Re: [OPE] Services (->Paula)

From: Paula <>
Date: Mon Jan 05 2009 - 22:32:27 EST

Jerry asked:
>Would it be possible for all sides to initially state what are the merits of
>their perspectives without at the same time identifying the (alleged)
>_de_-merits of other perspectives?

My initial view is that a service is a use-value or utility, which may be provided through a material object (a 'good') or directly by useful labor. So, for example, you can employ the services of a barber to shave, or you can buy yourself an electric razor to obtain a similar service (similar, but not identical - since every use is concrete and unique; including every use of the very same electric razor). The distinction between 'goods' and 'services' is therefore a distinction between different ways of obtaining utilities.

The distinction that we are interested in, however, is that between useful labor (which produces use-values or utilities, as above) and abstract labor (which produces value, and therefore, in normal circumstances, surplus-value). What is value, then, and what is this abstract labor that produces it? My answer derives from Marx's notion of commodity fetishism - that value is a material relation between people that takes the form of a social relation between things. Now, while every relation between people is material, we are here only concerned with one kind of relation - the production of material objects for others in their most simple form, ie, abstracted from their practical utility. This is the only kind of material relation between people that, under capitalism, takes the form of a value relation between things.

It follows that the labor that produces razors for a capitalist is productive of value, but the labor of the barber is not, even if it might be productive of profits - all this regardless of who uses the razor's or the barber's services, whether a worker or a capitalist; and regardless also of the quality of those services, etc. The merit of this approach is that it corresponds to the aim of capitalist production - not the provision of concrete services to society but the accumulation of material wealth per se.


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Received on Mon Jan 5 22:34:20 2009

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