File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 228

Subject: Re: M-I: Re: Get back in the kitchen and rattle them pots & pans!
Date: Sun, 12 Oct 1997 15:18:24 -0500 (CDT)

	I've got a question about this whole thread. I can't formulate
it quite right in abstract terms so I'll just outline a thought
experiment. Suppose that every worker, male or female, lived alone.
(This is not completely far-fetched, of course, because there are
a fairly large number of single-person households; and moreover, in
all couple-households, we can assume that *usually* the woman does
the bulk of the work in reproducing daily life, but in principle it
could be evenly divided. So my thought experiment is to some extent
merely a valid simplification of actuality.) Now each person would
still have to clean his/her quarters, prepare his/her food. Etc.
etc. Now, is that worker being paid less than the cost of his/her
labor power just because his/her employer pays him/her for (say)
only the 8 hours at the place of employment, and not for the 
extra (say) 6 hours required for daily reproduction? And does it
make any difference in *economic* terms if two people are involved,
and one does not go to work but does the "home labor"? There is the
empirical fact that both *are* surviving, and thus the employed
half of the couple seemingly is paid the full value of his/her 
labor power, that value simply including the subsistence of his/her
"other half."

	I'm not sure what difference this technical question makes,
except of course when one confront fools who claim an unemployed
member of the working class is not a member of the working class. I
don't read Rodwell, so I have to take Jim's word for it that Rodwell
made that claim. Incidentally, though, Back around 1921 or so no less
a figure than Gramsci made the astounding claim that housewives were
petty producers because they owned their own means of production and
did not sell their labor power. That was then, however, and it is 
easy enough to find pretty stupid statements on gender by all 19th
and early 20th century communists, but now is now and supposedly
we have learned something from the women's movement.

> According to Hugh Rodwell, and many other political-economy
> fundamentalists, unemployed women in the household are not in the working
> class because they don't generate surplus value. So obviously they must be
> part of the bourgoisie. My wife of 35 years doesn't seem to be very
> bourgeois. In fact, she was on the central committee of the Puerto Rican
> Socialist Party. Either this is one of those exceptions that supposedly
> prove the rule or my wife was an undergraound agent of the bourgeoisie
> during all those years and I never suspected a thing.
> I remember being told by a highly respected Marxist economist that a lathe
> tender is part of the working class but the janitor who sweeps up the
> filings is not, because the latter doesn't produce a product that will go
> on the market. Saint Karl, protect us from the economists!
> There was discussion somewhere, some time ago, of the concept of
> "collective worker" for the worker's household. Does anybody recall this?
> I'd love to see a citation.
> En lucha,
> Jim Blaut   
>      --- from list ---

     --- from list ---


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