Fundamental Questions of Marxist Theory



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Fundamental Questions of Marxist Theory



Once Again on Productive and Unproductive Labour1

Introduction


In his Budget speech of April, 1975, Mr Denis Healey, echoing the sentiments of his ‘Right Honourable friend’, Mr Wedgwood Benn, announced measures which, hopefully, would reverse the process of ‘deindustrialisation’ which Britain has been experiencing in recent years. Mr Benn, of course, has made it clear that he has found particularly worrying the recent trend towards an absolute decline in the number of people employed in manufacturing. He has even warned - with a distinctly Smithian touch - that the more our manufacturing population contracts, the greater will be the gulf between what we can physically produce and the minimum amount needed to pay our way as a great trading nation. If the Government is to maintain a competitive and profitable manufacturing sector, it must aim at nothing less than the preservation of our ‘industrial base’.2
Sharing Benn’s concern, if not his prescriptions, Sir Keith Joseph has also called for measures which would restore vitality to our dwindling industrial base, even at the expense of the unproductive sector which is, after all, ‘wealth-consuming’ rather than ‘wealth-creating’. How lamentable that we should live in a society in which so many live off the ‘surplus’ created by so few. Rather, we should strive towards an economy of solid worth, founded upon manufacturing, manned by proletarians and headed by the entrepreneur, that ‘rare type of person, relatively, compared to your wage and salary-earner’. Above all, what we require in Britain now is a thorough-going bourgeois revolution out of which will emerge a sturdy bourgeoisie, unencumbered by ‘feudal’ fetters. Britain, alas has
‘never had a capitalist ruling class or a stable haute bourgeoisie….The great feudal families, together with the landed gentry, court, church and legal profession set their stamp so firmly on post-medieval British society that the merchant classes sought acceptance rather than challenging it, as they did in France….The tradition was too strong for the industrial revolution to shake, though the middle classes tried, in mid-Victorian days….You may remember Marx’s complaint that feudal-oriented opponents of nascent capitalism dressed up as socialists. He was concerned that they should be clearly differentiated from the real product.’3
Replying to the Trade and Industry article, Samuel Brittan, writing in the Financial Times, lashed out at Benn for his ‘physiocratic’ distaste for ‘non-productive’ labour, for failing to consider the rise in industrial productivity which accompanied the drop in manufacturing employment and for not recognising that the shift from manufacturing to services is perfectly ‘normal’ in a modern economy.4 In a similar vein, although with different intentions, Labour MPs George Rodgers and Ivor Clemitson have argued that the decline in the numbers employed in manufacturing is an economic fact of life which we should learn to accept, and even welcome. What we should be doing, therefore, is ‘diverting more people into areas of public service - public transport, teaching, the health service, the social services, and so on down a long list….Our Socialist forefathers would have welcomed the chance which faces us. Why do we not grab it with both hands?’5
Thus Benn is taken to task for upholding a work ethic suited more to the first Industrial Revolution than 20th century social democracy, while those such as Rodgers and Clemitson are castigated by Sir Keith for concealing a feudal intent behind socialist garb.
For those of us with more than just a passing interest in the course taken by bourgeois society, it comes as no surprise to find the ruling classes of this country again bringing to life an ever-recurrent theme of classical political economy - the distinction between productive and unproductive labour. In its decay, as in its infancy, capital seems intent on throwing up directly economic questions which shed special light on the condition not only of bourgeois society in general, but of British capital in particular. That the dwarfs of today should uphold the giants of the past is the prerogative of a ruling class in decay. For our part, we may take comfort in the realisation that as the history of British capital assumes its farcical dimension the end, of rather a new beginning, is surely in sight.
When Sir Keith calls for the consummation of the bourgeois revolution he is more than just an ideological stuntman. His aim is to divide the working class into the ‘wealth-producers’ and the ‘wealth-consumer’ - if only as a prelude to an attack on them all. Accordingly, it is the purpose of this paper to reaffirm the original intention behind Marx’s formulation of the concepts productive and unproductive labour, at both the level of theory and political struggle, so that we might isolate all the more easily the really parasitic element in our society, the ‘entrepreneur’, a very rare specimen indeed. This is made all the more necessary in the light of recent attempts to abandon altogether many of the basic categories developed by Marx, in the misguided belief that their use can only serve to confound a working class already divided and confused. Far from sowing the seeds of disunity, the categories of Marx’s Capital, if properly considered and used, will enable us to build the strongest possible concord amongst the masses of people in this country. They will also enable us to demonstrate, once and for all, that the way to combat this farcical retreat into political economy is not by refining that economy, but by subjecting it to a revolutionary critique.6
We shall begin, therefore, by taking a close look at the classics, starting with the Physiocrats and ending with Ricardo’s criticism of Malthus.7 As we shall show, there is very definitely a reformist side to political economy, despite its revolutionary soul. And as we shall see further on, our present day ‘Marxists’ are tending more and more to this reformism - the price that must inevitably be paid by those who disregard Marx’s concept of productive labour.
In the second part of this paper, we shall examine Marx’s critique of the categories of political economy, and in so doing shall re-establish what Marx really taught us on the subject. Since, moreover, the category of productive labour is an integral part of the concept of capital, it will be necessary to return to the classical economists to show how little they penetrated into the secret of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. This will make it clear that the ‘purpose’ of Marx’s concept of productive labour is not - as Gough and others contend - merely ‘to explain the existence and quantity of surplus value in the capitalist mode of production.’8 This is a half-truth and therefore a distortion. The full purpose of Marx’s concept of productive labour is to reveal to the working-class the laws of motion of bourgeois society.
In the third part, we shall follow the dour and dismal progress of contemporary revisionism as it moves little by little against the concept of capital, until there is nothing left but the vulgar conception, according to which all labour employed in the capitalist mode of production is productive. This has offered to the ideological spokesmen of capital an ideal opportunity to present their sordid account of the present crisis.
Finally, we shall point to the real causes underlying the crisis of capitalism today, exposing the various representatives of British capital in their attempt to provide solutions which can only be made effective at the expense of the working-class. In the process it will be made abundantly clear that our motley assortment of would-be Marxists, having ‘doctored’ the concept of productive labour, are incapable of offering the working class any viable alternative.
I CLASSICAL POLITCAL ECONOMY
(i) The Physiocrats

The true founders of modern political economy were the Physiocrats. They were the first to transfer the inquiry into the origin of surplus-value from the sphere of circulation into the sphere of production and this was one of their valuable contributions to science. The Physiocrats however, did not analysed surplus value from the standpoint of general social 1abour, which is the sole source of value instead, surplus-value was analysed in the concrete form in which it first appeared in agriculture as the excess of use-values produced over those consumed. Since, moreover agriculture was the sole activity in which the creation of a surplus could be seen in a material and tangible form -and apart from the process of circulation - the Physiocrats concluded that agricultural labour alone was productive. The entire burden of the country’s economic well-being rested firmly on the shoulders of the farmer, for no other labour alone was capable of creating the surplus out of which accumulation could take place and from which the other classes could draw their subsistence.


