Re: [OPE] capitalism as a * * * system

From: howard engelskirchen <>
Date: Sat May 28 2011 - 12:42:19 EDT

yes, jerry, we seem to be misconnecting.

You wrote:

"If there is no competition
among capitalists and if there is constant full employment where
everyone has the right to work, how can this be said to be capitalism?"

I read this to say three things: if there is no competition and constant full employment and everyone has the right to work, then this is not capitalism.


  ----- Original Message -----
  To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
  Sent: Saturday, May 28, 2011 9:44 AM
  Subject: Re: [OPE] capitalism as a * * * system

> First, "no competition among capitalists." Value in operation is
> manifested through competition. If you don't have competition, then you
> don't have value and if you don't have value you don't have capitalists or
> capitalism.
  Hi Howard:
  Yes, I agree that capitalist competition is an essential characteristic of
> Second, "full employment." The idea of associated workers exercising
> common control over the conditions of production is not captured by saying
> there is full employment.
  Agreed - but that wasn't my point.
> If we refer to full employment we've said
> nothing about subordination, we've said nothing about control.
  We have said something very important about control, though. The specific form
  of control of the direct producers under capitalism is different than that which
  existed in previous modes of production. The threat of being 'freed' from work
  and joining the industrial reserve army and all that implies for the survival of
  workers is the means through which capital is able to coerce work out of
  workers. This is not to say that there can't be periods of time under capitalism
  when the IRA dries up but the reproduction process requires that the IRA
  itself be again reproduced.
> Third, "right to work." Same.
  See above. For purposes of clarification I was not referring to the juridical right
  to work but whether workers actually have a (non-formal; real) right to
  employment. If workers know that if they lose one job then they are
  entitled to another job, then the ability to coerce them into working harder
  is weakened or destroyed (unless one resorts to pre-capitalist forms of labor
  control such as the threat of physical punishment or being separated from the
> To be able to say "this is not capitalism" means getting beyond these
> underlying separations. A condition where there is full employment and the
> right to work together with an organic coordination among producers would
> likely describe a circumstance of transition between capitalism and
> socialism, that is, a circumstance with both the potential to move forward
> or to slide back.
  The primary question isn't whether we're able to say "this is not capitalism"
  since there are many non-capitalist modes of production. The primary question
  should be what kind of mode of production is in operation. If we say that it
  is "not capitalist" then we are also saying that *ALL* of the essential characteristics
  and necessary laws of motion of capitalism are not characteristic of the society
  in question.

> Also, competition is not the problem -- separation is.
  Again - it is not a question of locating "the problem". It is a question of comprehending
  the specific characteristics of a given society and then determining what mode of production
  is in place.
  In solidarity, Jerry


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