[OPE-L:1300] Re: Advertising and productive labour

From: zarembka@acsu.buffalo.edu
Date: Mon Sep 20 1999 - 08:42:29 EDT

On 09/20/99 at 10:15 AM, "Michael J Williams"
<michael@williamsmj.screaming.net> said:


I will skip over the first part of your answer through the bracketed
expression and the next paragraph, since we are not meeting at the same
crossroads. I do note that you teach business economics and I could
imagine that business students, if they go into marketing, would resist
the idea that they will be engaged in "unproductive labor", so I might
have to spend pretty much time on the issue if I were teaching there
within a Marxist tradition. (I am not saying that your opinion derives
from the students you teach but I do think you would get more resistance
if you were teaching, as say Rosa Luxemburg did, at a party school.)

>> Is a mortgage loan a commodity, even though we have only interest (M-M',
>> the collapsed form of M-C-M')? If so, what is its use value, given that
>> there is no "C"? (Note: I am abstracting from the banking system as an
>> intermediary in posing this question. Also, if this question takes us on
>> a new road, perhaps I should withdraw it.)

>It is relevant to the general (un)productive labour distinction. As I
>have stated previously, imo, a mortgage is a commodity, notwithstanding
>that it is a (package of) service(s) rather than a physical product.

If it is to be a commodity, where is ANY labor power involved (remember
the banking system as intermediary is abstracted from the question)
whether productive or unproductive and why does Marx eliminate the "C"
from M-C-M' in such a case?

>> "Help...to sell" and "sell them at a higher price" are again criteria of
>> "success".

>See above. If Coke cannot systematically succeed in selling its products
>(for an adequate price) *they* will cease to be (successful) commodities.

The issue you are now introducing is the question of realization of
surplus value, not the productive/unproductive distinction. For the
productive/unproductive question, I do repeat that using a criterion of a
result ("success") is circular. However, I know we are on different

>I have argued that it is to generate success in their sales efforts that
>capital causes to be produced products with a use value for someone.

Yes, Coke and Pepsi are the use-values, not the ideological propaganda in
ads. You attempt, in part of your message (not reproduced), to package
the propaganda INTO the product itself, and I guess you are not surprised
that I reject such a turn in posing the issues.

I do not need to get into the final case of what happens if the sales
effort fails to succeed. Resolving that would not change the basic issues
at stake. I think you are saying the productive labor would be involved
but it would be unrealized and, yes, that happens in capitalism (and that
is of course correct).


Paul Zarembka, supporting RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY at
******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

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