Re: [OPE] Services (->Paula)[MESSAGE NOT SCANNED]

From: paul bullock <>
Date: Wed Jan 07 2009 - 04:43:59 EST

Paul C, We are agreed with respect to the first comment you make. With
respect to the second comment you make however, you shift the discussion
from armaments production to soldiering, ie exactly the 'subsequent'
activity to armaments production that I specifically identified initially,
and stated as requiring a subsequent assessment. I agree soldiering is an
'unproductive' activity, although imperialism depends upon it. However the
employment of workers to augment capitalist profitability through producing
eg fighter aircraft production is not unproductive .... what is specific
about this is that any productivity in this sphere cannot reduce the labour
time necessary for the reproduction of the working class, ie cannot
contribute to the production of relative surplus value, and so is a specific
burden upon capitalism. It cannot offset the tendency of the rate of profit
to fall. Not surprisingly then the drive to export arms to convert thes 'use
values' into others that can perform such a duty for national capital is
exceptionally characteristic of these industries.

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 12:06 AM
Subject: RE: [OPE] Services (->Paula)[MESSAGE NOT SCANNED]

Paul B
If a chain of baber shops opens up, established capitalistically, and not as
a the sole trader or the servant used in Marx's Grundrisse example, then
profits are made. The service is unproductively consumed by the worker or
the capitalist out of their revenue .If we were to say that the labour of
these barbers was not productive of value, then we would have to apply the
same logic to every consumer item purchased by the workers... or are you
denying that the workers need to take care of their personal hygiene as much
as wear clothes?

Paul C
The position that I, David and I now see Roy Grieve take is that this
sort of service is productive because it enters into the real wage,
it is thus necessary labour. Any improvement in the techniques of barbering
( power clippers for example ), have the effect of reducing the
necessary labour time, and on a social scale, they produce relative
surplus value.

Paul B

   It is not the nature of the product of service that determines
whether the labour producing them is productive or not, but the social
relation of production in which the labour is employed. Thus labour
producing weapons by capitalism, essential for its survival, produce surplus
value and so profit, and rent and interest, however the nature of the use
value produced has consequences subsequently. That is another question,
which needs to be discussed, but it is different.

Paul C
My take on this is the opposite, no change in social relations can change an
unproductive activity into a productive one. The activities of soldiering
and priestcraft are inherently unproductive. Even if one organised companies
of mercernaries or companies of priests for hire to short staffed dioceses
their unproductive nature would not change.

Marx implicitly realised this when talking of particular categories of
employed labour as being 'faux frais' of capitalist production, so clearly
he, like Smith recognised that just being employed by capital was not

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Tuesday, January 06, 2009 9:59 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE] Services (->Paula)

> Paula wrote:
>> 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/.
> These are relatively non-controversial examples.
> Try instead looking at the labour in the Aldermaston atomic weapons
> factory, is that productive or not?
> What about the labour of the staff of an advertising agency?
> _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

ope mailing list


> _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

ope mailing list
Received on Wed Jan 7 04:51:07 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Jan 31 2009 - 00:00:03 EST