[OPE-L:1265] Re: Re: Advertising and productive labour

From: Michael J Williams (michael@williamsmj.screaming.net)
Date: Fri Sep 17 1999 - 03:56:21 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: <zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU>
To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 1999 10:46 PM
Subject: [OPE-L:1259] Re: Advertising and productive labour

.> , i.e., there is no
> definition of use-value involved, only the result.
> Application: don't ask what, if any, content Coke and Pepsi advertising
> has, ask only if it is sells.

That is precisely my point. One of the Marxist political/humanist criticisms
of capitalism is that its logic is indifferent to the social usefulness of
the products that it creates, just so it sells, for which it must have
*some* use-value. Ergo, the question of what labour is (un)productive under
capitalism is concerned with what labour produces value and surplus value,
not, to repeat, with the nature of the use-value that it produces.

I have a slight feeling that in making this argument I am being attacked for
the sins of capitalism that I point out - viz its indifference to the human
social usefulness of the products in its pursit of valorisation.

If someone wants to construct a critique of capitalism on the basis of a
distinction between labour that produces a socialy useful product and labour
that is, from a human point of view, wasted, in producing something that is
not socially useful, that's great. But that is not what, imo, the
distinction between productive and unproductive labour is about. Much
state-employed labour could be seen as producing outputs (welfare services,
health care) that are higly socially desirable. But, for capital, it is
unproductive - not because it produces those socially useful outputs
(capital is not *against* such production, per se, but indifferent to it),
but because it is not employed under capitalist direct relations of
production, and so does not create surplus value. Hence the continual
pressure from capital to 'privatize' such activities.

I could try to see better where Paul is coming from if he leavened his heavy
sarcasm with a little connected argument.


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