By Norman Ginsburg (auth.)
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Relentless and ominous, the drumbeat echoes around the land: Social safeguard is at the verge of financial disaster. The caution has been repeated so usually that it has turn into a gloomy article of religion for the hundreds of thousands of usa citizens who pay Social defense taxes and anticipate to gather merits sometime. however it is flatly unfaithful.
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While the Leninist position may appear somewhat utopian in the context of Britain in the 1980s, and has been subject to widespread Marxist criticism, its importance is precisely that it continually poses within the working-dass movement the limits to social reform, and the revolutionary alternative - a break with the capitalist system, and thence the creation of astate apparatus under the control of democratic mass organisations of the working dass. In relation to housing, social security and the welfare state, this position suggests that while the capital-Iabour relation continues to exist, the form and functions of policy cannot be altered in their fundamentals; social security will continue to reproduce the labour reserve army at a level below wages, im pose labour discipline and support the patriarchal family; and the production and consumption of working-dass housing will remain an area largely reserved for private capital accumulation and appropriation, since the expropriation of the construction and housing finance industries is hardly likely except in the midst of a truly revolutionary crisis.
The force of competition between capitals generates continual pressure to expand the total value created and hence the mass of profit. The mass of value created may be increased by expanding the scale, intensity and efficiency of production and reducing the socially necessary labour time taken in the production of a given commodity. This need not necessarily lead to an increased rate of exploitation or the shedding of labour, since wages may rise as fast as the surplus value extracted and the expansion of production may be sufficient 22 CLASS, CAPITAL AND SOCIAL POLICY to absorb or even increase the labour force.
Unfortunately there is insufficient space here either to enter into the underlying debates or to draw out many of the general implications for the analysis of social welfare. The reader may find it hard going. It may be easier to return to it after reading the rest of the book or following up some of the exegetical accounts of Marx's mature work 1 and other references. Marx's starting point for the analysis of capitalist social relations is the contra die tory nature of commodity production, as the production of use-values, that is useful, marketable things, and as the production of va/ue, that is the abstract application and appropriation of socially necessary labour time inherent in thc labour-capital relation.