"working class take power" - should we rethink this phrasing?

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jura
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Feb 9 2015 14:02

Augustyn, I really appreciate you've taken some time to read the report I posted. It confirms what's been said many, many times on this thread: that manufacturing has shifted to emerging regions around the world over the last decades. Also, it clearly says that globally, manufacturing employment is on the rise (see the chart on page 7 of the report). I take it you don't disagree with this, but wish to stress certain aspects of it (that a result of this, the share of employment in manufacturing in the developed countries has been decreasing – I agree with that).

A large part of this shift has also concerned the countries of the former Eastern bloc. The de-industrialization during the 1990s was enormous. But there is no denying that after that, there was a rise in industrial employment in Poland which took place after circa 2002. The same thing happened in other CEE countries (see the charts for: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, World Bank data from here). I'm sure you've heard of the foreign direct investment boom in Poland, of the special economic zones etc. It would be quite surprising if it didn't have any impact on the employment structure. The peak of that boom was reached in about 2008, just before the crisis led to massive layoffs, including in industry (at the time of the peak, almost 40% people were employed in industry in Slovakia). Some countries and sectors have since picked up the pace, some not. Of course, it's still true for these countries that fewer people (and a lower share of them) work in industry than in the pre-1989 times. I never disputed this (however, and probably unlike you, I wouldn't see this is something as absolute that could never change, but I don't think that's important now. In any case, I think that there will be further growth of industrial employment in our countries. We can come back to this in a few years and look at the data.).

I'd like to point out something else now, although I've hinted at it before. As regards the report, it's important to keep in mind that it is concerned with manufacturing only. "Industry", as usually defined by mainstream statistics, is a broader concept (it also includes mining and construction). One might object that the same overall trend applies to "industry" in general and not just manufacturing. That may well be true (although construction is probably specific in this respect; e.g., despite all the "de-industrialization", there was a huge construction boom in the US just before the current crisis, with corresponding surges in both construction employment and real estate services employment). However, if we adopt the Marxian point of view – that of "industrial capital" – we see that a lot of expansion taking place in the developed countries actually pertains to productive branches of the economy, i.e. those in which surplus-value is produced by wage laborers (note that this does not mean that other branches don't employ wage laborers; one can be an unproductive wage laborer just as well, as in the case of commercial workers).

Here are some 2013 data and projections from the BLS on the employment structure of the US. We can see that employment in agriculture, but also in manufacturing, had been falling in the 2002 – 2012 period, and is also projected to fall in 2012 – 2022 (manufacturing at an annual rate of -0.5%). Employment in construction had been falling (the crisis erased all traces of the pre-crisis construction boom), but is projected to rise again (at a 2.6% annual rate). However, total employment in the "goods producing" sector is projected to rise only at the low annual rate of 0.6%, which will lead to a further decrease of this branch in total employment (2002: 15.8%, 2012: 12.6%, 2022: 12.1%).

The "service providing" sector is projected to rise from a 76.3% in 2002 and a 79.9% in 2012 to a 80.9% share in totat employment by 2022. Now, the branch in this sector that had been growing at the fastest pace in 2002 – 2012 is "educational services". Of course, this category is probably an amalgam of various kinds of activities, but it most certainly includes privately-owned establishments where waged workers "belabor the heads of their students", as mentioned by Marx in Capital:

Marx wrote:
a schoolmaster is a productive labourer when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of in a sausage factory, does not alter the relation.

Employment in the educational sector is projected to grow at an annual rate of 1.9%.

What else had been growing? "Health care and social assistance". Again a mixed bag, but in part definitely a branch of "industrial capital". This sector had been growing at 2.3% anually and is expected to grow at the fastest pace of 2.6% per year (the only other sector comparable in terms of projected rate of growth is – construction!). Transportation and warehousing, another typical "industry" from the Marxian point of view, is expected to grow at a 0.7% rate and had previously been growing at a 0.4% rate.

Let's look at the self-employed, which have been one of the points of contention in this debate. The annual rates of growth for agricultural self-employed workers are: -2.4% (2002 – 2012) and -2.8% (2012 – 2022); their shares in total employment: 0.7% (2002), 0.6% (2012), 0.4% (2022). The rates for non-agricultural self-employed workers are: -0.2% (2002 – 2012) and 0.6% (2012 – 2022); their shares: 6.3% (2002), 6.1% (2012), and 5.8% (2002).

