Re: [OPE] "Parasitism"

From: Paula <>
Date: Thu Feb 26 2009 - 19:06:58 EST

Dave: "If you are following Marx and classical political economy (esp. Ricardo) then you *are* using the concept of 'labour-value'. They took the quantity of social labour required to reproduce commodities to be the basis of their economic value. So when I'm saying 'labour-value' I'm mean 'value' in the classical sense."

The basis of economic value for Marx is 'abstract labor'. Abstract labor is indeed social labor, but it does not follow that all social labor is abstract. The labor performed by a servant for his master is social, but it is not abstract. So what I'm suggesting is that the labor of a hairdresser or a retail worker is social in the same concrete sense that a servant's labor is social - ie, it is useful for others; but it is not abstract, because it does not produce commodities that are exchangeable with each other independently of their concrete usefulness.

Jerry: "Well, are we talking about the type of labor which can increase the wealth of the nation or
the type of labor which is productive of surplus value? These are different questions."

Different but not unrelated; the latter type of labor is part of the former. All labor that produces material objects increases the wealth of the nation, but only that part of it that produces objects in the form of commodities produces surplus-value. The little old lady who knits socks for the poor increases the wealth of the nation, but does not produce surplus-value; the worker who makes socks in a factory does both; the traffic warden who wears the socks does neither, no matter how many fines he issues, how socially useful his work is, or who employs him - whether a public or a private agency.

Paul C.: "An increase in productivity only increases relative surplus value if it reduces the necessary labour time. To do this it must enter directly or indirectly into wage goods. Thus labour which does not enter into
wage goods can not reduce necessary labour time and can not produce relative surplus value."

The abstract labor that enters into wage goods produces a value equivalent to v, a part of the new value produced by the laborer who consumes them. Obviously if v becomes relatively smaller, then s becomes relatively larger. But the whole of the new value (v+s) is produced through a new expenditure of abstract labor, after those wage goods have been consumed and transformed into labor-power. It is therefore legitimate to call this abstract labor productive labor, in the sense that it produces value.


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Received on Thu Feb 26 19:08:42 2009

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