Re: [OPE] Services

From: paul bullock <>
Date: Thu Jan 08 2009 - 12:15:01 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Wednesday, January 07, 2009 4:50 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE] Services

> 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.

Paul C
> 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.

Paul B

You have again returned to defining productive labour from the effect of the
use value it produces on subsequent accumulation.
This drags into the definition of the social relation of production the
consequent results, which in fact simply cannot always be anticipated,
it is a bit like crystal ball gazing. 'Will this apparently 'useless' item
be 'useful' in production next time or not ?' 3M's 'post its' were made up
of a 'glue that failed' and had been stored awayand forgotten! Now I grant
you that we will find eg Grundrisse, Marx saying that producing arms is a
bit like
throwing a part of production into the sea as far as future accumulation is
concerned, but recognising this has nothing to do
with the fact that the arms capitalist has a money profit in his paw and so
a claim on more social labour. The slowing
down of growth approach you refer to is also erroneous. It assumes all
available resources must and will be used under all circumstances, ie some
kind of Keynsian full employment of factors,
blatently not the case under capitalism. You imply that the barrier to
capital accumulation is the adequacy of its own technical knowledge and the
availablity of 'materiel' .
In fact the rate of accumulation is determined by the extent of the active
labour process, the 'productivity' of which can cope with, indeed generates,
'waste' eg
with capitalists personal consumption, as I have said. I fear that if you
continue in this way you will end up seeing 'wastefulness' as the real
problem for modern society.

Paul B
>> 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?
Paul C
> 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.
Paul B
So being productive is somehow a justification of the act?
Now you are proposing an apology for exploiting productive labour !

Paul B
>> 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.

Paul C
> 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
> plant.
>Paul B

This is not the intention of the process. the criticism that PFI/PPP
projects were forced to
rely on investment bank lending and so higher (non Govt debt rates) interest
rates, was always countered by the
ruling class by saying that higher productivity and costs savings were
expected to more than cover this.
Indeed this was their aim, to extract more surplus value. No rational
bourgeois would privatise simply to subsidise further.
Of course in the end more tax subsidies may be the result of incompetence,
tax farming is always fun for the rich.
However it can't be tolerated for long by other capitalists, and so their
central committee, since it removes surplus value from them.

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