[OPE-L:1214] Re: surplus production and the value-form

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Tue Sep 14 1999 - 07:00:32 EDT

Paul C wrote in [OPE-L:1212]:

> The point is that you are assuming that first profits are made and then
> these are used to pay for advertising. The money has to be spent on
> advertising as a precondition of an individual firm making the profits.
> <snip> To establish a firm large sums must be spent on advertising
> up front before any revenue comes in.

In practice, firms have certain "unproductive expenditures" (e.g. related
to sales) that are -- as you say -- a precondition for profits. This must
be the case, regardless of whether actual money is spent on advertising
(and in Marx's day, advertising was far less important for firms) since
surplus value must be "converted" through sales into profit.

In the distinction, though, of what is "productive labor" vs. what is
"unproductive labor", we do not use the capitalists' criteria of what
increases profitability and what does not. Rather, the criteria is: what
labor is productive of surplus value?

What we are concerned with, in the first instance, is the flow and
creation of value. And we all agree -- it seems -- that value is not
created in exchanged. Yet, as we discussed in the "ideal value" thread
some time back, a compelling case can be made that while value is created
(in an ideal sense) in production it only becomes fully validated as value
in the marketplace when the commodity is sold. It is this imperative -- to
transform "ideal" value into "actual" value and thereby convert surplus
value into profits -- that compels capitalists in most markets today to
allocate funds for advertising. Seen from this perspective, then, certain
"unproductive expenditures" might be seen as necessary -- in practice --
for the reproduction process.

In solidarity, Jerry

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