But what appears in the Physiocrats as glorification of agricultural labour is in fact only the celebration of nature. The surplus left over at the end of the production process is a gift of nature and not the result of surplus-labour, unpaid labour. Agricultural labour serves merely as the means through which Nature’s potentiality can be realised to the full. In the Physiocratic system then, surplus-value is explained in ‘a feudal way, as derived from nature and not from society; from man’s relation to the soil, not from his social relations. Value itself is resolved into mere use-value, and therefore into material substance.’9
By taking as their point of departure use-value instead of value the Physiocrats erected an economic edifice without having laid the foundation stone.1 The advance from the purely technical conditions of production to the core of the problem was therefore not permitted. For the Physiocrats it was merely a question of whether or not the economy could be made more efficient and less cumbersome through the application of enlightened government policy, and this by ensuring that sufficient surplus was available to improve nature’s wealth creating capacity. Excessive government expenditure, together with misguided economic policies, served only to dissipate the surplus needed for accumulation, thus leading to economic ruin. Consumption habits also played an important part in the physiocratic system. To allow for a healthy rate of accumulation it was necessary that a frugal outlook be maintained. This meant that ‘no encouragement at all should be given to luxury in the way of ornamentation to the detriment of the expenditure involved in the operations and improvement of agriculture…’.1
Large-scale industry at the time of the Physiocrats was only beginning. The barriers encountered by the capitalist mode of production as it initially emerged, especially in the form in which it first appeared in agriculture, presented themselves in a technical rather than a social light. On the other hand, notwithstanding their apparent feudal bias, the Physiocrats made it abundantly clear that the bourgeoisie would not solve its economic problems until first it had resolved its political tasks.
It was left to Adam Smith to argue the Physiocratic case in a more decisive and systematic manner by giving their case its explicitly capitalist form.
(ii) Adam Smith

In much the same vein as the Physiocrats, Adam Smith was concerned lest too large a part of the annual product be squandered in unproductive consumption. Great nations, he remarked, are all too often impoverished by ‘public prodigality and misconduct. The whole, or almost the whole public revenue, is in most countries employed in maintaining unproductive hands…When multiplied, therefore, to an unnecessary number, they may in a particular year consume so great a share of this produce, as not to leave a sufficiency for maintaining the productive labourers, who should reproduce it next year’.1


But as against the Physiocrats, Smith treated the value of the product, and lot its material substance, as the ‘essential basis of bourgeois wealth.’1 No longer is it a question of one particular sort of concrete labour standing out as productive, but of all labour which is directly subsumed by capital.
‘Productive labour is here defined from the standpoint of capitalist production, and Adam Smith here got to the very heart of the matter, hit the nail on the head. This is one of his greatest scientific merits…that he defines productive labour as labour which is directly exchanged with capital…This also establishes absolutely what unproductive labour is. It is labour which is not exchanged with capital, but directly with revenue…’1
The main difference, then, between productive and unproductive labour noted by Adam Smith, is that the former is exchanged directly for capital and the latter for revenue.1 But this definition - although it represented an immense advance over the Physiocrats - was by no means free from ambiguities.
Unable to distinguish between capital employed in the direct process of production and capital employed in the process of circulation, Smith confused the creation of surplus-value with its realisation. On the one hand, he defined as productive that labour ‘which adds to the value of the subject upon which it is bestowed’1 and yet, on the other, he also defined as productive that labour employed in the retail trade.1 The latter form of labour, however, does not create value but merely gives the retailer a claim to part of the social surplus-value which has already been produced. This confusion was further compounded by Smith’s eclectic treatment of capitalist production as a whole.
From the standpoint of the individual capital all labour is productive which enables the capitalist to obtain a profit. But from the standpoint of the total social capital only that labour is productive whose product ‘is destined for replacing a capital.’1 On the one hand, the producer of luxuries is productive, since he adds to the value of the product, on the other, he is unproductive since luxuries cannot re-enter the cycle of production.
This dual character of luxury production occupies a special place in Smith’s analysis, for he sees it as an effective means for regulating the process of accumulation. Through luxury production capital finds release from that terror of Political Economy, the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.
An increase in luxury production will slow down the rate of accumulation since part of the annual product will not be expended again in productive labour. But equally, if part of the annual product which is destined for maintaining productive labour increases, the rate of reproduction will decline because owners of capital ‘find it difficult to get labourers to employ. Their competition raises the wages of labour and sinks the profits of stock.’1 The accumulation of capital therefore leads to its own stagnation. Political economy at last perceives, although superficially, that the contradiction of capital is to be found in the accumulation process itself. But in the end ‘wisdom’ prevails - judicious policy with just the right amount of luxury production will ensure that accumulation proceeds at a steady and healthy pace.2
Smith was writing at a time when large-scale capitalist industry had not yet learnt to stand on its own feet. The contradiction of capital appeared most strikingly in the form of a competitive struggle among the classes over the distribution of the social product. Capitalists, in the eyes of Smith, were confronted either by a burdensome State which consumed too large a share of the country’s produce, or by the workers themselves whose excessive wages prevented the re-conversion of part of the surplus-product into capital. These were hard times for the capitalists.
It was left to Ricardo to carry the analysis forward, this time I from the standpoint of advanced capitalist production.
(iii) Ricardo

Ricardo fully agreed with the distinction made by Smith between labourers paid by capital and those paid out of revenue. But it mattered little to Ricardo whether the size of a country’s labour force was large or small what mattered was the amount of surplus-value (net income) produced. The relative smallness of the productive population was even to be welcomed for it was ‘only another way of expressing the relative degree of the productivity of labour.’2


