Re: [OPE] Reply to critics

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Wed Sep 29 2010 - 13:37:44 EDT

  On 2010-09-29 15:09, Jurriaan Bendien wrote:
> If you have any idea of modern production, you would know that material
> production requires all kinds of services, including information services,
> in order to operate at all. In fact the majority of labour engaged in
> so-called material production involves information processing.

I think your dichotomy of 'material' and 'non-material' is as mistaken
as the type of dualist materialism criticized by Marx in his third
thesis on Feurbach. The production of services is just as 'material' as
that of goods. You have knowingly or unknowlingly invented straw man
that you keep attacking.

> (7) This too is a caricature, nowhere in our article on productive labour
> did we even suggest that 'material production of tangible things is regarded
> as the productive activity'. On the contrary, our analysis concluded that
> the production of, say, F-22 Raptor fighter jets --- presumably hard
> 'material, tangible things' --- is an *unproductive activity*.
> But I see that as a problem for your theory, since an F-22 Raptor is a
> commodity just like any other, built out of all kinds of other commodities.
> Why should the same products sold and used to make a civilian plane count as
> unproductive if they are used to make a military plane?

Well as we show in the paper, if you approach two questions:

   1. the creation of the wealth of nations (Smith)
   2. the production of surplus value (Marx)

from the standpoint of reproduction of the production system, this
conclusion is well-grounded and indeed useful. After we wrote our paper,
I have found that at least two people reached very similar conclusions
independently: the economist Edward Wolff and the cartographer Michael

> Even if we exclude
> some material production as unproductive, as you do, it still remains that
> the Cockshott/Zacheriah theory has persistently stated that value is a
> property of the material production process, of the output of productive
> labour, that other kinds of production depend on this, and that non-material
> production does not create value.

Of course, this is plainly false, as anyone who has read our paper would
know. This should help you to find the citation you are suggesting:

The initial question was what labour produces 'surplus value' and not
'value'. Furthermore, what you take as 'non-material' activities ---
e.g. public health services --- we clearly argue are productive. We also
clearly spell it out for you:

    productive labour includes all work necessary to the support of the
    direct producers

That cuts across your mistaken dichotomy of 'material' vs.
'non-material'. Just bear in mind that the fetish for luxury yachts and
fighter jets cost millions of workers' lives.

> I am very grateful to Ian Wright for formalizing Marx's argument more the
> way it should be, but actually I had already stated that interpretation of
> current replacement cost myself many years ago.
That's great of you. What may surprise you then is that I'm basing
myself on the interpretation you stated many years ago.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Wed Sep 29 14:48:02 2010

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