[OPE-L:1236] Re: Re: the conservation and destruction of value

From: Claus Germer (cmgermer@sociais.ufpr.br)
Date: Wed Sep 15 1999 - 10:56:37 EDT

I would like to comment on Jurriaan following statement:

>Would you rule out
>posters, video's, labels, etc. from the universe of commodities ?

In my view posters, videos and so on are commodities, produced by
productive labour. This doesn't mean, however, that the labour spent in
organizing advertising produces value. Capitalists spend a part of the
surplus value in personal consumption. The labour which produces the
commodities that go into capitalist personal consumption is productive
labour. Advertising costs consist similarly of the expenditure of surplus
value, which doesn't mean that the commodities in which it is spent don't
result from productive labour. In the aggregate, advertising consists of a
specific way of spending a fraction of the surplus value of the economy,
which ends up in an expansion of department II of the economy. The size of
the surplus value determines the size of the sectors of the economy that
produce the commodities in which surplus value is spent. If more of surplus
value is spent in consumption goods, less is spent in production goods that
add to the capacity of expansion of the economy.

The unproductive labour of advertising is the one that organizes it for the
producers, They create the layout of the material means of advertising and
order the materials needed - which are commodities produced by productive
labour -, put them together in an appropriate way and so on.

Ian wrote:

> I agree that value can be destroyed. Advertising expenditure prevents
> destruction and so- in that sense - creates value.

The labour involved in normal costs of storage is said to be productive,
and what it actually does is to prevent commodities from being destructed.
Labour involved in advertising is directed to the sale of the commodities.
What determines the timing of the purchase and consumption of each
commodity is the social need it serves, and this timing determines the
normal costs of storage. It seems that the costs of advertising only
determine which producer sells more of its produce. So, it is doubtfull
that advertising results in the prevention of desctruction of fractions of
existing value, which is performed by normal storage costs. Advertising
that accelerates the sale of one brand of a commodity, reduces the speed of
the sale of another, and in this sense increases its wastefull costs of
storage. If we admit that Paul is right in saying that

>They spend huge amounts on tv advertising for what is in practice a
>fixed market - people only use a certain amount of powder per year.
>They dont decide to do lots more washes after seeing a persil advert.

the conclusion would be that advertising may result in a waste of labour
and of value, since both companies may have produced more than they can
possibly sell, perhaps expecting that their advertising would turn this

Claus Germer
Departamento de Economia
Universidade Federal do Paraná
Rua Dr. Faivre, 405 - 3º andar
80060-140 Curitiba - Paraná

Tel: (041) 360-5214 - Ufpr
       (041) 254-3415 Res.

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