Re: [OPE] Reply to critics

Date: Fri Oct 15 2010 - 08:21:39 EDT

> Therefore it's no use quoting verbatim those passages from TSV. Where Marx
> refers to actors and clowns being productive (Jerry's quote) or says that
> "the cooks and waiters in a public hotel are productive laborers, in so far
> as their labor is transformed into capital for the proprietor of the hotel"
> (Dave's quote), I take this to mean productive for the proprietor, not
> productive of value. Similarly, in Vol III, Marx tells us that the labor of
> commercial workers is productive for their employer, but not productive of
> value. Always we need to ask - productive of what, for whom, etc
Hi Paula:
It can get confusing, it's true. Part of the reason for this is in the
translation - different German words are translated as 'productive' into English.
Riccardo talked about this years ago on the list (before your time here). Usually,
though, if you read passages in their entirety you can be able to make out the sense
in which he uses the word. In any event - as far as I know - when he is talking about
*productive labor* he is very clear: it is labor which is productive of surplus value.
Insofar as the passage I cited, Marx leave no room for doubt as to his meaning.
He wrote: "The former's labour (that of the actors or a clown, JL) is
exchanged with capital, the latter's (jobbing tailor, JL) with revenue. The former's
labour produces a surplus-value; in the latter's, revenue is consumed". so, in this
case, we don't need to ask productive of what, for whom, etc. - Marx tells us.
As for the exchange that you have been having with Dave Z and Paul C, I agree
that people seem to be talking about different things and hence sometimes past
each other. It seems clear to me that their perspective is derived, in large part,
from the Sraffian distinction between basic and non-basic goods. Perhaps we should
consider whether that distinction is useful or misleading as it pertains to
the subject of value creation under capitalism? Note that's NOT a 'Marxological'
question: i.e. whether this distinction approximates Marx's understanding or
not does not tell us whether the distinction itself has valid analytical
In solidarity, Jerry
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Received on Fri Oct 15 08:23:56 2010

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