Oklahoma and fascism

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Fri Apr 28 22:07:06 MDT 1995


I'm not clear on this: what is the bigger threat? The Michigan Militia or
the to-be-empowered FBI? Are the threats related? How can we fight both at
the same time?

Without vasoline, Slick Willie will have shoved the anti-Crime and
-Terrorist bills far up our ass (is this how you would put it, Ralph?).

I hope the discussion about the far right continues.  I also hope someone
can answer this question for me: is the growth of the repressive apparatus
(esp through the Crime Bill) in part an admission that the capitalist
system creates permanent, large-scale unemployment which it can only manage
through ever more severe repression?

Here's an admittedly ponderous analysis of permanent technological
employment by Hans Neisser in 1942 .  What I think is important about this
analysis is that it shows that displacement of labor is not, as the
populists would have it, the result of foreign competition (and thus to be
solved through protectionism) but follows from the "nature" of capital
accumulation itself (which of course neo -Althusserians may dismiss as an
'essentialism').

"It never has been doubted by any theorist of rank that accumulation of
capital in the form of fixed equipment raises the demand for labor; Marx
expecially, consistently expounding the paramount ideas of the Ricardian
system, depicts the capitalistic process as a race between displacement of
labor through technological progress and reabsorption of labor through
accumulation....

"Without doubt the two contestants of the race are not *entirely*
independent.  A rise in aggregate income, generated by technological
progress, would increase also the rate of accumulation (per time unit), and
thus speed up the reabsorption of labor.  However, the proposition that
'permanent' technological unemployment is impossible does not find much
encouragement in this fact.  First of all, the favorable effect on
accumulation can only materialize if a 'moving equilibrium' is preserved in
the economy; if, contraiwise, displacment of labor (in the absence of
compensatory investment) by reducing consumers' purchasing power ushers in
a depression, the favorouble effects on accumulation of displacement might
not materialize.  Even more important is another reflection: the amount of
capital needed per worker according to the 'nature of industry' is a
timeless magnitude, in the sense that, though changing over time, it exists
at any moment.  Accumulation of capital, on the other hand, is a magnitude
that possesses the dimension of time: so much *per week*, for example.  The
two magnitudes cannot be directly compared; the correct way of relating
them is: it would take, at the old rate of accumulation, so many years of
one man's wages to accumulate enough capital to re-employ one man; and at
the new, presumably higher rate, this many years.  Now what is important in
this context is that the same process that reduces the number of years, by
speeding up the rate of accumulation, also *increases* this number by
enhancing the amount of capital per worker.  Thus, even under faborable
conditions (continuous prosperity), the rate of labor absorption through
accumulation remains rather unaffected by the technological progress, and
still can be considered a largely indepedent variable.

"The conclusion is inevitable: there is no mechanism within the framework
of rational economic analysis that, in any situation, would secure the full
absorption of displaced workers and render 'permanent' technological
unemployment in any sense impossible.  How long the unemployment will last
can be answered only by 'economic biology," which, in an all-embracing
economic-sociological approach, tries to evaluate the strength of all
forces working in the society."

The forces of the state are surely being strenghtened.

Rakesh

citation

Permanent Technological Unemployment by  Hans Neisser, American Economic
Review 1942. reprinted in H Neisser, "Selected Papers"  Library of Congress
77-156036






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