Adam Smith constantly magnifies the advantages which a country derives from a large gross, rather that a large net income…Provided its net real income, its rent and profits be the same, it is of no importance whether the nation consists of ten or of twelve millions of inhabitants. Its power of supporting fleets and armies, and all species of unproductive labour, must be in proportion to its net and not in proportion to its gross income.’2
The growth in unproductive consumption need not in itself retard the process of capital formation. With every improvement in the science of technology, and with every advance in the science of agriculture, the value of the worker’s means of subsistence would decline, the profits of the capitalists would rise and with it the country’s capacity to maintain ‘all species of unproductive labour.’2
Nor was Ricardo concerned that too rapid a growth of accumulation would strengthen the bargaining power of the workers at the expense of the capitalists. If a shortage of labour arose the capitalists would introduce labour-saving machinery, thereby creating a ‘diminution in the progressive demand for labour.’2 Here Ricardo touched on the nerve centre of capitalist production and in so doing introduced a discordant note into political economy. So much so that one apologist, Carey, promptly denounced him as the ‘father of communism’, a demagogue whose pernicious writings served only to promote ‘hostility among cIasses.’2
But in the end the Ricardian system, like that of Smith’s, becomes manageable. Since the workers, according to Ricardo, have an interest in ensuring that the supply of labour does not greatly exceed the demand ‘they must naturally desire that as much of the revenue as possible should be…expended in the support of menial servants.’2 Provided the workers who are made redundant are re-employed in the unproductive branches of labour, the productive labourers will hold their own in the competitive struggle against the capitalists. Similarly they will maintain a good bargaining position in times of war when the State maintains ‘large fleets and armies.’2
Ricardo’s position is now that of an apologist, his prescription essentially reformist. Of his ‘reformism’ Marx had this to say:
‘What a convenient arrangement it is that makes a factory girl to sweat twelve hours in a factory, so that the factory proprietor, with a part of her unpaid labour, can take into his personal service her sister as maid, her brother as groom and her cousin as soldier or policeman!… This is indeed a fine result of machinery, that a considerable section of the female and male labouring class is turned into servants.’2
In the last analysis the Ricardian system breaks down, not because of the hostility it engenders but because of the limits it encounters in nature. The law of diminishing returns, despite the advances in science, finally asserts itself. The more capital accumulates the more difficult it becomes to wrest from the soil sufficient food to sustain the workers. The subsistence of the worker declines and he is compelled into the struggle for higher wages ‘and whatever increases wages, necessarily educes profits.’2
‘he contradiction we encounter in the Ricardian system is the abstract contradiction between Man and Nature; a contradiction which presents itself in the social form of a struggle among he classes over society’s ever-diminishing surplus-product. Darwin’s beasts are transformed into capitalists and workers. Ricardo now adopts a Smithian posture, seeing in capital’s dilemma an insufficiency of surplus-value, not because real wages have risen too high-as Smith held-but because nature has become too sparing with her ‘free gifts’.
‘Adam Smith…uniformly ascribes the fall of profits to accumulation of capital, and to the competition which will result from it, without ever adverting to the increasing difficulty of providing food for the additional number of labourers which the additional capital will employ.’3
Having again raised the spectre of a diminishing surplus-product, Ricardo turns his attention away from Adam Smith in order to do battle with Malthus, the arch advocate of ‘splendid courts’ and waste.
(iv) Ricardo versus Malthus
As against Ricardo, Malthus re-established the vulgarised conception of profit. Commodities sell at a profit not because they are sold at their value but because they are sold above their value. That is to say, capitalists make their profits by selling their commodities back to the workers at a higher price than the workers were paid for producing them.
Although exploitation occurs in the Malthusian system, it does so only in the market after commodities have been produced. The workers are not exploited in the process of production-they are simply cheated. The contradiction of capital now shifts from the sphere of nature into the sphere of competition.
But, said Malthus, if all capitalists sell their commodities by overcharging the workers it is inconceivable how any profit at all can be made. If the worker is unable to buy back the whole of his product with his wages, his demand will not correspond to the supply.
Having posed a false dilemma Malthus proceeded to provide the capitalists with an equally false solution. Demand in capitalist society, he claimed, can only be made effective if it comes from those standing outside production, from those who consume but do not produce. The required consumption must therefore take place among the unproductive labourers of Adam Smith.
Malthus did not disguise the fact that the worker performs part of his labour without an equivalent return. He was not interested ‘in concealing the contradictions of bourgeois production, but on the contrary, in emphasising them, on the one hand, in order to prove that the poverty of the working classes is necessary…and, on the other hand, to demonstrate to the capitalist the necessity for a well-fed Church and State hierarchy in order to create an adequate demand for the commodities they produce.’ What Malthus wanted is capitalist production, but only insofar as it creates ‘a broader and more comfortable material basis for the “old” society’.0
Ricardo would have none of this. As the theoretical custodian of society’s ‘diminishing’ surplus he set out to defend the industrial bourgeoisie against the added encroachment of unproductive consumption.
‘A body of unproductive labourers are just as necessary and as useful with a view to future production, as a fire, which should consume in the manufacturers’ warehouse the goods which those unproductive labourers would otherwise consume…What could be more wise if Mr Malthus’ doctrine be true than to increase the army and double the salaries of all the officers of the government…?’1
At any rate, as the debate among the economists raged, there emerged a class which began to perceive that its interests were by no means tied to those whom the economists sought to defend. This class, moreover, began to take a keen interest in the fact that some people were being maintained by the industry of others. In short, political economy was soon to learn that it did not pay to do battle against the representatives of an ‘old’ order when the present contained within it the seeds of the new.
