[Marxism] China investing heavily in infrastructure: Railway

nada dwaltersMIA at gmail.com
Tue Sep 1 10:14:57 MDT 2009


Lüko, here is where you are just down right obstinate: productivity.

Yes, EXACTLY...when capitalist companies get better at productivity, 
developing those forces of production, it is the working class that pays 
with lower wages and higher unemployment (actually it could mean higher 
wages and higher unemployment, but that's another discussion).

The *basis* of higher levels of productivity by US (and European) rail 
workers is stark and obvious to anyone who has traveled the rails in 
both regions, as I have. Taking the train from Shzechin (near Hong Kong) 
to Canton you see their maintenance of way brigades working their wooden 
rail road ties. *Hundreds of workers* working off of a flat car with NO 
machinery, whatsoever, not even cranes. They carry *buckets* of 
concrete, hand mixed, to short of sidings. This is like 1900-era tech. 
In the US it would be done by about a dozen workers with cement mixers, 
cranes, seemless rail installing machines etc etc.

Now, having said that, I saw a photo of their building of their 30km 
maglev system. Modern machinery, what looked like very high tech, 
near-US standards for this non-rail railroad. I have no doubt they are 
*trying* to get better and be more productive. But it doesn't appear to 
be at all close that this point.

Some obvious areas where productivity...as such...is simply stupid. In 
the US, operating depts have slimmed down to one or two workers per 
train set on freight. No more way cares, no more firemen, etc. This 
represents obviously only incremental levels of productivity but in 
their rush to break unions and smash working conditions, they made 
operators more 'productive'. I don't include this sort of thing as 
"productivity". But the basis of the lack of productivity at every 
single level by Chinese rail reflects massive under development and 
little in the advance of mechanization which in a collectivized economy 
could mean more and better technology, safer conditions and shorter 
hours w/ higher wages.

Also, the fact that China has more high speed rail that France 
is...what? Hardly worth noting. France built their high speed rail in 
conjunction with Spain and German and England ("high speed" stops once 
you go through the Chunnel at Kent, but that's another story. Took this 
line twice, BTW). You have took at rail there as European, as a whole, 
and not as one country at a time. France has like 1/15 the population of 
China and like about 1/5 the size. You ought to use some multiplier 
factors if you are really going to compare.

Saying China has more HSR than any other country is irrelevant. It's 
like when Khrushchev bragged the USSR produced more gross tonnage of 
steel than the US. Basically not as impressive as it sounds as a US 
steel worker in 1963 was about 10 times more productive than a Soviet 
one. In a certain way, Lüko, you are doing the same thing as Khrushchev.

David




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