Re: [OPE-L] Dumenil and Levy on Unproductive Labor

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Sat Apr 22 2006 - 18:54:11 EDT

Hi Jurriaan,

> I cannot trace the context of this remark, but if I remember correctly
> Marx  argued in these manuscripts against an apologetic interpretation
> of profit

The quote came from _TSV_, Volume 3, The Addenda on "Revenue and its
Sources. Vulgar Political Economy", Section 5 ["Essential Difference
Between Classical and Vulgar Economy"] (about 8 pages in) -- for those of
you who want to look it up in another edition or language.  He goes on to
offer "two facts which provide the best proof" _why_ the wages of
superintendence do not enter into the average rate of profit.  That's
right, he wrote that there were two proofs.

> Sometimes he suggests that
> the wages of management are a "faux frais of production" (a constant
> capital outlay).

Yes, the wages of superientendence could count as faux frais (incidental
expenses of production).  Where, however, did you get the idea that
faux frais constitute a portion of constant capital?  Is supervisory
labor to be counted as means of production?

> In that case, you would think that managerial labour in private
> enterprise is a capital cost met from sales revenues which enters into
> the cost structure of the product, but is it part of C, V, or S or
> none of these?

Faux frais is a cost, to be sure.  It is paid out of revenues and
represents a portion of S.

> "Theories of Surplus Value" was written in 1863 and most of the manuscript
> of Cap. Vol. 3 was written after that. If managerial labour could be
> either productive or non-productive,

Productive or unproductive of what?  I was using the term in the sense in
which I understand Marx to have intended it -- productive of surplus
value.  Nowhere, that I am aware of, did Marx ever suggest that capitalists
or their agents in the production process -- managers -- are productive of
surplus value.  Yes, they have in many cases a vital role in coordinating
and organizing production and, of course, extracting work from
wage-workers. This does not mean that they themselves create surplus value
and are exploited.

> But I think we can reject out of hand the
> idea that all managerial labour is non-productive; supposing all
> managerial labour was suddenly withdrawn, production would collapse,
> though probably  the withdrawal of a portion of it would make little
> difference.

Your conclusions are based on, imo, on conflating labor employed in
production with productive labor.  Simply because production depends
on a particular type of labor does not by itself make that labor
productive of surplus value. So, I think we can dismiss your
dismissal out-of-hand.

> How valid is it really to superimpose
> a schema from a previous epoch of history on current realities?

Well, of course, that's a legitimate question _if_ one were attempting
to "superimpose a schema from a previous epoch of history on
current realities".

In solidarity, Jerry

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