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 Post subject: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 9:09 am 
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Marx, Capital Vol 1 wrote:
Lastly, the extraordinary increase in the productivity of large-scale industry, accompanied as it is by a both more intensive and a more extensive exploitation of labour-power in all other spheres of production, permits a larger and larger part of the working-class to be employed unproductively.


One of the biggest developments in the economies of the west over the past few decades is the growth of the service and hospitality sectors at the expense of traditional industry. In my own home town, the main employer used to be a large car manufacturing plant, but nowadays it seems most young people are employed by hotels, restaurants, bars or primarily as retail assistants in clothing stores etc. This forms the core of one particular attack on Marxism, that Marx's economic analysis is outdated, applying as it does to a period of history when factories were the main employers.

I'm interested in:

1) Any books on the history of the growth of the service economy from a specifically Marxist perspective, linking it with developments in the wider world-market and with the general tendency outlined by Marx for machinery to expel workers from productive employment.

2) Any books or sources of statistics on the same from a purely empirical perspective which nonetheless might contain some useful insights.

3) Analyses of how the growth of the service sector impacts on the development/stagnation of the labour movement in those countries. The Thatcher period in the UK seems to form a decent starting point for the analysis of the struggle of workers against this expulsion, and the consequences of such in subsequent British history.

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"Citizen Weston illustrated his theory by telling you that a bowl contains a certain quantity of soup, to be eaten by a certain number of persons, an increase in the broadness of the spoons would produce no increase in the amount of soup. He must allow me to find this illustration rather spoony."
- Marx, Value, Price and profit -


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 Post subject: Re: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 10:08 am 
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Quote:
Looking at a longer-term comparison, between June 1978 (when comparable records began) and June 2016:

the proportion of jobs accounted for by the manufacturing and mining and quarrying sectors fell from 26.3% to 8.0%

the proportion of jobs accounted for by the services sector increased from 63.2% to 83.2%


https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlab ... vember2016


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 Post subject: Re: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 10:09 am 
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services doesn't mean unproductive employment


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 Post subject: Re: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 1:46 pm 
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Noa wrote:
services doesn't mean unproductive employment


It doesn't necessarily mean unproductive labour.

Productive labour under capitalism expands in one way and contracts in another. It expands in the sense that it turns the worker into a collective worker, with a myriad of disparate elements contributing towards the final product. But it also narrows the definition, only work which produces surplus-value is productive work.

One tendency is to subsume all wage-labourers by definition into the productive category, and assume that all workers by definition have the same relationship to capital. But then the question is, if all wage-labour is productive of surplus-value, what does that mean for the apparent tendency of capitalism to expel the working-class from productive labour? (Or am I reading Marx wrong and this isn't implied)

Further, if there is no tendency for capital to expel the working-class from productive labour, or if all labour is by definition productive labour, in what terms should we examine the move towards a service based economy in the West?

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"The death of the poor man is the worst eventuality for the creditor. It is the death of his capital together with the interest."
- Marx, Comments on James Mill -

"Citizen Weston illustrated his theory by telling you that a bowl contains a certain quantity of soup, to be eaten by a certain number of persons, an increase in the broadness of the spoons would produce no increase in the amount of soup. He must allow me to find this illustration rather spoony."
- Marx, Value, Price and profit -


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 Post subject: Re: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:01 pm 
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Moishe Machower explained it in a CPGB video lecture by the example of a house cleaner. If the cleaner's work is paid to her/him as an individual directly by the resident then it is unproductive. But if the cleaner is employed by a cleaning company and thus is paid via a wage, then it is productive, even though the work is exactly the same.
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 Post subject: Re: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:12 pm 
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I'll have to think about that one.

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"The death of the poor man is the worst eventuality for the creditor. It is the death of his capital together with the interest."
- Marx, Comments on James Mill -

"Citizen Weston illustrated his theory by telling you that a bowl contains a certain quantity of soup, to be eaten by a certain number of persons, an increase in the broadness of the spoons would produce no increase in the amount of soup. He must allow me to find this illustration rather spoony."
- Marx, Value, Price and profit -


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 Post subject: Re: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:36 pm 
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Noa wrote:
Moishe Machower explained it in a CPGB video lecture by the example of a house cleaner. If the cleaner's work is paid to her/him as an individual directly by the resident then it is unproductive. But if the cleaner is employed by a cleaning company and thus is paid via a wage, then it is productive, even though the work is exactly the same.


