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

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Jan 31 2008 - 10:38:48 EST

Surely what Dave is doing is applying abstraction. He is abstracting
from the effects of
commodity fetishism to get down to the reality behind the fetishism.

> Dave:
> The whole dispute, to seems to me, revolves around the issue
> of whether one accepts that the productive/unproductive
> distinction has basically the same meaning in all class societies
> or whether it is specific to capitalism.  You claim that there is
> a trans-historical sense to the distinction which can be applied
> to comprehending what is productive of surplus value under
> capitalism. If one doesn't accept that claim (which I don't) then
> it's hard to see how we could agree on these questions.
> What you call the 'historical materialist' approach may well
> help us to comprehend the character of non-capitalist societies.
> If comprehending the character and dynamic tendencies of
> capitalism was that simple, though,  then one wouldn't need to utilize
> the power of abstraction to disentangle what appears to be the
> case from what it actually the case under capitalism.
> In solidarity, Jerry
> > Jurriaan, you raise several points. Let's not go too fast ahead.
> >
> > To begin with the fundamental: The very notion of
> productive/unproductive
> > economic activities implies that the former is 'necessary' or 'basic' in
> > some specific economic sense since a fraction of its surplus support
> > supports the unproductive ones.
> > By definition, unproductive activities are a drain on the social surplus
> > product. An expanding unproductive sector of the economy must be
> supported
> > by more surplus labour in the productive sectors. These are all
> > historically invariant concepts, applicable to any mode of
> production, not
> > merely capitalism.

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