[Marxism] work-needs

S. Artesian sartesian at earthlink.net
Wed Jul 16 15:31:22 MDT 2008

This is, as you stated, an extremely interesting discussion, although we're
way over the 2 day limit.  Anyway as long as there is interest...

I don't take exception to how you present the argument, but I am not sure
that argument moves from production to distribution.

Let me go back to the beginning, just to secure the ground we have already
covered, or at least my position in that ground:

1. It started with the posted article and remarks that Cuba would
selectively adjust, modify, change the egalitarian basis of wages,
introducing material incentives for increased output, with the possibility
that managers or supervisors would be allowed a reward, a regulated reward,
 for improvements in the output [quantity? quality?] and
productivity of a work group.  There was a quote from a Cuban official that
"egalitarianism" wasn't very helpful.

2. Discussion centered on whether this "step away" from egalitarianism was a
step backward, or perhaps a step forward, for the revolution.

3. One position was that this move, coming as it did, with Cuba's greater 
to rely on the markets, internally, and internationally since the collapse
of the SU; coming in concert with the growth of tourism as the highest
foreign currency earner, was a step backward.

4. Another view was expressed (by Joaquin I believe), that actually this
might be a "good" sign, a sign of increased expansiveness and depth in the
economy as it steps a way from the austere wage structure which basically
makes the minimum the norm. Actually, I found Joaquin's analysis very
nuanced and thought provoking-- arguing as he did that this step was being
taken with the revalorization of the peso, and consequently could break the
inequality generated by the dollar economy.  Moreover JB pointed out that
the problem with removing the incentives from managers, as it becomes
increasingly more difficult to find workers willing to move into greater
areas of responsibility in management as they will lose production based

 I found this post to be excellent, sophisticated, and an important issue to
explore-- for personal as well as political reasons.  Here's a railroad
story Nestor and others might appreciate:

 I was Deputy Chief of Field Operations for a railroad-- on call 24
hours/day (no complaints), paid by salary, worked long hours (no
complaints), never took sick days (no complaints) blah, blah blah... My
salary was not higher than the weekly pay of most of the conductors,
engineers, yardmasters etc I supervised, and if it was, it was by their
choice-- to not work.

 Most made more money than I did (again no complaint).Benefits are
equivalent between management and labor.  What does this mean?  It means
this railroad,  and in fact all railroads, have a hell of a time recruiting
operating officers from the ranks of their employees.  It means railroads
are facing a real expertise depletion as more officers reach the magic 60-62
age with 30 or more years of service and can claim their generous Railroad
Retirement Pensions.

JB's evaluation resonated a bit and we really need to explore how and what
"material incentives" can or might function.

5. Charles Brown then proposed that regarding workers, renumeration,
incentive, that the principle of the first transition to socialism would
include "to each according to his work."  I can't recall any reference Marx
makes to that in COTP or Capital.  Charles went on to day (and if I have
this wrong, I welcome a correction) that essentially renumeration would be
based on the output, a quantitative measure, of use-values with those
producing MORE X receiving a higher wage.

6.  I don't know any way to measure the output of use-values, since
use-value itself is not amenable to simple quantitative analysis.  Use-value
is socially determined and theoretically and practically a "greater output"
can be totally useless.   Among other things, I thought this quantitative
measurement did not and could not account for the various processes at work
socially that determine productivity and output; that productivity is 
dependent upon the organization and "technical amplification" afforded by 
the production process; that the material conditions of labor are not the 
same for any or each or all or every worker.

I provided examples from experience as to how difficult it can be to measure 
use-value, "output" of use-value, equate efforts etc.

7. I argued, and argued it into an extreme and a mistake, that labor-time 
expended itself by living labor in final production was the determinant of 
equivalence; exchangeability of commodities.

8. In reality, what I wished to say is that since the conditions of labor 
are never the same between/among work processes, or even different 
days/times of the same process, and since the "path to socialism" begins 
with a seizure of the means of production where actual production is now 
determined consciously by the producers through the investigation and 
"accounting" of needs-- then what is common to all production, to this 
conscious direction of labor and resources to the satisfaction of needs,  is 
in fact the working day, the labor time, and not the output per unit of 
labor time.  And it is the labor time expended in the conscious satisfaction 
of needs that entitle any and all workers to equal renumeration, to equality 
of satisfaction of needs.  Without that, there can be no transitions where 
the satisfaction of the diversity of needs, some greater here, or less 
there, can be achieved.

9.  Let me solicit answers to this:  Do Marxists think that a person trained 
as a passenger plane pilot is entitled under socialism, first, second or 
third phase,  to greater renumeration than a bus driver?   Better yet, are 
the sub-class of airline pilots entitled to greater renumeration than the 
sub-class of bus-drivers?  Or perhaps the reverse.  And if so, why?
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "John A Imani" <johnaimani at earthlink.net>
To: <sartesian at earthlink.net>
Sent: Wednesday, July 16, 2008 1:17 PM
Subject: Re: [Marxism] work-needs

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