(v) The categories of political economy and the class struggle
Prior to the emergence of the capitalist mode of production, the extraction of surplus-labour generally served as a means towards ‘splendid courts’ and a sumptuous existence for the idle rich. The dominant classes of pre-capitalist societies would hardly have objected to the accusation that theirs was an unproductive life-the mere title labourer would have been sufficient to arouse their indignation.
By contrast, the procurement of surplus-labour under the stern regimen of capital came to serve not as a means towards consumption but towards a nobler end, that of accumulation itself. Thanks to emergence of this new system the productive powers of social labour were developed enormously and in a manner eclipsing all former modes. Thus it came that productive labour was extolled and unproductive labour damned, and for the first time in history directly economic categories were used in the ideological confrontation of one class against another.
Of all the representatives of political economy Adam Smith was the least restrained in venting his hatred for unproductive labour. Large-scale industry was as yet only in its infancy and needed all the assistance it could get. To dissipate the surplus which might otherwise be used for accumulation would hinder its development. But the numerous offices and sinecures relating to the administration of Government, not to mention ‘churchmen, lawyers, physicians, men of letters of all kinds; players, buffoons, musicians, opera-singers, opera-dancers, etc’, did just that. They were mere servants of the public and therefore ‘are maintained by a part of the annual produce of the industry of other people.’2 This, wrote Marx,
‘is the language of the still revolutionary bourgeoisie, which has not yet subjected to itself the whole of society, the State, etc…State, church, etc., are only justified in so far as they are committees to superintend or administer the common interests of the productive bourgeoisie, and their costs-since by their nature these costs belong to the overhead costs of production-must reduced to the unavoidable minimum.’3
Although Smith’s writings stand out as a critique of existing conditions it is important to remember that ‘what on the surface is glorification of the productive labourer is in fact only glorification of the industrial capitalist in contrast to landlords and such moneyed capitalists as live only on their revenue.’4 But herein lay the rub.
Since labour is the source of all value and since, therefore, we can always trace the direct genesis of capital from labour, the question arises, how or for what reason does capital appear productive? We can have either the productive power of labour or the productive power of capital-since the same productive power cannot be counted twice-and if the latter there can be no law of value.
Political economy was trapped in a contradiction of its own making and, as Marx described it, ‘it was natural for those thinkers who rallied to the side of the proletariat to seize on this contradiction, for which they found the theoretical ground already prepared. Labour is the sole source of exchange-value and the only active creator of use-value. This is what you say. On the other hand, you say that capital is everything, and the worker is nothing or a mere production cost of capital. You have refuted yourselves. Capital is nothing but defrauding of the worker. Labour is every thing.5
And when finally the workers themselves stand up and declare that the capitalists are unproductive, and when the capitalists can no longer sustain a revolutionary pitch, if only because their own pitch has now become the storm centre of a new and even more forbidding struggle, then the time has arrived for them to cry out that a monumental blunder has been made and to call, in cowardly fashion, for a truce, a sickly compromise, in which every conceivable activity, however tenuous its connection with capitalist production, is to be honoured with the title productive labour.
‘When…the bourgeoisie has won the battle, and has partly itself taken over the State, partly made a compromise with its former possessors; and has likewise given recognition to the ideological professions as flesh of its flesh and everywhere transformed them into its functionaries, of like nature to itself; when it itself no longer confronts these as the representatives of productive labour, but when the real productive labourers rise against it and moreover tell it that it lives on other people’s industry…then things take a new turn, and the bourgeoise tries to justify “economically”, from its own standpoint, what at an earlier stage it had criticised and fought against.’6
The Ricardian law of value, for all its Imperfections, had to go-at least from the universities-thereby enabling the economists to aspire to that lofty endeavour of providing society with the science of the superficial. The haunting paradox capital or labour, could now find its substitution in the crass resolution: capital and labour, and land and management and technology and any other freebooting hireling of the bourgeoisie one may care to name.
The capitalists had every interest in abandoning the distinction between productive and unproductive labour. The working- class, on the other hand, had, and always will have, every interest in emphasising this distinction. Without this emphasis it is possible to turn Ricardo’s statement that labour is the creator of value into the opposite-that capital is the creator of value. Give the capitalist a second and he will lay claim to the entire working day.
Marx welcomed the fact that the proletariat had found a number of sympathisers able to seize on the contradictions of political economy and use them against the capitalists from the workers’ standpoint. But as Marx well knew, the revolutionary initiative of the workers could not for long be maintained, let alone developed further, simply by confronting the Ricardian argument on its own terms. Rather it was these terms themselves which had to be subjected to Marx’s own revolutionary critique. Having already rescued from the Hegelian dialectic its revolutionary essence Marx was equipped to deal with political economy in similar fashion. Indeed, it was precisely due to his critique of the former that the latter could now be transcended on the basis of historical materialism.
While it is true that Marx’s general approach to history forms both the background and starting point for a critique of political economy, it is no less true that without this critique Marx’s historical approach, for all its brilliant insights, would have remained within the realm of speculative philosophy. Marx’s analysis of capital does more than reveal the laws of motion of bourgeois society; it also entrusts into the hands of the, revolutionary worker’s movement the science of society-historical materialism.7 To this end Marx dedicated the concept productive labour, a concept which ‘expresses precisely the specific form of the labour on which the whole capitalist mode of production and capital itself is based.’8

