A wheel proletarian



Notes on productive work in general and in transport

“To man [...] (nature) has given quick fingers, which can convert iron and wood into their service; who weave strong ties and forge lightning bolts, with which brutes cut off flights and steps.”
Thomas Antonio Gonzaga. Maria de Dirceu.[1]

On 23/7/2020, twelve months ago, Hamilton de Moura, road manager and councilor in Funilândia – Belo Horizonte Metropolitan Region –, was murdered with 12 shots to the head and neck, during the day, in the capital of Minas Gerais, near to Vila Oeste Subway Station. At the time, he held the presidency of the Union of Drivers Employed in Cargo Transport, Logistics and Differentiated Transport Companies of Belo Horizonte and Region (Simeclodif). The three indicted as executors – two former penal agents and a military police officer – were arrested by the Civil Police of the State of Minas Gerais.

The Department of Homicide Investigation and Personal Protection, in the course of investigations, appointed, as principal, a notorious enemy of the victim in union disputes and councilor in Belo Horizonte for the Social Christian Party (PSC), also detained, whose mandate was impeached by the City Council. According to the indictment, the accused acted to keep a road branch device under the reins that got out of control. A conservative, pragmatic and negotiating grouping was configured in the category, typical of ideologically bourgeois unionism, but degenerated into a criminal condition.

The Public Ministry of the State of Minas Gerais consummated the Complaint. Six defendants are in prison and another, listed as the second principal, remains at large. Three more were set free with electronic anklets, as their involvement ended up being seen as peripheral, such as the concealment of evidence. O habeas corpus request for the detainees was denied in the First Instance of the Judiciary, being the decision reiterated by the Court of Justice of the State of Minas Gerais and Superior Court of Justice. A sentence of pronunciation is expected, which can maintain preventive detention until the judgment in the Jury Court.[2]

On the occasion of the barbaric crime, in fact, favored by the climate of reactionary violence that the extreme right stimulates in the country, a live from the Observatório Sindical Brasileiro Clodesmidt Riani – OSBCR –, on 3/8/2020, discussed the campaign for the quick elucidation of the facts and the creation of the Hamilton de Moura Memorial, whose first initiative will be, as decided, to publish a book about its militant trajectory , in the collection format. This article was written by order, aiming to compose it. Kindly, the editors gave up the novelty, even to start a disclosure of the volume for the future release.

The victim and her social place

Hamilton was a productive proletarian. This brief phrase, apparently banal and which seems more like a truism, expresses a reality that raises controversy and therefore justifies an effort at intellectual appropriation. The present article, aiming to mark one year since his death, conceptualizes and discusses the class to which the character alluded to in the title belonged, as well as the social characteristic of the work he developed to reproduce his own existence and which founded his militancy. Furthermore, it joins the fight for the punishment of its executioners – executors and principals – and for the recovery of its trade union legacy.

He is an employee who maintained employment ties, initially, with the company Nansen Instrumentos de Predições Ltda, as well as Indústria e Comércio Ageu Peças Ltda, in 1978, this time as a Mechanical Turner Assistant. Afterwards, he worked at Rádio Globo Capital Ltda, at Conape Serviços Ltda and also at Escolha Técnica de Emprego Sociedade Civil Ltda, between 1979 and 1983. Afterwards, he stabilized professionally as a Driver, a function he developed uninterruptedly until his release. by law as a union leader and the exercise of his first parliamentary term.

Your category is registered in the National Register of Social Information: Gelindo Indústria e Comércio Ltda, on 1/11/1983; Frigogel Comércio e Indústria Ltda, on 2/4/1984; Auto Ônibus Nova Switzerland Ltda, on 21/2/1986; Frigogel Comércio e Indústria Ltda, on 1/6/1987; Euclásio Eireli car, on 12/12/1988; SYD Transportes Eireli, on 7/4/1989; Tripui Transportes Ltda, on 7/4/1989; Distribuidora de Bebidas Salviano Ltda, on 5/4/2004; Tendas Montagens de Coberturas Temporárias Ltda, on 1/9/2006; DL Distribuidora de Gás Ltda, on 1/2/2008. Finally, his mandate was interrupted in the last year.[3]

But did their works generate industrial value? Or were they unproductive services, as commerce workers, bankers and administrative workers in the public or private sphere do? In order to answer such questions, it is necessary to insert the reflection in the union conjuncture and in the debate on the historical destiny of the industrial work, as well as in certain essential categories, to later find the beginning of the path, elucidating how the relations of production and the workforce active, within the general framework of the anti-capitalist struggle, impregnated and articulated the singular individual. An arduous journey, however, unavoidable.

