[OPE-L:3570] Re: Re: Slavery and capital and unproductive labour

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Jul 07 2000 - 08:17:03 EDT

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At 11:19 06/07/00 -0400, you wrote:
>Paul Cockshot writes:
>This seems relevant to the debate we had some time ago on value
>creation under slavery. Marx is here saying that capital exists
>under slavery, and that the same distinction between productive
>and unproductive labour as exists under capitalism existed under slavery.
>Paul, forgive me if I'm chiming in late to a discussion that has already
>moved on, but my understanding is that capital is a social relation that is
>specific to capitalis (it springs from the surplus value obtained from waged
>labor) and thus doesn't exist under slavery. By the same token,
>"productive" labor is also socially specific (productive of surplus value)in
>contrast some "institutional" notions of productive and unproductive labor
>(that designate certain job categories -- like 'we' accountants -- as
>intrinsically "unproductive").

I think it is pretty clear from a number of passages in Capital that Marx
thought that capital ( i.e., money undergoing the circuit M-M') existed
in pre-capitalist modes of production certainly as merchant capital and
usurers capital. This was the first time that I had noted a passage
in which he treated slaves as fixed capital.

On the question of productive and unproductive labour, whilst the
criterion used to define this will vary with the mode of production,
my impression was that he says that unproductive labour exists in
other modes of production as well.

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