GLOBALISATION - MAKING CAPITALS TICK
Making capitals tick
A crisis in
working time erupts every second of every day for some worker somewhere.
An alarm doesn’t go off. The porridge burns. A car won’t start. The
bus sails past your stop or the train runs late. Miniscule as each
incident appears, any one of them could contribute to dismissal.
Although employers should make allowance for the long littlenesses of
life, these annoyances are not attributable to the needs of capital. The
same cannot be said about the acceleration of life and work across some
intensified routines and unpaid overtime are among the problems pressing
on working people. The mass media have reported numerous cases of
disruption to family and social life. These stories are presented as if
the difficulties resulted from misunderstandings between management and
the employees. Tony Abbott would be happy to resolve such disagreements
by compelling workers to negotiate individual contracts, free from the
rigidities imposed by union bosses. Sections of the union movement would
prefer to extend last year’s ruling by the Industrial Relations
Commission that employees may refuse excessive overtime. What Abbott
dares not admit and the ACTU cannot absorb is that the conflicts over
the organisation of time arise from the needs of capital more than from
the aspirations of workers.
To prepare for
the future of work, working people need to investigate the future of
capital. This lecture offers a contribution to that understanding,
conceived in the spirit of inquiry that guided Marx’s Capital
(1867-) and Lenin’s The
Development of Capitalism in Russia (1899). The contest for the
control of the pace and length of labour will be surveyed in two
segments, each with three sections. The first part examines the
pressures on time that stem from the expansion of capital:
No solutions will
be specified beyond the implication that policies are more likely to
succeed when grounded in an appreciation of why capitals must behave as
the prime problem has always been to get people to go to work for them
at all. In his1697 report to the Board of Trade on Relief
and Unemployment of the Poor, John Locke recommended that the
recalcitrantly idle be whipped and have their ears lopped off. Their
offspring, he advised, should be taken away - stolen - at the age of
three years to be placed in schools that would inculcate the discipline
for the capitalists’ ability to buy the labour-power is that its
sellers possess no other means of sustaining themselves. That was not
the case in 1829 at Swan River to which Mr Thomas Peel had conveyed the
coin of the realm, the means of production and labourers but neglected
to import the power relationships that, in England, would have obliged
those farmhands to work for him. Unhappy Mr Peel was left “without a
servant to make his bed or fetch him water”.
The labourers, meanwhile, were busy working land they had occupied for
free. The Wakefield Scheme of Systematic Colonisation proposed to remedy
this defect in nature by making assisted immigrants to South Australia
work to repay their fares and then to save to buy land that would be
made available only seven years after their arrival.
The evidence for
an increase in inequality through globalisation is not to be found in
income statistics alone, or through exposing the low wages in the
factories that supply Nike. Underpinning those aspects, and of far
greater import, is the proletarianisation of the world as billions of
people are dispossessed of their land and water, or other resources for
self-sufficiency outside the world market.
When bosses call
for “a fair day’s work”, they want to intensify their
operative’s attentiveness. For instance, after the introduction of the
40-hour week in 1947-48, Australian employers called on unions to
support “A Full 40-Hours”.
In 1953, the Chair of the Joint War Production Committee, Sir John
Storey, deplored that most wage-earners put in no more than thirty-three
hours a week “after allowing for public holidays, tea breaks, late
starting and early finishing”.
The length of
attendance need not be the workers’ main burden. Some Japanese
salarymen hung about their offices till 10 p.m. because there was no
room for them at home. Even during the day, a few had little to do and
were known as “apple polishers”, that is, clerks who sat at their
desks polishing an apple until it was time to eat it. Their twelve-hour
shifts did not lead to “death from overwork”. That syndrome
afflicted a different stratum with similar attendance times but far
heftier workloads. Equally, ill-health can result from seven-hour days
in a thirty-five-hour week if the strain is relentless. While the
physical effort has diminished in many tasks, mental pressures are up
across the board. The isolation in the cabin of a mechanized
coal-extractor makes twelve-hour shifts at an open-cut as stressful as
eight-hours underground with a pick. Lack of control over one’s
environment is the source of most mental and physical stresses.
labour-time was known as convict discipline long before Fordism and
Taylorism and is propelled through globalisation. The development of the
methods for ensuring a worker’s attentiveness can be traced, albeit
with a broad-brush, through the drive that capital has exerted over
several hundred years to convert concrete labour times into a universal
labour time. To this end, the capitalists’ concern had to spread from
lengthening the working day to intensifying the application with which
the work is performed. The crux is the comparative time taken by each
operative to perform a task.
was for the maker’s own use, a lass might have taken an hour to cut
out and finish a shirt, her sister ninety minutes and their aunt only
forty. Indeed, there would have been as many actual production times as
there were seamstresses. The time taken was important only in relation
to other domestic tasks such as cooking, child-minding and gardening.
