[OPE-L:2090] Surplus product in communist society?

From: P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk
Date: Tue Jan 11 2000 - 15:05:02 EST

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Claus wrote

> If the society is expected to continue expanding
> the well being of its members, there has to be a surplus product, which
> is,
> however, appropriated by the social body, not only by a part of it, i.e.,
> it is no longer surplus value.
        I'm uneasy about the notion of a "surplus product" in a communist

        Mention of a surplus immediately invites the question "surplus to

        This has an obvious answer in class societies: that which is over
and above the product necessary to ensure the physical reproduction of the
labourers and the social reproduction of their relationship with other
classes -- hence including, in capitalism, the workers' spending on priests,
tabloid newspapers, social democratic politicians, and trade union

        Presumably in a communist society production will be devoted to
ensuring the free development of all.

        I don't see what activity could, conceptually, lie outside or beyond
this and hence constitute a surplus. (I can see that there might be
activities which would fail to count towards the free development of all,
but it seems more natural to describe these as "waste" rather than

        Does Claus perhaps mean "that product which is over and above that
needed to guarantee the existing level of well-being of its members"?

        If so, why does increasing well-being require increased production?
Apart from anything else, if society's goals change, on the face of it
well-being would be increased by re-orienting production to meet the new
goals (as compared to the well-being that would result from perpetuating the
existing pattern of production).

        Maybe Claus would like to elaborate on what he means by "well-being"
and "product"?


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