[OPE-L:5851] [PAUL C] Re: Hello and Kliman's cat

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 18 Dec 1997 08:59:06 -0500 (EST)

[ show plain text ]

Date: Thu, 18 Dec 1997 13:27:43 +0000
From: Paul Cockshott <wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk>

Gerald Levy wrote:
> Jurriann says that the current mode of production is "presumably
> capitalist" -- a point we agree on, although I would take out the word
> "presumably." His reasoning, though, is somewhat confusing. He says that
> it is because one (i.e. Andrew K) is "using capitalist technology."
> Yet, I don't think that the definition of a mode of production can be
> reduced to how one individual or a individual family uses forks and feeds
> cats. In other words, I view a mode of production as a periodization of
> history rather than a micro phenomenon. This same difference is
> underscored when Jurriaan talks about an "individual domestic mode of
> production."

I would use the term mode of production in a different way. I view it
as the set of relations under which the direct producers, means of
and those supported by the labour of the direct producers are combined.
These relations of production distribute humans into different social
roles which may well have antagonistic interests. Where a large set of
humans share common relations of production which give them interests
opposed to other sets of humans, these sets constitute the
classes of the mode of production. These social relations also give
rise to characteristic ideologies.

One of the primary distinguishing features of modes of production is
the way in which they ensure that a surplus product is produced.

A social formation on the other hand is a geographically extended area
within which humans live. The humans within the area will typically
have several modes of production structuring their relations. Individual
humans may be engaged in more than one mode of production.

We can use modes of production as an index of historical periods in
the development of particular social formations to the extent that
at a given instant one mode of production may organise a larger
fraction of the total working time of society than any other, such
a mode of production is likely to be economically dominant.
As time passes different modes of production become economically
dominant, in the transition from mesolithic to neolithic hunting is
progressively replaced by horticulture, etc.

The mode of production that is economically dominant is not
necessarily the same as the mode of production that is politically
dominant. The politically dominant mode of production tends to
be the one which appropriates the greatest surplus product,
rather than uses the most labour.

> As for
> "communist elements" (Paul C's term), I don't think that reforms won by
> the working class under capitalism and reluctantly granted by the
> capitalist state signify the existence of communist relations in embreyo.
Is this just prejudice on your part, or do you have an analysis of the
social relations in the NHS in britain which show them to be clearly
distinct from communist relations?

I would assert them to be communist, at least in their original form
prior to Thatchers 'reforms' on the grounds that:

1. the product did not take the form of a commodity.

2. the product is distributed on the basis of need rather than
ability to pay.

3. all working individuals contribute to the cost of the health service
by a deduction from their take home pay, as per Critique of the Gotha

These social relations are qualitatively distinct from those of
medecine as practised in the USA. If you ask yourself what changes a
revolution in the USA would produce to production relations in medecine,
they would largely reflect the above.