[OPE-L:4961] Re: Re: faux frais, armaments, and security guard services

From: Paul Cockshott (paul@cockshott.com)
Date: Mon Feb 19 2001 - 08:58:04 EST

On Wed, 14 Feb 2001, you wrote:
> Gerry,
> Security guards may or may not be unproductive labourers. If employed by
> businees out of its own pocket to protect the premises, then unproductive.
> If employed by a company to protect others property, in which a profit is
> made, then productive. It is not a question of the use value, but the
> particular social relation. I agree with your (1) and (2). With regard to
> (3) it  doesn't matter who buys these weapons ( in Marx's simple
> reproduction schema unproductive consumption is part of the process, and it
> is well known eg  that privately held hand guns/ rifles  in the USA are
> extraordinary in number when compared to NATO's ).  Profit is made in their
> production, and labour is 'productive' of capital ( and also often  in
> employing the secrurity guard) but  the use values themselves produced
> cannot re-enter the process of reproduction of capital. From the organic
> side, the value side, -  the relation from  which we can actually undersatnd
> appearances  -   this means that any productivity in this type of production
> ( as opposed for example to bread) will not result in reduction of the value
> of variable capital and cannot therefore promote the production of relative
> surplus value. 

I find this treatment unstatisfactory as it causes the mass of unproductive
expenditure in the national accounts to depend upon the degree of
dis-aggregation of the ownership of firms. By simply hiving of divisions
carrying out unproductive activities like accouniting and security guard
activities, these activities get transformed into produtive labour. Presumably
if churches chose to incorporate themselves as limited liability companies
the work of priests would become productive. If regiments were privatised
then the army would be productive.

I think that the question of whether the labour contributes to the production
of relative surplus value has to be the primary criterion, this is consonant
with Smith's original intention when introducing the concept of unproductive

Paul Cockshott, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland
0141 330 3125  mobile:07946 476966

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