II THE CONCEPTS OF PRODUCI’IVE AND UNPRODUCTIVE LABOUR IN MARX
(i) Marx’s critique of Adam Smith’s concept of productive labour
Marx shared Smith’s view that labour is unproductive if it exchanges directly for revenue. But the corollary, that labour is productive if it exchanges directly for capital is both inadequate and superficial, and therefore erroneous. What Smith failed to grasp was that in the ‘exchange’ between labour and capital two closely related but nevertheless distinct acts take place.
The first phase of the exchange between capital and labour entails a formal transaction between capitalist and worker in the market. Here the worker sells his commodity labour-power for a definite sum of money. The capitalist purchases this commodity only for its use-value, in order to consume it in the process of material production. This he does by setting the labourer to work in what Marx calls ‘the human labour-process’.9, a process in which human beings appropriate, with the aid of the instruments of labour, Nature’s products in a form adapted to their own wants. From the standpoint of Marx’s general conception of history all labour engaged in the production of use-values may be regarded as productive, since it is through the labour-process that human beings are distinguished from animals.10
The production of use-values or, what amounts to the same thing, the labour-process, constitutes the material basis of all human life and in this sense may be conceived independently of its particular social forms. But it is precisely ‘these forms that are alone of importance when the question is the specific character of a mode of social production.’ To argue otherwise ‘is just as if the physiologist said that the different forms of life are a matter of complete indifference, that they are all only forms of organic matter.’11 Accordingly, the definition of productive labour, from the standpoint of capitalist production, has absolutely nothing to do with the labour-process as such; it is derived not from the material characteristics of labour ‘but from the definite social form, the social relations of production, within which the labour is realised.’12
The labour-process in capitalist society entails more than just the production of use-values; it is at one and the same time the production of commodities and surplus-value. What really interests the capitalist in the worker’s labour-power is not the particular concrete manner in which it is expended, but ‘the specific use-value which this commodity possesses of being a source not only of value but of more value than it has itself.’13 It is important to remember, therefore, that labour-power has not one but two use-values. Besides its use-value as a particular form of concrete labour it assumes a general use-value. This latter kind of use-value constitutes its special feature, emanating as it does, from the specific part which it plays in the production of commodities. What the capitalist purchases from the worker, and what he subsequently consumes, is “a self-expanding, value-creating power, viz., labour-power, which not only reproduces its value, paid by the capitalist, but simultaneously produces a surplus-value, a value not existing previously and not paid for by any equivalent.’14 It is precisely this value creating capacity which constitutes ‘the specific use-value of productive labour for capital’.15 Here is the use-value which forms the basis for the existence of capital.
Unable to arrive at an understanding of the specific use-value of productive labour for capital, political economy proved incapable of dealing with the exchange between labour and capital in its entirety. The first phase of the exchange takes place entirely within the bounds of the market, and according to its own specific laws.
‘The second phase of the exchange between capital and labour in fact has nothing to do with the first, and strictly speaking is not an exchange at all. …The owner of money now functions as capitalist. He consumes the commodity which he has bought…In this process, therefore. labour is…transformed directly into capital, after it has been formally incorporated in capital through the first transaction.’
‘In the exchange between capital and labour, the first act is an exchange…The second is a process qualitatively different from exchange, and only by misuse could it have been called any sort of exchange at all. It stands directly opposite exchange; essentially different category.’16
Political economy never succeeded in venturing very much further than the first exchange between capital and labour. The most it achieved was to pose the following riddle: How is it that the capitalist purchases labour at its value, sells the product of labour at its value and yet at the end of the process has more value than when starting. But the riddle was never solved, and indeed it could not be solved so long as capital was set directly against labour instead of against labour-power .’17
The productive labourer, for Marx., is one whose labour-power is first exchanged directly against money-capital and then consumed by the capitalist in the direct process of production. ‘Productive labour is only a concise term for the whole relationship and the form and manner in which labour-power figures in the capitalist production process.’18
We can now understand what lay behind Smith’s confused, treatment of luxury commodities. Instead of first considering the basis of the capitalist relation-the specific use-value of productive labour for capital-he launched headfirst into a consideration of the particular kinds of use-values in which labour is realised. Later Marx examined the importance of the material content of labour, but only after a solid foundation had been laid.
Smith’s failure to conceive of labour-power as a commodity prevented him from developing a concept of capital and, more importantly, from understanding its specific composition.
The value which the capitalist lays out in the means of production remains a constant magnitude both before and after its incorporation into the labour-process, and for this reason is defined as constant capital. Variable capital, on the other hand, remains a constant magnitude only while it is in the hands of the capitalist in its commodity-or money-form. When it passes from its money-form into its productive-form, that is, into living labour-power, it is converted from a definite, constant magnitude into a variable one, into self-expanding value, and hence into capital. Variable capital ‘becomes real variable capital only after…being converted into labour-power functioning as a component part of productive capital in the capitalist process.’19 But by classing, like Smith, the labourer’s means of subsistence instead of his labour-power as an element of productive capital ‘the understanding of the distinction between variable and constant capital, and thus the understanding of the capitalist process of production in general, is rendered impossible.’20
It was perfectly understandable to Marx why political economy should have clung instinctively to Smith’s confused treatment of productive and circulating capital. Without a clear distinction between the two ‘the basis for an understanding of the real movement of capitalist production, and hence of capitalist exploitation, is buried at one stroke.’21 Political economy thus offered to the vulgar economists ‘a secure basis of operations for their shallowness, which on principle worships appearance only.’22 As Marx notes:
‘The first formal act of exchange between capital and labour is only potentially the appropriation of someone else’s living labour by materialised labour. The actual process of appropriation takes place only in the actual production process, behind which lies as a past stage that first formal transaction…For which reason all vulgar economists…go no further than the first formal transaction, precisely in order by this trick to get rid of the specific capitalistic relation.’23
Marx’s definition of labour-power enables him to ‘force’ his way into capital’s ‘hidden abode’ and to take us in thought where the worker creates surplus-value in actu. Thus enters Marx into that sacred realm of bourgeois society upon whose threshold there stares us in the face: No Admittance Except on Business. The ‘secret’ of the profit is finally revealed.24
(ii) The concept of productive labour and its further development
(a) Material production.
Having considered the form and manner in which labour-power is expended in capitalist production, Marx arrives at the following formula:
M - P...C…M' - M' 25
This formula expresses the social character of the labour-process under conditions of capitalist production and shows the origin of the capitalist’s profit as it arises out of the direct process of material production itself. Considering the capitalist relation from the standpoint of material production alone, the productive labourer may be defined as one who plays an active part in the labour-process and who produces surplus-value for the capitalist.
(b) Immaterial production.
It is possible, however, for the purely social mode of existence of capital to function apart from the labour-process proper and for surplus-value to appear immediately in the form of an excess of money-capital over and above the money-capital originally advanced. Here the formula would be:
M - P...C …M'
Once we have grasped the distinction between concrete and abstract labour this aspect of our analysis should present few difficulties. As Marx reminds us, the materialisation of labour is not to be taken in such a restricted sense as Adam Smith conceived it. ‘When we speak of the commodity as a materialisation of labour…it is conceived as a definite quantity of social labour or of money. It may be that the concrete labour whose result it is leaves no trace in it…The mystification here arises from the fact that a social relation appears in the form of a thing.’26
In industry proper, the direct outcome of the labour-process is the commodity C', a commodity greater in value than the labour-power and means of production consumed in its production. In the case of immaterial production, however, the activity of labour leaves ‘no tangible result existing apart from the persons themselves who perform them, in other words, their result is not a vendible commodity.’27 For example, a worker employed in the entertainments industry produces both surplus-value and use-values, although the use-values only materialise in the instance of their consumption. All that remains is surplus-value in its specifically social form.
Immaterial production functions not in the labour-process proper - although without the labour-process all immaterial production would cease - but in the sphere of individual consumption. The workers are therefore placed in a direct relation to the consuming public and the sale of their products is invariably bound with the promotion of their own personality, charm, wit, etc. Matters are very different in industry proper - at the end of the production-process worker and product go their own separate ways.
Those employed directly by capital in the process of immaterial production are productive labourers, be they teachers, doctors, nurses or artists. The consumption of their labour-power by the capitalists is at one and the same time the production of commodities and surplus-value.
c) Transportation
So far we have considered the production of commodities without taking into account their transportation. The peculiar feature of the transport industry is that it forms a link between the sphere of production and the sphere of circulation. Consequently, notes Marx, it is common for economists to bring transport into the cost of circulation and not production. This, however, is wrong. Transporting a commodity to the market ‘is part of the production process itself.’28 The transport industry thus appears ‘as a continuation of a process of production within the process of circulation and for the process of circulation.’29
Since the useful effect of the transport worker’s labour can only be consumed the instance it is performed, the formula for the transport industry ‘would therefore be M-C …P …M', since it is the process of production itself that is paid for and consumed: not a product separate and distinct from it.’30
d) The production of the money-material.
In all the above cases the following question arises: How can the capitalists continually draw a sum of money equal to M' out of circulation when they continually throw a sum equal to M into it?31 ‘Whereas one part of the capitalists constantly pumps more money out of circulation than it pours into it, the part that produces gold constantly pumps more money into it than it takes out in means of production.’32 This leads us to our next form of productive labour, labour engaged in the production of the money-material, that is, gold.
In the production of gold the formula would be
M- C ...P ...M'
because the process of production, P, furnishes more gold than was advanced for the elements of production of the gold in the first M.33
Here we have a unique form of productive labour since in no other branch of capitalist production are the conditions of direct exploitation identical with those of its realisation. This follows from the character of ‘gold-digging’ as directly social labour.34 As in industry proper, worker and product go their own separate ways, although in this case the surplus-value contained in the gold appears immediately in its socially recognizable form.
The direct outcome of the productive process is a special commodity - the money-commodity - which cannot be transformed into either constant or variable capital, but which must be sacrificed to the sphere of circulation in which it functions as exchange-value.35 The productive consumption of the gold-miner’s labour-power must therefore assume an unproductive form. This however in no way affects the characterisation of the gold-miner as a productive labourer.36