However, should the shirt be bartered for food, then the participants to
the exchange would have guessed at the time involved in its production
to know how many eggs to offer.
The setting of
relativities of labour-time assumed a different impact when the
shirt-maker sold not the shirt itself, but her capacity to make shirts
in exchange for wages. Once workers entered that regime, the time taken
to finish each garment was not measured against household chores or
personal satisfactions. The pace was no longer set by the wage-labourer,
but by the purchaser of her labour-power. Depending on the nature of the
produce, the capitalist also mimimised unproductive labour-time through
From early on,
the masters divided the making of each shirt into its several stages –
cutting out, sewing, button-holing – and also into the shirt’s parts
– sleeves, collars, backs and vests. The capitalists spurred each
operative towards the rate of their most efficient employee. The
particularisation employed to reduce labour-time also lowered the
workers’ attentiveness and hence demanded stricter oversight.
Efficiency is a mix of speed and quality. Spoils are a double loss to
the employer, of wages and materials. Because their assault on profits
is like stealing, operatives were fined for their mistakes.
established a factory-wide standard, the next step was to make the
production time of each worker approach or exceed the best rate
throughout the area in which that firm sold. The shortest labour-time in
that market became the standard that all the wage-labourers had
henceforth to match a Universal Labour Time (ULT). The quickest is never
a permanent quantum. Innovations follow in reaction to the attainment of
each rate. These speed-ups, in turn, drive all firms within that market
area towards further cuts in labour-time.
aspect of labour-time is never universal in the sense that it applies in
all factories, service-providers or offices at the same time. Rather,
the universal is a standard that capitalists are compelled to pursue if
they are to survive. For a long time, its approximate achievement could
be recognised only after profits had been reported. That index was
rough-and-ready because book-keeping remained rudimentary. Moreover,
the realisation of any profit depended on the employer’s
success at selling his workers’ output. Fordism and Taylorism were
attempts to move beyond this post
hoc measure of the success at matching ULT.
imposed standard time across the USA in 1884, a music-hall routine had a
stage Irishman complaining that John D. Rockefeller had monopolized time
within his Standard Oil. This joke conveyed an element of truth because
the pace of work was being increased as part of the reorganization of
capitals into corporations, cartels and trusts. Monopolising competition
also compelled firms to move into new markets. Bukharin recognised as
early as 1915 that those new structures were combining with the the
migration of labour, commodities and of money-capital to inscribe a
wage-rate for “socially indispensable labour on a world scale”.
These institutions brought forth the multi-divisional corporation in the
1920s boom. The longer post-1950 boom, better understood as the “great trough in unemployment”, was built on the conglomerate
and the Multi-National Corporation.
labour-time remains at the crux of the current wave of competition
between monopolizing capitals so that globalization continues the
universalising of labour-time, but with a new dimension. Throughout the
centuries, the geographic boundaries to that accelerating standard have
been extended by communication, conquest and transport, or restricted by
protective arrangements ranging from import duties to warfare, from
oligopolisation to retail price maintenance. Nowadays, globalisation is
making labour-time doubly universal by shifting certain kinds of
production to sites where the workers can exert the least influence over
the length of their working-day or the pace of the line. These
relocations are not always to third world police states. Before planning
a greenfields plant in Ontario, Chrysler was able to secure union
agreement to lower wages because 15,000 automotive jobs had been lost in
Canada since 1999. 
every stage across the past 250 years, the
index of a managers’ ability to impose time controls has been profit.
The ultimate test of whether a firm is besting the labour-times
prevalent throughout its market area will be its survival. Given a
choice between lower wages and greater controls over the labour-process,
managers will often opt for the latter as the more profitable.
Capitalists have much more than the pay-scales to consider in achieving
a rate of profit that at least approximates that from the alternative
In addition to Chrysler’s pressing down on Canadian wage-rates, it
obliged its suppliers to contribute more than half of the construction
cost of the plant.
