Re: [OPE] Reply to critics

From: Paula <>
Date: Wed Oct 27 2010 - 18:16:34 EDT

Jerry wrote:
> No, it is simply another way of saying that labor which produces
> commodities is not the same as labor which sells commodities ... I think
> you have confused 'good' with 'commodity': this would follow the
> conventional
and, in my view, inconsequential - distinction between goods and services.

If the distinction between goods and services was inconsequential, then we'd
have to accept that insurance services and manufacturing are just two
branches of production.

The concepts of 'commodity' and 'good' are IMHO closely linked, but not
identical. A commodity is a good made for market exchange. It follows from
this definition that a service, which is not a good, cannot be a commodity.
I know you disagree with this, but as I've said you'll need to offer a
coherent alternative. If you're going to say that services too are
commodities, then you have to include all services.

I wrote:
>> A service is only a use-value

I should have explained that this concept of 'services' (which isn't
originally mine, I think I read it in Marx or perhaps Engels) is not the
conventional one that I've been using above (as in 'goods' vs 'services')
but a more refined one that recognizes that goods too provide services,
hence a service, strictly speaking, is a use-value. Where conventional
language says 'goods' it really means 'use-values in the form of objects',
whereas 'services' means 'use-values in the form of labor'. For convenience,
however, it's fine to use 'goods' and 'services'.

> This is wrong on so many levels. To begin with, services can come to have
> an
> exchange-value. You might not want to recognize that because, in so doing,
> you would be led through further consideration that services can have an
> exchange-
> value because many take the commodity-form and hence represent value.

Sure, insurance policies have exchange-value. But they are not commodities,
are they.

> That is, your perspective leads one to believe in a
> tendency for de-commodification under capitalism!

Correct. Some authors speak of this tendency as 'dematerialization', but
'decommodification' is better, because of course services are material too,
it's just that the product doesn't take the form of commodities.

>There are several conditions which need to be met for service
> labor (or ANY labor) to be productive of commodities and surplus-value.
> They include:
> - wage labor exchanged against capital;
> - the labor must be production labor (i.e. actually engaged in production,
> part of the production process);
> - the service must produce surplus-value rather than merely be
> concerned with legal title, including ownership, or sale of the commodity.

The first condition is trivial for this discussion, since it's part of our
assumptions. We're trying to find out which labor EMPLOYED BY CAPITAL
produces surplus-value for capitalism as a whole. The second condition is
vague, the third is tautological.


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Received on Wed Oct 27 18:18:16 2010

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