A place for discussing and understanding the underlying institutions of contemporary societyat #299812
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Social Relations in wage-labor as a machinist who is writing about problems with a lack of social relations as such, trying to improve, while recognizing that securing the means of sustenance is not only vital, but also so far for myself dependent only on wage-labor.
The major difference between machines & humans is in the connection between thought, speech, and action. Thoughts and speech affect human actions. If I’m responsible for an operation which is to run the cycle of a machine, then my actions are prompted by the duration of the cycle, no matter what I think or say about it. So if I’m at a company which is busy with machining, and I’m not only speaking with machinists like myself, but I’m also responsible for a machining operation, then so long as conversation between machinists is not about altering or eliminating any machining process, then no matter what we think or say, we’ll be prompted to act by the duration of the cycle of a machining process. So if I’m an effective machinist (dedicated to machining rather than its alteration or elimination), then no matter what I think or say, I will be returning to the machine right at the end of a cycle in order to remove the machined piece, to replace a piece to the machine, and restart the cycle, in order to reach the predetermined number of produced pieces per shift, that allows a certain amount of profit from production for employee wages.
This operation requires further human action with the piece in order to ship pieces to the next operation. As one cycle produces one piece, the cycle is running while I’m responsible to manufacture each piece through the rest of the operation, before I go back to the machine for the next piece, so on, and so forth; if I don’t process each piece through the rest of the operation, then I’ll not only pile up non-shippable pieces, I’ll also be an ineffective operator – who is required to produce a shippable piece from each cycle, that the operator may only produce by putting each piece through an area of the operation which is not only separate, but also dependent on the machine, without which the operation wouldn’t exist.
This manufacturing process, to the extent that I’m a part of the process, has divorced creative thought & speech from action for two reasons: 1) the process is supposed to continue, which requires my determined action to work with pieces for the sake of cycles, or vice versa; 2) because I was hired into this preexisting process, so I’m not working on my creation, nor am I working on a process which I can potentially subject to my creativity, rather I either accept the process, reject it, or be fired from it. So the only role that thought and speech will play in this process is to rationalize the determination of my responsiveness to the start/stop of each cycle, that is to say if I don’t distract myself from responding to the start/stop of each cycle by thinking and/or speaking, then I may directly respond to the start/stop of each cycle as soon as each cycle stops or starts. To the extent that the only effect my thought and speech hold on the machining process is to respond to the duration of the cycle – in order to start it again – then the machining process has completely divorced creative thought and speech from the operation, which requires a determined number of pieces per shift (meaning I also can’t decide how soon to respond unless the machine isn’t already pressed to its limit of pieces per shift, in which case I may exert surplus production for the same nominal wage – according to the laws of science, one being the law of conservation of energy, I would only do so if I believed my surplus would benefit my needs, but without proof that benefits are directly connected with producing a surplus, its logical by law that I don’t produce it), thus this manufacturing has – given the legitimacy of the opening statement – dehumanized myself for the sake of running a machine.
If creativity is produced, among other things, by thought and speech, and if the essence of humanity is creativity, then the operator is dehumanized, because in order to meet the requirements of performing this operation, the operator must respond to the start and stop of each cycle, each time being compelled to reach for the pieces. Being an operator as such suppresses the effectiveness of one’s active response to creative thoughts as they are confined within this operation.
So far, the company which supports the operation I’ve described has been busy with various types of operations for nearly 60 years, over which the operations have changed chiefly in the variety and number of machining capacities rather than the meaning of machining processes, that is to say the purpose was always to produce a certain number of pieces from production for profit, never for an operator to inflict upon the operation a change in purpose influenced by creative thought and speech.
If the real world is immediately unimportant to the freedom of thought and action, then you could say that every shift I’m able to think freely, because the freedom to think creatively has no bearing on the operation. That is as long as I reach the predetermined number of pieces. Because I cannot avoid thinking, but I can avoid certain reactions to thoughts if I suppress my reaction to some thoughts. But if freedom requires that thought influences unsuppressed action on the real world, then such a machinist is enslaved insomuch as whoever performs this operation will suppress the freedom to act on any impulse of creative thought. The machinist is also a human being, who must support human needs by carrying out tasks to meet such needs. The question of whether a machinist within this predetermined production for profit can be free or exercise more freedom must address the viable alternatives to the tasks carried out by machinists. If the machinist knows of no other task which would support basic needs, that is no task other than being part of a process which is directly supported by production for profit which is piecemeal distributed to operators like the machinist who then may purchase basic needs, then the person depends on being subjected to the requirements of production for profit and dehumanization, or else. However, there are creative people who are free to support themselves with available land and resources.
This is perhaps a result of a company that requires a process to produce a certain number of pieces. In that, the operator is always expected to reach the predetermined number for production. The suppression of creative thought and speech from company operations is occurring in the tasks of machinists like those I’ve describe above, but also may be occurring in the tasks of what superficially may appear to be occupations offering greater freedom. I mean, it may be believed that the shoe salesperson, as a result of being able to decide what customers or associates to speak with and when, is more free than the machinist not only because the task requires speech, but also they choose – about what, with who, when, where, how – to speak. However, there are limits if a certain number of shoes must be sold per shift. Then the decision to speak, no matter what the salesperson thinks they’re speaking for, is always directly to meet or exceed the predetermined number of shoes to sell. Then the operation of shoe salesperson differs very little from the operation of a machinist. The difference would be environmental or material in at least two ways: 1) in that shoe sales are like machine operations insomuch as shipping ports and cash registers are like the cycle start button on the machine and the tub of pieces to ship; 2) the environmental and social costs of maintaining the operations differ by the required type and form of energy fueling and being exhausted from the operations. The fact of the matter, regardless of the manner of the operation, is that the operation is predetermined for an operator to complete a given task from start to finish regardless of the thought and speech creatively differing from the requirements of the operation. The person as the operator then is enslaved for the duration of the shift by the suppression of the limits of the operator’s physical reaction to thought and speech, which if carried out to not be serving the purpose of the operation, must quit the operation, or be fired.
