visser_logo_small.gif (1783 bytes)Work in a Sustainable Society:
Employment Possibilities in Central and Eastern Europe
Csanády & Csanády page 2 of  2  Back to page 1

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1. Decreasing employment around the world

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7. Expropriation of the resources of productive forces (factors)

List of Tables
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2. The fatal symptoms

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8. Elements in the equilibrium between commodity-production and externalities

Table 1a Unemployment rate in OECD and EU countries; Table 1b  Unemployment rate in Spain, Portugal and Switzerland
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3. The struggling peasant

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9. The state of these components in Eastern-Central-Europe:

Table 2 Change of unemployment rate in Hungary
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4. Heterogeneity of humankind and the global economy

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10. Insufficiency grows in a witches’ circle

Table 3 Unemployment rates Central & Eastern Europe,   Newly Independent States
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5. Historical stratification inside national societies

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11. Coexistence of different historic formations

Table 4  Hidden Jobs
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6. Labour force brought from households to the market

Table 5 The rate of the small agricultural farms
Table 6  Employment in Hungary


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5. Historical stratification inside national societies

This historical heterogeneity exists not merely in spatial dispersion, but also in social detachments everywhere. European societies are structured historically with characteristic organizations from different epochs and different grades of development co-existing. In the present-day economy, three distinctive historical blocks subsist.

  1. Reservations of traditional production, in which people in underdeveloped countries withdraw into themselves, unable to demand a stable place and role for themselves in the modern sector. The heart of this trade is in households and family-estates, remnants of the once vigorous subsistence economy (in the Middle Ages), now only a ghost of its former self. Today these small workshops for labour-force production are mostly based on the subsistence principle, in communal organization, inside of families, as well as on redistribution and reciprocity with other persons in dwelling or working communities, families or firms. With this immediate nature of connections come personal dependencies and dominancies, concreteness in every relation. As far as they go into market competition they are at a disadvantage against highly-developed producers, continually losing for their benefit; which they compensate by evasion of the laws.
    These types of relationships and social groups can be found in Third World countries too, on a higher scale. They are lost and fixed far more in their backwardness than we. Most have only a thin layer of real commodity producing on the surface, but the overwhelming majority of their society has a traditional constitution which also is concerned with the commune and the individual.
    On the fixed nature of their state, we generally accept the picture given by dependency theories (Gunder Frank, Offe, Shamir, etc.), albeit we hold more important those authors, who define and describe the dual structure of their economies, social scientists who seek the structural, essential interdependencies behind the phenomena and do not stop with an interpretation of backwardness based on the given fact of poverty, i.e. the lack of productive means, and the immoral wickedness of the capitalists. For example, explaining the tremendous unemployment and underemployment, especially in the Third World in terms of capital’s needs for a reserve-army for prosperity times is a sorrowful and dangerous simplification, falling well short of the need to dig further to answer the enigma of comparative advantages (and drawbacks) on the world market.

  2. The overall sector of capitalistic commodity production, based on the evolved nature of money, exchange value and its regulating effects, which works seemingly in two ways: i) By incorporating average labour in the products and winning profit for the capitalist, who owns the means of production, thus also that of labour and of the surpluses. ii) Engaging and keeping scarce externalities in circulation and thus earning rents for their owners.
    The valuation of externalities, as expressed in their price, is founded on their scarcity and the demand for their use. This last aspect hits labour as well. The course of our thinking should bring a sharper light on labour also as an externality from the circulation of social products. In all civil societies, the labour force is the immediate personal property of every healthy individual, conceded by the laws. Here "Habeas Corpus" is the basic limitation ensuring the conditions for the general working of the capital. So the valuation process of the capitalist economy is homogeneous in its depth, and perhaps might be handled as such. Although it is achieved by means of money: human labour made equal and measurable in the exchange with noble metals. But this is the way of general objectification, consequently massification and alienation also: an emptied individuality.
    It is necessary to mention a third sector:

  3. The highly-developed information (intellectual) production. Though not yet sharply detached inside the entirely dominant, capitalistic sector, this part of the economy definitely puts out a product that is something quite other than traditional products, involving a kind of activity other than traditional labour. This characteristically creative production brings forth a result - an intellectual one - which through its mediating material structure may be multiplied in an unlimited way.

This otherness makes it also an externality. Its value is not proportional to the invested working time and cost, so it is paid a rent on the market by monopolization of its usefulness in terms of the demands for it. Trouble with intellectual production centers around ownership: who is entitled to dispose of such production? In respect to its material forms? For the moment this question is answered for the benefit of material proprietorship, but this is not an absolute truth! It might be arranged according to another logic, another dominant interest.

These three sectors of production are historical strata deposited in successive periods and presently living together, represented by different segments of the population. The last kind contains new possibilities for the economy, some realised and others just emerging.

