[OPE-L] Dumenil and Levy on Unproductive Labor

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Thu Apr 20 2006 - 13:12:09 EDT

Marx himself had this to say about supervision and management labour:

"The work of supervision and management necessarily arises everywhere when
the direct production process takes the form of a socially combined process,
and does not appear simply as the isolated labour of separate producers. It
has, however, a dual nature. On the one hand, in all labour where many
individuals cooperate, the interconnection and unity of the process is
necessarily represented in a governing will, and in functions that concern
not the detailed work but rather the workplace and its activity as a whole,
as with the conductor of an orchestra. This is productive labour that has to
be performed in any combined mode of production. On the other hand - and
quite apart from the commercial department - this work of supervision
necessarily arises in all modes of production that are based on opposition
between the worker as direct producer and the proprietor of the means of
production. The greater this opposition, the greater the role that this work
of supervision plays. It reaches its high point in the slave system."

Source: Karl Marx, Das Kapital Vol. 3 (1894), Dietz ed. p. 397. Pelican
edition, p. 507 (translation corrected).

As you can see, Marx thought (in contrast to e.g. Fred Moseley) that
managerial and supervisory labour had both a technically indispensable
*productive* function and a *social control* function, which combined in
various admixtures. This importantly affects the estimate of variable
capital, since e.g. in the USA there are about 25 million or so
managers/supervisors/executives (BLS data), and total compensation of
corporate officers is about a sixth or a fifth of the total salary bill
(excluding employee benefits etc), at least for corporations with a psitive
profit (IRS data).


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