[OPE-L:1246] Re: Unproductive labour and unproductive commodities

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Thu Sep 16 1999 - 10:28:31 EDT

Paul C wrote in [OPE-L:1244]:

> There is no doubt that
> the Duke of Hamilton, in Marx's day the richest man in Britain, derived
> use values from the services of his butlers. But it is also clear that
> he would have
> had even more surplus value were he to have employed them in his coal
> mines, and that thus they were unproductive. <snip>
> It follows of course from this argument that in addition to there being
> unproductive labour there is such a thing as an unproductive commodity.
> No labour that contributes only to an unproductive commodity can
> itself be productive.

I'm not sure if your concept of "unproductive commodity" is more similar
to Sraffa's "non-basic" commodity or Marx's concept of productive and
unproductive consumption. To what extent is it similar to the later?

Relatedly: what is your perspective on Jim Becker's perspective on the
unproductive consumption of capital?

(Digressive comment: In the 4 years of the list, I don't remember us *ever*
discussing the perspectives of Jim Becker. In retrospect, I find that
rather odd and somewhat puzzling. Clearly, he is a highly original
-- and independent -- Marxist thinker. He was also, btw, an excellent
teacher [I took classes with him -- many moons ago - while an
undergraduate at NYU] and a thoroughly charming and good-natured Jimmy
Stewart, the actor, look- and sound-alike).

In solidarity, Jerry

James F. Becker _Marxian Political Economy: An Outline_, Cambridge,
    Cambridge University Press, 1977

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