(iii) Productive labour of a special kind.

Having examined the circumstances in which different commodities are produced in capitalist society, we must now turn our attention to labour which is expended directly on the elements of productive capital. First we shall consider labour engaged in maintaining and repairing the passive element of productive capital, that is, the means of production and, in particular, fixed capital, notably machinery.


a) Labour expended on the passive element of productive capital.
In the same way as a worker must wash himself, and by so doing maintain the efficacy of his labour-power, so too must a machine be maintained.37 In the same way as a worker has medical treatment to keep him from dying prematurely, so too is a machine repaired.38 Without the expenditure of this labour the machine would cease to function as a machine, would become useless. But it is not the value already existing in the machine which this labour replaces; it is additional labour made necessary by its use. The wages of the workers who maintain machinery are therefore ‘part of the variable capital and the value of their labour is distributed over the product’39 Here we have a special form of productive labour. It adds to the value of the final product yet does not itself ‘enter into the labour-process proper to which the product owes its existence.’40 Marx accordingly categorises this labour as labour ‘sui generis’.41
Now it all too often happens in capitalist society that the workers are required to clean and maintain machinery in their ‘rest-periods’. In this way the workers provide the capitalist with labour-time gratis. ‘This labour does not figure in the price of the product. …the capitalist thus does not pay the maintenance costs of his machine. The labourer pays in persona, and this is one of the mysteries of the self-preservation of capital ….’42
Whether the capitalists purchase labour-power for the purpose of maintaining machinery, or whether they impose this work on the workers in their ‘rest-periods’, will depend on the relative strengths of capitalists and workers in the competitive struggle.
(b) Labour expended on the active element of productive capital
We shall now consider the expenditure of labour on the active, and hence most important, element of productive capital, living labour-power. It is not surprising that Smith ignored this form of labour since he was unable to conceive of labour-power in the first place.
The worker who sells her labour-power to another-whether the capitalist or the State-for the purpose of rearing, training or maintaining productive labour-power is herself a productive labourer. A nurse, for example, does not merely replace the value of the patient’s labour-power but adds to it, although nursing itself does not enter into the labour-process proper. Here again we encounter labour sui generis, but in this case we have labour-power acting directly upon labour-power, a relation between one person and another, between worker and worker, which modifies the relation in its content, though not in its economic form. The object of the nurse’s labour is not a ‘thing’ which confronts her as an alien and independent force, as ‘capital’, but the living subject of capital itself, the labourer. This has given the bourgeoisie considerable scope to impose its own standards of hypocritical morality designed to separate nurse from nurse and nurse from patient.
Surplus-value is not normally generated in the production of labour-power as a commodity but in the production of commodities by labour-power. Capitalists will not for long purchase labour-power which is itself impregnated with surplus- value. The process of capital accumulation-always the independent variable-will render the capitalists free from such labour-power, for which reason the State invariably assumes direct control over the ‘maintenance’ and ‘training’ depots of capital-the hospitals and schools-to ensure that labour expended on the workers is kept to a minimum. Unless this feature of the production of labour-power is taken into account, it will prove impossible to analyse the effects this labour has on the average rate of profit.
As in the reproduction of fixed capital so too in the reproduction of labour-power do we find labour performed in the worker’s ‘rest-period’.
The consumption of the worker’s means of subsistence requires the expenditure of labour-time-meals must be cooked, shelter maintained and repaired, children cared for, and so on. The largest part of society, that is to say the working class ‘must…perform this kind of labour for itself…’.43 By so doing it preserves for the capitalist the efficacy of labour-power, the instrument by means of which alone he can remain a capitalist.44
‘The individual consumption of the labourer, whether it proceed within the workshop or outside it, whether it be part of the process of production or not, forms therefore a factor of the production and reproduction of capital; just as cleaning machinery does, whether it be done while the machinery is working or while it is standing. The fact that the labourer consumes his means of subsistence for his own purposes, and not to please the capitalist, has no bearing on the matter. It is the production and reproduction of that means of production so indispensable to the capitalist: the labourer himself.’45
In capitalist society, where separation appears as the normal relation, it is the female section of the proletariat which, in the main, performs this labour. In so far as it is carried out in the woman’s ‘rest-period’, it is neither productive nor unproductive. It is a specific form of concrete labour, toil, which although not assuming a value-form nevertheless remains a vital and necessary condition to the reproduction of capital. The woman pays in persona .Her toil is bestowed gratis on society, and consequently the capitalist, and does not enter into the price of labour-power or into the creation of value in general. Her efforts are doubly subsumed by capital-she not only produces surplus-value in the factory but in the home maintains and rears the value creators themselves. Hers is a life of unremitting labour and toil, ‘completing each day’s work, she becomes the slave of the domestic needs of her family; and when at night she drops wearied upon her bed, it is with the knowledge that at the earliest morn she must find her way again into the service of the capitalist, and at the end of the coming day’s service for him hasten homeward again for another round of domestic drudgery’.46
The extent to which capital directly takes over those functions previously performed in the home depends on many circumstances, among the most important of which are the manner in which capital has developed in a particular region and the condition of the accumulation process in any given period. But this tells us about the relative position of women, a position which differs from country to country and from one phase of capital’s development to the next. Here we are concerned with the absolute position of women, emanating as it does from the nature of capital itself.
