[OPE-L] wages of superintendence

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Mon Nov 06 2006 - 14:46:40 EST

Well that is a novel way of side-stepping the issue... Marx's argument about
superintendence actually occurs explicitly in Cap. 3, part 5, chapter 23.

"[The capitalist]  necessarily conceives the idea for this reason that his
profit of enterprise, far from being counterposed to wage-labour and far
from being the unpaid labour of others, is itself rather a wage or wages of
superintendence of labour, higher than a common labourer's, 1) because the
work is far more complicated, and 2) because he pays them to himself. The
fact that his function as a capitalist consists in creating surplus-value,
i.e., unpaid labour, and creating it under the most economical conditions,
is entirely lost sight of in the contrast that interest falls to the share
of the capitalist even when he does not perform the function of a capitalist
and is merely the owner of capital; and that, on the other hand, profit of
enterprise does fall to the share of the functioning capitalist even when he
is not the owner of the capital on which he operates. He forgets, due to the
antithetical form of the two parts into which profit, hence surplus-value,
is divided, that both are merely parts of the surplus-value, and that this
division alters nothing in the nature, origin, and way of existence of
surplus-value." http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/ch23.htm

Clearly Marx is talking here about a "functioning capitalist", i.e. an
employer who 1) owns his own business and 2) leads it. But that is not
exactly the same thing as a manager who is a salaried employee like any
other, in an enterprise owned by somebody else, and directed by yet other

If the superintendence wages do not enter into the formation of the average
rate of profit, it must be because they represent effectively an
"undistributed" income. But what are these wages paid out of? Marx suggests
they represent an appropriation of new surplus value which derives from
property-ownership rather than the labour of superintendence, i.e. the
employer pays himself a portion of gross revenues. The account shows a cost,
but in reality it is an appropriation of gross profit.

Even so, managerial employees might engage in far more tasks than

I don't think Marx is very consistent in his statements, but I do agree with
him that the managerial function contains both an unproductive control
function and a productive-coordinating function. What is the reason for the
imprecision however? Possibly because Marx didn't study the overall
occupational division of labour in detail. As a matter of fact, I don't
think he ever set foot in a factory.

Realistically you would need to look at supervision and management at
different levels of an enterprise, to establish the productive
(value-adding) or unproductive (non-value adding) nature of the labour


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