Productive and Unproductive Labor

Paul Zarembka ECOPAULZ at
Thu Aug 3 06:57:55 MDT 1995

On Tue, 1 Aug 1995 glevy at wrote:

> Is labor employed in the finance sector productive or unproductive in
> Marx's understanding?  An interesting question.  My understanding is that
> wage labor employed by private capital to produce surplus value is
> productive labor.  Yes?

Jerry, I think the key is the word "surplus value".  To produce surplus
value, value itself must be produced.  So what produces value?  Yes, it
must be wage labor employed by capital (let's stay away from the problem
of "private" versus "state" capital).  To produce value the product must
sustain human life or be used to sustain human life (military production
is excluded, e.g., thus the same Chrysler worker producing automotive cars
and tanks is in one case productive and in the other case non-productive).
"Services" may or may not be productive--repair, for example, is.
Advertising, insurance, banking, etc. are not, as they are only promoting
a realization or accounting funtion--the workers themselves, not
managers and so forth.

This is a complex problem, but this is where I start off.

Paul Zarembka

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