This expansion is
not some mystical essence of capital. A need to expand is imposed on
each firm (capital) because it comes under two kinds of pressure. The
first is where competitors chase after its customers. To ward off these
rivals, each firm produces more than it has been selling. This expansion
usually involves more expensive machinery which tends to lower the rate
of profit per item. To keep absolute profit levels up, each firm now has
to sell larger quantities.
At the same time,
all firms have to deal with workers who demand higher wages, shorter
hours and safer conditions. If a firm cannot disorganize its workers, it
must pay them more, driving up the unit cost of production to the
advantage of its rivals. Larger absolute returns are required to meet
higher labour costs. The threat of a competitor inhibits
the attainment of that
revenue through a price increase. The outcome of these intertwined
forces is a greater volume of commodities. Profits still depend on their
sale. Thus, employers must drive down their unit costs in order to
compete. Greater mastery over all aspects of labour-time is inescapable.
Hence, the time
pressures on employees derive from the pressures on capital to behave as
capital. A factory is not capital. A machine is not capital. A warehouse
of Nike shoes is not capital. The labour-power of an employee waiting
for her next task is not capital. Gold bars under Malcolm Fraser’s bed
are not capital. Indeed, capital items become capital only when they
engage labour in adding values, that is, setting in motion the
circumstances for its expansion.
This fact of life
for capital applies at every moment of the production-consumption cycle.
The greatest inventions of the industrial revolution were the re-organisations
of labour-time. These breakthroughs, which in their time were as
significant as Supercomputers, are now taken for granted. The continuous
flow that Wedgwood introduced to his potteries in the 1770s was as
ingenious as Watt’s steam-engine. This creativity extended to
money-capital in consolidating individual hordes. Because a speedier
realisation of the surplus that became possible because of the railways.
Their construction had required the legal novelty of the joint-stock
company. Such interactions still serve capital’s need to reduce the
time taken for its circuit of expansion. The current pressures on
working time followed a new round of innovations in the circulation of
money. Much of what has happened to employment and labour-processes
after 1980 required discount brokerage, indexed funds, cash-management
accounts, junk bonds and spreadsheets.
of time for commodity capital can be drawn out from the case of a
manufacturer who puts all her resources into the production of razor
wire. Until Mr Ruddock pays for those rolls, her firm cannot purchase
more raw materials, hire labour or declare a dividend. The alternatives
to a sale are either to borrow, or to cook the books. Without those
expedients, there must be an interruption to the process of adding value
in order to expand. This interval, in turn, slows down the progress of
suppliers and reduces the consumer spending of the labourers. The effect
is to retard the entire system. If the delay is protracted, the
manufacturer or some of her suppliers may be driven from the field.
Too long a
passage between making and selling is so hazardous that businesses
created measures to shrink it. After the last war, the Benneton family
got started on the principle: “First we sell them. Then we make
From such beginnings, the biggest corporations are extending the
just-in-time systems towards a regime of built-to-order as to “to
eliminate incoming and outgoing inventory”. Firms have slashed the
costs of holding supplies and from production and management. The next
step is to reduce the period between completion and sale. Agriculture
has long operated a futures market to avoid these delays to the circuits
of capital. Now we could see a futures market in automobiles. All these devices
confirm Marx’s insight that capitalists would relish “Circulation
without circulation time – i.e. the transition of capital from one
phase to the next at the speed of thought” – a phrase that Bill
Gates used as the title for his book.
market can be illustrated with another homely example. Around the corner
from where I live, a new office block remained untenanted for a year. No
rent came in. The builder was unable to start a new project. Instead, he
faced bankruptcy. Let us suppose that a real estate agent had appeared
on the scene when plans for the $10m. building were being drawn up. She
offered to buy it for $9m. This price was one million less than the
construction company had budgeted. But “loss” of that million would
be offset by removal of most of the selling costs and erasure of
interest payments on the bank loan taken out to pay for materials and
labour. Moreover, even before the builder had sent workmen to the first
site, he could plan for a second project financed by the promised $9m.
The real estate agent has bought the building’s future.
This procedure is
often explained as spreading the risk, which is part of what is
happening. Even more important is that trading in futures can speed the
cycle for the expansion of investment, and thus contribute to the growth
of the economy as a whole.