So again: if we restrict ourselves to the developed countries: wage labor isn't going anywhere. Nor is "industrial capital". And again, from a global point of view: nor is "traditional" industry, not to mention "industrial capital" as understood by Marx.

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jura
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Feb 9 2015 14:27
augustynww wrote:
if Jura is right and there's no such thing as de-industrialization/post-industrialization (i.e ongoing process which started already in developed, industrialized capitalist countries and sooner or later will manifest itself in the rest of the world) there is whole sector of contemporary radical theory which is totally wrong

I'm curious as to what we're all going to eat, wear and browse libcom on when the world finally "de-industrializes". Oh right, we'll just 3D print everything at home. Including the 3D printers, I guess.

And once more, you have a mind-bogglingly narrow concept of "industry". Yeah, manufacturing and mining have declined in some "developed" parts of the world. They've totally exploded in other, "developing" parts of the world (incidentally, same goes for working class struggles). But, at the same time, other branches of industry (and wage labor) have been growing in the "developed" world (see above for US examples).

As regards "contemporary radical theory", a lot of the de-industrialization stuff actually goes back to the late 1970s, early 1980s. On the one hand, it was the expression of bourgeois utopianism/futurism/save-the-worldism, like Toffler, the Rome Club, peak oil, yadda yadda etc. On the other hand, and much more sadly, it was the expression of the very real defeats that the international working class suffered at that time. Nobody could have seen what was in the cards for China at that time. 40 years later, with all the things that have been going on, I think it's time to move on (with our eyes open).

no1
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Feb 9 2015 15:01
jura wrote:
Oh right, we'll just 3D print everything at home. Including the 3D printers, I guess.

Have you heard of the RepRap? (I agree with your general point of course)
http://reprap.org/

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Noah Fence
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Feb 9 2015 15:21
augustynww wrote:
Webby wrote:
Aw man, how the fuck can you be bothered to keep going? Seriously, is it that important to you to prove you're right?

what's wrong with discussing various things? This is what internet forums are for. Also this is interesting for me because if Jura is right and there's no such thing as de-industrialization/post-industrialization (i.e ongoing process which started already in developed, industrialized capitalist countries and sooner or later will manifest itself in the rest of the world) there is whole sector of contemporary radical theory which is totally wrong (like mentioned post-autonomia or others,theories about de-industrialization are popular

I agree. You are most definitely right.

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jura
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Feb 9 2015 15:40

BTW, I think a very interesting question to ask at this point is this: What happens when (if) mass struggles break out in these newly industrialized regions, disrupting the flow of cheap commodities, the flow that makes both low wages (which still enable access to cheap clothing, gadgets etc.) and a lot of the "better", "non-industrial" jobs in the services sector (connected to the commodity chain, like sales, marketing, and many more) possible in the developed world.

To some extent, it's already happening. Currently the highest monthly minimum wage in Guangdong is RMB 1808 (€~255; this is Shenzhen). The lowest is RMB 1010 (€~140). The minimum wage in Slovakia at this point is €380, in Poland it's €405. In Romania, €205 and in Bulgaria, €175. In the past four years, the average annual increases in minimum wage in Chinese provinces were all over 10% (over 20% in 2011). If the trend continues and the wage differentials shrink even further, what is to stop an electronics manufacturer, for instance, from building their next plant not in Shenzhen, but somewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, where they're much closer to a large chunk of their consumers and where there's a disciplined and skilled working class with little experience with struggles? In fact, Foxconn, for example, already has two factories and a more recent major distribution center in the Czech Republic, and another factory in Slovakia. Supposedly there's another in Hungary. They weren't there 15 years ago. There are other examples in other countries, including Russia or Poland.

no1 wrote:
Have you heard of the RepRap? (I agree with your general point of course)
http://reprap.org/

No, I haven't. Looks cool!

augustynww
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Feb 9 2015 15:53
jura wrote:
Augustyn, I really appreciate you've taken some time to read the report I posted. It confirms what's been said many, many times on this thread: that manufacturing has shifted to emerging regions around the world over the last decades. Also, it clearly says that globally, manufacturing employment is on the rise (see the chart on page 7 of the report). I take it you don't disagree with this, but wish to stress certain aspects of it (that a result of this, the share of employment in manufacturing in the developed countries has been decreasing – I agree with that).

