Re: [OPE] Services (->Paula)

From: Ian Wright <>
Date: Wed Jan 14 2009 - 16:31:59 EST

Hi Claus and Paula

The intent of my examples was to show that many services do produce
"material effects" that are independent objects. In the case of a
barber, the haircut; in the case of the preacher, the Christian ideas.
These material effects persist.

Obviously one can further classify "material effects" into those that
are transient (e.g., transport labor that moves a ton of coal from A
to B) and those that are more permanent (e.g., shoemaking labor that
produces shoes). The former tend to be thought of as services, the
latter tends to be thought of as goods.

But I do not understand why this entails that labor that produces
services is somehow "unproductive". I have to ask: what is motivating
this distinction?

It seems to me that, Paula, that your "materialism" is fixated on that
small class of things that are visible to the human eye and can be
stored. But for the purposes of understanding political economy, it
seems like a distinction not worth making. I'm reminded of Foucault's
opener to "The Order of Things" where he quotes from a Chinese
encyclopedia regarding the classification of animals:

'animals are divided into: (a) belonging to the Emperor, (b) embalmed,
(c) tame, (d) sucking pigs, (e) sirens, (f) fabulous, (g) stray dogs,
(h) included in the present classification, (i) frenzied, (j)
innumerable, (k) drawn with a very fine camel-hair brush, (1) et
cetera, (m) having just broken the water pitcher, (n) that from a long
way off" look like flies'.

There's something clearly wrong with this taxonomy.

Best wishes,
ope mailing list
Received on Wed Jan 14 16:33:47 2009

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