Home > political-economy > Eleven points on productive and unproductive labor

Eleven points on productive and unproductive labor

From the standpoint of Capital, productive labor is solely that labor that produces surplus value. For my purpose, unproductive labor is identical with superfluous labor — i.e., expended labor that is not undertaken for the purpose of producing surplus value.

1. The mass of unproductively employed labor-power cannot exceed the mass of surplus value produced by the productively employed labor power, and it depends on the growth of the mass of surplus value for its own growth.

2. While the rate of profit is decreasing, the rate of surplus value is increasing

3. While the rate of profit is less than the rate of surplus value, superfluous labor presupposes that both the rate of profit and the absolute mass of profit is less than the rate and absolute mass of surplus value.

4. The mass of surplus value, therefore, must not only be greater than the mass of profits, but the difference between the two grows faster than the rate of surplus value.

5. From the mass of surplus value, however, we must also deduct the mass of profit. Thus the mass of unproductively employed labor-power cannot exceed the mass of surplus value produced by the productively employed labor power minus the mass of profits.

6. Unproductively employed labor-power can only increase to the limit imposed by the average rate of profit such that the mass of profits itself is increasing despite the fall in the average rate of profit — although the rate of profit  (s/v+c) is declining, nevertheless it is increasing in absolute mass.

7. Both the mass and the rate of surplus value is increasing, but an increasing portion of this produced surplus value is realized only on condition that it is consumed unproductively; leaving an ever smaller proportion to reenter circulation as capital.

8. The mass of surplus produced increases, but the amount of this surplus which is consumed unproductively increases still faster, i.e., the rate at which superfluous labor increases is greater than the rate of surplus value — and this is true even given the extension into fresh areas of the World Market.

9. Once the entirety of the surplus product can no longer enter into circulation as capital, the rate and mass of profit must equal zero.

10. Once the rate and mass of profit falls to zero, both the rate and the mass of surplus value must fall to zero — i.e., the production of surplus value comes to a standstill.

11. At some point before this, the mass of profits absolutely decreases, along with the rate of profit — or, what is the same thing, even for the very biggest capitals the mass of profits no longer compensates for the falling rate of profit.

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