I work in a public school as a teacher. The public schools are modeled after capitalist enterprises in that I have to follow decisions made by people in power above me. Am I producing a surplus and if not, am I involved in a power struggle or a class struggle if I want public schools to be run more democratically.
Official response from Richard Wolff submitted
Dear Kenneth Miller,
Thanks for your communication. You are not producing a surplus because no commodity is sold into which you have poured your labor and thereby added value (the logic of Marx's analytics). If you did your teaching in a private school that did sell its products to the public as commodities, then you wold produce a surplus. The notion of surplus connects directly to the social relations in which work is done, not to the technical aspects of the work itself.
Yes, you are involved in a power struggle and a very important one. Power struggles have social effects and one of them, in your case, might well be that a successful struggle and transformation of public school organization could provoke or inspire private school teachers and indeed all workers who do produce surpluses to follow suit. In short, power struggles are often conditions for the emergence of class struggles so they are important in themselves because power relations matter and also because of their possible impacts on class struggles to change the terms of capitalism or even to open the question of a change to a different, non-capitalist system as an object of struggle.
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