Sunday, 26 January 2020

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Addenda - Part 47

This separation of the owners of loanable money-capital from production, and the performance of their former social function, in production, by the professional managers, means that the profit of enterprise appears as wages for the labour of superintendence. But, as Marx points out, the argument put forward by the capitalists and their representatives backfired on them, because the workers and their advocates, with the evidence in front of them, of what the managers in the cooperative factories were paid, simply turned to the capitalists and demanded then that their “wages” be reduced to these same levels. As Marx says, by this time, the extension of education had also meant that workers could see many such managers and potential managers, from within their own ranks, walking the streets in search of employment. 

“Incidentally, these apologetics aimed at reducing profit to wages, i.e., the wages of superintendence, boomerang on the apologists themselves, for English socialists have rightly declared: Well, in future, you shall only draw the wages usually paid to managers. Your industrial profit should not be reduced to wages of superintendence or direction of labour merely in words, but in practice.” (p 496) 

“And they add: the function of the manager, the labour of superintendence, can now be bought on the market in the same way as any other kind of labour-power, and is relatively just as cheap to produce and therefore to buy. Capitalist production itself has brought about that the labour of superintendence walks the streets, separated completely from the ownership of capital, whether one’s own or other people’s. It has become quite unnecessary for capitalists to perform this labour of superintendence. It is actually available, separate from capital, not in the sham separation which exists between the industrial capitalist and the moneyed capitalist, but that between industrial managers, etc., and capitalists of every sort. The best demonstration of this are the co-operative factories built by the workers themselves. They are proof that the capitalist as functionary of production has become just as superfluous to the workers as the landlord appears to the capitalist with regard to bourgeois production.” (p 497) 

There is a requirement for labour of superintendence. The labour of a conductor is required in relation to an orchestra. The more labour is characterised by a division of labour, and, thereby, cooperative labour, the greater is the requirement for labour involved in such functions of supervising, coordinating and managing. Such labour is not specific to any mode of production. Indeed, under socialism, because it is premised on a much greater scale of production, much greater division of labour, including the separation of scientific labour from manual labour, the much greater use of cooperative labour, the need for such labour of superintendence becomes even greater. 

But there are other functions included in the heading of labour of superintendence that are specific to each mode of production. There is only a requirement for slave masters under systems of slavery. There is only a requirement for foremen and other such workers, under capitalism, where the function is not about the supervision and coordination of the labour process, but about ensuring that surplus value is maximised from each worker. In just the same way that slaves were overseen by other slaves, so the task of overseeing the exploitation of wage workers is given to other wage workers. This labour is only necessary in so far s these exploitative relations determine the mode of production. 

“If man attributes an independent existence, clothed in a religious form, to his relationship to his own nature, to external nature and to other men so that he is dominated by these notions, then he requires priests and their labour. With the disappearance of the religious form of consciousness and of these relationships, the labour of the priests will likewise cease to enter into the social process of production. The labour of priests will end with the existence of the priests themselves and, in the same way, the labour which the capitalist performs qua capitalist, or causes to be performed by someone else, will end together with the existence of the capitalists.” (p 496) 

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