exploitation

Greg Schofield gschofield at one.net.au
Sun Jun 17 11:33:02 MDT 2001


Thanks George, the  point you made is the actual point of debate. I
disagree with you, but first rid myself of the mistakes of my own
expression and readings. I have mistook a sentiment clearly expressed by
George here, which does appear many times in this list, for meaning
exploitation in its technical sense, the quote is:

"the question is rather if core workers benefit from the super exploitation
of peripheral workers"

Now this is what I am actually disagreeing with, forgive me George but you
have expressed everything so clearly below that I think it really sums up
what is worrying me. I would ask Dayne whether in general George's
statement would appear as a fair summation of a general attitude loosely
associated with this list  and loosely (I emphasize this conditional
statement) with "dependency theory".

Now my first point, is about my hypersensitivity about international issues
predominating over and sometimes destroying political on the ground work. I
take two points about any international struggle, materially what benefit
could be given to it, and second, what demands of time and energy should be
set against these benefits. As you can guess I have been time and time
again seen high profile international struggles given absolute precedence
over rank and file work, worse I have been in the position where this
precedence has meant that the international issue should be foisted into
rank and file work (often seen as an endless supply or recruits and numbers
to be called out for other reasons), the results have always been
disastrous and meaningless (though I do not deny that international
campaigns can be waged effectively, indeed far from it).

Now none of this applies to anyone on this list because I know nothing of
anyone's political activities, however, it may explain why I am reading
things in the light that I am. Having stated this, I can more rationally
approach George's statement.

First I want to note that George's post appears to be common sense, and
second that nothing he says is that far removed from statements found in
Marx, Engels or Lenin, though I would argue that some of them can be, and
should be read differently, but I will put exegesis aside.

I agree with Dayne and George, I have read into various posts that they
were implying that first world workers were exploiting third world workers
in the technical sense, in this I am wrong, it has not been explicitly
stated. However, George's illustrations would make this a reasonable
reading, but he explicitly denies the connection and thus I must stand
corrected.

What is actually going on may therefore not be exploitation (my mistaken
reading) but something else again - there is absolutely no reason why this
should not be so, the only question is whether it is so?

Again it appears as common sense, the points are summarized below:

He asks: If 1st WW (ie first world workers) benefit from the exploitation
of 3rd WW?

1. 1st WW (ie first world workers) have historically benefited because of
the uses that the surplus from the 3rd WW has been put.

2. Many of the products we consume come from these 3rd WW.

3. What would be the price if it had been produced by 1st WW.

4. 1,2,3 lead to a higher standard of living which has bought-off 1st WW

5. 1st WW will not quickly see their role, (and thus time is somewhat
wasted on them - my addition but I think it flows).

To further sum up. The benefit to 1stWW is a higher standard of living
based on cheap goods which has effectively bought them. Hence they are a
bit soiled and we can't expect too much from them.

There are a number of important assumptions here which deserve examination.
To turn the thing on around, that is to begin with the apparent apathy of
1stWW, for it assumes that communists have done their duty by the class in
struggling to realise their interests - this I deny utterly, I have only
seen a dire inability of communists organisations to even comprehend what
these interests might be let alone struggle for them.

So starting with the apparent passivity of the class in the 1st W, the
major and completely unwarranted assumption has to be that communists have
been doing as they should. If they havn't what would expect to see of the
class except what we are now seeing?

To me this is the vital political question. The common assumption that we
the movement have been doing it right and the working class have let us
down. Of course stated in this way it is objectionable, but that is often
what assumptions are (not necessarily conscious) ideas when clearly
expressed are shown to objectionable and need to be re-examined. They
become assumptions because they don't reach the point of being clearly
expressed.

As I said it is a common assumption, in fact overwhelming. My proposition
is that we have been doing it all wrong, we have ceased to be the party of
the working class and hence Engels' quote, which has been used in this
list; where he complains that the English working class have a bourgeois
outlook and revel in Britain's imperial glories is predicate not on them
receiving benefits from this imperialism, but by the absence of a working
class party which is mentioned in the same paragraph as his explanation of
these statements).

Engels' is not saying they have been bought-off, but rather that the lack
of real class party leaves them no other option but adapt to a bourgeois
world. I thought this very pertinent though George has not used the quote.

Which now brings me to the meet of the George's post - that is the process
of buying-off the 1stWW.

My points:
1. While very diminished much production still goes on in the 1st W.
2. Workers occupied nonproductively in realising surplus as profits is very
high in the 1st W, though these workers are not highly paid for the most part.
3. If the surplus extracted is not realisied - the products are not sold
and thus the profit does not appear - the surplus vanishes - there is no
surplus, just rotting products.
4. A large amount of the products of domestic consumption are labour
intensive (assembly, clothing, footware etc) and these are predominately
produced in the 3rd world (and a good many more complex less labour
intensive products as well).
5. 1st WW pay roughly the price of the goods as if they were manufactured
by 1st WW - otherwise the super profits would be a lot slimmer (in fact the
price of goods is usually held at just slightly down from what would bring
in a healthy profit in order to discourage capital investment).
6. The reward for super-exploiting 3rd WW  is a falling standard of living,
loss of bargaining strength, insecurity, unemployment and a general erosion
of conditions amongst the 1st WW - super-exploited workers are competitors,
not a source of benefit.
7. The material interest of 1stWW in 3rdWW is in strengthening their
standard of living, thus lessening the competitive antagonism and building
solidarity. It is as simple as ABC that workers will see competing sections
as enemies before seeing them as comrades in struggle, the cure is struggle
even for interests which appear to directly conflict (such interests cannot
remain but will be left behind - but nothing happens unless the immediate
is first struggled for, in that struggle the immediate interests naturally
change and broaden).
8. It is the political inability of the 1stW communist movement to deal
with point 6 in order to realise point 7 that is the actual problem.

Now I will leave it there as I think in broad strokes what I see as the two
contended conceptions stand balanced against one another. I hope comrades
will care to comment.

Greg Schofield
Perth Australia




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