[OPE-L:1229] Re: Re: Advertising and productive labour

From: Jurriaan Bendien (djjb99@worldonline.nl)
Date: Wed Sep 15 1999 - 05:27:43 EDT

Hi Paul

I wrote you a mail but it seems to have disappeared.

At 01:32 PM 9/14/99, you wrote:
>An example: the end result of a Coke and a Pepsi ad is nothing. Nothing
>of usefulness to humans has been created.

I disagree with that, and I think you underestimate human ingenuity. A Coke
ad is itself a product in the shape of a label, a poster, a billboard, a
video etc. Its usefulness is to promote brand identification.

There is not even "information"
>on chemical composition, etc, of the products, or even which is the
>closest store to purchase.

This is true, but information is being given, namely information about the

The labor power purchased by capitalists to
>engage labor power to produce that ad (secretaries, draftspersons, video
>specialists, designers, bookkeepers, ads for the ad business, ...) results
>in a nothing. When I remark on that to my students, none (or almost none,
>excepting apologists for capitalism) defend the result as the product of
>productive labor.
Well I don't think so, as already stated. Some labour may be an
unproductive cost to the advertising firm, but it does produce a product
sold as a commodity.

>On the other hand, the labor power purchased to produce and ship the Coke
>and Pepsi is productive.


>Ordinary working class people know advertising for what it is (or at least
>it so seems to me).

Agreed - and it is fascinating how they often modify the meaning of
advertisements for their own purposes. Let's not forget though the
oridinary working class people whose labour produces signs, posters,
labels, videos etc.

The productive/unproductive distinction is to enrich
>our understanding of capitalism. Of course, application of the
>distinction is not always so easy, but advertising is not for me one of
>the difficult cases.

For me it is more difficult than for you, because I have to work out which
advertising labour produces a commodity and is subsumed under the capital

On the whole, your critique is more based on moral considerations than on
economic reality I think. To repeat, many products are produced under
capitalism which are not good for people. Yet they are commodities like any
other, produced under the capital relationship, hence productive of

In solidarity


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