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Capital Vol 1 Reading Group: Chapters 10-11

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Spartacus
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Nov 17 2008 11:44
Capital Vol 1 Reading Group: Chapters 10-11

another two weeks and it's time for a new thread for the reading group. for reference, the index of all threads to do with the reading group is here.

this time we have a chapter on the working day applying all this theory and then a bit more theory. i think now there is a lot more scope for discussion and relating it to our lives, so hopefully the reading group can liven up a bit, i'll start some once i've typed up my notes.

since at the moment i seem to be the only one reading at this speed, steven. at least saying he needs to catch up, and in my edition at least the next page starts with the heading "part iv", would people like an extra week to read the next three chapters?

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Feb 10 2009 12:08

right, my notes. enjoy.

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Nov 21 2008 12:32

ok, to try and start some discussion, i shall do a little attempt at applying this analysis to my life: this chapter struck a chord with me as a few weeks ago my employers tried to do something fairly similar to extending the working day. currently i work for six hours a day, during which i teach 2 hours (more or less) the rest of the time spent preparing for lessons etc. and if i was willing to teach after the designated time then i get overtime. but the time they decided i had to come in by is about four hours before the first lesson starts, due to the peculiar nature of the taiwanese education system (where i teach is a private after-school school), and there are a further two hours of classes after i officially finish.

they proposed moving the time i came to work to two hours later, my clocking out time moving similarly, so that they would be able to make me teach an extra 2 hours a day without overtime. since the schools get paid per class hour, they don't get any money directly from the preparation time, so it would in effect have doubled the amount of value i was creating for them by doubling the time spent creating value. since (in theory) i would be obliged to do twice as much preparation in half the time, so either work more intensely or do some at home, this would have resulted in more absolute surplus value rather than the relative stuff marx talks about in the next chapters.

in fact, since i would have half the preparation time to use up physical means of production, and due to the nature of this work the amount of value that is actually transferred from the m.o.p. (paper, card, pens, photocopying etc.) is harder to detect in the product (kids being able to speak english), it might also have had the bizarre effect of creating more value by transfering less, or at least i guess that's what the employers hoped.

the happy ending (so far at least) to this story is that those of us that the proposal was put to simply said no, demanded a collective meeting with the manager, and no more has been heard from since. such are the advantages of having a particular "skill" (being a native english speaker) in a place with a shortage of workers with that skill. on the other hand, plenty of others who are willing to work late for overtime do, so i guess that amounts to an extension of the working day, albeit with the extra surplus value created being eaten away a little by the overtime pay.

this is even more the case generally for taiwanese workers, who apparently do the most unpaid overtime in the world, because if they don't they might not be seen as keen enough (and sometimes if they do it enough, they're in with a chance of bonus, sometimes equal to their entire years' pay, at the end of the year if the company does well.