Re: Productive and Unproductive Labour: response to Mike William

Michael Williams (Michael@MWILLIAM.U-NET.COM)
Wed, 21 Jan 1998 10:42:22 +0000

Prompted by the clarity and conciseness of Paul's remarks, I would like
to push the discussion a bit, because they still contain key
assertions for which I have as yet not been pointed to a persuasive

Paul wrote
> If we assume that the advertising companies sell advertising services
> as to manufacturers, then these services will be sold at a profit. Let
> us assume that 25% of the turnover of the advertisers is profit, then
> of the 4% of national income spent on advertising 1% will remain as
> profits, available for accumulation. But what of the 3% that
> went on copywriters wages?

I cannot see the relevant difference between this 3% and the wages
paid to any other labour. It is, in the usual simplification, spent
on workers consumption, etc. So it too

> ... has been lost to the accumulation of capital. If, instead, the
> 4% was spent building new factories, the entire product worth 4% of
> national income has been added to the accumulated capital of the nation
> and ( assuming the same rate of profit ), the capitalists still have
> the same 1% of the 4% available as profit for the next period.

And if the 4% had been spent on consumption, or indeed intermediate
goods, rather than plant and machinery? I just cannot see the
effectivity in all this of declaring copy-writing wage labour
unproductive. Of course, the tendency is to over-accumulation at the
expense of consumption, even in terms of the reproductive needs of
capitalism, but so what?

Paul then goes on:
> I think that an accumulation of money is only an accumulation of capital
> if it is commodity money. In other circumstances, the accumulation
> of money is not equal to an accumulation of value, it is simply
> a book keeping operation.

But some portion of that accumulated money (whatever the money
object) is used to purchase more labour-power and means of
production. Why is this not accumulation?

> Under these circumstances an accumulation
> of money is a zero sum game, the growth of credit balances in the
> banking system is matched by debit balances, with no net accumulation
> of value taking place.

I do not understand why *unless* you are assuming what is under
debate, that the copy-writing wage labour did not create new value.

>For accumulation to take place, value has to
> be corporeal, it has to be embodied in material objects which
> persist over time.

So you are saying that even if service labour is seen as productive,
accumulation requires not just the deployment of a sufficient portion
of new value to be invested, but that that value has to be corporeal.
I cannot imagine why?
"Books are Weapons"
Dr Michael Williams
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