I think this example is entirely incorrect.

I'll start with the second instance.

The cleaner earns a wage equal to the necessary labor. The company is paid based on constant capital expended, necessary labor, and surplus labor.

In the first instance the cleaner is free-lance, i.e. petty-bourgeois. They employ their own constant capital and labor thus being paid for necessary and surplus labor in addition to constant capital.

Both instances of labor are productive because a value is paid above and beyond the necessary labor and constant capital, i.e. the labor is productive because it yields a surplus.

This use-age of the word "productive labor" to mean labor that yields a surplus is fairly consistent with Marx.

Capital Chapter 15 wrote:
Like every other increase in the productiveness of labour, machinery is intended to cheapen commodities, and, by shortening that portion of the working-day, in which the labourer works for himself, to lengthen the other portion that he gives, without an equivalent, to the capitalist.


All wage-laborers are productive laborers, until they're not. If the working class is considered as a collective whole to produce the two parts of the commodity necessary labor time and surplus labor time, then a reduction in the necessary labor time means a reduction in the working class.

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 Post subject: Re: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 7:16 pm 
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I can't really see how you're example works Noa.

Assume two individuals perform exactly the same amount of work, and receive the same amount in wages, one from an individual and one from a capitalist. Assuming that this type of labour is a productive form of labour, then they both end up producing the same amount of value and therefore the same amount of surplus-value. If it isn't they don't, the individual who pays them shouldn't make a difference.

I suppose where it gets hazy is where we move from someone employed to clean a house, for example, and someone employed to clean a factory. In the latter example the labour of the cleaner is a much closer part of the production process and therefore easier to conceive of as a part of the productive labour of the collective worker. But this is all abstract, what I'm really interested in is the composition of the working-class as it presently exists.

Maybe the problem is that the category of service work is too abstract and contains too many different types of labour to really be helpful. The more prudent path might be to analyse the growth and development of specific industries.

Broletariat wrote:
Both instances of labor are productive because a value is paid above and beyond the necessary labor and constant capital, i.e. the labor is productive because it yields a surplus.


If I understand this, you're saying that because cleaning companies make a profit, the labourers they employ can't possibly be unproductive labourers. But profit and surplus-value aren't the same thing. Even ignoring phenomena such as rent, interest and taxation, if we assume that on the level of society as a whole surplus-value = profit, that doesn't mean that the profit of the individual capitalist is reflective of the surplus-value produced in that industry.

Quote:
This use-age of the word "productive labor" to mean labor that yields a surplus is fairly consistent with Marx.


It is exactly what productive labour means for the purposes of this discussion, but that's not what's being disputed.

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"The death of the poor man is the worst eventuality for the creditor. It is the death of his capital together with the interest."
- Marx, Comments on James Mill -

"Citizen Weston illustrated his theory by telling you that a bowl contains a certain quantity of soup, to be eaten by a certain number of persons, an increase in the broadness of the spoons would produce no increase in the amount of soup. He must allow me to find this illustration rather spoony."
- Marx, Value, Price and profit -


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 Post subject: Re: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 8:30 pm 
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Zanthorus wrote:
If I understand this, you're saying that because cleaning companies make a profit, the labourers they employ can't possibly be unproductive labourers. But profit and surplus-value aren't the same thing. Even ignoring phenomena such as rent, interest and taxation, if we assume that on the level of society as a whole surplus-value = profit, that doesn't mean that the profit of the individual capitalist is reflective of the surplus-value produced in that industry.


Even if profit and surplus-value are not the same thing, the worker will still yield a surplus value because they are working above and beyond what is necessary for them to replace the value of their wage.

If we want to use an example from Volume 2 where Marx gives an example of an explicitly non-productive form of labor, the labor of circulation, a surplus-value is still yielded to the capitalist. Basically the task of circulation was previously just a task that individuals had to do that was unproductive. As division of labor progressed these unproductive tasks became unproductive industries, but they still yield surplus-value to the capitalists. The owners of unproductive industries take a share in the general surplus-value of society while contributing none of their own.

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 Post subject: Re: The Service Economy
PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 7:18 am 
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Quote:
the worker will still yield a surplus value because they are working above and beyond what is necessary for them to replace the value of their wage.


I had assumed that the individual cleaner earns the same as the wage of the cleaning company. If they start earning a profit then they either spend it on consumption or soon they will start hiring for the launch of their own cleaning company.


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