Re: [OPE] Services

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Thu Jan 08 2009 - 13:33:19 EST

Jurriaan Bendien wrote:
> What I am arguing is that for Marx the concept of productive labour in
> capitalist society has nothing directly to do with economic growth,
> but rather with the role of labour in capital accumulation, and
> consequently with how the division of labour is reorganised for the
> purpose of capital accumulation.

I'm not convinced by this description of Marx's concept. In fact, that
is more or less what we are advocating. But I now suspect we are using
'capital accumulation' quite differently.

Firstly, by the quote you provided from Vol.1. (and other passages in
his section on un/productive labour Theories of Surplus Value) Marx ties
his concept to the surplus value of individual capitalists not the
capitalist sector or economy as a whole. In fact, Vol. 1. does not give
a systematic theory of the reproduction of the capitalist sector, this
was attempted only in the unfinished Vol. 2. Therefore the perspective
remains with the individual capitalist and his profit.

Secondly, by 'capital accumulation' we mean a growth of the stock of
*real* capital of the *entire economy*. Thus it is closely related to
the improvement in the productive capacity of the economy (what I took
to be 'merit (1)').

An individual capitalist may earn a profit but that only gives the
potential for growth of the total real capital stock; he could spent it
on luxuries as well, contributing nothing to its growth at all.
Moreover, if he himself is producing luxuries on a greater scale it
means that other capitalists are diverting more of their surplus value
to luxuries rather than real investments. In other words, if real
capital accumulation is the concern it is not sufficient to consider the
surplus value earned by individual capitalists, one has to consider
their economic system as a whole: the constraints on the growth of the
total capital stock is set by the basic sector.

(Btw, this is not a problem regarding an 'optimum' growth path but
whether a capitalist economy will expand or stagnate.)

//Dave Z

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Received on Thu Jan 8 13:35:17 2009

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