The actual process of capitalist production presupposes the separation of labour-power from the labourer. At the end of the production process the worker must take his leave in order to replenish what previously the capitalist had consumed-his labour-power. The worker does this not only by cooking his meal or, as is commonly the case, having it cooked for him, but also by eating it, for the ‘labour of eating’ produces brain, muscles, etc.’47 The worker’s capacity to labour, once restored, is again sold to its consumer-the capitalist. There is no immanent tendency within capital to assume direct responsibility for the individual consumption of the working-class, to cook its meat, polish its boots, keep its furniture and dwellings clean, care for its children after the process of production has ended. Even assuming some capitalists put this labour to their own use for the purposes of extracting additional surplus-value-by employing workers to cook for other workers, for example-it simply means while some workers are replenishing their labour-power others are having their’s consumed. And after their labour-power has been consumed they in turn must perform their own domestic labour. To assume a never ending chain of workers employed in restoring the labour-power of other workers is to lose sight of the process of capitalist production as a whole.
When we examine not the single worker or the single capitalist, but the capitalist class and the working class, not an isolated process of production but capitalist production as a whole, it is evident that domestic labour will always be performed by the working class and, in particular, by the female section of that class. The capitalist kills two birds with one stone: the mystery of the self preservation of capital stands revealed.48
Only when labour-power is no longer consumed by another, only when it ceases to be a commodity will the production of wealth in general become inseparable from the reproduction of the human race. The ‘survival’ of the family as an economic unit in society has as its basis the continued existence of capital; the separation of labour from the objective conditions of labour; the separation of the labourer from labour-power. The family survives not despite capital but because of it.49
Since the continued oppression of women derives from the specific oppression of the female section of the proletariat and since, moreover, this oppression has its origin in the reproduction of labour-power as a commodity, it follows that the broad masses of women in bourgeois society have an interest not only in the abolition of capital but in ensuring that the future socialist society makes rapid strides towards the eradication of the family as an economic unit. It is precisely now, at a time when capitalism is faced with its greatest crisis ever, that various individuals are striving to make respectable the production of labour-power as a commodity, and this by conferring upon domestic toil a ‘wage-form’ adequate to its ‘value-creating’ content. As one associate editor of Newsweek Magazine marked: if domestic workers were guaranteed a wage by the State, ‘the houseworker could at least be recognised as a professional member of the…labour force…’.50
(iv) Unproductive labour exchanged against capital
Before passing on to a consideration of unproductive labour proper, that is, labour which is paid not by capital but out of revenue, it is necessary to deal with labour engaged in the realisation rather than the production of surplus-value. Although this labour is unproductive for capital it is nevertheless exchanged against capital and for this reason deserves special attention.
Political economy consistently failed to analyse the specific historic form in which labour presents itself as social labour under conditions of capitalist commodity production. Not for a moment did it consider or concede that the labour of the individual must present itself as abstract labour and, in this form, as social labour, if value is to be created at all. Even Ricardo, the most consistent and incisive of the economists, proved incapable of passing beyond value’s immediate form of appearance, exchange-value. His attention was therefore concentrated on the quantitative and not on the qualitative aspect of value, its magnitude and not its substance.51 Like Smith and those before him, Ricardo failed to grasp the connection of abstract labour with money, or that this labour must assume the form of money.52 Money was regarded as a mere device for overcoming the technical inconveniences of barter and not the means by which the value of the commodity is first expressed and then realised.
We can now understand why Smith was unable to draw the distinction between the creation of value and its realisation and why, therefore, he defined the commercial worker as productive. As long as value was considered only in its quantitative aspect it proved impossible to distinguish between the conditions of direct exploitation and those of its realisation.
What distinguished Marx’s method from that of Smith’s is that in defining productive labour Marx dealt ‘only with productive capital, that is, capital employed in the direct process of production.53 Later Marx considered capital in the process of circulation and showed that the commercial worker, although he fulfills a necessary function for capital, and performs unpaid labour (for the individual capitalist), ‘intrinsically his labour creates neither value nor product.’54 His labour merely converts a certain value from one form to another, from its commodity form to its money farm, and conversely. Here we have an exchange between capital and labour, but it is a formal, exchange and on no account must it be confused with the ‘exchange’ that takes place between capitalist and worker in the direct process of capitalist production.
To summarise. Smith’s definition of productive labour is inadequate for three related reasons. Firstly, he deals with value only quantitatively and not qualitatively and therefore confuses the actual process in which it is produced with those in which it is realised. Secondly, he deals with capital set directly against labour instead of labour-power and therefore is unable to fathom the ‘secret’ of the profit. Thirdly, since he fails to deal with the elements of capital as they present themselves in the direct process of capitalist production he cannot but ignore labour which is expended on the elements of productive capital itself.
Despite the many weaknesses to be found in Smith’s analysis, his definition of productive labour is notable since it was the first to establish absolutely-at least from the standpoint of capitalist production-what unproductive labour is. It is labour which is not exchanged with capital, but directly with revenue.
(v) Unproductive labour exchanged with revenue

We have no quarrel with Adam Smith’s definition of unproductive labour. All we need emphasise is the fact that the character of this labour has undergone considerable change since capitalism first made its appearance. The unproductive labourers of today are not the unproductive labourers of Adam Smith.


