[OPE] Productive labour and capital redistribution

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sat Jun 13 2009 - 04:34:25 EDT

Jerry wrote:

"Only in capitalist society can you have this perversion that you can be
doing the same activity (in this case, teaching the same subjects) which is
counted as productive in one place and unproductive in another depending
(largely) on whether you are employed by a capitalist firm or the state."

But really you know, once you stop being schematic, you realize you can have
those perversions in any state. If you are familiar with national accounts
data, you know that you can have both "for profit" and "non-profit" state
activities and private sector activities (in UN accounts, "market and
non-market production" divided by institutional sector).

As I have explained before, the ideology of the new Marxist Exploiting Class
is silent on taxation and public finance, which Marx wrote comparatively
little about, the main reason being that these exploiters extract income and
privileges from direct imposts and levies on the rest of the working
population. But, if you abandon this exploiter's ideology and empirically
study public finance, you will see straightaway that the state obtains
income both through profit-making activities, and from non-profit sources,
just the same as in the private sector. Thus, in the private sector, the
same activity can also be "for profit" activity or non-profit activity.

As an example, the Dutch state obtains one-quarter of its annual revenue
from "non-tax" sources, including both profit and non-profit business, while
the Netherlands also has at the same time proportionally the largest
non-profit sector in Europe (about 15.5% of GDP, the biggest chunks being
non-profit education, health services and housing provision and
development), which is for approximately 60% funded by the state, 37%
funded by fees, dues, sales income and investment income, and about 3% by
private giving. http://doc.politiquessociales.net/serv1/nonprofit.pdf

The label "non-profit" is however somewhat deceptive, because it doesn't
mean at all, that the bourgeois classes cannot enrich themselves from
non-profit activity and accumulate capital from it. They can, through fees,
salaries and provision of services purchased by non-profit business, which
are accounted for as a cost to the non-profit enterprise even although they
yield profit to someone else. So in reality, a non-profit business can be a
vehicle for profit activity, which has the additional benefit of avoiding

Marxist teachers teach their students that workers are exploited by the
nasty capitalists who extract surplus from them and accumulate capital from
this, until they are liberated by the Marxists. Now this is obviously not
necessarily true, since Marxist exploitation can be just as ruthless and

But aside from this, a theoretical point that is lost, concerns the
accumulation process itself. The moral theorists Bichler/Nitzan also don't
understand the implications of this either.

The accumulation of capital can occur in two basically different ways: by
producing something new that has a greater value than it cost to produce (a
net addition to the capital stock), or, by redistributing capital from one
set of owners to another set of owners, in which case one group makes a
profit at the expense of another group. I have pointed this elementary
insight out in two wikipedia articles:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_accumulation and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_formation .

In the second form of accumulation, it is in principle possible for the rich
to become even richer, even although the national income declines
absolutely. It is rather rare, but anyway in the real world, it's not the
absolute proportions that are of interest, but rather the relative
proportions, the relative growth rates. At any point in time, both the
processes of "net addition to capital" and "redistribution of capital" are
both occurring, and that is exactly why the bourgeois theorists have such a
problem with the theory of economic growth.

Applying this principle to the state sector, the state redistributes a large
chunk of previously created capital both to the profit and the non-profit
sector, both state and private sector activities. But, this is the point
usually forgotten by the Marxists, the redistribution circuit does not end
there; the profit and non-profit sectors in turn also redistribute income to
profit and non-profit activities as a secondary circuit. In Holland, a few
economists recently complained that the EU "pumps around" money through
subsidization, without this creating any additional wealth. This is true,
but it is not simply pumping around money but income extraction, and the
state also subsidizes business because it knows that, without this bribe,
business would stop.

When private individuals can obtain rich helpings of state money, they are
in favour of state intervention, but if the state taxes them, they are very
much against it. Consequently attitudes towards the state are contradictory,
and depending on whether you get more income from or pay more tax to the
state, attitudes will be different. The point here is, that there are at any
time at least three main types of ideologies of productive labour in
bourgeois society: the ideology of the business class, the ideology of the
state bureaucrats, and the ideology of the working classes. Each of these
classes theorizes productive labour in a way which benefits themselves.

It is disingenious to suggest that their could be any such thing as an
"objective" notion of productive labour, since there is always some point of
view from which labour is productive or unproductive. Individuals and social
classes theorise productive labour according to the benefit they draw from
it, and the benefit they see it as having, from their corner of the world.
The idea of an "objective" concept of productive labour is the idea of a
bureaucrat who sees himself as elevated above the interests of social
classes, but in reality there is no such neutral vantage point, and
therefore the bureaucrat comments differentially on the productivity of his
own people and the productivity of other people even if he is not aware of


E-mail message checked by Spyware Doctor (
Database version: 5.10260
ope mailing list
Received on Sat Jun 13 04:38:33 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Jun 30 2009 - 00:00:03 EDT