At 09:15 AM 9/14/99 -0400, you wrote:
>If labor engaged in doing nothing of any social value is "productive" and
>productive of expanding surplus value (which is what capitalism is about)
>then the basis of capitalism is, at least in part, "nothingness".
>"Silly"? "personal prejudice"? Paul Zarembka
Does this remark have something to do with my comments on metaphysics ?
For a commodity to be of "social value" there must be demand for it from at
least one other person, that is all that is required. I don't know what you
mean by "labour engaged in doing nothing of social value". This could be
interpreted in some moral sense, or it could be interpreted in the sense of
If it is interpreted in a moral sense, then the same applies what I said to
Jerry: capitalists do not moralise with respect to their own profitmaking;
and many commodities are produced which aren't good for people, the labour
involved is productive yet the product may be harmful.
If it is interpreted in an economic sense, then "labour producing nothing
of any social value" is not productive labour according to the strict
Marxian definition. My point has been that such statements are too
general, and we have to get down to specifics to form a coherent concept of
productive labour. The problematic of productive labour is I think
important because (1) we have to do our social accounting sums correctly,
(2) we need to understand the way the capitalist division of labour is
evolving, (3) we need to understand the way in which the bourgeois
valuation of labour is changing.
Incidentally, the problematic of productive labour in capitalist society is
different from the problematic of socially useful labour in socialist society.
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