It is not news that, today, the trade union movement and the fight against capital face obstacles in the face of the Bolsonarian reaction. One of the most relevant aspects of the current situation resides in the low mobilization of the various economic and professional categories and of the working masses in general. In the unfavorable correlation of forces, the clashes in the labor world find the block of ultraliberal policies, which suppress its achievements and rights, as well as experiencing an adverse economic period and important changes in labor connections, which are generally referred to as “productive restructuring”. ”.

The debate on the situation and the future that, respectively, surrounds and awaits Brazilian workers, has an evident value dimension. The internal logic that has guided the hegemonic discourse for more than forty long years – from the 1970s onwards, when the bourgeoisie needed to respond to Phase B or Depression installed in the Fourth Long Cycle, according to the expression coined by Kondratieff[4] – entails a frontal and relentless attack on the proletarian social being that, since the pioneering Paris Commune, has been threatening the economic and social formation prevailing in the world and keeping it under constant scrutiny.

As if it were a modal mantra, conservative propagandists repeat that work is a category that has already expired or is in the process of being overtaken. They claim that there would be an inexorable process: the extinction of the direct social producer and its corollary statement, the displacement of the labor axis to the so-called “service” sectors, to the detriment of industry. In short, they celebrate the end of being able to oppose capitalism and promote the revolutionary project, which in turn would become a picturesque fairy tale: a utopia or, at best, a puerile moral want.

Nothing is more averse to the communist purpose, conceived as the end of “abstract human work” in the famous “association of free individuals”, in which “the right over inequality” would wither,[5] including the legal discipline that prescribes relations in the production, distribution and circulation of wealth. Such “real humanism”[6] claims a Planet without mutual exploitation between people, that is, without any alienated activity that dissolves “the useful character of products” and “the different forms of concrete work”,[7] finally, a world without metabolism whose “impalpable objectivity” configures “commodity values”[8].

The illusory post-industrial society

Certain ideologues of the order also suggest that there is an overcoming of the current industrial activity in the condition of praxis or being “concrete”; however, on the contrary, they propose to do it internally to capital and its logic. They refer, to be clear, to the end of any and all work, understood as follows:

“as a creator of use values, as useful work, […] indispensable to the existence of man – whatever the forms of society may be -, […] the natural and eternal need to carry out the material exchange between man and nature, and , therefore, of sustaining human life.”[9]

Industry criers in a coma ignore that concrete work[10], a necessary sphere of societies, differs from the abstract feature it assumes in capitalism,[11] the only one recognized by the happy but partial image of Kurz: “obsessional neurosis of economics”[12]. The rhetorical end of the former becomes the password for the spontaneous reproduction of the latter, in the bourgeois matrix of productive metamorphosis. In “post-industry”, capital, without a subject to challenge it, would accomplish its coveted avatar: moving to a thing, discarding its “nature” of social relationship and its immanence as a “positive possibility of emancipation”[13].

However, in reality, capital is always a social relationship and its content necessarily includes objectified work. A similar formulation was already completed in the biennium 1857-1858. It is worth rereading a text:

“The production of capitalists and salaried workers is, in this case, a fundamental product in the valorization of capital. Usual economics, which only considers the things produced, completely forgets this. While, in this process, objectified work is posited at the same time as the non-objectivity of the worker, as the objectivity of a subjectivity opposed to the worker, as the property of an alien will, capital is at the same time, necessarily, the capitalist, and the idea of some socialists that we need capital but not capitalists is entirely false. In the concept of capital it is established that the objective conditions of work – which represent its characteristic products – assume a personality vis-à-vis capital itself or, with the same meaning, are posited as the property of an alien personality.”[14]

In other words: “The product of capitalist production is not only surplus value: it is capital”, that is, the “production and reproduction of specifically capitalist relations”[15], therefore, the generation of labor immersed in the social relationship between proletarians and bourgeois, mutatis mutandis. “Capital is not a thing, but a social relationship between people, effected through things.”[16] Capitalism will never exist without abstract work, and vice versa, poles of the same social being – the Gesellschaftlichen Seins marxian. The only way to overcome one is to abolish the other as well, that is, to disaggregate, as a totality, the fundamental contradiction.

The theme of a capital without industrial work, even if it is chimerical, interferes in the breakdown of the sensitive workers' ideology and in the counter-hegemonic dispute. As an example, ultraliberal grandiloquence – which prophesies the end of any productive activity – operates so that capital realizes its generic and impersonated “ideal”: freeing itself from the sword that labor placed under the head of modern Damocles. The equation would destroy Labor Law today, leaving the wage-earning crowd unsupported. As the direct productive praxis would cease, the legal branch that corresponds to it would be a discipline without a crystallizing fact.

