Re: [OPE] Services

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Wed Jan 07 2009 - 11:50:28 EST

paul bullock wrote:
> To Paul C,
> In fact since this H bomb operation was run by the state to produce
> items for its own immediate consumption ( it 'enjoys' the fear that is
> created by their availability), then the items were not sold on the
> market, the payment was made out of revenue directly and so indeed the
> workers were not being productive for capital. The state was not
> aiming to make a profit.
> Now as soon as these workers produce an item to be sold on the market
> by Jacobs, the item takes on the commodity form, and must be realised
> against the money used in the market before they can be used. The
> workers are clearly involved in the process of the accumulation of
> capital. The nature of the item involved is irrelevant, capitalism
> can and does produce all sorts of useless and frightening trash.
The nature of the item produced is not irrelevant however. If a nation
devotes a large part of the efforts of its most skilled engineers to
producing weapons of mass destruction, then the labour of those
engineers is not going into the developement of new means of production.
In consequence the general rate of growth and capital accumulation in
that nation will be slower than in a nation without that armaments
expenditure. Thus Japan, prohibited from building weapons of mass
production, enjoyed a much faster rate of technical advance and capital
accumulation than Britain.
This is why Smith, as a representative of the still progressive
bourgoisie could attack state millitary expenditure as unproductive.
Every hour spent building cannon was an hour that was not spent building
steam engines.
> I can see that the discussion is struggling to resolve 100% two
> apparently contradictory ideas. One a sort of technical view that
> somehow the product has to perform some positive role in the
> reproduction of society,....and the other view that a specific social
> relation has to be incontrol. There is an attempt to resolve the two
> by denying that the labour involved in producing 'useless products'
> (if I can use the term here) is capitalisticaly productive. However we
> already recognise that capitalist consumption ( unproductive
> consumption) absorbs these 'useless' products of productive labour,
> from trinkets to luxury yachts, so I don't quite see your difficulty.
> The weapons are the weapons of the capitalist class, made by them, for
> their use, in their own defence: not for open sale on the market. They
> use up part of society's surplus value as revenue (not as capital) to
> buy them. So what? How is this 'apologetic'? Does the fact that a
> good is consumed by the capitalists somehow prevent criticism of that
> class? Its motives? Or the consequences of its actions?
It is apologetic because it feeds the illusion that the weapons
industry, the banking sector, the advertising sector etc, are
productive, just because somebody appears to turn a profit on it.
Well a profit can be turned by speculating on the national debt, but
that does not make it productive.
> Your example forgets that the whole purpose of privatisation was to
> expand the accumulation process, and that started with a sharp attack
> on workers so that prices could remain the same but that the element
> of profit in the price was raised. Increased tax was certainly not
> going to be the solution!!! Rather an increase in the absolute rate of
> surplus valued was typical, followed by continued attempts to raise
> productivity all round.
That may have been the case in the begining when privatisation hit
productive services like healthcare, in the present case however what is
occuring is much more like disguised public borrowing. The state sells
aldermaston in order to later buy bombs at a higher price. The higher
price is effectively the interest on a loan made by Jacobs in buying the
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Received on Wed Jan 7 11:58:45 2009

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