Friday, 24 March 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 18

As capitalist production extended to cover all aspects of life, and all aspects of life was geared to facilitate the accumulation of capital, so this provided the basis for the apologists to claim that anyone engaged in any activity was in some way a productive labourer. In this way, all of the restrictive monopolies and absurdities of feudal society and its state were replicated by the bourgeois state.

An example, in that respect, is provided by healthcare. For Smith, and the early industrial capitalists, the role of a doctor was unproductive, and a cost to production, because it is only required due to “physical infirmities”. In other words, rather than adding something positive, it is simply something correcting some existing imperfection. The goal was then to minimise this cost. The best way of minimising the cost was to avoid the imperfections to begin with, which is one reason the industrialists placed emphasis on temperance. But, modern bourgeois society places much less emphasis on the prevention of ill-health, and instead spends tens of billions on providing remedies for sickness, after it has arisen. The companies that sell these expensive cures, hospitals, machines, and so on make billions in profits from doing so, and nothing from people enjoying good health. The bureaucrats who earn huge salaries from running the hospitals and health systems, only exist on the basis of providing such healthcare, and would lose their raison d'etre if instead people fell sick in far smaller numbers to begin with.

As Brecht put it.

When we come to you
Our rags are torn off us
And you listen all over our naked body.
As to the cause of our illness
One glance at our rags would
Tell you more. It is the same cause that wears out
Our bodies and our clothes.

The pain in our shoulder comes
You say, from the damp; and this is also the reason
For the stain on the wall of our flat.
So tell us:
Where does the damp come from?

A Worker's Speech To A Doctor – Berthold Brecht

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