increased intensity adds more value than the average in a unit of time. I think that totally undercuts the argument of value as the embodiment of labor-time.

    I do not agree with that view of intensity. Suppose in an assembly factory, the “speed of the line” is increased such that workers now assembly 20% more units in the same period. Surely their labor expenditure is more intense. But how is this realized by the markets? How is it distinguished from any other productivity measure, a change in technique, or the division of labor, or the application of more advanced machinery that increases output by 20%. It cannot. The market recognizes labor-time, not sweat.

    If an assembly line is sped up so that worker output increases 25% that is exactly the same in cost-terms and in value, as improvements to productivity via machinery or the work process that boost worker output 25%.

    The inequalities that exist are individual inequalities and should not be perpetuated by the access to social wealth, which is supposed to mitigate such inequalities by and through the recognition of NEED. We would never claim that a skilled worker with 3 children should have greater access to social wealth than a janitor with 6 children.

    It’s one thing to say our new society emerges from the old, bearing all the marks of the old. It’s another thing to argue that there is a basis for maintaining the fragmentation of the working class so essential to the old. In the US we’ll inherit a society that pays women 80% of men, and black men 70-75% of white men. The solution to that is more than equal pay for equal work, since women and African-Americans have been denied equal access. The solution is in eliminating the differentials in compensation, along with differentials in education, healthcare, housing, etc etc .as the transition stage to socialism.

    The janitor, or the food service employee contributes to social wealth equally as the skilled machinist. The task is to overcome the expression of labor as value for exchange.

  9. You are right, it is difficult to unscramble intensity and productivity. With regard to unequal pay for equal work, in a socialist society there will be only one rate for a specific level of skill regardless of race, colour or gender. This is not an issue of skill but of discrimination, of divide and rule, and it ends with the revolution or there will be no revolution.

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