On productive & unprod. labour

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Tue Sep 5 13:19:26 MDT 1995

I welcome Mauro's stimulating presence on the list.

> it is not enough
>that a process lead to some good or service which is treated and meant
>as a commodity (even the consultant gives a price to his more or less
>stupid ideas and sell them as a  commodity ).
>Thus again, if the software-house produces a real value (even in a
>non-material shape), the credit system do not (be the unit a bank
>or a fund).

One interesting point here is that a real value need not be embodied in a
material commodity (which seems to me theoretically correct but has always
bothered me).   For example, does Hollywood produce a real value, along
with the video cassette on which the movie is transcribed and the VCR on
which it is played. The cassette and the recorder are obviously both real
values and material commodities.  But what about the Hollywood movie? Are
designs which intellectual property rights are formulated to protect also
real values?

>Thus if the clerks are not socially productive, this does not imply
>that they are not exploited. Despite the differencies in the amount
>of wages, a bank-clerk is exploited by the single improductive capital
>as it is a sales-clerk of a supermerket or a produtive worker of General
>The real (social and political) question is not wheter a specific
>labour is socially productive or not, but wheter the man/woman who
>does it is exploited or not.

In his Frontiers of Political Economy (London:Verso, 1991), Carchedi makes
a distinction between labor which is exploited in that it is productive of
surplus value and labor that is oppressed in that its wages are homologated
to exploited workers.  The total mass of surplus value, produced alone in
productive sectors, must be spread out over unproductive sectors as no
capitalist would operate here if they too could not tendentially realize
the average rate of profit.  As the wages of the workers in this sector are
homologated to exploited workers, the capitalists are able to profit from
their activity in sectors to which surplus value is redistributed.

Carchedi also develops with great care a theory of mental labor as
productive (in terms of the point above), but I will have to restudy it.

> the third technical revolution... has enormous implications in the outlininig
>of the revolutionary >perspective. And the communists should understand what
>happened in>the class composition and what this implies.

I very much look forward to further comments.

With greetings from the San Francisco Bay Area,

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