Locks & Keys
The inference that an employee does not have to sell his labor power is a lock. An employee cannot choose what to do or not do within satisfying limits. Even though all individuals have free will to chose what they want or do not want, failure to do what is expected of them within their duties at the workplace can easily get one fired, and with no source of income (Cohen 4). Looking at employment from an economic point of view, it is implied that the employee has many choices but most of the time, there are limited job offers, and when one gets employment, the salary being paid is minimal.
The notion of people do not have to vend for labor power is enforced by Robert Nozick, who feels that employees do not have an alternative for them to feel that they are being forced to do their work. Nozick’s account of the issue is based on what he feels is moral in terms of being forced to do something. Just because individuals are not held at gunpoint so that they can do a task does not mean that their circumstances have not forced them to do what is expected of them.
The view that one does not have to trade his/ her labor power is enforced by Marxist views; proletarians might be forced’ to engage in selling their labor power, which is a consequence of their circumstance, and not their attitude. This is a key phrase. This view appeals to how people see their circumstances; as long as one does not see him/ herself as a slave to their work then it is highly likely that they are not being forced to sell their labor power. It would be a fortiori of objectivity that one would do a certain task for survival especially in a capitalist economy where the people have minimal control of the forces of demand and supply and other aspects of the economy (Cohen 5).
There are standard and deviant ways in which individuals can be made to sell their labor power. Economic ways through which individuals would be forced to sell their labor power would be termed as standard. Deviant ways through which individuals would be forced to sell their labor power include people being robbed of their money. A new economic situation would be forced on them, without the person forcing them having used non economic terms, but the threat of violence (Cohen 6). One might also be tempted to state that capitalist economies are deviant ways through which people are forced to sell their labor power. Although there is some willpower in selling the labor, the individuals have limited choices with strict rules to abide by the set law; or face hunger.
The view that an employee does not have to vend his labor power is enforced by historic situations whereby former British immigrants were not forced to sell their labor power while they were proletarians. Typically, these British immigrants were paid minimal wages but they chose to work long hours with the objective of accumulating their savings so that they could be shop owners in the future and improve their economic positions. They were not forced to work long hours, but instead chose to do so while sacrificing their time (Cohen 8). However, not all individuals can work long hours and be able to save money, which they can use to start up a business. As much as these individuals might be willing to work long and extra hours, the opportunities presented might be limited, and therefore it might appear that they were willing to sell their labor because they did not have a choice.
Cohen, G. The Structure of Proletarian Unfreedom. Massachusetts: Wiley Blackwell. 1983,
Web. Accessed September 30, 2014 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/2265026