I would say something like this: I agree of course there is industrialization ongoing in many parts of world. It's rather obvious. China is one of examples, what's more there are still regions of the world which are non-industrialized substantially yet in Africa (there are at the same point China was in 1970s or similar) There will be fast industrialization there in the future.

We obviously disagree about the reasons for that. As I understand shifting production to some Asian countries is according to you reason for de-industrialization? Well I don't agree. Its one factors maybe but main reason is productivity. In other words in my opinion when whole capitalist economy will be industrialized then de-industrialization process will be presnt everywhere and share of employment in industry will be decreasing everywhere (and overall decrease of employment in this sector will start even earlier)

jura wrote:
A large part of this shift has also concerned the countries of the former Eastern bloc. The de-industrialization during the 1990s was enormous.

Why you're ignoring the data I gave? GUS data you yourself demanded. De-industrialization in Poland started in the early 1980s, not in 1990. There's no denying so called "transformation" fastened this but it would happen even without it.

jura wrote:
But there is no denying that after that, there was a rise in industrial employment in Poland which took place after circa 2002. The same thing happened in other CEE countries (see the charts for: Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, World Bank data from here). I'm sure you've heard of the foreign direct investment boom in Poland, of the special economic zones etc. It would be quite surprising if it didn't have any impact on the employment structure.

"Investment boom" in Poland is neoliberal propaganda. There are "booms" all the the time (in propaganda there is, not in reality).
That's true there was slight increase in relative employment "circa 2002" but not so substantial, these were year-to-year fluctuations 1-2 percentage points.
This kind of fluctuations may be result of recovering after destructive "artifical de-industrialization by privatization" (i.e real "destroying of industry"). but long-term trend is steady

jura wrote:
The peak of that boom was reached in about 2008, just before the crisis led to massive layoffs, including in industry (at the time of the peak, almost 40% people were employed in industry in Slovakia).

OK I don't know about Slovakia but there was no such thing in Poland. Not even close, there was a "peak" but it was something like 28%-29%

jura wrote:
Some countries and sectors have since picked up the pace, some not. Of course, it's still true for these countries that fewer people (and a lower share of them) work in industry than in the pre-1989 times. I never disputed this (however, and probably unlike you, I wouldn't see this is something as absolute that could never change,

In my opinion it could change if productivity of industry will be decreasing for some reason, but I don't know what could be reason for this.

jura wrote:
In any case, I think that there will be further growth of industrial employment in our countries. We can come back to this in a few years and look at the data.).

OK we'll see but in Poland share of employment in industry & construction in general economy is diminishing not growing.

jura wrote:
I'd like to point out something else now, although I've hinted at it before. As regards the report, it's important to keep in mind that it is concerned with manufacturing only. "Industry", as usually defined by mainstream statistics, is a broader concept (it also includes mining and construction). One might object that the same overall trend applies to "industry" in general and not just manufacturing. That may well be true (although construction is probably specific in this respect; e.g., despite all the "de-industrialization", there was a huge construction boom in the US just before the current crisis, with corresponding surges in both construction employment and real estate services employment).

Sure employment in industry and construction in absolute terms can grow but the thing is when boom is happening employment in services grows too, so the share in economy is the same or can be even smaller (this happens in Poland from time to time too)

jura wrote:
However, if we adopt the Marxian point of view – that of "industrial capital" – we see that a lot of expansion taking place in the developed countries actually pertains to productive branches of the economy, i.e. those in which surplus-value is produced by wage laborers (note that this does not mean that other branches don't employ wage laborers; one can be an unproductive wage laborer just as well, as in the case of commercial workers).

There is a problem with Marxian categories. World was different then and how to interpret some of it, like say considering "office clerks" as petite-bourgeois or something like that. Or equating working class with wage labourers.

jura wrote:
Here are some 2013 data and projections from the BLS on the employment structure of the US. We can see that employment in agriculture, but also in manufacturing, had been falling in the 2002 – 2012 period, and is also projected to fall in 2012 – 2022 (manufacturing at an annual rate of -0.5%). Employment in construction had been falling (the crisis erased all traces of the pre-crisis construction boom), but is projected to rise again (at a 2.6% annual rate). However, total employment in the "goods producing" sector is projected to rise only at the low annual rate of 0.6%, which will lead to a further decrease of this branch in total employment (2002: 15.8%, 2012: 12.6%, 2022: 12.1%).

