From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Oct 06 2005 - 16:26:38 EDT
-----Original Message----- From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Rakesh Bhandari Sent: 06 October 2005 16:47 To: OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU Subject: Re: [OPE-L] basics vs. non-basics and financial services At 12:01 PM +0200 10/6/05, Diego Guerrero wrote: Rakesh > As I have noted, Paul C's attempt to defend a Smith criterion of productive labor in material terms cannot be squared with his Keynesian understanding that unproductive labor in those terms can in fact be productive from the perspective of growth of value and use value. I don't know whether Paul has conceded this, but my criticism of his eclectic theory seems unanswered to me. Perhaps I am missing something. Paul The point Rakesh is that whilst any sort of activity can stimulate employment - even Keynes joke about the state burying banknotes in milkbottles at the bottom of mines and employing people to dig them out - the employment that is stimulated is not necessarily productive. A stimulation of employment may pull the economy out of recession and allow the expansion of the basic sector which in turn will allow the physical surplus of the basic sector to grow, and this, when expressed in money terms will represent surplus exchange value. Unproductive employment in the military may stimulate this but that does not make employment in the military productive. Smiths concept of productive labour was tied to accumulation. For him labour is productive if it contributes to accumulation. He gives two definitions of this: 1. That the labour must be employed out of capital not revenue 2. That it must fix itself in a vendible commodity I think he was right to give both definitions. The first definition presents the matter from the standpoint of the individual capitalist, that he will get poor by employing servants out of revenue but rich from employing workers out of capital. The second definition applies from the standpoint of the economy as a whole. The economy as a whole can only accumulate physical commodities - it can not accumulate banknotes or haircuts. Hence the insistence that accumulation depended on labour being fixed in vendible commodities. It is presented more as an intuition than an elaborated argument, but the intuition is sound. On the issue raised by Jerry of whether Smith was a historical materialist, my understanding was that Marx and Engels did not claim to have invented the materialist approach to history. This had already been put forward by Scottish Enlightenment writers like Ferguson and Smith and Millar. A good Ricardian economist like Cairnes seems to me to be also a historical materialist. His analysis of the Slave Power, is pretty close to a historical materialist conjunctural analysis.
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