Guide Beyond the Ivory Tower: International Relations Theory

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Although the university is not a capitalist enterprise per se , neoliberal restructuring led to the growth of entrepreneurial activities within the university aiming at the direct extraction of surplus value. Funding of such activities comes mainly from the state through public selection processes where private enterprises usually participate as well. In some cases, funding may come entirely from private sources. Many undergraduate and postgraduate students work in such entrepreneurial sites in exchange for a wage. The labour conditions and relations of the students who work for a wage in such entrepreneurial activities are usually precarious.

Even though students can also be productive workers stricto sensu by entering into a process of direct extraction of surplus value, the main role of the university as a form of the capitalist relation is to train, to evaluate, to discipline and to allocate labour power. At this point we will examine how TC resort to an ideological translation in order to assemble their line of argument. First of all, we have to make it clear that the reproduction of labour power through education is not the production of a commodity containing surplus value but the production of those forms of human activity that are capable of entering the direct production process in order for surplus value to be produced.

Abstract labour which is the essence of value is not the direct result of concrete labour but it is connected with it since it is the historically specific quality of every labour in capitalism. The use values which are produced by the concrete labour of school and university students are preordained to be exchanged in the labour market, and thus their labour is already subject to quantification and homogenization. Workers must learn to perform the simplest arithmetic calculations, to know how to read and write and furthermore they must be specialized.

Capital craves for living composite labour and this living composite labour does not enter the valorization process automatically. The task to form those specific skills necessary to place labour power in the production process is undertaken by the proletariat itself during its training and under the guidance of its trainers.

These skills include jargon, style, values and attitudes towards life that should accompany waged-labour and the future profession. This task, the development of skills necessary to re productive labour, is student labour whether at school or in the university, i. Just as women or the family in general re produce labour power, just as they give birth to it, nourish it and bring it up, just as they provide it with basic social skills etc. As for us, proletarians do not rebel projecting themselves in the future but because their present activity forces them to rebel against it.

Whether it concerns direct extraction of surplus value in the university or not, the activity of students is alienating: the development of human skills becomes the development of the productive capacity of labour power i. But the use of simplistic schemas by TC is not restricted to the above ones.

Thus, many jobs appearing to be temporary are in essence stable and permanent, in the same manner as in the case of the majority of part-time jobs. These workers may be denied some of the rights of those typically working under a permanent contract such as paid vacations, full insurance benefits and stamps, etc. The recession and the restructuring of the labour market which accompanies it, does not necessarily entail the generalization of precarious labour.

If all these were true, then how can one explain that only a small fraction, a minority of the precarious workers participated in the rebellion and not more of them? We believe that this question becomes even more eloquent and persistent when TC, in order to support their line of argument, i. As we will show below, the fact that TC are unable to provide even a partial interpretation of the rebellion has to do with their generalizing schemas in which neither the differentiations in the labour market fit, nor the concept of alienation and the diversity of the subjects of the rebellion.


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However, precariousness , as we will immediately show below, is not a general condition even for the entrants in the labour market, let alone those who have many years of work experience. The extent of temporary employment in Greece is In the same period, total employment was increased by 4. The increase in part-time workers seems impressive, but their percentage corresponds to only 5.

According to various studies, long term employment, i. We will return to this point, i. China is a typical and, because of its significance in global production, far from negligible example. Finally, if we focus on the age distribution of the workers with long-term employment, we find that in the period between and there is a very large increase in the representation of the age group in the USA, both for men and women, in contrast with the age group whose proportional representation in long-term jobs decreases significantly. A relevant European example is that of France.

According to the statistics, the proportion of stable employment increased with the years of service in the period between and with stable employment prevalent among workers being in the labour market more than five years.

Beyond the Ivory Tower: International Relations Theory and the Issue of Policy Relevance

In mass workplaces, such as docks and the auto-industry, employees were day-laborers. These struggles, both in Europe and in the USA, no matter which form they took strikes, sabotage, urban rebellions, civil rights movements, absenteeism, etc. And how could that be? As it was also demonstrated beyond any doubt through the measures that were taken to deal with the recent depression, the helping hand of the state, the hot and abundant money of the state not to mention the other equally important, particular manifestations of the state such as school, the police and the prison system is always necessary for the proper functioning of the capitalist system and its perpetuation.

Most notably, it was precisely because the magnitude of the crises that broke out in the last years was far bigger than of those that had broken out during the period of Keynesian regulation, that the amount of state money that flowed in order to address their results and to put the capitalist machine back in operation was equally bigger. Restructuring, as we have shown, did not aim at radically imposing a new, general labour contract. Neither did it induce a total change of the production model: the giant growth of the service sector in the West cannot be considered aside from its increased interdependency and complementarity with the secondary sector, neither can it be considered aside from the fact that a significant part of the tertiary sector is industrialized.

