Re: [OPE] "Parasitism"

From: Paula <>
Date: Fri Jan 23 2009 - 20:28:17 EST

When we talk about the parasitism of the financial services industry we are talking about the parasitism of unproductive on productive capital, made possible by the re-distribution of surplus-value among the different branches of capital. This is obviously not the same parasitism Jerry is referring to when he says all capitalists are parasites (largely true, but irrelevant to our discussion); and also not the same as the phenomenon Jurriaan is describing (retired workers, children, and those who are too sick to work also live off the work of others; but this has nothing to do with unproductive capital).

Paul B: "The idea that 'productive' labour is somehow superior to 'unproductive ' labour is idiotic even from the bourgoise point of view, they know well enough that products have to be sold to become rich..."

Here's why it's important to distinguish between value and use-value. Activities that might be useful (to capitalists, to workers, or to both) might not be productive of value and, as Dave says, may be detrimental to accumulation; financial services are a classic example. Conversely, you may produce value through the manufacture of adulterated goods (milk powder laced with melamine, for example). Productive labor is superior only in the sense that it produces value, and therefore surplus-value.

I agree with Dave that a capitalist firm selling the service of private guards would be unproductive; the same, IMO, does not apply to the production of armaments, to the extent that armaments are commodities (that is, objects produced for market exchange, as per my previous arguments). However, many high-end armaments are produced under monopolistic conditions and therefore likely sold above their value, so this sector is perhaps partially parasitic. Under imperialism, many productive industries can be parasitic in this sense.


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Received on Fri Jan 23 20:30:06 2009

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