Friday, June 19, 2015

Szalámitaktika: How do you abolish the wages system by degrees?

Step one: Do not forget. Marx advised not to forget that in everyday struggles you are fighting with effects, not with the causes of those effects. Not forgetting requires a lot of attention to history. It also requires a keen awareness that there is a well-funded industry devoted to making us forget.

Step two: Our own accounting. Standard double-entry bookkeeping looks at profit and loss from the perspective of the business enterprise whose purpose is defined as monetary profit seeking. Making a profit is not the purpose of people or of nations. Labor is not a commodity. Labor power is a common-pool resource.

Step three: Build (or transform) organizations dedicated to not forgetting and our own accounting. The model for this is a hybrid that borrows both from traditional trade unionism and from common-pool resource management. The precedents are there. What needs to be done is to synthesize from those experiences.

Step four: Bargain collectively. Collective bargaining is not synonymous with the administrative model of bargaining established under the Wagner Act. Eric Hobsbawm, for example, called the Luddite actions "collective bargaining by riot." Theodore Ave-Lallemant wrote an obscure article nearly a hundred years ago in which he distinguished between the collective labor contract based on cooperation and the more standard form of contract bargaining which "seeks no more than to stipulate the terms of individual contracts of employment."

Step five: Work less. The wages system is effectively abolished in each hour workers collectively withdraw from the labor supply. Limitation of the hours of work is abolition of the wages system by degree. This explains why employers have fought so tenaciously for two centuries against the reduction of working time.


Eubulides said...

Step two will be the most difficult. Imagine millions of workers studying Lavoie&Godley alongside Paul Edwards "A Vast Machine" and Vaclav Smil's "Energy in Nature & Society"

Sandwichman said...

It's quite a leap from step two to that curriculum, Ian.

Denis Drew said...

The propaganda hasn't worked – the culture is ours. Pew reports 55% of Americans under 30 years old approve of labor unions -- only 29% disapprove. Even among Republicans under 35, approval edges out disapproval 45% to 44%.

Now we just have to give labor organizing laws those little extra working mechanisms that they are so obviously missing: dentures. Crushing use of economic pressure to obstruct employees right to establish their price setting mechanism clearly needs to be made a felony. Labor market fixing is nothing short of as injurious as anything as the Rockefellers or Carnegies ever carried off -- as well as atrophying the political sinews of the 99%. Baby teeth will not work -- and right now all most organizing laws have left are what amount to gums.

Making union busting a felony at the state level (job loss is not the main injury -- denial of fair market participation is) opens up the potential for federal RICO prosecution. 33 states have their own RICO laws.

“But when Pew sliced and diced its responses (which Gallup did not), it found that young Americans were unions’ most fervent supporters. While 46 percent of its respondents in each of its three older age groups (30 to 49, 50 to 64, and 65-plus) viewed unions in a favorable light, fully 55 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 held a favorable view of unions, while just 29 percent held unfavorable ones. Pew even found that a slim plurality of Republicans under 35 thought well of unions: 45 percent held positive views, 44 percent negative. For that matter, 65 percent of Democrats (of all ages) thought favorably of unions, and given the towering share of Democrats (or left-of-Democrats) working in the media, new or old, the Gawker vote should have surprised no one.

JW Mason said...

Right on. This is it.