The fixation on ends has a psychosocial meaning. It has already been said, in a remarkable phrase, that “the look fixed on the catastrophe has something of fascination” and also “of secret complicity”.[17] The enchantment awakened by the supposed end of “industrial society” and by the marginalization of excessive labor reveals strong sympathies in the face of the supposed hecatomb in production and the future that the wonders of successive technical “revolutions” would be unveiling. An apologetic view of the prevailing order follows. Thus, the only realities left would be indeterminate and accidental things – the Happening ou event.

This universe considered to be shattered would supposedly be illogical and devoid of a knowable essence, a shadow of appearances or unconnected empiricities, the realm of contingency. If that were the case, there would be no room in the world for the process that, in fact, continues to impose itself: the logic of capital. There is, therefore, a paradox: at the same time that contemporary society remains captive to monopoly-financial interests at ever-increasing levels, the prevailing thought perseveres in conceiving it as if it were a fleeting world, averse to reason and forbidden to episteme.

The definition of proletariat

The thesis that asserts the end of the proletariat, either as a failure of the concept, or as a process of subtle or accentuated fading in the empirical social being to which it refers, proves to be unsustainable. First, because it implies the complete fragmentation of the industry in a multiple sense: productive outsourcing, the predominance of services, the precariousness of jobs, the multiplication of individual-partnership “entrepreneurship” and the partition of manufacturing units towards the predominance of micro-enterprises. That is, it detects factual realities; however, it makes completely abusive conclusions. This is an obvious exaggeration.

Such processes have a relative scope. If seen in their true “nature” and dimensions, they in no way allow the paroxysmal conclusion that they dissolve, in the short term and absolutely, the establishments with concentrated work. Much less that they represent an unavoidable individualization of work, under the extinction of its social nature, and that its insufficient functions – temporary, informal or disintegrated in real space-time – can be universalized as an exclusive norm or signify the end of productive, circulatory and distributive relations in the bourgeois societal whole.

Unemployment is, for capital, superfluous labor power. The informal bond is illegal capitalism. The term “slavery” represents exploitation with a withheld right. Outsourcing is abstract work in satellite companies. Sophisticated tools don't always increase profits. Several authors – Coriat, Clarke, Frank Annunziato and Harvey – talk about the impossible “generalization” of “flexible specialization”, in addition to its “common character”. epidermal."[18] “Uberization” regenerates labor. Finally, technical progress creates new productive branches, as even robots have to be manufactured, programmed, repaired and operated.

Strictly speaking, pockets of precarious citizenship, although they seem to be external processes or even contrary to capitalism – which, in their development, would be capable of generating a globally substituting option for abstract work -, in no way do they dispense with or detach themselves from bourgeois society, which encircle with strong arms. They mean, in fact, events essentially linked to the metabolism and current mercantile practice, that is, corollary, contemporary, coherent, integrated and subsidiary vectors, which reproduce them through a false antagonism, as a functional disjunction.

Secondly, the proposition that proclaims the end of the proletariat is based on a vulgate incapable of formulating and enhancing scientific knowledge about the world of work, since it is chained, intensely and negatively, to its Fordist form. Its vice resides in the ineptitude in generalizing the being investigated, in synthesizing the traits that guarantee it uniqueness, internal variety and permanence in the integral historical period. So, it makes it impossible to updating concept of the modern salaried world, being useless to preserve its content and encompass its multiple particular expressions, translating them.

It is revealed, therefore, to be false, as it confuses the being with its ways of being. Assingling the cascading notion, it identifies the generic proletarian to its specificities: productive, manual, material creator and mercantile author. Thus, he designs an outfit for every occasion, but disdains those who wear it. As the dogmatic typology has been reduced, its concept becomes detached from reality, returning to the posture of a sect or concluding that the class is coming to an end. Its supporters may not even remember that they adopted, on their own account, the arid categorical reductionism and fantasized about it as “classist”.

Adversely, the proletariat is the historically defined social class, whose members own only their labor power and have to sell it, compulsorily, to the bourgeoisie, in exchange for a salary to maintain their own life and reproduce the conditions of their life. existence - from the banal to the most elaborate, including the technical means necessary for material transformation and achievements in the spiritual realm -, producing surplus value or allowing its useful functions to enable capital, in various forms and movements, to master overwork , including that more generated in the social set.

Whether your work is productive or unproductive, manual or intellectual, whether it generates material or spiritual goods, whether it primarily produces goods or just use values ​​for private and public consumption, these are other matters – undoubtedly very important – that they do not concern the uniqueness of the concept, but only the concrete functions performed, that is, the place actively occupied by abstract labor in the maintenance and broad reproduction of capital and bourgeois productive relations. They focus, therefore, exclusively on the outline of the inner layers of current salaried work.

