Re: [OPE] "Parasitism"

From: Ian Wright <>
Date: Thu Feb 26 2009 - 19:39:51 EST

> The basis of economic value for Marx is 'abstract labor'. Abstract labor is
> indeed social labor, but it does not follow that all social labor is
> abstract. The labor performed by a servant for his master is social, but it
> is not abstract. So what I'm suggesting is that the labor of a hairdresser
> or a retail worker is social in the same concrete sense that a servant's
> labor is social - ie, it is useful for others; but it is not abstract,
> because it does not produce commodities that are exchangeable with each
> other independently of their concrete usefulness.

You are repeating your same point -- that hairdressers and the like
don't produce "wealth", which you define as a independent object that
can act as a store of value for a sufficiently lengthy (but as yet
unspecified) amount of time.

Unfortunately you add to the terminological confusion by equating
abstract labor with productive labor.

No form of concrete labor is abstract, whether hairdressing or a
"really productive" (your term) activity such as, say, widget making.

But hairdressing labor exchanges for money. Money represents abstract
labor, human labor-power divested of all its concrete manifestations.
In other words, the concrete labor of cutting hair is de facto
commensurable with all the other kinds of concrete labor in society.

So first you tell hairdresser's that they are not productive of
wealth, and second you suggest their labor is "not abstract" and
therefore cannot be equated to everyone else's. I'll mention that next
time I'm getting my hair cut!

In all seriousness, if I produce a widget that lasts intact for 1 year
have I therefore added to the "wealth" of the nation during that year?
If I produce a haircut that lasts for 2 weeks have I also added to the
"wealth" of the nation during those 2 weeks? I am just trying to
understand. Maybe I'm missing something.

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Received on Thu Feb 26 19:43:04 2009

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