[OPE-L] Re: Productive and Unproductive Labour

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 27 Jan 1998 07:48:30 -0500 (EST)

Paul C wrote on Tue, 27 Jan:

> It is because personal servants or advertising are unproductive that
> they fail to improve the terms of trade. It is not their failure to
> improve the terms of trade that makes them unproductive.

Advertising can improve the terms of trade of individual capitalist
nations. This is a fact well-known to individual states (hence the state
spending on advertising for tourism) and firms (those who export
commodities to markets in other nations and rely heavily on advertising
to create demand for their commodities).

The above may represent an international redistribution of surplus
value and it may also represent a redistribution of wealth among social
classes, but it most certainly can affect the terms of trade.

> The terms of trade for a country vary in proportion
> to the changes in the mean labour time socially necessary to produce
> commodities in a given country. As the amount of labour necessary to
> produce things falls, that country's terms of trade improve.

Using the above, if (a hypothetical) US-based corporations were to cease
expenditures on advertising then SNLT _and_ the terms of trade would
remain constant. I find that assertion about the terms of trade to be a
bit far-fetched. If Coca-Cola and McDonald's didn't spend money on
advertising, then they couldn't sell their commodities in the same
quantities and at the same prices abroad. If we are going to look at the
world market today, then we have to consider the role of advertising and
product differentiation in oligopolistic markets (and many other variables
as well, of course).

In solidarity, Jerry