Re: [OPE] "Parasitism"

From: Paula <>
Date: Wed Jan 28 2009 - 19:32:27 EST

The term "parasitism" does carry an emotional load (as Jurriaan says) and for that very reason we need to carefully distinguish between different kinds of it (as Jerry says). Yes, Jurriaan, I'm agreeing with both of you, but only in part.

Unproductive labor is parasitic on productive labor, but a society where humans only performed productive labor would be very primitive, and perhaps not truly human. Historically, then, the development of unproductive labor is progressive; it simultaneously depends on and manifests the progressive development of human productive capacities.

Unproductive capital is parasitic in a further, historically specific sense - in that it creams off surplus-value produced by other branches of capital. Nevertheless it can be progressive in the above sense, even under imperialism.

Take for example retail, a sector that is mostly unproductive of surplus-value, yet produces use-value for millions of people, most of them working class, who treat shopping as a form of leisure, so that retail for them produces 'entertaiment' and even 'therapy' effects - its ability to do so has grown substantially over the last hundred years. This trend has been noticed, celebrated and theorized by the postmodernists, but in a mostly one-sided way, since they usually leave the dependence (or 'parasitism') of this sector out of the picture (and often ignore its capitalistic nature altogether).


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Received on Wed Jan 28 19:34:10 2009

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