Re: the productive macworker

From: Paul Bullock (paulbullock@EBMS-LTD.CO.UK)
Date: Thu May 20 2004 - 17:21:07 EDT


You wrote, Thursday, May 20, 2004 3:15 PM
in response to  my

"It is most unfortunate that so many writers seem to want to identify  particular concrete labours in their entirety  with  the
categories productive and unproductive of capital. The fact is that  a mix often occurs during anyone day at the individual level. It is only as a general statement that we can refer to time spent either one way or another, labouring activity  acting in one way or another. Of course there will be some professions where the distinction is particularly clear. Bank clerks and others purely involved in  registering claims to money for example..... etc etc..."

>          We agree entirely on the theory here. The question, then, is what
> are the implications for empirical measurement? If we acknowledge that, to
> a significant extent, workers in the fastfood sector are productive of
> surplus value rather than merely collecting cash, shouldn't we (in the
> interests of a closer fit to Marxian categories--- and given the enduring
> Smithian infection of Marx) applaud the trial balloon of the Bush hacks re
> placing fastfood preparation in the 'manufacturing' sector?
My answer here is:

Whatever the Bush Hacks are doing one can count me out of applauding them, it certainly wouldn't be motivated by, or be aimed to lead to anything in the interests of  the working class in general. They have a class interest which is directly opposed to mine. What are you wanting to measure and why?  Whilst Marx showed that the movement and dimensions of particular economic phenomena were indeed regulated by the basic law of value (which Ricardo could not), that regulation is still a process  that leaves  room  for maneouvre by all interests. I am wary of trying to count items  when they are constantly being expanded, reduced, re devised and so on all the time. The best we can do is generate broad categories, which various authors have tried to do.( If they left food preparation out of their calculations as capital moved into the field, then they made a mistake and should reflect on why) This will give us a decent enough illustration of general trends.  

Surely the key issue is to ensure all workers understand on whose backs capital is accumulated, the self interested nature of  its ideology, and what this means for society?  All sorts of sections of workers, creating or circulating capital are constantly under attack by capital. It is certainly true that a particular time, in the 1970's, the distinction was specifically seized upon by Thatcherites to divide the workers. The answers then included the need to establish that the distinction did exist for capital .Both were exploited and both needed to avoid  discounting the other on the basis of some latter day Smithianism fanned through the press. Since the 1970's  Imperialism  has launched a horribly succesful attack on the obstacles and resistance to its plunder. If Bushites want eg to provide some sort of tactical or moral support to the very valuable US burger industry in the face of  recent  'anti-capitalist' and anti US Imperialist  'anti Mac' campaigns, then it is understandable. This has little to do with  blue or  white collar distinctions. If the Bushites want statistically to cover up, relative to their previous accounts, the fact that US  manufacturing  is globally mobile  and certainly reducing ' manufacturing' employment in the US, then lets ask why? Where's the political beef?


Paul Bl

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "michael a. lebowitz" <mlebowit@SFU.CA>
Sent: Subject: Re: [OPE-L] the productive macworker

> At 17:19 17/05/2004, Paul Bullock wrote:
> >> >Generally the word 'service' in this difficult in any case. It cannot be
> >taken to be simply the same as the category 'unproductive'  as used by Marx.
> >This was partly why Marx was unhappy at Smith's use of the term 'immaterial'
> >as an identity with unproductive.
> >          in solidarity,
>          michael
> Michael A. Lebowitz
> Professor Emeritus
> Economics Department
> Simon Fraser University
> Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
> Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
> Residencias Anauco Suites
> Departamento 601
> Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
> Caracas, Venezuela
> (58-212) 573-4111
> fax: (58-212) 573-7724

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