The trade in
futures began long ago when it was called Merchant’s capital, familiar
from Shakespeare’s Merchant of
Venice. As Merchant’s capital quickened the accumulation of
capital, it also increased the space for swindles. Derivatives spun out
of the trade in futures. Some of these devices continue the service
provided by Merchant’s capital, helping capital to expand with fewer
and shorter interruptions. Other derivatives are parasitical, shaving
fractions of a percent off each trade. Still others are larceny. The
necessity for speed does not make theft necessary. Rather, some of the
mechanisms by which the turnover of capital is quickened have multiplied
the opportunities for capitalists to rob each other, which is a less
expensive undertaking than making workers go faster. As Marx observed:
“All nations with a capitalist mode of production are therefore seized
periodically by a feverish attempt to make money without the
intervention of the process of production.”
The contest for
ideological dominance has also run in favour of capital through
tax-payer funded think-tanks inside universities, for instance, Judith
Sloan in Labour Studies at Flinders, as well as outriders in the H. R.
Nicholls Society. The collapse of the Soviet Bloc encouraged employers
around the world to feel confident that they could bear down on their
workforce without risking the survival of their system. On the other
side, workers feared that there was no alternative. The dissolution of
Australia’s three Communist Parties from the late 1970s has deprived
the labour movement of even the strategic economism that had passed for
a socialist objective. The pace of globalised speed-ups has been
possible only because the labour movement had been so disorganized
Just how much
organized labour can achieve was given a human face in John Morrison’s
Stories of the Waterfront.
Morrison introduced his collection by recalling that, when he went on
the wharf in the late 1930s, “minimum period of engagement could be
for as little as two hours; smokoes were limited to particularly
strenuous or fast cargoes such as pig-iron and bagged flour”. He wrote
of a Melbourne gang which had worked for nineteen days without a break,
and till nine o’clock every night, or over 200 hours without a day’s
leave. The average week for three years had been between sixty to seven
hours. By 1949, militant leadership of a determined membership had
settled “these long-standing grievances”.
Sydney wharfies campaigned under the slogan “Nights are for love” to
put an end to the 11pm to 6 am shift.
revolution in time
In the 1870s, the
strain of work led to the diagnosis of a medical condition,
Neurasthenia. To cope with this malaise, Pope Leo XIII and the Prince of
Wales endorsed Vin Mariani,
alcohol laced with cocaine. Its popularity led to the concocting of
Coca-Cola in 1886. Its inventor knew that New Orleans stevedores used
cocaine to work 72-hours shifts and that West Africans chewed the kola
while carrying the whiteman’s burden. Cocaine fell from favour in the
1890s, but the need for a kick-start remained. By the 1970s, eight
percent of prescriptions in the USA were for amphetamines.
Nowadays, children with normal energy levels are diagnosed as suffering
from Attention Deficit Disorder, although their parents need sleep more
than the kids require drugs.
persisted across post-war Australia, despite the adoption of a
forty-hour week, long-service leave, four-weeks annual leave and
flextime. Evidence for the demands placed on workers in the 1950s is
less grounded in statistics than it is for the more recent past. Some
clues to those earlier decades are embedded in the novels of working
life that the authors wrote as participant-observers. Dorothy Hewitt’s
recreation in Bobbin’ Up of
the clothing factory where she had worked, lamented the inadequacies of
Jeanie was two
minutes late. By the time she got the kids from Fivedock to Erskinville
and then caught the bus to Alexandria, it was always the same. Five
minutes late and docked a quarter of an hour.
In The Dyehouse, Mena Calthorpe made a comparable comment:
woke in his bedroom at Granville. The alarm blurred in the dark morning.
It as only a little after five, but he had long trip to the [Macdonaldtown]
Dyehouse and there would be trouble if there was no steam up before
included these incidents as no more than everyday demands which their
characters had to cope with to hold down a job. The naturalness of the
retelling adds to their claim on actuality.
more likely in the forty-year-old remembrances from a wife that her
husband had been
practically seven days a week to keep us …. For a long time, he worked
12-hour shifts. He would get up in the morning and go to work, come
home, have something to eat and go to bed, and that went on for a long,
long time … because we needed the money.
That long hours
were not uncommon is confirmed by a mass of interviews and statistics on
overtime and second jobs. The effort demanded of male wage-earners continued into the 1970s even while the national average per week
was declining from 39.5 towards
37.4 hours. For example, a steelworker at Whyalla gave this
account of his routine:
I can bring home
$150 a week if I work seven days a week plus some extra overtime in the
evenings. At the end of each day you are buggered, physically buggered.