The "service providing" sector is projected to rise from a 76.3% in 2002 and a 79.9% in 2012 to a 80.9% share in totat employment by 2022. Now, the branch in this sector that had been growing at the fastest pace in 2002 – 2012 is "educational services". Of course, this category is probably an amalgam of various kinds of activities, but it most certainly includes privately-owned establishments where waged workers "belabor the heads of their students", as mentioned by Marx in Capital:

Marx wrote:
a schoolmaster is a productive labourer when, in addition to belabouring the heads of his scholars, he works like a horse to enrich the school proprietor. That the latter has laid out his capital in a teaching factory, instead of in a sausage factory, does not alter the relation.

I'm aware of this I've read this fragment earlier. But Marx only mentions such workers like few times and there must be some reason for that. What else it could be if not that Marx theory was modeled on (even when not totally reduced to) factory workers?

All those "new theories" you disagree with want to model theory on new relations, that's all. A new situation is new configuration of working class which may have some further consequences. But to do that it must be noted first that structure of employment is changing and how it's changing and try to predict how it will be changing in the future.

jura wrote:
Employment in the educational sector is projected to grow at an annual rate of 1.9%.

What else had been growing? "Health care and social assistance". Again a mixed bag, but in part definitely a branch of "industrial capital". This sector had been growing at 2.3% anually and is expected to grow at the fastest pace of 2.6% per year (the only other sector comparable in terms of projected rate of growth is – construction!).

In Poland it's shrinking, but it's public not private.

jura wrote:
So again: if we restrict ourselves to the developed countries: wage labor isn't going anywhere. Nor is "industrial capital".

But what is the share within capital of what you call industrial capital as compared to "commercial capital", financial capital today? Absolute terms and relative terms are two different things.

jura wrote:
And again, from a global point of view: nor is "traditional" industry, not to mention "industrial capital" as understood by Marx.

It's only matter of time until "traditional industry" (like manufacturing, mining, construction) starts to shrink globally I think.

Fleur
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Feb 9 2015 15:46

Webby

Quote:
Aw man, how the fuck can you be bothered to keep going? Seriously, is it that important to you to prove you're right? Seriously, who gives a fuck? As with all protracted headbutting contests, the subject matter is now secondary to the importance of standing your ground regardless of how much of an ass you look or how skullcrushingly fucking dull it's become.
But hey, I guess it's really none of my business?
Still, you know what? If I'm judging this all wrong and I look like a dick I couldn't care less. From my experience it's better to just be a dick than to become one through an absolute refusal to let go.

Whether you are disinterested or disagree, it really isn't your place to police other people's discussions. Presumably these two posters are the people who give a fuck and if you don't like the tone or the content of what is being said you can either contribute or keep out of it.

augustynww
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Feb 9 2015 15:57
jura wrote:
I'm curious as to what we're all going to eat, wear and browse libcom on when the world finally "de-industrializes". Oh right, we'll just 3D print everything at home. Including the 3D printers, I guess.

And once more, you have a mind-bogglingly narrow concept of "industry". Yeah, manufacturing and mining have declined in some "developed" parts of the world. They've totally exploded in other, "developing" parts of the world (incidentally, same goes for working class struggles). But, at the same time, other branches of industry (and wage labor) have been growing in the "developed" world (see above for US examples).

As regards "contemporary radical theory", a lot of the de-industrialization stuff actually goes back to the late 1970s, early 1980s. On the one hand, it was the expression of bourgeois utopianism/futurism/save-the-worldism, like Toffler, the Rome Club, peak oil, yadda yadda etc. On the other hand, and much more sadly, it was the expression of the very real defeats that the international working class suffered at that time. Nobody could have seen what was in the cards for China at that time. 40 years later, with all the things that have been going on, I think it's time to move on (with our eyes open).

I think you just don't understand what de-industrialization in this context means. But I repeated it many times. OK if I must repeat it once more so be it.

