[OPE-L:5313] Re: Re: Re: Unproductive labour and illusions of competition

From: Paul Cockshott (paul@cockshott.com)
Date: Mon Apr 02 2001 - 04:49:10 EDT

On Sat, 31 Mar 2001, you wrote:

> Paul C wants to make the additional argument that the arms producer 
> has not produced value. And I don't believe this gets to the heart of 
> the matter.

That is not quite what I am saying. The arms have value, since
labour has to be expended in producing them. The issue is whether
the value(=labour) in them contributes to the production of a social surplus
product. My contention is that it does not, and thus the labour
can not be considered productive of surplus value, hence
it is unproductive under Marx's definition.

> What is more important is that the purchaser--the state or even a 
> private buyer--has expended (instead of accumulated) value, even 
> though the level of production in society as a whole--and here is the 
> basis of the more important illusion which Paul C misses-- would not 
> immediately reflect the destruction of value since  as a result of 
> the arms dealer having realized value there is additional income via 
> the multiplier to realize commodity values.
> Second--and here Paul C and Allin did not reply to me--the 
> expenditure of surplus value on arms does not slow down the 
> accumulation process if that surplus value would have lain (sp?) idle 
> anyways. So such expenditure can help to maintain higher production 
> levels in the short term than would have otherwise obtained (I don't 
> think this is an idle point). hence, the temptation of the capitalist 
> state to embark on programs of militarization.

This is a valid point. The potential surplus product in capitalist 
economies if often well short of the actual surplus, and armaments
expenditure can certainly cause some of the potential surplus
to be actualised. If unemployed workers are taken on to build
ships or planes, then the surplus population is converted into
a surplus value flow.

Would the great recession of 1929 have occured had not the
Washington treaty of 1922 been signed?

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

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