[OPE-L:2099] Re: Why is Malthus correct on unproductive labor, according to Marx?

From: Duncan K. Foley (foleyd@cepa.newschool.edu)
Date: Tue Jan 11 2000 - 19:00:51 EST

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This is quite a complicated issue. Marx saw Smith's distinction between
productive and unproductive labor as the distinction between labor that
produced surplus value and labor that didn't, and therefore a core
characteristic of the bourgeois point of view.

I'm not as certain from my reading of Marx where exactly he located the
importance of the distinction in the hierarchy of abstractions. The
discussion of Smith makes it seem to be a projection of the bourgeois point
of view, and therefore limited to that point of view, but there are also
places where Marx seems to veer into the idea that a socialist economy
would eliminate unproductive labor.

It's interesting that neoclassical economics, which I guess must represent
bourgeois political economy in our period, is resolutely opposed to the
meaningfulness of the distinction.


>Theories of Surplus Value, I, Chp. IV.3 (p. 157 Progress) has Marx saying
> "this critical differentiation between productive and unproductive
>labor remains
> the basis of all bourgeois political economy".
>Why does Marx say that? Why is it crucial to bourgeois political economy?
>And, whatever our own differences on this issue, is it not the case the
>Marx himself thought that the differentiation plays a role in his, not
>just bourgeois, political economy?
>If anyone has an answer, I'd appreciate the benefit of their insight.
>Thanks, Paul
>Paul Zarembka, supporting RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY, web site
>******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

Duncan K. Foley
Department of Economics
Graduate Faculty
New School University
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