39. Active Labour, Passive Labour, and the State-owned Enterprises
Labours are different from each other. We have to do labour every day and go to work and come back from work, which make us bustling about every day. But the labours are different, which is different in categories, job division, and wages; in addition, we have realised no one studies them as theory, which are active labour and passive labour.
Definition of Active Labour and Passive Labour
The most representative people are the train conductor and the hawkers on the street.
The labour of the train conductor is passive. The labour of the hawkers on the street is active.
The active labour is the one that the fruits of labour have a direct relation with the worker’s subjective consciousness.
The passive labour is the one that the fruits of labour don’t have a direct relation with the worker’s subjective consciousness.
The labour of the train conductor is the most typical passive labour, whose fruits of labour have no direct relation with their subjective consciousness of the work, which mainly means their labour attitude and enthusiasm. No matter if the attitude of the conductor is bad or good, you have to buy the train tickets. Few people will change their decision to take a bus or plane instead of a train due to the bad attitude of the conductor. People often feel happy for their having bought the right ticket. A reasonable person will not be too mean on the rudeness of the conductor.
So the business volume of the ticket conductor is decided by the supply and demand of the market, which has no direct relation with their performance. Their business achievements are not controlled by themselves, so they are called passive labour.
The hawkers on the street are exactly the opposite. Their turnover has a direct relation with their subjective consciousness. We can realise that the reason why the guests will buy his things by observing them is due to their active attitude to do business and initiative to greet customers. All these have caused the trust, interest, purchase desire of the guests, and they will buy their things. If the hawker is vicious, no one will buy his things except for necessity otherwise. So whether the hawker can attract customers, whether he can deal with business and his own work emotion will both affect his turnover. So we call it active labour.
Active Labour, Passive Labour, and the State-owned Enterprises
I remember that in the cultural revolution, all of us propose to ‘cut the tail of capitalism’, which means eliminate the private enterprises and individual labour completely.
Nowadays, in addition to some state-owned monopolies, the other competitive state-owned monopolies are all basically annihilated. What is the reason? That’s because most of the workers in the state-owned monopolies are doing the passive work, while the workers of other enterprises are doing active work. Because the owner of the private sector takes the active labour, the whole enterprise is regarded as the active labour.
Human nature is selfish, greedy, lazy, and indolent!
Because of the ugliness and hypocrisy in human nature of the state-owned employees, they can only make a show of authority in the fields of state-owned enterprises. They may find them at a loss when they meet with the company of the active labour.
So the private sector cannot be eliminated, and the state-owned enterprises simply cannot do the active labour. Thus, the state capitalism must co-exist in state-owned and private enterprises. Neither of them could eliminate nor replace the other.
The existence of the state-owned enterprises can afford much more disposable funds for secondary distribution and public utilities, such as military, infrastructure, basic scientific research, transfer payments, and so on.
It’s necessary to spend the money. But the taxpayers will not agree to spend their money on those, but it is suitable for the residual value to do these. With the funding, our country will not be subject to the capitalists, and they can do something of justice, reason, and science, which is also the basic logic and principle of Marxism.
Although Marx said a lot, I think all of them are nonsense. He did not have any practice, and the only valuable thing is that socialist politicians can do something with the residual value of state-owned capital. It is superior to the capitalism. That is to say, the state capitalism is the only advantage of the Marxist theory, which is the socialism improved by the later generation. The rest are all fantasy.
However, active labour and passive labour can be transformed with the development of productivity and the improvement of management level. Some active labour can be converted to passive labour.
For example, the Fordist forms of labour, which is a pipeline operation, force workers to complete the work in accordance with established requirements. It is a typical case that converts active labour into passive labour.
The store clerks of McDonald’s, KFC, and some other brand stores will be mandatorily asked to entertain customers in accordance with certain standards by their boss. On entering the McDonald’s door, you will hear someone saying, ‘Welcome, this way, please!’ I feel that they greet in a fake way, but that is the mandatory standards of their boss. Clerks are forced to show initiative, but in fact it is passive.
Therefore, the state capital can march on to the areas of private capital gradually in the case of suitable conditions and eventually oppresses them into a corner. However, it may take a long time, and you need to accumulate a lot of experience on that field. But it can be achieved finally.