Labor as abstraction

“In a meritocracy, all attention is directed at results. Results appear as the real. Conversely, the process from which the real emanates appear as extenuated reality, as a private matter, so to speak. But for the political economy of labor power, it is precisely the process and not the results, that fulfill the conditions necessary for an analysis of how labor and real life are identical. They are not to be found as such in the result. It turns out that abstract labor consists of the privation and the partial refund of concrete, lived labor time. The time during which a female punch operator stands at her machine is virtually struck from her lived time; it is not she — a living person — who stands there before the machine, but rather her abstraction, If she makes extraneous movements that rationalization experts advise her to avoid, she infringes — as something real — upon the unreality of labor’s time frame. An important question for the political economy of labor power lies in the way this punch operator is able to prepare herself for this abstraction by using her own powers. She does not have to exert herself in order to operate the machine; it is strenuous and consumes her power, but the machine dictates her will. She must exert herself in order to endure this abstraction.” History and Obstinacy p 134.


About HR

Deep in the adjunct crackhole.
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