Crimes and character masks

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Thu Mar 11 08:37:51 PST 1999

Yes. We might apply the bourgeoisie's own legal doctrine of _respondeat superior_ , the legal responsibility of the principle for the agent The owners , not the managers, are the culpable parties for industrial crimes. Afterall, the Big Cigars get paid more for taking more risks , don't they ? At any rate, it is the owners who control the managers and demand that they put profits before people.

The separation of the managerial from the ownership function is a longterm trend especially since the establishment of the joint stock company ownership form. The bourgeois have not only a character mask , but the legal corporate veil draped over the mask ; not to mention religion as the halo round the veil of woe; and the Dubosian veil between whites and blacks. This capitalism is quite a fan dance. I guess the postmods aren't all wrong.

In _Contemporary Captialism and The Middle Classes_ ,(1982), S.N. Nadel points out:

"Managers are now salaried workers who may not have any stocks at all. In the past, when enterprises of individual owners played the leading role in the economy, the functions of ownership and management were concentrated in the same hands. Bell (Daniel) ignores the essence of the matter which is reflected in the fact that the separation of the managerial from the ownership functions does not abolish capital, capitalist production and the inherent production relations. The essence of the matter as revealed by Marx consists in the fact that the capitalist appears as the personified capital. Capital is not a thing, but a relation in which some persons appropriate the unpaid labour of others. It is appropriated by the individual owner of an enterprise, a collective owner and share-holder, a money-lender, etc. Such appropriation can be done by top-level managers, the high members of the state apparatus and others......

...However, the final decisions are taken by the directors' board, the presidents and vice-presidents. In their hands is concentrated the real power."

Thus, the logic of _respondeat superior_ fits the general situation; although the non-owning manager is somewhat analogous to the prison guard, who has superiors ,but has some individual responsibility.

Charles Brown

>>> Michael Perelman <michael at> 03/10/99 05:57PM >>>
Do we call the factory manager a murderer or do we follow Marx in saying that the factory manager is the character mass of capital? Should he behave differently, he would no longer be factory manager. --

Michael Perelman Economics Department California State University michael at Chico, CA 95929 530-898-5321 fax 530-898-5901

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