Re: [OPE-L] domestic labor

From: B.R.Bapuji (brbapuji@YAHOO.COM)
Date: Sun Jan 20 2008 - 02:05:42 EST

Dave Zachariah <davez@KTH.SE> wrote:
I hope to find time to read your reply in full.
  I think many of the questions related to Marx's analysis of Productive and Unproductive labour will be clear if you read not only the section that I sent to the list by way of a reply, but also the entire chapter on the topic which Ranganayakamma has discussed in great detail. Before you read the entire chapter, let me try to comment on your observations given below.

The point I'm trying to make is that the concern for "what is productive
from the standpoint of capital" is very narrow and will boil down to a
question of "is it profitable for capitalist firms?".
  It is not narrowed down by us [Marx or we Marxists] but the specific nature of the concept which is specifically capitalist in character. Let me cite a relevant observation by Marx: "...earlier modes of production, in which relations of capital and wage-labour did not yet exist and where in consequence the capitalist concepts of productive and unproductive labour are quite inapplicable" [Capital, vol.1, p. 1042, Penguin edition]

Instead one has to look at it from a more general standpoint of material
reproduction of society; which economic activities are a drain on the
surplus labour performed in others?
Surplus labour is performed in all the activities [whether they involve material or non-material production or reproduction]which involve 'labour' [mental or manual]. The point is whether or not a given amount of surplus 'labour' is converted into 'money'/'value' . Surplus labour in certain social relations convert into money/value and not in others.

The focus here is not profitability but the long-run development of
society: accumulation of real capital, productivity and the living
standard of the working classes.
  Accumulation of real capital is possible only when productive labour is performed in the context of capital vs. wage labour relations. The living standard of the working classes in capitalist society are determined by 'v' and not the 's' created by the productive labour of the working classes.

This is a pertinent issue in e.g. India, where a significant portion of
the service sector is unproductive in this general sense. See

  The socalled 'service sector' is not a homogeneous entity. We need to make a distinction whether or not a given labour performed in that so called service sector in India or elsewhere secures 'surplus value' [not simply surplus labour which does not convert into money/value].
  [Translator of Ranganayakamma's 'Intro. to 'Capital']

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