[OPE-L:5572] Re: What is the effect of changes in Dept IIb/III?

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Mon May 14 2001 - 13:58:30 EDT

Jerry writes that an increase in labour productivity in the production
of goods destined exclusively for capitalist consumption...

> gives the capitalist a greater volume of use values that they can
> enjoy for consumption purposes. But, it is not use-value alone.
> Rather, luxury goods take the commodity form and have value which
> is expressed through the value-form.
> This increase in the productivity of labor (as measured by an
> increase in output per working hour) in Dept IIb (call it Dept III
> if you like) means that the necessary labor time for productive
> workers in this (sub-) department has decreased and surplus labor
> time has increased. Are you asserting that the workers employed by
> capital in this (sub-) department aren't productive of surplus
> value?

The point Paul and I are making is that talk of necessary and surplus
labour at the level of particular capitalist enterprises is just a
heuristic device.  These concepts are properly defined at the social
level.  Workers producing nothing but luxury good for capitalists are
performing no necessary labour: it's _all_ surplus.  So their becoming
more productive does not raise the rate of surplus value.  The same
amount of surplus labour is performed and the same surplus value
produced, only now it's embodied in a larger mass of use-values.
Ricardo was very clear on this (using his own terminology, of course).


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