Russell Grinker grinker at
Mon Oct 2 08:32:28 MDT 2000

David Welch wrote:
>An increase in the rate of exploitation provided for by smashing workers
Yes, as I recall, as a result, living standards in Germany only again
reached pre-war levels in the late '50s. Wars are wonderful for reducing
working class consumption.

The British working class didn't do much better. Even in the UK, while from
'39 to '41 money wages rose by 21%, the cost of living (according to
official estimates which were a gross under-estimate) rose by 28%.
Regressive changes were made to taxes and a system of forced savings was
introduced.  In addition, extraction of absolute surplus value jumped
through lengthening the working day, intensifying the labour process and
upping the number of productive workers through industrial conscription.
Rationing also reduced working class consumption. These draconian measures
so damaged the working class that the state was forced into intervening in
the reproduction of labour power. It laid the foundations of the modern
welfare state between 1939 and 1945 because the condition of the working
class was such that it threatened the production of surplus value.  The
whole nasty business was of course conducted, not by direct coercion in most
cases, but with the assistance of the labour bureaucracy. As TGWU leader and
war-time minister Ernie Bevin delicately put it: "every one of you who holds
a responsible position in our union knows how difficult it is to handle the
human being.  He is the most awkward part of the production process unless
you handle him right".


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