This is diminishing relative share of industry in general economy caused be higher productivity Less workers but producing more than before (and with services additonally taking over most of GDP - this is actually true already, not only locally but globally as well)

"post-industrialization" could be much better term here, it allows to differentiate post-industrialism from pre-industrialism

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Noah Fence
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Feb 9 2015 16:36
Fleur wrote:
Webby

Quote:
Aw man, how the fuck can you be bothered to keep going? Seriously, is it that important to you to prove you're right? Seriously, who gives a fuck? As with all protracted headbutting contests, the subject matter is now secondary to the importance of standing your ground regardless of how much of an ass you look or how skullcrushingly fucking dull it's become.
But hey, I guess it's really none of my business?
Still, you know what? If I'm judging this all wrong and I look like a dick I couldn't care less. From my experience it's better to just be a dick than to become one through an absolute refusal to let go.

Whether you are disinterested or disagree, it really isn't your place to police other people's discussions. Presumably these two posters are the people who give a fuck and if you don't like the tone or the content of what is being said you can either contribute or keep out of it.

Ouch!
My arse is stinging a bit but I pretty much have to agree.

Fleur
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Feb 9 2015 16:51

No hard feelings Webby but stop being such a dad!
….If you two don't stop arguing I'm going to back there and finish it!…. smile

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jura
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Feb 9 2015 22:09
augustynww wrote:
We obviously disagree about the reasons for that. As I understand shifting production to some Asian countries is according to you reason for de-industrialization? Well I don't agree. Its one factors maybe but main reason is productivity. In other words in my opinion when whole capitalist economy will be industrialized then de-industrialization process will be presnt everywhere and share of employment in industry will be decreasing everywhere (and overall decrease of employment in this sector will start even earlier)

I think it's more complicated. First of all, there were some major struggles in the developed parts of the world in the 1960s and 1970s which led to serious wage increases and hundreds of millions of labor hours lost to strikes. There were also some major economic shocks and the decoupling of the dollar from gold. I think the wave of de-industrialization was largely a reaction to these developments.

When a company moves production to a different part of the world, it does not start at a lower level of productivity (I mean, it could happen hypothetically, but...). You build the factory and infrastructure around it, move the machines, hire new workers, and go on as before. So it's not like they were starting from zero; there were massive foreign investments that enabled this. But despite all the productivity gains, it was still necessary to more than double the number of just the manufacturing jobs around the world in the last 50 years. Why did that happen, in your view? (Remember that a large part, if not the majority, of the production in the developing countries is consumed in the developed countries. These are not steam engines and transistor radios that they're producing, but modern cars and iPhones, using modern technology and high productivity.)

augustynww wrote:
Why you're ignoring the data I gave? GUS data you yourself demanded. De-industrialization in Poland started in the early 1980s, not in 1990. There's no denying so called "transformation" fastened this but it would happened even without it.

Was rising productivity the reason for de-industrialization of Poland in the 1980s? I seriously doubt that. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if productivity had actually been stagnating or falling in 1980s Poland, but I can't verify this – perhaps you can. I think it had more to do with the Polish economic crisis that began already in the 1970s. The 1990s de-industrialization was a continuation of that, exacerbated by the fact that Polish industry now had to compete on the world market, which it was unable to do, and also by the fact that it underwent a gangster-run process of privatization, just like other CEE countries.

In other words, and to continue what I started in the previous response, what happened in Europe, in the US, and in the Eastern bloc from the 1970s to the 1990s was a process of capitalist readjustment to new conditions, to the new international mobility of capital enabled by new monetary developments, to the rising real wages (in some countries) and labor discontent (in many countries, including Poland), to the establishment of a true world market (the demise of the USSR and Comecon, the emergence of China). The de-industrialization in these parts closely corresponded to the emergence of new hubs of industry: South Korea, Brazil, China... It's almost as if every time they closed a textile factory somewhere in Eastern Europe, ten new ones opened in China.

augustynww wrote:
"Investment boom" in Poland is neoliberal propaganda. There are "booms" all the the time (in propaganda there is, not in reality).