What was attempted, and only partially achieved, through the restructuring of the last 35 years, was a more rational and efficient management for capital of the necessarily rising state expenditures, their channeling into developing sectors, such as the security sector, and the limitation of proletarian demands: minimizing their expectations through a more tight fiscal policy. However, since this expansion was accompanied by the weakness of capital to raise the rate of exploitation in proportion to the increase in costly fixed capital, it had to come to a halt if not to be reversed.

It introduced new forms of capitalist attack in the developed world, such as, for example, tendencies of increased precariousness amongst entrants onto the labour market, privatizations in a series of the sectors of the economy or the explosion of financial capital through the expansion of credit to proletarians. The increase in employment led to the increase of the household income: more people are now working more than before in order to satisfy their increased needs, because of the transfer of a part of the cost of social reproduction to the workers themselves.

We were obliged to elaborate a little more on the subject of labour relations and of restructuring since, unfortunately, in the few cases where TC try to be concrete, attempting to interpret the rebellion of December , both in its particular historical and social ground as well as in its global context, they make crude mistakes. In footnote no 3 of their text TC state that our historical period makes demands themselves illegitimate and mainly the demand par excellence, the wage demand, and speak, as we said, about a disjunction a between the valorisation of capital and the reproduction of labour power and b between consumption and wages as source of income.

However, the basis of this reasoning is totally false: if the process of the valorisation of capital which is at the same time a labour process gets disconnected from the reproduction of labour power, this will mean the end of surplus value production, the end of the reproduction of the capitalist relation; since, as we know, neither machines produce value and surplus value, nor money breeds money.

In order for capital to valorise itself, it must be in a position to absorb surplus labour from an endlessly reproduced labour power. The variable capital is the wage, in other words the means for the reproduction of the labour power. Consumption is one of the moments of the total circuit of the reproduction of the capitalist relation; and as the consumption of means of production and labour power in the production process presupposes profit for the capitalist, likewise the consumption of the means of subsistence that renew the labour power presupposes the wage for the worker.

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First, the increased supply of credit by banks in the last decades shows the contradictory attempt by capital to run away from the antagonistic wage relation offering in the form of credit a part of the value which has not been produced yet. Thereby, it desires to decrease the pressure exerted upon it for the satisfaction of wage demands.

Secondly, this contradictory since it is highly risky, if we consider the subprime mortgage crisis historical movement does not negate the fact that the wage still remains what repays the loans —and here we should take into consideration that such a repayment could be made through the total family income and through the second or even third job. It must be noted that the income of married couple households with children is higher on average than the income of households of single-parent families and of single persons.

Thus, it is made clear from all the above data that it is out of the question to claim that there is a disjunction between wages as income and consumption. On the contrary, the conclusion that may be drawn is that inequalities are sharpened and income hierarchies are amplified within the working class. According to this view, neoliberal politics led on the one hand to a decline in global purchasing power and on the other hand to credit, so that to counterbalance or at least to reduce the purchasing power loss.

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When the NASDAQ bubble burst, this most affluent part would continue its speculative investment in real estate, and would continue financing its consumption by decreasing its savings. Thus, the rise in consumption should not only be attributed to lower income strata debt, but in general we should take into account the overconsumption of the wealthier strata, in which the better-paid wage earners are included.

The presence of surplus population, unemployment, is not explained through the disjunction between the valorisation of capital and the reproduction of labour power. TC should know that a counter-tendency to the tendency of the rate of profit to fall is the relative surplus population —a phenomenon seen by Marx already since the 19th century. As we have showed, this new immiseration theory promoted by TC in order to convince us that capitalism is already On this point we will come back later in length.

In the sharpest moments of class struggle —in the past as well as nowadays— proletarians understood their own activity, their own selves as that which has to be abolished.


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  • Already since Tronti wrote on this:. Labor equals exploitation: this is the logical prerequisite and historical result of capitalist civilization. From here there is no point of return. Workers have no time for the dignity of labor Today, the working class need only look at itself to understand capital. It need only combat itself in order to destroy capital. It has to recognize itself as political power, deny itself as a productive force.

    For proof, we need only look at the moment of struggle itself: during the strike, the "producer" is immediately identified with the class enemy. If this dimension of the struggle, even as a minority tendency, in theory and in action, was nowhere to be seen, communism could not have existed either as a concept or as a practice, either in the 19th century or in the 20th or nowadays.

    Precisely the fact that the contradictory dynamics of the rebellion gave birth to the solidarity movement for K.