what is the sound of one hand clapping - more on productive labor

“Due to the claque, a play is made now like they used to make a commercial operation: and soon one will set oneself up as an author as one sets oneself up as a banker, a bookstore owner or a cloth merchant.” My translation. Quoted from an anonymous pamphlet in Theater in Balzac’s La Comedie Humaine, by Linzy Erika Dickinson 98.]

The “science of reception” was, of course, studied by the “generals” among the claqueur. There’s something fascinating in this branch of emotional labor – that is, the production of emotions in others for the purpose of sale. It did not, of course, escape the eyes of the literati – after all, they were rubbing shoulders with the claqueur. They were, so to speak, simply on different ends of the industry. There were authors who did not like this. Hugo, for instance – who, as Amie has reminded me, I need to work on! – was supposed to have refused to allow the claques to attend Hernani – although alas, as Graham Robb shows in his biography, this legend isn’t true. What Hugo did was pay for downmarket claqueurs – from the popular quarters.

I’ve been trying relate this thread to what Marx has to tell us about productive and unproductive labor. In the Grundrisse, he relates this directly to the notion of class.

“It does not yet belong here, but it can be remembered here, how the creation of surplus labor on the one side corresponds on the other side to the creation of minus-labor, relative idleness (or in the best case, non-productive labor) on the other. This is understood firstly by capital itself; than even the classes, with which it shares it. Thus from paupers, flunkies, Jenkins, etc. living from surplus produce – in brief, the whole train of retainers; to the part of the serving class who do not live from capital, but from revenue. An essential difference of this servant and the laboring class. In relation to the whole society the creation of disposible time then even as the creation of time for the production of science, art, etc. It is in no way the course of development of society, that, because and individual has his needs satisfied, it now creates his superfluity; instead, because an individual or class of individuals are forced to work more than is necessary to satisfy his need – because surplus labor on the one side becomes non-labor and surplus wealth posited on the other. The reality is that the development of wealth exists only in these antitheses: while the possibility is that just in this development lies the possibility of its abolition.”

What I called a “stage” in my last post – to Nicole’s objection – is coordinate with the notion that revenue – the revenue from the great land owners, the aristocrats – flows into the parfumers shops (like Balzac’s Cesar Birotteau), and supports the ‘non-labor”ing laboring classes.

In the Theories over Surplus Value, Marx considers the half and half economies, non-labor, and productive labor:

“Where all labor is partially recompensed by itself as is the agricultural labor of sharecroppers [Fronbauern] for example, and is partly exchanged against revenue as the manufacturing work of cities in Aisa, no Capital exists and no wage labor in the sense of the bourgeois economy. These determinations, thus, do not derive from the material routine [Leistung] of work nor from the nature of their products nor the routines of work as concrete work, but instead from the particular social forms of the social relations of production in which they are realized [sich verwirklichen]

An actor for example, or even a clown, is according to this a productive laborer when he works in the service of a capitalist, of an entrepreneur, to whom he returns more labor than he takes in the form of his working wage; while a freelance tailor who comes to the capitalists home and makes him a pair of pants and creates for him sheer use-value is an unproductive worker. The labor of the first is exchanged against capital, and the second out of revenue. The first creates a surplus value, when in the second, revenue is consumed.” [259]


roger said…
She has posted here. I'm hoping she will someday make a blog for herself! At which point I will certainly put up a link. But we don't all have the time to be bloggers.
Anonymous said…
That's harsh, ending with a quote and not following with your interpretation. What do you mkae of Marx drawing this distinction, since it is the one I was trying to make.

And I apologize for not being to pursue that discussion. I have had a distressing respiratory virus.

Chuckie K
Anonymous said…
"in the service of a capitalist" - this is what I was trying to suggest. 'Value' inheres in the relationship, not in things.

Chuckie K
roger said…
Mr. K, I think I am responding to you in my latest post.