I disagree. Look at the [url=(http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NV.IND.TOTL.KD.ZG?page=2]annual growth rates of value added in industry[/url] in Poland since 2002, or at the FDI. We don't have to call it a boom if you don't like the term for it's propagandist connotations. We can call it a "foreign-investment induced expansion". What's more important, it was a regional phenomenon which involved most of the CEE countries, perhaps to different degrees. But it wasn't mere "propaganda".

augustynww wrote:
That's true there was slight increase in relative employment "circa 2002" but not so substantial, these were year-to-year fluctuations 1-2 percentage points. This kind of fluctuations may be result of recovering after destructive "artifical de-industrialization by privatization" (i.e real "destroying of industry"). but long-term trend is steady

I think it was a result of foreign investment. I agree it wasn't that significant in Poland (it'd be interesting to ask why). It's easier to see if you look at the whole region.

augustynww wrote:
In my opinion it could change if productivity of industry will be decreasing for some reason, but I don't know what could be reason for this.

I think you tend to view increases in productivity as permanent, almost automatic, and demand as constant. It doesn't work like that. Some new, as of yet undiscovered labor-intensive sectors may spring up. Wages may fall so that it's more profitable to employ more workers instead of replacing them with machines. Demand may increase due to rising wages in some regions in the world.

augustynww wrote:
Sure employment in industry and construction in absolute terms can grow but the thing is when boom is happening employment in services grows too, so the share in economy is the same or can be even smaller (this happens in Poland from time to time too)

Generally, this is correct. But there is no reason why it would necessarily have to be "the same" or "even smaller"; it's not a law of nature. Slovakia is a case in point: there was a decrease of employment in services in 2007 by about a percentage point, and an increase of employment in industry by about two PP.

augustynww wrote:
There is a problem with Marxian categories. World was different then and how to interpret some of it, like say considering "office clerks" as petite-bourgeois or something like that. Or equating working class with wage labourers.

(I probably misunderstood what you meant, but I never said office clerks were petty bourgeois.) What defines someone as a wage laborer is their position vis-a-vis capital. This is clear from everything Marx ever wrote on this topic. An accountant can be a real independent one-woman business, but she can also be a wage laborer. Her position vis-a-vis capital is different in each of these two cases. A capitalist can be his own salesperson, or he can employ someone to do the job. In the latter case, that person is a wage laborer (unproductive). Cases like this are discussed at length by Marx, especially in Capital, Vol. 2.

The working class can be viewed as a broader concept than "wage laborers" in that it includes the unemployed (again, discussed at length in connection with "relative overpopulation" in Vol. 1; also discussed are the disabled, the elderly etc.).

augustynww wrote:
I'm aware of this I've read this fragment earlier. But Marx only mentions such workers like few times and there must be some reason for that. What else it could be if not that Marx theory was modeled on (even when not totally reduced to) factory workers?

It had to do with the composition of England's economy at that time and the changes that were happening. Marx was certainly wrong on many things (like expecting imminent social revolution at three or four points in his life). However, he correctly predicted that with the availability of universal education, wage labor will spread beyond "industry".

But what Marx mentioned or not is not that important. The important thing is that the same concepts he used to talk about wage labor in 19th century, because they are so "abstract", can also be used to talk about wage labor in the 21st century. (Similarly, you can call Rutherfordium a "chemical element" and put it in the periodic table, even though Mendeleev had no idea about Rutherfordium and never imagined anything resembling it.)

augustynww wrote:
All those "new theories" you disagree with want to model theory on new relations, that's all. A new situation is new configuration of working class which may have some further consequences. But to do that it must be noted first that structure of employment is changing and how it's changing and try to predict how it will be changing in the future.

I agree with this. But I think Marx's theory has all the tools necessary, in the sense that the conceptual foundations are there. By the way, it's a pity that our debate shifted to just the empirical stuff, because there were some theoretical points that you never addressed (e.g., the fundamental character of some forms of "self-employment", the relationship between piecework and self-employment, the definition of wage labor, the relation between manual labor and wage labor, the definition of exploitation). You made some rather bold claims that you never justified (or retracted, for that matter) – like the supermarket cashier, for example. You never elaborated on the "anarchist theory of class" that you seem to hold in high esteem. So I don't really know what you think about these things apart from some vague sympathies to a wide variety of different viewpoints (these "new theories" are quite diverse).

augustynww wrote:
In Poland it's shrinking, but it's public not private.