It is generally known that scientific results may contribute to productive processes, supplementing live human labour and making some part of that human portion unnecessary in the process. Systematically spending money on R & D is a new way to accumulate capital, far more effective than the old one. It also helps the capitalist to resolve his dependency on primitive physical labour and the raw conflicts belonging to it. The old - classic - way of accumulation was extensive, expanding production by using more of the same elements which were used before: more of the same kind of machines and buildings, more of the same kind of men. The new intellectual accumulation needs laboratories and research institutes at one side, and more clever machines etc. at the other, and fewer and better educated and trained men to operate them. This is the intensive way of accumulation.

The three zones are living together, but in different proportions in different parts of Europe. Between the three production-zones, boundaries are drawn by laws and might be re-drawn the same way.

6. Labour force brought from households to the market

It seems to us that the category of externalities contains perhaps all the factors lately so troublesome in the world economy, at any rate the two we are interested in: human environment and the labour force. It would worthwhile to re-think thoroughly the problems of externalities, but here our focus directly concerns our topic, i.e. ownership of externalities.

Externalities are expressed as a consequence of out lay in the system of commodity production. This more clear in the case of natural resources than for the labour force, whatever its importance. In producing the labour force virtually everywhere in the world, people are using money and wares, despite the fact that family life isn't a simple labour force reproduction process - up to now. It is interwoven more and more with these kinds of elements, but neither dominated by it nor separated by the two functions into two workshops: pure reproduction on one hand, and the pleasure of life on the other - as happened with handicrafts (separation from their households).

A working man is free to decide whether to live alone or to marry, to keep his wife at home or send her into the work force too, to have children or to die without descendants. With his salary only his personal working capacity is paid, its use according to his taste and depending on personal decisions, not to mere rationalization of commodities.

In Eastern and Central Europe the prolonged crisis solidified again the traditional character of households. Outside services became very expensive for the meager salaries of average people - not to mention those losing their jobs - and consequently they had to increase their self-subsistence at home.

7. Expropriation of the resources of productive forces (factors)

In ancient times, communities had all the means of their living in the surrounding nature or on its fringes. The open land and its living populations only gradually were distributed strictly among the communities, but finally all those externalities which were limitable and sizeable were appropriated and divided.

What remained undivided were only those inept for direct expropriation: rays, particles, gases, waters, etc. in the nature. In the society: production of the labour force (and other "inactive" people) were liberated from community bonds and set up as isolated individuals by capitalistic changes.

The remaining externalities were monopolized, by the power of the state. This structure of ownership may not reflect adequately the universal existence and common interest in these resources of mankind. Capital is mostly indifferent toward them, only the momentum of supply controls their valuation, not the costs of their total reproduction. Externalities are seen as media/means for capital and a potential reserve, to be extracted as necessary. What exhausts or lessens such externalities gains rarity-value, i.e. rent.

Similarly on the other side: the average enterprise is not systematically interested in how their would-be employees acquired their skills and knowledge. They go to the market and take what may be found there. Most who would bargain for their future labour needs, belong to our third category and are in organized intellectual production and planning systematic development. Thus, for the majority of capital, the dominant labour force is readily available on the market, almost naturally. It may be taken if needed, then let go if not. For extensive accumulation - in its time - practically inexhaustible lines of unskilled labour force were formed in agriculture, over a long time, until the modernization of agriculture liberated continually more and newer portions of this labour force. The intensive turn came as this resource began to be exhausted.

8. Elements in the equilibrium between commodity-production and externalities

  • Externalities are thought of as presenting themselves as unlimited, inexhaustible, or to reproduce themselves spontaneously, in a natural way (forests, deserts, natural pastures, waters, air, etc.). In the broadest sense, the human work forces is thought of in the same way: family households and workshops, subsistence estates, villages and other neighbourly communities. In these should be bred the human race as the potential work force for capital. At the most advanced stages of development, background externalities such as favourite leisure pursuits (hobbies) and patronized science and research also bear this role.
  • These are mostly unpaid reserves, to be drawn in for use in times of prosperity times, rejected to the periphery in times of decline and crisis. There they wait in the exclusion of a marginal existence. Materials wait in "nature", here to mean lying in disuse; human labour wastes into long-term unemployment, which means a second economy.
  • There is continuous intervention in the spontaneous reproduction process of externalities (setting the borders by laws) and, in cases of necessity, by extra economic actions (redistribution by the state to households). Community ownership is represented by the STATE.
  • The organization of collective ownership (monopolies) of productive forces and bargaining with and between monopolistic corporations.
  • Exhaustion/paralysis of extensive resources: externalities including natural resources and humankind lack authentic representation of their real value in bargaining i.e. reproductive costs.
  • Human labour is expected to adapt to, be incorporated into or be substituted in capital processes (new resources by innovation and discoveries).

