value

donna jones djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Thu Aug 25 11:47:12 MDT 1994


Steve,
 the paragraph (p.271) from which you quote clearly does not support your
argument that all inputs are  productive (if that is your argument). In
that passage, it seems that Marx is critiquing the Physiocratic fetish that
surplus can be the result of only one kind of concrete labor.  But if many
kinds of use-values can realize surplus value then Marx is asking what is
the nature of the labor that produces capital. "The communal substance of
all commodities, i.e., their substance not  as material stuff, as physical
character, but their communal substance as COMMODITIES and hence EXCHANGE
VALUES, is this, that they are OBJECTIFIED LABOR."  In the footnote Marx
argues "As far as their differences are concerned, none of them excludes
capital from entering into them and making their bodies its own, so long as
none excludes the character of exchange value and of the commodity." ***
Far from saying all commodities produce exchange value, Marx is only
arguing that capital can be produced in the form of many commodities.***
This then raises the question that is to revolutionize all economic
science: not how can all commodities produce surplus, but what is the
nature of value-positing labor that can take on infinite forms.  Marx then
struggles over the concept of abstract labor in the next few lines and
concludes with his own emphases: "The only USE VALUE, therefore, which can
form the opposite pole to capital is LABOUR (TO BE EXACT, VALUE-CREATING
PRODUCTIVE LABOR." (p.272)For marx's devlopment of this concept, see
Pilling 1980 and Grossmann 1977 (in Capital and Class)

Through  arriving at this exact concept, Marx has shown that which is
historically specific to capitalism.  Far from joining with Joan Robinson
that capital--along with labor--is productive (Rosdolosky's critique of
Robinson is quite good), Marx then goes on to delimit which labor, under
capitalism, is productive. "He who represents money is this relation [for
the service of a porter] demands the service only for its USE-VALUE (my
emhasis), which immediately vanishes for him; but the porter demands money,
and since the party with moeny is concerned with the commodity and the
party with the commodity, with money, it follws that they represent to one
another no more than the two sides of simple circulation; goes without
saying that the porter, as the party concerned with money, hence directly
with the general form of wealth, tries to enrich himself at the expense of
his impoverished friend, thus injuring the latter's self-esteem, all the
more so because he, a hard calculator, has need of the service not QUA
CAPITALIST but as a result of his ordinary human fraility.  A. Smith was
ESSENTIALLY correct with his PRODUCTIVE and UNPRODUCTIVE labour, correct
from the standpoint of bourgeois economy."

True, this shows that Marx's theory of surplus value is not simply about
necessary/surplus labor--as Steve has previously argued-- but, more
fundamentally, about which or what kind of historically-specific labor
produces value.  For example, labor in circulation (or labor involved what
Carchedi, following vl II,  calls formal transformations of the commodity)
performs surplus labor, but does not create surplus value, though
circulation capitals tendentially realize the average rate of profit--while
deducting from it.  In short, the so-called dialectic between exchange and
use-value not only says nothing about  the value productivity of all
factors of production but also further specifies which labor produces
surplus value "from the standpoint of bourgeois economy."  The use-value of
all labor power is not productive from the standpoint of  bourgeois
economy.

There are very good discussions of productive/unproductive labor in II
Rubin, Sydney Coontz (1966), Geoffrey Kay (1979) and David Leadbeater (who
takes on Hunt's challenge against the distinction).  The distinction plays
heavily in Fred Moseley's work and has been critiqued by Laibman in Science
and Society (with reply by Moseley).  I think Moseley is right.  Cogoy also
makes use of it to analyze state spending, which he subsumes under a dept
III and then analzyes in terms of accumulation of total social capital.

Moreover,  I would argue that Rosdolosky's critique of Robinson and
Carchedi's critique of the fetish of dead labor (neither of which I have
developed here) demolishes what is left of the factors of production
school.
d jones



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