[OPE-L:3844] Re: productive and unproductive labour

Chai-on Le (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Mon, 16 Dec 1996 22:57:15 -0800 (PST)

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At 12:25 pm 96-12-16 -0800, Jerry wrote:

>I disagree with the distinction that you suggest above that labor must be
>concretely performed on the "labor-object" for that labor to be understood
>as productive labor. This convention would exclude the wages paid out to
>skilled workers engaged in the maintenance and repair of constant fixed
>I wonder: where did you get this idea? I ask since it is my understanding
>that Marx thought this type of labor was productive labor.


I got the idea from Marx's Capital volume 2.

"This is not a matter of labor performed by the machine, but of labor
performed on the machine; here it is not an agent of production but rather
raw material. The capital spent on this labor is part of the fluid capital,
even though it does not properly enter the actual labor process to which
the product owes its origin. ... The capital spent on it belongs to that
part of fluid capital that has to cover the general overheads, and is
distributed over the value of the product according to an average annual
calculation." (p253, Penguin edition)

"the value added by this additional expenditure of capital and labor cannot
go into the price of the commodities in step with the actual expenditure
itself." (p255: This implies to me that the added labor acts like a sort of
fixed capital)

Many rich and abundant ideas can derive from pp248-61.

If we assume a capitalist repaired his machine (if the cost is not above the
social average) by calling a service man, the repairing cost added to the
price of his products would not contain a surplus-value corresponding to it.
If it cost $10, then the price would be marked up only by $10, not by more
than $10. When the capitalist employs a skilled man to repair his machine,
it should cost less than $10. Then he can save some money as much as it
costs less than $10. This, however, cannot be called a surplus-value. But
regularly employed engineers, mechanics, etc. should be treated differently
as in my reply to Ian's post today.

In solidarity,