RE: [OPE] "Parasitism"

From: Paul Cockshott <>
Date: Mon Feb 23 2009 - 14:53:57 EST

For opera singing to produce relative surplus value two things are necessary:
1. It must enter into the real wage
2. It must be capable of undergoing technical change to raise its productivity
Well look at what happened. In order for opera singing to enter consumption of workers it
was necessary to change it from a service to a material commodity in the form of phonograph
records. These could then be mass produced by copying techniques. Improvements in the
copying techniques then became part of the process of producing relative surplus value.
In the case of live opera, the possibility of it entering general consumption and thus being
subject to the production or relative sv could occur in two ways
a) build bigger opera houses so that the masses could hear as well. Because of the class nature
of such conspicuous consumption this was ruled out., but in the case of rock music, it was done.
b) apply broadcasting technology -- this was done to a limited extent.
Live Opera singing is marked by luxury. Its major appeal is as a mark of class membership among the
hearers. Only to thee extent that some prominent singers perform in football stadia etc does it
become subject to the production of relative surplus value, ie, the pressure to reduce labour input.
Paul Cockshott
Dept of Computing Science
University of Glasgow
+44 141 330 1629


From: on behalf of GERALD LEVY
Sent: Mon 2/23/2009 1:05 PM
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: RE: [OPE] "Parasitism"

> , would society become any wealthier? Would it be any different if this service was privatized?
> In both cases, the answer is no.
Hi Paula:
Well, are we talking about the type of labor which can increase the wealth of the nation or
the type of labor which is productive of surplus value? These are different questions.
I would say that if there is labor employed by capital to cut hair then that labor is
productive of s and the haircuts _do_ represent an increase in social wealth. In the same
way, a private firm which is an opera company both employs labor which is
productive of s and the music itself represents an increase in social wealth. Why not?
You might say that the music or haircuts in that concrete form (as a particular
kind of musical performance or haircut) can't be 'accumulated'. That misses the
point, imo. It can allow for the accumulation _of capital_. Whether commodities take
the form of a product which can be accumulated _as commodities_ or not does not
determine whether the labor allows for the accumulation _of capital_.
In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Mon Feb 23 14:57:44 2009

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