(OPE-L) indirect labor, the real wage, and the production of surplus value

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Thu Nov 06 2003 - 09:17:34 EST

Paul C wrote previously:

> In conjunction with :
> a) the theory of relative surplus value
> b) the Sraffian generalisation of the reproduction schemes
> one can show that the categories of labour who are productive
> of a social surplus profit are those workers whose activity enters
> directly or indirectly into the effort necessary to produce the
> real wage. It is only among this group of workers that an
> improvement in labour productivity will lead to an increase
> in the surplus value.

And he then answered "Yes" to my question "Doesn't the activity
of many state employees enter 'indirectly'  into the effort necessary
to produce the real wage?"

The problem is that just about everything has an "indirect" effect
on everything else.  To say that certain types of  "indirect" labor can
alter the real wage does not, however, mean that those workers are
(necessarily) productive of surplus value.

Consider the possible "indirect" effects on the real wage in the US
and UK of  occupation troops in Iraq!  The 'labor' performed by those
troops will most likely 'indirectly' cause the price of oil in the US and
UK to be lower than what it would have been without the invasion and
occupation of Iraq.  This would then not only decrease the cost of
elements of constant capital for capitalists in the US and UK, but to
the extent that a reduction in the price of oil would lower the production
costs for business firms that produce *means of consumption for workers*
that 'labor' would 'indirectly' cause a change in the real wage since both
oil and oil derivatives --  including heating oil, plastics, fiberglass,
etc. --  enter into the real wage of workers.  Yet I would be loath to say
that  the US and British imperialist troops are productive of surplus value
as a consequence!

In solidarity, Jerry

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