Re: [OPE-L] "Levels of abstraction"

From: Dave Zachariah (davez@KTH.SE)
Date: Mon Jan 28 2008 - 16:32:51 EST

Hi Jurriaan,

Unfortunately, your post is too long for me to read and reply in full
right now. However, a few words on unproductive labour.

This issue is obscure when one looks at it from the standpoint of
capital. But if one adopts the approach of historical
materialism---"which agents produce and appropriate goods and
labour?"---things become more transparent:

Consider a hypothetical agricultural economy. The peasants produce for
themselves and a king. The king's appropriation is by definition a
surplus product. The king employs a great number of soldiers. Certainly
nobody would say that their labour is productive even if we consider it
to produce a service of sorts; their upkeep is supported by the surplus
labour of the direct producers.

Now suppose the king employs a great number of craftsmen to produce the
Crown jewels. Again there is no difference, their labour is just as
unproductive as the soldiers'; they must be supported by the surplus
labour of the peasants. Neither output enters the reproduction of the
working population.

//Dave Z

on 2008-01-28 21:07 Jurriaan Bendien wrote:
> Shane Mage whose pioneering Phd thesis I mentioned before, recently
> argued (on PEN-L) that:
> "Marx makes it quite clear that the wages of "socially necessary but
> unproductive" labor are paid out of [the circulating portion of]
> constant capital. While to the individual capitalist  they appear to
> be a deduction from surplus value, to the capitalist system as a whole
> they are part of the overall cost structure.  This was demonstrated 45
> years ago in Ch.3 of my dissertation.  Thus, because these wages
> consist of part of the gross product, the higher their share of the
> total wage bill the lower the share of the gross product available to
> the ownership class for consumption and investment, and accordingly
> the *lower* the rate of exploitation."
> However this argument still doesn't quite clinch it, and not just
> because Marx never explicitly says (to my knowledge) himself that
> unproductive labour costs are paid out of Cc:

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Jan 31 2008 - 00:00:06 EST