(The point was that the US is the classical example of a "de-industrialized" country for most of these "contemporary radical theories". However, "industrial capital" is actually growing in the US. Of course in different countries the employment structures and patterns of growth will be different. That's kind of the point!)

augustynww wrote:
But what is the share within capital of what you call industrial capital as compared to "commercial capital", financial capital today? Absolute terms and relative terms are two different things.

OK, so far we've been discussing growth rates. Are you now asking about employment shares or capital shares? Do the math yourself. What the BLS data demonstrate are the trends (look at, for example, the projections for retail or finance). Whatever is the ratio, I agree with Marx's idea that the entire edifice of "financial (money) capital" and "commercial capital" is only possible and only profitable insofar as "industrial capital" is profitable. To sell and insure cars, you have to produce cars.

Of course, it's possible to produce more and more cars with fewer and fewer people if you have better and better machines. So the number of people involved in producing cars can fall. But these other people selling cars, selling insurance policies, servicing cars etc. are wage laborers, too. All of these forms of capital employ wage laborers by the millions (unlike, say, in the 19th century – in fact, this is a really interesting transformation). So from the political point of view, I don't see this as that important. A wage laborer working in a school or a bank or a factory is still a wage laborer.

For that matter, I think this was the original starting point: you said that self-employed people (like the supermarket cashier) are not wage laborers, and now you seem to express doubts as to whether people employed in services are wage laborers. Maybe we can switch the discussion to that. You know, for me, it's not really important if in the future, there will be only one remaining worker in industry pushing buttons on a 3D printer the size of a city. I don't see that happening anytime soon, but the real point is wage labor vs. capital, not "manual labor" or "material labor" vs. capital.

augustynww wrote:
It's only matter of time until "traditional industry" (like manufacturing, mining, construction) starts to shrink globally I think.

"In the long run, we are all dead." If "time" is within any reasonable expectations, then that depends on the productivity gains, on the nature of needs etc. Even if your techno-optimistic scenario is fulfilled, this still won't mean a decrease in the importance of wage labor and "industrial capital".

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jura
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Feb 9 2015 18:00
augustynww wrote:
This is diminishing relative share of industry in general economy caused be higher productivity Less workers but producing more than before (and with services additonally taking over most of GDP - this is actually true already, not only locally but globally as well)

Uh, in this sense it is a rather simple theorem of Marx's theory of value: in its search for extra profits, capital tends to (under some circumstances) replace living labor (workers) with dead labor (machines). The expulsed workers seek employment elsewhere (e.g., services) or remain unemployed. Of course this is going on, and the data I posted show it quite clearly.

But there is a dynamic to it which makes it a less straightforward process. The introduction of new machinery requires certain conditions (wages must be high enough). The resulting increase in organic composition lowers the rate profit, stimulating speculation and provoking crises. The destruction of capital in crises and wars makes new booms of highly labor-intensive production possible; ditto the emergence of new reservoirs of cheap labor power (or the reintroduction of such favorable conditions to older pools of labor power). Some sectors can be difficult to automate (but the examples I can think of right now – care and education – pertain to the "services" sector) beyond a certain point...

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Feb 9 2015 19:13

(BTW, as regards Poland in the 1980s, I'd be interested in how you square your hypothesis that "de-industrialization" in Poland was the result of rising productivity with the fact that the Polish economy in the 1980s was charaterized by chronic shortages of manufactured goods. If "less workers produced the same or greater amount of goods", why was industrial output decreasing? The answer is simple: the productivity gains are a fantasy. In the 1980s, the Polish economy was in a state of complete disarray, output was falling, the state was drowning in debt, the productivity was lagging far behind that of Western European countries, and the de-industrialization was one of the results. Some data is in this 1981 article from the Socialist Register, page 3 of the PDF).

meinberg
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Feb 10 2015 17:22

Jura, Augustyn your debate was an interesting read! This article by Wildcat BRD could be of interest in this context. It discusses some of the topics of your debate:

https://libcom.org/library/beyond-peasant-international-wildcat

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Feb 10 2015 18:59

Meinberg, thanks. I remember reading this when it came out, but I'll probably re-read it.

In the latest issue of Wildcat, there are two other articles which are interesting in this context (they deal with the issue of the "middle class"). Unfortunately, they haven't been translated into English (yet?), nor are they online.