[OPE-L:1149] Re: Re: Re: Unproductive labour income and Marxian social accounts

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Sep 08 1999 - 04:47:55 EDT

At 22:42 07/09/99 +0200, Jurriaan Bendien wrote:
>It is a tension in Marx, because of the dialectics of use-value and
>exchange-value, of abstract labour and concrete labour. The challenge is to
>work out which labour really do add value to the product or really do add
>to wealth in some definition. It is meaningless to say productive labour is
>labour producing surplus value, that's a tautology. As soon as you want to
>give the definition some bite, you have to spell out what this means in
>terms of concrete labour, specific production processes. Not many Marxists
>have understood this, but capitalists understand this bloody well.

May I suggest that a possible definition of which labour really does add
to wealth is provided indirectly by Sraffa.
Following his insights one could define materially productive labour as
that labour which enters directly or indirectly into all other products, or
whose direct or indirect product is necessary to the reproduction of the
productive labour force.

This definition is recursive but has fixed points and terminates.

The consequence of it is to exclude classically unproductive activities
like the armed forces, servants of the rich, and advertising. But it would
include primary eduction, health care for the working population etc.
It would exclude health care for those past working age and education for
skills which were themselves unproductive ( officer training schools for

It does not depend upon subjective moral assesments.

It is what is relevant when one is concerned with maximising the surplus
product of society as a whole - as for example moving onto a von Neumann
growth path, or maximising weapons production in wartime.

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