Re: [OPE] Services (->Paula)

From: Paula <>
Date: Fri Jan 16 2009 - 22:46:12 EST

> However, I think the conclusions are mistaken because the starting point
> is wrong: "value is a material relation between people that takes the form
> of a social relation between *things*". This has it backwards in my view;
> it is to take Marx's description of the mystifying *form of appearance* of
> socially produced use-values under capitalism and make it foundational for
> the rest of the economic analysis.

I gave a more foundational explanation in my last email. Commodity fetishism
is mystifying, but it's not false; it's what we would call a 'real
appearance' - so that 'the social character of men's labour appears to them
as an objective character stamped upon the product of that labour' because
it really is.

> Marx, following classical political economy, uncovers the basis of value
> as social labour. Certainly, socially produced services require social
> labour.

But the labour of financial advisers, insurance salesmen or management
consultants is also social - more social than the labour of factory workers,
since it involves direct relations with consumers. Yet it does not produce
value. The factory worker, on the other hand, produces value because his
product, the commodity, has a social life of its own, that is, it can be
exchanged *after* being produced, and is produced only for this purpose.
This separation in time between production, circulation, and (later)
consumption can only happen if the commodity is a physical object, not just
a physical effect.

Paul C:
>To be productive labour must be capable of producing relative surplus
>value. To >produce relative surplus value it must enter directly or
>indirectly into the real wage.

I'm not sure I understand this. Firstly, there must be productive labour
also in the case of absolute surplus value. Secondly, the labour that
'enters' into the wage (what does this mean exactly?) would not be surplus -
the surplus is what does not 'enter' into the wage.

>Advertising is part of the battle for market share between firms, but it is
>only of benefit to an individual firm at the expense of another

No; advertising can also be of benefit to consumers, for example by
providing information and entertainment - so that the commercials are often
designed (by advertising workers) to be interesting, amusing, etc.
Information and entertainment are therefore physical effects created by
advertising labour - but they are not commodities, they are not independent
objects, and so they have no value.

>It is not a tautology to point to the difference between the production of
>value and its realization.

The tautology is in your argument that advertising labour doesn't produce
value *because* it realizes value - this is just a circular argument. You
haven't answered the original question - why doesn't it produce value in the
first place, seeing that it does produce material effects?

>It is also the case that for a commodity
>to have value it must have use-value and uv incorporates a concept of
>social necessity (although, what is considered to be socially
>necessary varies temporally and spatially)

A commodity has both value and use-value, but here we're discussing only
value - the moment you bring in the 'social necessity' of labour you're
talking instead about use-value.

>No, the tools have an objective existence, but they are certainly not
>independent. The tools were created and are employed by workers: there is
>an inter-dependency >between the laborer and the tools of labor.

In circulation tools are physically independent from both the people who
created them and the people who will employ them. A hairbrush in a store,
for example, is neither being created nor being used - that's precisely the
moment it exists as a value.

>A barber under capitalism is both a subject and an object. The same is true
>for all

The only workers who are ever objects are slaves, human beings who are
simultaneously wealth, and therefore can be bought and sold. But under
capitalism workers are not wealth, they are not commodities; rather, wealth
is alienated from them, and this can only happen if that wealth exists in
the form of objects, physically separate from the subjects.

>The hair CAN be exchanged. Indeed, there is a lucrative market for human

If a hairdresser sells the hair she cut off me to a wig manufacturer, then
the hair she cut off is a commodity and has value; but the haircut that was
left behind on my head is not a commodity, because it does not exist as an
independent material object, and therefore cannot be exchanged. That's why
there's a market for human hair, but no market for haircuts.


ope mailing list
Received on Fri Jan 16 22:47:55 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Jan 31 2009 - 00:00:03 EST