Re: Response to Freeman

Michael Williams (Michael@MWILLIAM.U-NET.COM)
Fri, 16 Jan 1998 23:01:32 +0000

I have been following the discussion of transforming NI accounts with
interest. Because I haven't wanted to sidetrack this useful
discourse, I have sat on my hands when Juriaan (and others) have
categorically asserted, without being queried, that 'services' cannot
be commodified. For example, Juriaan writes:

> in Shaikh's view haircutting,
> concert acts and school teaching become commodity production, which they
> cannot be, because the labour does not materialise in something which is
> alienated from the owner and appropriated by another owner, in the
> separation of the act of production and the act of consumption in space and
> time, and it is precisely this condition which forms the very basis of
> commodity production (and, incidentally, the relative expansion of human
> freedom).

In my view, this is unsustainable. A commodity is a product of
labour, performed under capitalist relations of production, that is
produced with a view to selling it into a generalized commodity
system. When I buy a coiffed head (ie get my hair cut, styled,
whatever), that product of the hairdressing wage labourer is just as
surely alienated from her as the piece of 4x2 timber that is cut for
me by her sister down at my neighbourhood diy store. For example, she
cannot agree to not make me pay for it, in exchange for being allowed
to come and look at it now and again - because her wage labour and
its products do not belong to her, but to her boss. Why should
capitalism collapse just because an increasing percentage of its
commodities are services rather than goods?
"Books are Weapons"
Dr Michael Williams
Department of Economics Home:
Faculty of Humnities and Social Sciences 26 Glenwood Avenue
De Montfort University Southampton
Milton Keynes SO16 3QA
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