Bought off workers?

Julio Huato juliohuato at SPAMhotmail.com
Fri Jun 22 08:09:24 MDT 2001


Greg Schofield <g_schofield at dingoblue.net.au>:

>The thought struck me when reading through some of the posts on this
>subject, that the question of "buying-off" the labour aristocracy is no
>great mystery and it works the same in the third world as the first and
>everywhere in between.
>

IMHO, you're on the right track, Greg.  In fact, it shouldn't be so hard to
find an empirical answer to the relevant question (ILO data allowing it).

I'm not persuaded that the absolutely-poorer sectors of the proletariat are
necessarily the ones with the highest revolutionary potential.  Not only, of
course, in terms of their ability to lead and build a workable alternative
economy, but in terms of their rebelliousness and ability to sustain some
measure of persistent activism against the status quo.

But if there were anything of substance to this rough form of 'materialism',
then the key question would be the RELATIVE differences among workers in the
standard of living (mainly, real income) weighted by their corresponding
productivity per country and internationally.  [The need to weight by
productivity would be necessary to take into account the fact that skilled
labor power is more costly to reproduce than unskilled labor.  This is basic
if we're going to stick to Marx's theory of wages.]

A dummy variable would be industry, but inter-industrial differences are
likely to be hard to read because differences in productivity may be hidden
there).  On the other hand, it would be interesting to include the entire
collective producer (including self-employed, peasants, etc.), and then,
separately -- to make it apples-to-apples -- restrict it to employees only.

In setting up the test -- it would be easier to ignore the 'social and
historical' differences embedded in real income differences and just take
the differences at face value (again, weighted by productivity).
Thus, in general, the test would make the international differences in real
income to look much larger than they are in reality.

Now, according to this rough measure, are the working classes in the poor
countries more or less stratified than the working classes in the rich
capitalist countries?  That'd be very interesting to know.

I'll tell you what I would expect.  Either the working classes in the poor
countries are MORE (not less) stratified than those in the rich countries OR
the international differences in stratification are NOT statistically
significant.

How would these results fit in the 'workers aristocracy' story?  I suspect
they would not be very comfortable in it.

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