Re: [OPE] Reply to critics

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Fri Oct 08 2010 - 04:57:26 EDT

On 8 October 2010 00:59, Paula <> wrote:
> "heart surgery requires a definite amount of coexisting labor ..."
> All labor employed by capital has this requirement. Therefore, the logic
> of Ian's position is that there's no such thing as unproductive labor under
> capitalism.

No, this does not follow, because the question is still open: what is the
meaning of productive/unproductive labour, i.e. what questions are one
trying to answer with such a distinction? Paul C and I have given one

> "I completely agree that a haircut cannot function as a store of value".
> Every commodity is a store of its own value. If a haircut cannot store
> value, it's because it's not a commodity.

If you accept the meaning of commodity as a use-value exchanged for money a
haircut certainly belongs to that category.

It starts from the materialist principle that, in all societies, there's an
> essential difference between goods-producing and other labor.

I have never come across this principle, neither in my reading philosophical
materialism nor 'historical materialism'. At best you could argue that it is
a distinction made by Smith. Could you cite some passages from materialist
philosophers and historical materialists that suggest this principle? I
agree that the difference between 'goods-producing and other labour' is
important for certain purposes but not at the level of the economic system
we are discussing.

> The most important concepts are usually the richest. But the concept of
> 'thing' would be useless to us if we couldn't distinguish between a thing
> and an activity, a thing and a person, a thing and a dog, etc.
> "haircuts and heart surgeries result in physical products: modified hair
> and hearts"
> But those products aren't things. They are parts of the human body, part of
> the human being.

Ok, so here a 'thing' is defined as any physical object that does not happen
to be a part of a functioning human body? And what about pacemakers or
prosthetics? They are not 'things'? To further illustrate the many problems
with your conceptualization of the economic system. Consider I buy the
service from a painting firm to paint my wall. What is the use-value
here? Certainly it is the changed physical properties of my wall, i.e. a
physical product of a certain amount of coexisting labour. It does not
belong to the human body, so it is also a 'thing'. Hence by your own
criteria the purchased services is a commodity with a labour-value.

//Dave Z

ope mailing list
Received on Fri Oct 8 04:59:08 2010

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Oct 31 2010 - 00:00:02 EDT