[OPE-L:5641] Re: labor process and R&D labor

Paul Cockshott (wpc@CS.STRATH.AC.UK)
Mon, 27 Oct 1997 09:42:22 -0000

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I think that you have to be careful here. Some R&D labour is
certainly devoted to the development of a predetermined use value.
I have been involved in an R&D project over the last couple
of years which is fairly typical of those which recieve industrial
funding these days. It basic purpose has been to develop a videophone
system. The exact details of what this would be were not known
when we started, but we nevertheless had a pretty close specification
of what we wanted so to that extent the use value had been determined
at the outset, though not in every detail.

I think that one has to distinguish between degrees here. Sombody doing
research into particle physics is certainly doing work of a purely
social character. The same could be said of research into climate
change, even though its social utility is more evident in this case.
But when you look at work that is funded privately, it tends to have
a more immediate application, and the hope of the firm funding it is
that they will be able to obtain patent rights as a result. Such patent
rights consitute a way of privately appropriating a portion of the
social benefits flowing from the results of research.

> From: Francisco P. Cipolla <cipolla@SOCIAIS.UFPR.BR>
> To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> Subject[OPE-L:5641] : labor process and R&D labor
> Date: 24 October 1997 13:10
> In rereading Chapter VII, vol. I of Capital (International publishers,
> 1967) I was led to think about the nature of R&D labor. Since R&D labor
> not labor directed towards the production of a pre-determined use-value
> cannot conserve the value of the means of production consumed. If the
> value of the means of production can not be conserved because they are
> transformed into a new product then, as a consequence, the means of
> production cannot play the role of absorbers of abstract labor. This
> imply that R&D labor is a purely social form of labor as it is only
> concrete. This is a question of interest for the process of liberation
> from abstract labor as a form of allienated labor. That is, the grwing
> role of research and science from within the capitalist system is leading
> to the development of forms of labor which, while still under the yoke of
> the profit motive, point towards direct social labor.
> Marx wrote about science in the Grundrisse but I don't recall seeing an
> analysis of scientific labor from the point of view of the categories
> developed in chapter VII of vol.I of Capital.
> Paulo Cipolla