Re: Productive and Unproductive Labour: response to Mike William

Paul Cockshott (wpc@CS.STRATH.AC.UK)
Tue, 20 Jan 1998 11:39:09 -0000

> Yes, but ... could you just give me an inkling as to why security
> services are not a use-value? Is it or is it not by comparison with
> a rationally organized society? And if that is not the criterion -
> what is?
Can I take another example here, not security guards but advertsing
copy writers. Consider two capitalist economies trading with one
another on the world market. In country A 5% of national income is
spent on advertising. In country B, 1% of national income is spent
on advertising. Each country has the same labour force, and the
same initial technology available to it. Because country B saves
4% of its income that country A spent on advertising, that value
is available for capital accumulation. Thus in country B capital
will accumulate faster than in country A, its technology will advance
faster and its terms of trade with country A will improve.

This is the original point of Smiths distinction between productive
and unproductive labour. Labour expended unproductively is a deduction
from possible accumulation. In this sense, considering the Wealth of
the Nation as a whole, advertising copywriters are as much a deduction
as personal servants of the rich. Both hold back accumulation and
economic development.