“Wage Slavery” #2

A continuation of my discussion with Amtheomusings, regarding the notion of “wage-slavery” and its theoretical legitimacy or illegitimacy.
Original post (Bryce): Here
My First Response: Here
Bryce’s Response: Here

Thank you for keeping this up Bryce, in regard to your earlier question,  I would be hesitant to call myself a Marxist, due primarily to its overly broad connection to Stallin (whom I don’t support), Lenin & Trotsky (whom I am painfully unfamiliar), and Critical Theory (which is too broad to generalize).  Let me simply reply that I would call myself a socialist (of some stripe) and that I am currently infatuated with Marx (particularly as interpreted by Michel Henry).

I believe that I must first clarify my earlier comment which you quoted: “the model of a non-wage based economics is […] the artisan, the craftsman, for whom a ‘wage’ is irrelevant.” To this you respond,

“But that’s exactly what I find ridiculous: that people shouldn’t act in order to produce something that they, or someone else, values. Unless it were valued, it shouldn’t be produced.”

If I might take this quote in reverse order, I must say that I completely agree with your second assertion: viz. it is only the value that should be produced.  What I must question in your response is the notion of value by which you are critiquing this position.  Specifically, what form of value does the “critic” (here, as elswhere, understood as the critic of “wage-slavery”) believe that productivity should be guided.  The answer, I believe, must be real, human value.  That is to say, it is not that production is not completed in respect to value, but merely that it is not completed in respect to abstract monetary value.  The craftsmen (to return to my previous example) produces his product for direct consumption, in order that it might fulfill the actual human need.  This is fully distinct from the motivation fo the industrialized worker who merely produces for a wage.  This is essentially identical to Marx’s distinction between “use-value” and “exchange-value,” if that helps.

In regards to your discussion of Co-op/worker-control models of production, I believe that you predictedmy response quite accurately when you wrote in your addendum:

“*Obviously, one cannot object that this is a wrong end, since isn’t the point of overturning the “wage-based economic/productive system” also supposed to be that it will make us all wealthier? Then there’s nothing wrong with working to make us all wealthier, if a co-op model of production were to do that.”

To this I must simply respond that, yes, I do believe that the “proper end” of production should not be wealth.  For, it is precisely inaccurate to argue that the restructuring of wage-based-labor will “make us wealthier,” if by wealth you mean “exchange value” (i.e. abstract wealth).  As for use-value (i.e. real value), I can only speculate.  As for quality of life (for the workers in particular) I think this is clear.

For now, I will leave “conservative anarcho-capitalism” [Randianism! 😉 ] aside.

J. Leavitt Pearl

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About jleavittpearl

Philosopher and Theologian out of Pittsburgh PA.

Posted on September 4, 2012, in Thoughts and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Randianism? Bah, I say. If you don’t want to be associated with Stalin (something I can respect), I don’t want to be associated with Rand. She is completely different, hardly conservative or even an anarchist when it comes down to it.

    I think there are grounds for discussion in the future between us.

  1. Pingback: Guest Post: On Wage Slavery, a Double Response « Philosophy & Theology

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