You’re just sort of shattered. And it takes a couple of hours when you
get home of sitting down to get over it. There is no hope of being able
to play with the children. Quite often I’m so buggered at the end of
the shift that the only thing I can do is go to bed. My entire
twenty-four hours of each day is basically geared to this eight-hour
shift at the steelworks. You go home, wash and have tea and the thing
that you most want to do is just sit and drink beer and watch the
television. I go to bed at about nine of ten so that I can get up in
time to be back at work by seven in the morning. We are just working
machines. They tell you that you are working for BHP for only eight
hours a day, but basically you are working for the Company twenty-four
hours a day.
You don’t feel
like sitting down and reading a book or going for a walk with your
children. Last night I came home from work at 4.30p.m. and had a bite to
eat and sat down in front of the television and fell asleep, and then I
went to bed at seven and didn’t wake up till six this morning – just
in time to go back to work.
cannot tell us whether matters are worse today, but at least serve as a
reminder that workers’ perception of time-pressures is not novel.
By contrast, Don
Townsend set Gland Time (1975)
in a Tasmanian abattoir in the 1960s when the workers ran the joint to
suit their social, sporting and sexual needs. They had even more
success, if with less gusto, than the garbos in Frank Hardy’s The
Outcasts of Foolgarah (1971). Those pictures of sociable working
environments now seem as remote as William Morris’s News
from Nowhere (1888). David Ireland’s Unknown
Industrial Prisoner (1971) proved more prescient regarding the
dehumanization both of the labour-process and its respites.
One new aspect is
that the time-squeeze has moved beyond process workers to include more
professionals and thus is a “problem” for policy-makers because
those now enduring the time famine have access to the media.
A second change
is that the burden of total hours of paid work is becoming more evenly
distributed between men and women. The belief “that contemporary women
have become overburdened … is the issue behind most of the discussion
of the balance between work and family”. The pressures remain on men,
whether or not they are husbands or fathers, though those relationships
will add to the strain. In 1974, the number of Australian men working
longer than 11 hours a day was one in eighteen. By 1997, that ratio had
risen to one in eight.
Time pressures have never been confined to one gender. Rather, they have
been distributed unevenly between paid and unpaid work. Within each
kind, time pressures take a different form for each gender. In turn,
those forms are expressed differently at different periods, locations
and for ethnic communities.
The calls for
reform aim to increase the unpaid work that men put in at home while
reducing that of women, especially mothers, both at paid work and in the
domestic sphere. The market’s pressures on many men to work harder and
longer need to be included in any divvying up of domestic chores.
Although a declining percentage of men are in full-time employment, more
of those who are so occupied are putting in excessive hours. Meanwhile,
more women are either in full-time employment or spending the equivalent
hours in cobbling together part-time casual jobs.
source of these shifts nor their solution is confined to gender
relations. Rather, they derive the conflicting needs that capital has
for increased productivity and a growth in effective demand, driven by
mass marketing. Capital’s recent ability to hold down hourly wage
rates has meant that the rise in the socially necessary costs of
reproducing labour is being met by additional hours. Capital-induced
needs compel workers to seek or accept a longer working week, as well as
boosting the number of dual-income families.
These needs of capital bear down on both genders, although in
these problems, it is necessary to ask why there is still a problem with
excessive hours. In the mid-1950s, the panic was that mass unemployment
was just around the corner from automation. In the 1970s, the concern
was that there would be a social crisis as people failed to cope with an
unaccustomed excess of leisure. An early contributor to the debates
sparked by the 1974 publication of Harry Braverman’s Labor
and Monopoly Capital proposed that
society as a
whole needs to devote less and less of its time to factory work … If
everyone did a short stint of factory work each year, it would be
possible for everyone to be free from such work for most of the year.
were sketched by commentators of every political persuasion. Yet the
reverse has happened. The
reason is that no firm or national economy could survive against its
monopolizing competitors if it made these concessions.
The future where nobody will need to sell her or his labour-power
for more than a few hours a week remains in the realm of science
If the pace has
been ratcheted up across 250 years, how have human beings coped? Two
hundred and fifty years allow for only twelve generations, too brief a
span for human beings to have evolved physiologically. Human nature,
however, is an interaction of the physical with the social. Social
adaptation is a less protracted affair than molecular change, and can be
passed on as learned experience.
ancestors developed tools in making themselves into homo
sapiens sapiens. We deploy both tools and machines – to quote Marx
again - as prolongations of our bodies.
Levers and the wheel reduced the output of physical energy. In 1945,
Brambles supplied men with long-handled shovels to fill two fifteen-ton
railway trucks per day each with silt from the Hunter River.
