[lbo-talk] lbo-talk Digest, Vol 2541, Issue 1

Chris Sturr sturr at dollarsandsense.org
Wed Feb 8 06:57:22 PST 2017

> Message: 3
> Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2017 08:18:26 +1100
> From: Bill Bartlett <william7 at aapt.net.au>
> Subject: Re: [lbo-talk] Petty Bourgeois (was "Big Business Takes
> Distance... ")
> To: lbo-talk at lbo-talk.org
> Message-ID: <50718BCA-F0B8-4910-949F-2DCEC9693E8C at aapt.net.au>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=windows-1252
> On 03/02/2017, at 4:13 AM, Carrol Cox <cbcox at ilstu.edu> wrote:
> > But teaching clearly does not create value (in the Marxist sense of
> "value." [?]
> Well I'm no Marxist scholar, but I would have thought it was obvious that
> education increases the productive capacity of the worker dramatically. So
> it is part of the production process, that eventually creates value. It
> follows that you must be wrong.
> If Marx agrees with you, then Marx must also be wrong, but not having
> sufficient education in the intricacies of Marx's theories, my opinion on
> that matter is of less "value".
> Bill Bartlett
> Bracknell Tas

Hey Bill and Carrol and everyone,

I think it's that Marx didn't consider services to be productive labor, but he should have. There's the famous passage from *Theories of Surplus Value* in which Marx facetiously claims that crime is productive:

"A philosopher produces ideas, a poet verse, a parson sermons, a professor text-books, etc. A criminal produces crime. But if the relationship between this latter branch of production and the whole productive activity of society is examined a little more closely one is forced to abandon a number of prejudices. The criminal produces not only crime but also the criminal law; he produces the professor who delivers lectures on this criminal law, and even the inevitable text-book in which the professor presents his lectures as a commodity for sale in the market. There results an increase in material wealth, quite apart from the pleasure which...the author himself derives from the manuscript of this text-book."

But my understanding is that that this is supposed to be a reductio ad absurdum. I'm no Marx expert either, but I think Marxist economists today *do *think that services (including teaching) produce value.

When I was looking for this passage, I noticed that Yoshie Furuhashi quoted it at more length on lbo-talk back in 1999: http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/1999/1999-March/004381.html. The longer version is worth reading.


-- Chris Sturr, Co-editor *Dollars & Sense* | Real World Economics | Triple Crisis Blog 89 South St., LL02 Boston, MA 02111 phone: 617-447-2177 fax: 617-447-2179 email: sturr at dollarsandsense.org website: dollarsandsense.org blog: dollarsandsense.org/blog | triplecrisis.com

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