The Metaphysics of Value (was The Geography of Class Struggle)

Bernard J. Goitein bjg at
Fri Jul 14 16:39:54 MDT 1995

anybody interested in actual analysis? or data?
On Fri, 14 Jul 1995 LeoCasey at wrote:
> political economy. It came in the first of Scott's missles:
> >Where is the majority of profit and wealth created now if not in the >basic
> manufactoring industry? What is the *main* source of surplus >value? Is there
> some other source of homes, factories, cars, >electronics, computers, food
> preperation, energy, transportation, >tools, clothing, shoes, bridges,
> highways, aircraft, furniture, paper, >video and audio tape, fishing rods &
> boats, books, beer, microfilm >readers etc etc etc. Or are these things now
> immortal and not >consumed in their use. As far as I can tell these things
> are still >produced by workers.
ok- we have an empirically testable assertion- that the majority of
profit and wealth is generated in manufacturing and similar industries.

Actually, the numbers are about a half, at least in the US: my aged 1993
statistical US statistical abstract shows for 1989, In billions
of US $, corporations' sales totaled 10,440, generating net income of 389.

Manufacturing corporations contributed 3276 of the sales, and 181 of the net
income. So manufacturing that year in the US generated sales (wealth?) and
net income (profit?) that were close to half, but not an outright
majority of the corporations total.  Given Scott's reference to homes, energy
and transportation, we should add sales, net income of construction
(505, 9, respectively), and transportation/public utilities (844, 39).
That pushes the sales total close to half, and net income over 50%.

By way of comparison, corporations in the financial sector (finance
insurance and real estate) generated sales of 1868, for net income of 109.

> An example from Marx ?????
 which arose in Chris B's contribution to the
debate is > especially illustrative of the problems here.
> >I read Scott to argue that surplus value is raised from the
> >manufacturing sector. Most of the examples in Marx are from
> >manufacturing but a) he says that a commodity may meet a need of
> >the imagination b) he gives the example of a teacher creating >surplus value
> provided, he says, the teacher is employed by a > >capitalist. I wonder
who employs the teachers in Leo's union?
(the state)
So if a student taught by a teacher in a public school and a
> student taught by a teacher in a private school both obtain the same job
> (let's say a skilled machinist in a manufacturing industry) where they both
> use the same skills taught to them in their respective schools, what, pray
> tell, makes the public school teacher unproductive while the private school
> teacher is productive?

Who are you arguing against?  Except maybe some (libertarian?)
types who say that "by (their) definition", government
cannot produce value/wealth etc.

But whenever (socialist?) people discuss state ownership of the means of
production (or the "commanding heights"), it is not because they want to
stop it from being productive, but rather to redirect production of its wealth
for more than just the capitalist owners.

So goods producing industries are still central to the economy, Tofflerish
babble notwithstanding. and service industries might also produce value, e.g.,
medical care- a valuable service, no matter who pays the doctor.

So wherever there is an industry producing significant
value, organizing belongs.  and the geography of value *is* important.


PS. I think I can stretch my mind to the idea that real estate
firms -and even insurance firms - might sometimes provide
something socially worthwhile or even valuable.  But can
anyone tell me what finance firms (banks) produce that is of value?

I would also like to propose an operational definition for value of an
output of a firm:  The firm produces something of value if and only if
we would want to see that "value" produced after the revolution.

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