So why work the shift?
Is freedom important to life? Is it always important, or is freedom a characteristic, which people may incorporate in their life, that’s compromised for some time busied by performing a task in order to eat, sleep, flush, brush, dress, and so on? Is life not worth any compromise of freedom? Does the potential compromise depend on the purpose for which freedom is compromised? If so, what purposes are worth compromising freedom? and for how long?
That purpose, or those goals above, ‘eat, sleep, flush, brush, dress,’ etc. are sought as the result of tasks. But the task results in more than one’s ability to perform those goals, perhaps through unintended consequences. Say I am enslaved to a machining process in order to reach those goals. I may assume, by the way, that any task, like a machining process, requires that the operator performs a variety of tasks – exerting some parts of the body more than others. How much of a difference in the unintended consequences of one’s enslaved actions occurs by the difference between employment in their occupations, for example, between shoe sales & machining? Evidently so in a society with a variety of occupations, the characteristics of individuals are partly formed by the onerousness of an occupation. The managers cultivate certain characteristics which are distinct from those of the workers, the former fluently conversing about a broad scope concerning every operation, the latter conforming physically to fill the position that meets the contact points on and around the machine towards production mainly either speaking only one or a few words at a time, or nodding their head. Over the years, every employee adopts a mode of action appropriate to the requirements of their position. So managers likely would be able to describe any operation in their company, whereas workers likely would be able to fill a position of labor in rote mostly without speech. The disparity of the exercise of some human qualities over others between each occupation within the division of labor amounts to at any given moment occupations differing by an adeptness to characteristics, whether conversing about a broad range of operations or performing the rote skills of one laborious operation. That is not to say that a machinist is unable to acquire the skills of a manager or vice versa, but they require opportunities. So workers who believe it’s good to be a manager instead of an operator may become competitive with each other if it’s known that a minority of operators are ever given the opportunity to manage the workforce, thus a minority may account for inequality as workers tally amongst themselves personal qualities to either threaten or be threatened. On the other hand, the majority can recognize that they would be equal if it wasn’t for the minority having limited opportunity, that is to say if the workforce recognized that the limit of opportunity to manage the workforce causes greater trouble amongst the workers by measures of inequality than they may work with otherwise, then the workers may seek to formulate an egalitarian order. Then their conflicts over inequality may be eliminated by empowering themselves from an equal distribution of power to manage work as they give each other equal control over work after the supervisory work managers being distinct from the operators becomes the supervisory work managers being simultaneously operators.
Employers inform employees mainly about occupational matters. As the operation requires determined action, the operator must be determined. The employer may educate or train the employee on what the employee must know for work, even if work can be performed properly with only a few words, or nodding of the head, and labor. It would be irrational for the employer to give any further education to the employee about life, or how the world works, because that information is irrelevant to working skills. Meaningful enlightenment in the employee’s life generally is not what concerns the employer who hires for rote labor long endured.
Aristotle wrote in Politics, “Speech is something different from voice, which is possessed by other animals also and used by them to express pain or pleasure; for their nature does indeed enable them not only to feel pleasure and pain but to communicate these feelings to each other. Speech, on the other hand serves to indicate what is useful and what is harmful, and so also what is just and what is unjust.” (p. 60, Politics. Aristotle. Penguin Classics) In the division of labor, workers go through training determined to perform an operation. For them, speech is unnecessary because one operation is specifically distinct from every other, so what is good for one operation is to remain separate from every other. There is no need to speak about what is good or bad for one because each operator knows already the specifics of their operation, and necessarily no more. Thus leaving the division of labor’s proper communication, if any, as distant voices of pain or pleasure. The workers are not expected to communicate working problems to each other, but to the employer. The employer then coordinates the workforce and communicates the problems of an operation on one shift to the employer of that operation on another shift.
If people adopt characteristics to serve the purpose of an action, doesn’t the exercise of those characteristics prevent the development of latent or potential characteristics which aren’t used to perform that action? In other words, is one’s personal development an onset of what one does, or is some development unavoidable in the sense that it develops whether it’s practiced or not? What about speech, and creativity?
- This reply was modified 7 years, 2 months ago by quinn malecki. Reason: spacing, citing page number and title for book source
I guess the Parecon answer would be-
The machine work that is devoid of creative input is considered dis-empowering (similar to dehumanizing).
If the product of the work is considered valuable of society the work will be continued. However, no one would do that task all the time. Instead they many do it, for example, three days a week, on another two they should do work involving creativity and communication – or empowering work. This is the ‘balanced job complex’.
Factory’s would be worker owned and they will decide collectively how it is run.
- This reply was modified 7 years, 2 months ago by jonpatterns.
“If the product of the work is considered valuable of society the work will be continued.”
This would take discussion – assessing society’s expressed needs as well as what it takes to sustain their roots – to begin to decide on appropriate production.
There’s so much technological potential in factories that the means to appropriate production involve analysis of technical capacities of machines in ways which contradict the intentions which built them.at #732269
In parecon there are worker councils in the factories and something like consumer councils. So you are right discussion between these bodies would be needed. Looking at the pros and cons and working out solutions is creative work.
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