Nowadays, dredges deposit the load directly into conveyors.
As well as
reducing the wear-and-tear physically, we have improved the means to
repair body and brain. The marketing of medical research has provided
chemical, prosthetic and dietary means to preserve our capacity to
labour. On the pharmaceutical front, cocaine, caffeine and amphetamines
have been noted. Office workers do yoga and take fitness classes in
their meal breaks. In the 1940s, two of the Brambles
brothers collapsed and died in their mid-fifties. Today, their vital
organs would be replaced, their hearts operated on. The most extreme
instances of prolonging the body are the norm in the working lives of
professional sportspeople. (For some reason, the replacement of joints
is distinguished from other performance enhancing drugs.) These
interventions are only beginning. Scientists at Flinders University
announced in July 2002 that spectacles devised to help the body counter
jetlag could be used by shift-workers to reset their circadian rhythms.
In addition, the
coping with time pressures has brought forth thousands of new
commodities which affect every nook and cranny of life: the zipper in
place of the hook-and-eye; instant coffee and the tea-bag; nail polish
which dries in a minute; non-iron fabrics and dry-cleaning; takeaway
fast food, the prepared stir-fry, or meals that brought about a
rephrasing the vulgar materialist maxim to read “You are what you
Despite the array
of aids to help us cope with the lengthening or intensification of work,
some strata have fallen behind in the race for paid employment. Someone
who would have been designated mentally or physically “slow” in 1750
could still have been a useful agricultural labourer, contributing more
than he consumed. His prospects today are uncertain. Prolongations of
the body and brain have provided more chances for the most extreme
disabilities, as shown by Steven Hawking. Others find they are no longer
employable because their bodies and brains cannot keep up with the
equipment that has reduced the physical effort. They wear out in their
forties. Still others find the social and mental pressures of chasing
after jobs too great, and retire hurt.
attempt to increase the working hours required from those designated
“disabled” should direct attention to the wider significance behind
that bureaucratic category. First, the pace of life and work has
produced a new definition of the “unfit”. Social Darwinists preached
that the fittest would survive the class struggle. Taylorism came closer
to Darwin’s meaning of “fitness” by promising to match each worker
with the task to which they were best adapted.
Since then, speed and endurance have been increased so much that
Taylor’s ideal labourer as trained ape would now be out of a job.
Secondly, a truly
radical meaning should be attached to “disabled”. Throughout the
workforce, how many jobs leave their operatives feeling that our
abilities have been used to the full? In that sense, a majority is being
“disabled” by the conditions of our employment, irrespective of
hours or intensity. The goal of integrating life and work has to be more
than a drop in weekly working-time to six hours of apple-polishing.
Workers need to have creative endeavour in democratic organisations
restored to the program of reform of the workplace.
The World Bank
vice-President for PNG and the South Pacific envisages a free market in
labour to match those being installed, under the rubric of globalisation,
for investments, products and services. In short, he wants labour power
to be another commodity. Joseph E. Stiglitz, who had been second in
command at the World Bank, has complained about neoclassical
economists’ thinking of labour power in that way. The truth is that
they are merely expressing how labour is treated in its exchange
relations with capital.
The labour movement will never reclaim the initiative from the Abbotts until we can recreate a vision of work which challenges more than the demands of capital for unpaid overtime or overcome its low regard for child care. The Coalition intends to destroy unionism, not just to tame it. In their ratty way, Abbott, Reith and Howard have a firmer grasp of history as class struggle than Crean, Tanner or Burrows. Workers need a vision of our work as humanly fulfilling if the tactics for rebutting attacks on our rights are to achieve even that limited aim. Defence as much as defiance requires reclaiming the body of knowledge that the labour movement had won through industrial conflict, the insights from Capital and an appreciation of ourselves as more than commodities.
 E. J. Hundert, “The Making of Homo Faber: John Locke between Ideology and History”, Journal of the History of Ideas, 33 (1), 1972, pp. 5-6.
Labour discipline in the Soviet Union
would have met with Locke’s approval. From 1938-40, lateness of
more than twenty minutes became a criminal offence, punishable by
removal to the Gulag. “Given the unreliability of public
transport, not to mention that of Soviet clocks and watches, this
put every employed person at risk”. The enforcement of the new
labour laws ran wider even than the Great Purges and brought
sufferings to the urban proletariat second only to the famine of the
early 1930s. Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday
Stalinism, OUP, New York, 1999, p. 8.