Re: [OPE] Reply to critics

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Thu Oct 14 2010 - 08:13:09 EDT

On 14 October 2010 00:28, Paula <> wrote:

> The question (as I see it) is whether that labor also produces value, ie,
> new wealth in the form of capital. So it depends - if the painters paint
> the
> London Underground tunnels, they produce no new value; but if they have
> been
> contracted by a developer to paint houses or apartments to be sold on the
> market, then they do. In both cases painting is an activity and a service.
> But only in the second case does that activity produce capital.

OK, this concern is closer to what Marx is on about, but it also produces
some questionable results.

> It is in any case a terrible idea, as Jerry keeps telling us, to treat
> Marx's words as gospel. [...] Therefore it's no use quoting verbatim those
> passages from TSV.

Agreed. We need to distinguish the history of economic thought from Marxist
political economy. The point about those passages was precisely a
marxological one: to demonstrate that Marx thought Smith had two different
criteria for productive labour and rejected one of them.

> Always we need to ask - productive of what, for whom, etc? [...] you and
> Paul C are asking a different question, and so have come up with a
> different definition - your question seems to be about processes that decrease
> the real wage.

Agreed. Our questions are rather: (i) what labour relates to real capital
accumulation and the development of the productivity of the economy? (ii)
what is the deeper meaning of producing 'relative' surplus-value? This leads
directly to understanding the reproduction of the real wage. Once this is
the focus we show that the 'luxury sector', even if it produces goods as
commodities by capitalist firms, is unproductive. Conversely, what was
previously considered unproductive, e.g. public health care, would be

For the purpose of this discussion you can call it 'basic' and 'non-basic'
labour, although I prefer keeping the Smithian/Marxian connection.

//Dave Z

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Received on Thu Oct 28 11:14:13 2010

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