Saturday, March 28, 2009

Wobbly Times number 3

The fact that 10% of Australian households own 45% of Australia's wealth while 50% of Australian households own only 7% of Australia's wealth is information which is unknown to most Australian workers.

The source is this inequality lies in the wages system. Workers create the wealth in the economy. Of course they use wealth lying dormant in Nature to do it, for example in mining. Workers sell their skills for defined periods of time to employers to create the wealth of society which is then measured in the sales of goods and services, aka the GDP. The price workers get for their sale on the labour market is called wages.

More than 120 years ago, workers came out in the streets of Chicago to demand the 8 hour day. Productivity since 1886 has skyrocketed. Workers deserve more free-time. Workers have earned it. Workers today should have a four hour day with no cut in pay. Shorter work time could solve many of what seem to be today's unsolvable problems: climate change, unemployment, child care, social alienation, cultural development and the overproduction of garbage polluting the environment.

The more the productiveness of labour increases, 
the more can the working-day be shortened; and 
the more the working-day is shortened,
the more can the intensity of labour increase. 
From a social point of view,the productiveness 
increases in the same ratio as the economy of labour,
which, in its turn, includes not only economy of 
the means of production,but also the avoidance of 
all useless labour. The capitalist mode of production,
while on the one hand, enforcing economy in each 
individual business, on the other hand, begets, by its
anarchical system of competition, the most
outrageous squandering of labour-power and of the social 
means of production,not to mention the creation of a 
vast number of employments, at present indispensable, 
but in themselves superfluous. The intensity and 
productiveness of labour being given, the time
which society is bound to devote to material 
production is shorter, and as a consequence, the time 
at its disposal for the free development, intellectual
and social, of the individual is greater, in proportion 
as the work is more and more evenly divided among all 
the able-bodied members of society,and as a particular 
class is more and more deprived of the power to shift
the natural burden of labour from its own shoulders to 
those of another layer of society. In this direction, 
the shortening of the working-day finds at last a limit 
in the generalisation of labour. In capitalist society
spare time is acquired for one class by converting the 
whole life-time of the masses into labour time. 

From CAPITAL, Vol. I by Karl Marx

The theft of alien labour time, on which the present 
wealth is based, appears a miserable foundation in face 
of this new one, created by large-scale industry itself. 
As soon as labour in the direct form has ceased to be 
the great well-spring of wealth, labour time ceases and 
must cease to be its measure, and hence exchange value 
[must cease to be the measure] of use value. The surplus 
labour of the mass has ceased to be the condition for the 
development of general wealth, just as the non-labour of 
the few, for the development of the general powers of the 
human head. With that, production based on exchange value 
breaks down, and the direct, material production process 
is stripped of the form of  penury and antithesis. The 
free development of individualities, and hence not the
reduction of necessary labour time so as to posit surplus 
labour, but rather the general reduction of the necessary
labour of society to a minimum, which then corresponds
to the artistic, scientific etc. development of the
individuals in the time set free, and with the
means created, for all of them. 

from the GRUNDRISSE by Karl Marx

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