Today, the vast majority of those who are paid out of revenue are themselves wage-labourers and form part of the working-class. Where feudal remnants remain, they do so in a stunted and caricatured form and tend more often than not to be ridiculed by the working-class, especially in periods of crisis.
By the time Marx began write on the subject of productive and unproductive labour in the early 1860’s, the triumph of industrial capital in Britain had long since been proclaimed. The largest number of unproductive workers were domestic servants, more numerous in fact than the productive workers employed in industry. Over the years, and especially during the course of this century the proportion of domestic servants in the economy has dwindled to a minimum. Along with this, decline there has been an increase in the number of unproductive-workers employed directly by the State, for example, in public and local administration, the ideological professions, the repressive apparatus and health and welfare (assuming, of course, that the labour of the medical and educational workers is not expended on productive labour-power).
In the previous article comrades Bullock and Yaffe dealt with the changing composition of the labour-force and present patterns of employment and we need not pursue this further. It is sufficient to remind ourselves that the aim of Marx in developing the concepts of productive and unproductive labour was not to divide the workers. Exactly the opposite is the case. With the aid of these concepts it proved possible for Marx to analyse how value is expanded in the direct process of production and how it is circulated in the reproduction process. This, in turn, enabled Marx to examine bourgeois society in its fundamental relations and to reveal to the workers-both productive and unproductive-the real causes of the convulsions through which bourgeois society must periodically pass. By penetrating into the secret of the falling rate of profit-the most compelling expression of the system’s contradictory nature-Marx was able to provide the basis for the unity of all workers. In the remaining sections of this paper we shall consider these aspects of Marx’s analysis.
III THE CONTRADICTION OF CAPITAL AND THE CONCEPTS OF PRODUCTIVE AND UNPRODUCTIVE LABOUR
The contradictory nature of capitalist society assumes many forms, with one contradiction continually coming to the fore as another recedes. The point, however, is not to describe, catalogue and arrange them according to fancy, but to show how these contradictions themselves correspond to the inner coherence of bourgeois society. Instead of exposing the contradictions of capital as shown by its intrinsic relations, political economy would merely seize on this or that aspect of the problem, analyse it superficially and hold it up as the problem. And because its approach was essentially eclectic, because it proved incapable of resolving the external movement into the true intrinsic movement, it always managed to find some means of tempering the system’s contradictory nature.
For Adam Smith the contradiction of capital is to be found in the market, in the competitive struggle among the classes over the distribution of the social product. The accumulation of capital creates its own barrier by strengthening the bargaining power of the workers at the expense of the capitalists, that is to say, the workers consume too much -‘over consume’. Luxury production, however, since it slows down the rate of accumulation, and therefore the demand for labour, will restore a healthy balance of class forces-wages will decline and profits will rise. The contradiction therefore resolves itself into one of ‘over-consumption’ on the part of the workers; the means for its solution? - raising the level of unproductive consumption in order to ease the pressure of labour on capital.
For Malthus, the origin of capital’s contradiction is also to be found in the market. Low wages make high profits possible, but at the same time they make profits impossible because they reduce the demand for goods. The contradiction now fakes on an ‘underconsumptionist’ form; the means for its solution?-unproductive consumption.
Although Ricardo developed a concept of relative surplus-value, and although he moved tentatively and with hesitation towards some understanding of the role of the reserve army of labour, his analysis lacked that vital ingredient which would have opened the way for an even deeper understanding of capital’s contradiction…Ricardo had absolutely no conception of the organic composition of capital, of capital as it manifests itself in the direct process of production as the difference between constant capital and real variable capital. Ricardo was therefore prevented ‘from elaborating the rate of profit out of the relationship of this active element to the passive element, and from showing that it declines as society advances.’55
According to Ricardo, the rate of profit is not determined by the ratio of surplus-value to the total capital outlay, but by the ratio of surplus-value to variable capital. Consequently, he could only explain falling profits as a result of decreasing surplus-value, and therefore decreasing surplus-labour56.
But if the mass of society’s surplus-value is continually declining, how do we account for the increase in the number of unproductive workers that accompanies the accumulation of capital?57. How, moreover, do we account for the fact that those who do not live directly by their own labour become more numerous as well.58 Indeed, what Ricardo conveniently forgot to emphasise is ‘the constantly growing number of the middle classes, those who stand between the workman on the one hand and the capitalist and landlord on the other.’59
What Ricardo conveniently failed to realise was that the productive labourers are not less exploited because there is so much unproductive consumption, but on the contrary, there is so much unproductive consumption because the productive labourers are more exploited.60 The increase in the number of those living on revenue therefore lends a lie to the contention that the rate of profit falls as bourgeois society advances because of a decrease in the rate of exploitation. Even the economists who were unable to criticise political economy from the standpoint of historical materialism, but who nevertheless had been won over to the side of the working-class, had enough intelligence ‘to emphasise the fact that the proportional number of those who live on profit has increased with the development of capital.’61
But the very circumstance which allows the scope of unproductive consumption to be extended leads to a decline in the rate of profit. Nothing is more natural for the Ricardian, therefore, than to associate unproductive consumption with declining profits, provided of course he leaves out of account that which is common to both-the growing productivity of labour and the rise in the organic composition of capital.
Marx was adamantly opposed to the Ricardian view that the rate of profit declines because of a decrease in the rate of exploitation. Precisely the opposite is the case. The rate of profit falls, although the rate of surplus-value rises ‘because the proportion of variable capital to constant capital decreases with the development of the productive power of labour. The rate of profit thus falls, not because labour becomes less productive, but because it becomes more productive. Not because the worker is less exploited, but because he is more exploited, whether the absolute surplus-time grows or, when the state prevents this, the relative surplus-time grows, for capitalist production is inseparable from falling relative value of labour.’62 To argue otherwise is tantamount to saying that capitalism has not yet learnt to stand on its own feet (on the back of the proletariat), a very convenient position: for the Ricardians to have held, especially at a time when bourgeois society was rapidly passing into advanced age. For the Ricardian, bourgeois society would always be in need of a bourgeois revolution.
The barriers confronting capital at the time of the Physiocrats were very different to those encountered in its mature and developed phase. As early as 1862, Marx could write;
‘Although the bourgeoisie was originally very thrifty, with the growing productivity of capital, ie, of the labourers, it imitates the retainer systems of the feudal lords.’63
The contemporary representatives of capitalism prove Marx correct as they set about aping those classical economists whom earlier they had criticised and fought. Faced with the greatest crisis ever, the bourgeoisie seems intent on returning to that moss-ridden battlefield upon which political economy once stood. As the clarion call against the unproductive labourer is again sounded, the days of the grand compromise are drawing rapidly to a close.
Before taking up the question of the present crisis we must ask ourselves how this parasitical excrescence of the labour of others-the bourgeoisie-could conceivably have, the gall to raise a voice against the unproductive labourer. A look at the literature on the English left-from the Communist Party (which is something of a misnomer) to the International Socialists (a misnomer on both counts)-will provide the answer. By dispensing with both the law of value and the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, and by disregarding altogether the distinction between productive and unproductive labour, they have left the field wide open to the bourgeoisie and its ideological spokesmen, the Wedgwood Benns and the Keith Josephs.

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