[OPE-L:5105] Re: Re: productive and unproductive labor (again)

From: paul bullock (paulbullock@ebms-ltd.in2home.co.uk)
Date: Sat Mar 03 2001 - 16:57:27 EST

Paul C,

I proposed a manner of dealing with roads in OPE-L4969 (19 Feb)
Rakesh considered this acceptable...I think, from his response... does it
not deal with part of your question?

Paul B

-----Original Message-----
From: Paul Cockshott <paul@cockshott.com>
To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Date: 02 March 2001 11:48
Subject: [OPE-L:5094] Re: productive and unproductive labor (again)

>On Fri, 02 Mar 2001, you wrote:
>> ( A definition offered in the S/T book is:
>> "Productive labor is the production labor
>> employed in capitalist production sectors:
>> agriculture, mining, construction, transportation
>> and public utilities, manufacturing, and
>> productive services (defined as all services
>> except business services, legal services, and
>> private households; see Table E.1 for a full
>> listing of productive services). It excludes
>> nonproduction labor (sales, etc.) employed in
>> the production sectors such as trade or
>> finance.  Total productive labor is the sum
>> of the production workers in each production sector. Total unproductive
labor is the sum
>> of nonproduction workers in the production
>> sectors and all workers in the nonproduction
>> sectors", p. 295).
>This is essentially the definition that I have worked to in empirical
>studies going back to the 1970's, recently however I have
>come to doubt its correctness. It is predicated upon an assumption
>that the social formation is a pure capitalist mode of production.
>For social formations containing a combination of modes of
>production this is not necessarily an adequate categorisation.
>It has peverse results such as workers in government direct
>labour departments building roads being unproductive, when
>the same work done by private contractors is productive.
>Now clearly in the case of the private contractors, a profit
>is earned and so either:
>1. The private contractors have been overpaid, or have under
>   performed in road quality.
>2. They have paid their workers less
>3. They have used less labour due to use of more machinery
>    or less wated time.
>Whilst the transfer to private contractors may result in an
>increase in the social surplus product (cases 2,3) this
>is not necessarily the case.
>In any case, the product, the road is a directly social
>good not assuming the form of a commodity. To the extent
>that a large part of the social product takes this form, as
>it has at times in some European countries,  it would appear
>that the economy becomes increasingly unproductive.
>I think that we need two different concepts:
> 1. socially productive
> 2. productive for the capitalist class as a whole
>Labour productive for the capitalist class will be a subset
>of the labour that is socially productive, but some categories
>of socially productive labour may not be capitalistically
>Paul Cockshott, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland
>0141 330 3125  mobile:07946 476966

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