But what are “proper hours”?

February 21, 2008 at 10:57 pm (capitalism, class, Jim D, unions, workers)

Tomorrow, 22 February, is ‘Work Your Proper Hours Day’: according to the TUC, nearly five million of us are putting in an average of over seven hours unpaid overtime per week. That’s nearly £5,000 of wages given by every employee to the employers every year.

“If you worked all your unpaid overtime at the start of the year” says the TUC, “22 February would be the first day you’d get paid.” So those militants at Congress House are calling upon all of us to mark the day by… “turning up for work on time, taking a proper lunch break and leaving when you’re meant to.” It would be laughable, wouldn’t it, but for the fact that so many of us would seem to be such a bunch of wimps, crawlers and gaffers’ persons?

Anyway: what the hell are “proper hours”? I’m fairly sure the TUC didn’t have the routine extraction of surplus value in mind when they launched this campaign.

You know what I’m on about:

“During the second period of the labour process, that in which his labour is no longer necessary labour (ie: necessary to produce the value of the worker’s means of subsistance -JD), the worker does indeed expend labour-power, he does work, but his labour is no longer necessary labour, and he creates no value for himself. He creates surplus-value which, for the capitalist, has all the charms of something created out of nothing. This part of the working day I call surplus labour-time, and to the labour expended during that time I give the name of surplus labour. It is just as important for a correct understanding of surplus-value to conceive it as merely a congealed quantity of surplus labour-time, as nothing but objectified surplus labour, as it is for a proper comprehension of value in general to conceive it as merely a congealed quantity of so many hours of labour, as nothing but objectified labour.”

Now, when are we going to do something about that?

12 Comments

  1. John said,

    Too right.

  2. Will said,

    Jimbo! Oh how i liked this post. So much to think about in response to so few words. You litttle devil you…

    Some link stuff:

    Loren Goldner speaks on the crisis of American Capitalism here:

    http://kpfa.org/archives/index.php?arch=19534

    Click on the necessary for the audio.

    Goldner mentions that by the end of the 1960s, socially necessary labor time had been reduced to such an extent by gains in productivity that it could be superseded by a better system (communism). Although the preconditions for such a revolution were present in this period, one did not occur. What did happen was an international revolt of the working class against older forms of fordist labor such as the assembly line.

    That absence of revolution leads problematically to what Goldner describes as ‘real retrogression’, wherein capital turns on society in order to ‘loot’ when it has reached a barrier of expansion (of course capital also ‘escapes’ and flows into other countries in search of cheap labour and raw materials). Goldner makes it clear that this crisis begins in the sphere of production and not in the sphere of circulation (the anti-globalization movement — and most of what passes for the ‘left’ — in reality a pseudo-left, holds the reverse to be true of course). He (Goldner) describes how capitalism undermines the paper value of things, wherein real depreciation (not only physical depreciation but relative depreciation via falling average fixed capital prices) of assets lead to attacks on wages. This happens because the loans for these now-depreciated assets have to be repaid at the same amount they were taken out at. When this occurs at an industry level, you have the beginnings of a crisis.

    He also mentions the ambitions/hopes for a leisure society in the 1960s, and how this ‘ideal’ has been mostly forgotten. Certainly, it is almost a taboo now, to even think about leisure in a positive sense in the ‘developed’ world these days. Work for work’s sake (and the moralistic priestly incantation to work for a ‘higher’ end) is now the de-facto and default position now – a disgusting ideology — fuck work and all it entails. The will to investigate the circumstances that demand the sacrifices that are deemed self-evident and demanded from on high of us (the working class) is nearly non-existent. That’s also worth spitting over. A lot.

    At the end of the day Goldner does a great job of reminding us that there is still a path out of the barbarism that characterises the methods and compromises of the imperialists and the anti-imperialists.

    Chains. Lose. Your. Nothing to but.

    PS. Can’t resist… so many useless cunts comment at this site it is almost impossible to garner anything sensible, rational or in anyway worthy of spending time looking at for one second of a human being’s life (ok — most blogs are like that — but here’s a novel idea — don’t encourage scum and fuckwits to piss all over your lawn — HP Sauce is a fine example of what happens to a blog when that happens). I mean — even the libertarian, Voltaire’s Priestly Knickers In A Twist sometimes says something useful when he isn’t yapping his gumbflaps like a yorkshire terrier on heat about some bloggertarian shite and what have you.

