On Mon, 20 Sep 1999, Ian Hunt wrote:
> Why not have two concepts of productive labour? Given the
> Sraffa model, it makes perfect sense to define labour as
> labour that directly or indirectly enters into all
> commodities (it defines the overall rate of profit in an
> economy). We could call this 'productive 1" or "productively
> consumed" labour.
This, I take it, is what Paul C. has been promoting.
> The other concept of "productive labour["] that makes
> perfect [sense] is the idea of the labour of someone
> productively employed in a capitalist system, ie labour that
> exchanges with capital.
The problem with this concept, if one takes the first definition
seriously, is its superficiality. If the second version is
really distinct from the first, it just means "wage labour which
contributes to the profits of an individual capitalist." But as
Paul's analysis shows, labour that satisfies this criterion may
nonetheless be associated with a reduction in the economy-wide
rate of profit. A better term for #2 would just be "wage labour
employed by capital" -- without any "productive" tag.
Marx thought he was being hard-headed in eschewing
considerations of use-value in defining productive labour "under
capitalism", but it looks as if he got it wrong.
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