Lenin & Accounting-Autonomy versus heteronomy

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Wed Jul 12 21:47:50 MDT 1995


Hans:

I'm all for minimizing the work week under capitalism and socialism.  The
question that I was referring to in my previous post concerned *how far*
should this reduction in the work week go as a "first step."

> Jerry I do not understand why minimizing the work week would require that
> "we either have to assume abundance (a *highly* unrealistic assumption in
> the  forseeable future) or a lower standard of living (a possibility
> *if*  citizen workers will accept this tradeoff)."  It seems to me that
> you are assuming that society requires all the trival work that it now
> requires.  What I am specifically against is that for someone to earn
> enough income for their family survival is huge.  If there is a "utopian"
> assumption in my account it is that modern civil society and the
> political atomspehre would willing to provide every citizen with the
> basic necesities (housing, food, etc.) for a minimum return to civil
> service.

As you have presented your ideas in the above paragraph, there is indeed
nothing necessarily utopian about them.  However, there is a question of
*how far* to reduce the work week.  As you are aware, socialism will
require a certain quantity of production of goods and services.  Unless
we assume abundance, it is reasonable to suggest that either we redefine
our needs as a society or produce goods in sufficient quantities to meet
those needs.  How will the later be possible (*especially* at first) if
we reduce the work week to just a "few hours."  The questions of the
productivity of labor and the potential length of the work week are
interrelated.

I am not assuming above (or in the previous post) that society needs all
of the "trivial work" that it now does.
>
> If socialism does not provide at least this, so that we *all* are able to
> spend our time as we would wish or desire, then what is the socialist
> project in *your* account???
>
This is a very difficult question to answer in the abstract.  How we
understand "needs" and "desires" under capitalism may be very different
from the way in which those topics are understood by citizens in a
socialist society.  Workers, though, will have to understand that even
with advancing technologies and an increasing productivity of labor,
there will still be limited resources available and there will still be a
need to produce the goods which are "needed" by society.

> I simply do not believe that the coercive force of minimum wage for 50%
> of the citizen is very attractive or ethical in society which can offer
> much more then this.

Indeed.
>
> Moreover, what I am sugesting, following many communtrian socialists, is
> that civil society duty, or social particpation be minimized.  I am not
> saying that people would not be free to choose to work beyond this for
> any reason they see fit, or for that matter run their own business or
> contribution.
>
> Therefore, in no way am I assuming abundance, nor do I believe that the
> standard of living would fall, but on the contrary in a socialist
> community it should rise.
>
I would like to thank you for your clarification.  I agree, for the most
part, with what you have written here. Perhaps I jumped the gun too
quickly in responding to your post before.

Regards,

Jerry


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