Re: [OPE] Reply to critics

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Thu Oct 28 2010 - 05:53:16 EDT

On 28 October 2010 00:16, Paula <> wrote:

> 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'.

I would agree with most Marxian economists that what is relevant here is the
commodity-*form*, and that both goods and services can assume this form when
they are subject to exchange for money.

Now whether you want accept this definition or not is not really of
theoretical importance, the question is rather: What are the implications of
your material-commodity criterion for productive labour? And would these
implications render the distinction practically useless?

It seems to me to have some problematic consequences. Consider a capitalist
economy with a fixed supply of labour, but where the share of labour engaged
in material-commodity production decreases to insignificance (following the
trend of agriculture). The overwhelming part is instead employed in
producing services exchanged for money, e.g. painting walls, performing
surgery, haircuts etc. By your definition the unproductive share of the
economy is steadily rising. But does this have any significance for the
capitalist economy?

Suppose further that the consumption of material-commodities by the
working-class falls as a share of their real wage, whose labour content
remains constant. By your definition it would mean that the value of
labour-power is declining too, while the capitalistically employed necessary
labour remains constant.

//Dave Z

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Received on Thu Oct 28 06:00:19 2010

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