[OPE-L:2109] Why is Malthus correct on unproductive labor, according to Marx?

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu)
Date: Wed Jan 12 2000 - 10:53:42 EST

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Regarding Marx's statement in Theories of Surplus Value, I, Chp. IV.3 (p.
157 Progress) that the "critical differentiation between productive and
unproductive labor remains the basis of all bourgeois political economy",

Jurriaan answered:
>maybe the answer is simpler than you think. If profit is the 'bottom
>line', then you always have to be able to distinguish between those
>activities which contribute to making profits and those activities which
>do not, and justify that."

Duncan, in part, answered:
>neoclassical economics, which I guess must represent bourgeois political >economy in our period, is resolutely opposed to the meaningfulness of the >distinction.

Jerry answered:
>I think that Marx's point, the validity of which imo is certainly open to
>question, is that bourgeois economists (going back to the
>physiocrats and mercantilists) struggled without complete success to
>understand the nature of surplus value and the productive/unproductive
>labor distinction associated with it.

Thanks to each of you.

Having now also found another citation in which, commenting on Richard
Jones, Marx wrote that he "quite correctly reduces Smith's productive and
non-productive labor to its essence -- capitalist and non-capitalist
labor" (Marx, T.S.V., III, p.431-32), I'm rather inclined to Jurriaan
simple answer that the bourgeoisie has to know where their profit comes
from! And Marxists need to know this also. Therefore, both bourgeois and
Marxist political economy is interested in understanding the distinction
between productive and unproductive labor and the basis for Marx
developing as much time and space to the issue as he did.

I need to think more about neoclassical economics, but isn't it "vulgar"
or petty-bourgeois economics, in any case, Duncan?

Jerry, in answer to your question in the posting, I could not find Malthus
on the issue which might have led to Marx's favorable comment.


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