(OPE-L) Re: Unproductive Labour and the Two Department Model

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Sat Nov 22 2003 - 09:20:36 EST

Hi again Phil. You wrote:

> This means that the shop is in Dept. I.

The (liquor) shop doesn't produce means of production.
Neither does it produce means of consumption (the whiskey).
It _sells_ means of consumption.

The problem here might be with the simplicity of the
reproduction schemes.  In practice, there are business firms
which buy commodities from Dept. I or Dept. II producers
and then re-sell those commodities to capitalists in Dept. I
or Dept II or to workers or capitalists as consumers.
Indeed, there are many thousands of firms which specialize
in the *distribution* of commodities.

There are also business firms which produce and sell
*joint products* which are sold both to capitalists in Dept. I
and II and to consumers (e.g. electricity).  This means that
these firms are in both Dept. I _and_ Dept II. (It becomes
even more complex when we consider modern trends for

There are other firms that specialize in selling commodities
to other firms *within the same department*.  E.g. machine
supply manufacturers, who produce within Department I,
sell commodities to other Dept I firms.  In this case, the
'consumers' are other business firms in the same department.

None of this complexity, though, determines whether the
labour employed by these firms is productive or unproductive of
surplus value since productive labour can be employed by
capitalists in Dept. I or II (or capitalists which span both departments)
regardless of whether the buyer is a capitalist from either department
or a working-class or capitalist consumer.

One has to recognize that there are limitations to the reproduction
schemes.  They represent a simplified 'picture' of  economic relations
in a similar way that the "Circular Flow of Economic Activity" represents
a simplified representation of relations in standard (neo-neoclassical
economic) thought.

Precisely because the reproduction schemes represent a simplified
picture, one has to go on to analyze the subject from the standpoint
of capitalist production as a whole.  Because of that I question your
"strategic decision not to read Volume III" (although, of course we
all know that you've read Volume III!).  While it is true that the
drafts for what became Volume III were mostly written after the
drafts for what became Volume II, the Volume III drafts are able
to inform our understanding of Marx's comprehension of the
distinction between productive and unproductive labour precisely
because the subject matter is capitalist production as a whole rather
than only the process of capitalist circulation.

> The idea that the shop's
> revenue comes from the manufacturer's surplus value is rejected.
> Also rejection is the idea that the shop adds value to the
> merchandise.  The shop nevertheless adds value and has a productive
> M-C ... P... C'-M' circuit.  The bottle of whiskey never forms part
> of the shop's constant or commodity capital.

Why does the shop labour have to add value?

In solidarity, Jerry

PS: > I definitely wobbled at this point.  It was late at night. <
I definitely know the feeling. I've been there and done that ...
many times.  Sometimes pre-coffee morning posts produce
similar results.

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