    And the last para isn’t an invite for fuckpigs to wank on about bloggox. Fuck off and set your own shit up that nobody will read in order for you to spout your fucking drivel and shit. Ignorant cunts and that. Really — some people need to get a place sorted now — they are limited i here.

    Nice post on Cuba by Yank wifey here as well by the way. Makes a change from a cut and paste job from Labour Start by her like. I’m thinking of doing a post at the ‘Trots’ on “More Rightist Tosspottery on Cuba”. Anyone got suggestions for inclusion and I’ll mention them and I’ll include and ridicule the fucking scum.

    PPP-FUCKING-ESSSS.

    Just thought of… Agreeing with Marx (though using different vocabulary) Veblen attempted to show why “labour is irksome” and moved him on to show how the historical process transformed work into labour, and in doing so, suppressed the best and brought out the worst in us.

    “For both Marx and Veblen labour is a dirty word, whereas work is not only life-saving but can be life enhancing. In English we have allowed the two words to become interchangeable, and they have lost their distinct meanings from their Latin origins. In the ancient world labour was the function of slaves, something done at the bidding of another to that other’s gain; work, however arduous, is done at one’s own bidding, whether to merely survive or to fulfill oneself, or something between the two. For Veblen, the “instinct” of workmanship is what requires and brings out the best in us as a species. WARNING! LINK WHORE ME LINKS TO ME — DANGEROUS STUFF FOR THE YOUNG COMRADES! MIGHT INFECT THEIR MINDS WITH DANGEROUS IDEAS AND SHIT!

    http://www.gentheoryrubbish.com/archives/000075.html

    Well, that’ll do for now I think. Here’s a link to “THE INSTINCT OF WORKMANSHIP AND THE STATE OF THE INDUSTRIAL ARTS” …

    http://socserv2.mcmaster.ca/%7Eecon/ugcm/3ll3/veblen/irksome

    …where he carries forward his analysis for those with a streak of intellectual curiosity. It’s not compulsory mind — so don’t blame me if you are thick as fucking mince you ignorant twats.

    PPS. Goldner’s site is here:

    http://home.earthlink.net/%7Elrgoldner/

  3. voltairespriest said,

    See, you almost managed to write something intelligent with no mindless abuse in it, there. Almost.

  4. Will said,

    You should really keep your trap shut — you ignoramus twit.

  5. Lobby Ludd said,

    Personally, I am against chemical solutions to social problems. What do you think, Will?

  6. Will said,

    In your case I’d apply the chemicals Lobby. I’d like watching the absurd spectacle of you twitching, even more than you do already, unfold.

    Try as I might, I could never be as predictable as you Lobby Fudd, you pathetic little bore and twat. Why not fuck off to comment on some blog where they might actually – Christ knows why – take you seriously? — Oh fuck — they actually do that here anyway.

    You really don’t have to read anything by me if it’s so painful for you. You really don’t have to. Why not concentrate on writing your *own* blog, thus enticing readers away from me? That would be a revolutionary act in itself would it not?

    Lobby Fudd — prick, fuckwit, wankstain etc etc etc ad fucking infinitum.

  7. voltaires_priest said,

    I’ll say what the fuck I like Will – particularly on my own blog, and particularly when what I am saying is entirely true, as was the statement above. The fact that you think calling someone with whom you disagree a “wankstain” is a part of acceptable normal debate, speaks volumes.

  8. Will said,

    Trap — shut it.

    twerp.

  9. voltaires_priest said,

    You really are a pathetic individual.

    Our Will’s not just a pseud and a groupie. Oh no.

  10. twp77 said,

    I thought we already established that Will IS in fact Christopher Hitchens…..

  11. voltaires_priest said,

    No, to paraphrase Aaron Sorkin, he’s the guy who runs to the 7-11 to buy Hitchens a pack of cigarettes… or at least he would if Hitchens even knew who the fuck he was.

  12. Miller 2.0 said,

    Oh come on guys, aren’t you being a bit ultra-left? This fits into the tradition of the eight hour day campaign. In fact, it is the eight hour day campaign, pretty much…

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