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

From: Dave Zachariah (davez@KTH.SE)
Date: Tue Jan 29 2008 - 16:40:29 EST

on 2008-01-29 22:02 Jurriaan Bendien wrote:
> I appreciate the humour but the argument is rather weak. It is not
> clear how your standpoint of capital differs much from your standpoint
> of historical materialism. The main thing to note is that in a
> developed market society it is no longer clear how the distinction
> could validly be drawn, because the distinction between earnt and
> unearnt income and between wealth-creating and wealth-redistributing
> labour becomes more opaque.

Jurriaan, before getting too deep into numerical examples of capital I
urge you not to dismiss my simple example too fast. It points to
something historically invariant, that can be generalized and applied to
*any* mode of production. If the solders' upkeep are a part of the
surplus product, then so is the case for the producers of royal luxuries.

Now if you say that what I take to be a fundamental question---"which
agents produce and appropriate goods and labour?"---is irrelevant, there
can hardly be a discussion. It is an axiomatic choice of the research
strategy that Marx called a "material conception of history".

I also note that we are not talking about productive/unproductive in the
same way when you write "I have no particular objections to jewellery
although I don't wear any myself." It is not a matter of objections or
taste, it is a matter of what role labour plays in the material
reproduction of society.

//Dave Z

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