9. The state of these components in Eastern-Central-Europe:

  • The planned economy was abandoned and torn down based on the supposition that the free market would build itself if only the field were opened to private actors. But the actors didn't come! The real capitalist from the west perhaps judged the risk too high (compared to home possibilities for intensive investments), and our natives were inexperienced - the better ones too old, and the third part not able entrepreneurs at all. So we were left with only a small group of competitive managers and entrepreneurs.
  • Contact and coordination among the industrial branches and single firms was managed and mediated in the socialist economies in a great part by the Central Planning Office. In a normal market, these functions are fulfilled also by the immediate connection of firms and through a large group of mediator enterprises. These kinds of professions were mostly unknown, not in our experience. Thus they could not happen spontaneously, and nobody even raised them intentionally and in a planned way.
  • The state firms left alone on the open market could not successfully compete and defend their places and went bankrupt one after another. Many were liquidated, and moreover whole branches of the economy broke down without private supplements.
  • So the better traded foreign goods tended to come inward to us at the same time we were struggling with utmost difficulty to keep up exports. Our trading policy gives every possible financial support to exporting, but it may not be able to replace all productive dysfunctionality. And we are losing our inner markets as well.
  • Capital import comes rather for extra advantages: to export some wastes, or environment-ruining old industries; or to buy big plants not for production but only to take over their selling market with products from the parent firm. If some real production comes, it comes only partially, for example the material execution or assembly. The intellectual-informational part - research, development and planning - stay at home.
  • This strengthens the brain drain even more, which goes on anyway as a consequence of the general differences in standard of living and salaries.
  • We are crazy-glad if some real high-tech investment or modernisation comes to us. Nevertheless such enterprises suck up the cream of the work force - giving extra wages (locally) for extra achievements - and they squeeze out and fix the other part into unemployment.

10. Insufficiency grows in a witches’ circle:

  • By intensive accumulation, more and more human labour is substituted with technology.
  • Consequently, required labour skills are elevated and the gap broadened between those who are fit for modern work and those who are unfit.
  • The augmented mass of unemployed - as well as the mass of materials needed in production - also results in greater waste.
  • The need for assistance and rehabilitation is increased, but it is impossible to revert these costs into production (presently common costs are in Hungary more than 60%).
  • Our states are overburdened with expenditures and debts, and without new resources they can't give more help.
  • Trade unions claim higher wages and better conditions for higher skilled labour; all actively working people seek progress for themselves but they do not tolerate any elevation of taxes.
  • Conditions for the shadow-economy are unfavourable: in socialist times, small properties were not gathering either market experience or relationships.
  • Thus the costs of production grow,
    • the narrowing of enterprises forces new technical advance,
    • and unemployment grows again...

11. Coexistence of different historic formations

In the long run it is impossible to sustain the externalized situation of productive resources, respectively the nonsense of total closing out more and more people from employment, and so to diminish productive forces along with the total product and consumption (buying capacity).

Some way must be found to retain people in activity. Though it cannot happen immediately in the modern and legal sector - surely even this is the source of the problem - but only beyond or on the periphery of it. Consequently, the favourable preconditions for this kind action must be created. The essence of this sphere is set in communities - natural or artificial ones - which provide defence for historically backward individuals against the full cruelty of market competition. Communities have the role to organise internally - the cooperation (inner division of labour) and to mediate externally - commodity relations - for the individuals. They are able to perform this task only if they are acknowledged and legitimized in this role, nay more: if they got some support from the modern part of society. Then it would be possible to stretch a healthy second sector of economy and eventually resolve it with the modern sector - an emancipated and mature constituent.

  1. Traditional, primary communes: The family, neighbourhood, village, region, etc. give ready and immediate contacts for the division of labour, or say cooperation, without extra expenditure.

  2. Artificially organized communes: Societies, cooperatives, associations, home-worker families, part-time working teams, afford regular merging with the open market.

  3. Non-profit organisations may give help and a framework for subsistence activities and strategies: self insurance for personal and intragenerational spreads, respectively common properties; among others the preservation of environment.

  4. There is no doubt a coincidence of communal with intellectual production. In the representation of the universal interests of humankind, both have an open opportunity. They could take the lead in bargaining about externalities against the capitalistic sector toward the valuation of world processes, declare conscious interference together into the market system.

By the acceptance and building up of a new dual structure in the world economy, human existence would win a new definition, or at least some explicit new consideration given to it. In accordance and coeffectiveness with transitions going on in the upper stratum (creative activities), substantial changes might take place in the structure of values. Arising to a new spirituality (universality) could delineate a new image, or even better, new notion of God.

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