The particular dimensions

This conceptualization, more elaborate and systematic, does not represent a novelty. Countless authors, in a more or less rigorous way, used it and only ignorance or some prejudice can justify the reasons why it has been, entirely, disregarded. Marx himself, living in the middle of the XNUMXth century, when capitalism was far from presenting productive processes highly qualified by today's techniques - notably the new managerial, automotive, microelectronic and robotic paths -, responds to the vulgate and its adherents, who today charge supposed "sins".

The German thinker and political leader never intended to reduce the generic proletarian being to the subset – a little more restricted – formed by wage earners who carry out productive work, although he located it as a fundamental and nuclear internal segment in the creation and reproduction of capital. Investigating the existing nuances in abstract work, he insisted on discerning them with the utmost rigor, disallowing any kind of simplification and confusion:

“The ulterior determinations of productive work derive from the traits that characterize the capitalist production process. First of all, the owner of labor power confronts capital or the capitalist as seller of that - to express, as we saw, intentionally -, as a direct seller of living labor, not a commodity. It salaried worker. This is first premise. Secondly, however, after this preliminary process, corresponding to circulation, his labor power and his work are incorporated directly as living factors in the capital production process; become one of your components, and precisely in the component Variable which not only partly preserves and partly reproduces advanced capital values, but which at the same time increase them, and consequently, thanks solely to the creation of surplus value, transforms them into values ​​that value themselves, into capital. This job if objective directly, in the course of the production process, as greatness of fluid value. […] It may happen that the first condition is met without the second condition being met. […] Every productive worker is a wage earner, but not every wage earner is productive”.[19]

Next, he refers to the unproductive proletariat, when he states: “A soldier is a salaried worker, […] but that is not why he is […] productive”.[20] The same observation applies to professionals located in the sphere of services that are not primarily intended for the market: their labor forces only generate use values ​​for public consumption, by society, or private consumption, by the private contractor. Employees are located in State departments, in wholesale or retail trade, in banking, insurance, finance or capitalization companies, in various offices and in the administrative sectors of industries.

The text clearly alludes to the “officials” of the “state services”, who “may become employees of capital, but that does not make them […] productive”;[21] and to “commercial workers”, who perform a “necessary function, because the reproduction process also includes unproductive functions”, whose “utility […] consists in committing a smaller part of the workforce and working time of society in this unproductive function”,[22] since, even without creating “directly surplus value for productive capital, […] it provides mercantile capital with a share in that surplus value”.[23]

With regard to bank workers, whose work is really incapable of generating value, they are also proletarians, since their function makes it possible for interest – the portion “of surplus value, […] that the active capitalist” has to “pay to the owner and moneylender” of capital when he “borrows” it[24], instead of using your “own” – be transferred to the employers, the bankers, in this case. There is no need to strain the reader's patience with dozens of other details. It should be stressed that, by repeatedly insisting on the existence of unproductive wage earners, Marx never intended, conceptually, to remove them from the proletariat.

Criticizing certain vulgar economists of his time, who designated the “faux frais of production” as productive, he had already expressed a clear preference for the frankness of “authors of the Malthus type, who defend without circumlocution the necessity and convenience of unproductive workers”.[25] Note that the author speaks of “workers”, not the “middle class” or any other vulgar expression, while noting that the members of his “'superior' category” are only “parasites of the true producers or agents of production”. ;[26] more properly, petty bourgeois or managerial bourgeois.

Productive and unproductive content

Today, when the particular forms of capital – industrial, in the city or in the countryside; commercial; banking – merged into superior totalities, the monopoly-financial conglomerates, and embodied in the hegemonic fraction of the ruling class, it would be even more unjustifiable to subtract unproductive salaried workers from the proletariat. However, it is still necessary to distinguish them from the productive ones, even to discredit the “apologists” of capitalism, who try to pass “happily over the specific difference” between, in the case under analysis, the “production of surplus value” and “living work”.[27]

Marx never suggested that intellectual work, even when directed solely at creating spiritual use values, would be unproductive by immanent, intrinsic and conceptual determination. Just read an enlightening text:

“Like the immediate end and [the] product par excellence of capitalist production is the added value, only that work is productive – and it is only productive worker the one who employs the workforce – who directly produce surplus value; therefore, only the work that be consumed directly in the production process with a view to capital appreciation. […] From the point of view of work process in general, appears as productive, the work done on a product, more specifically, in merchandise. From the point of view of the capitalist production process, a more precise determination is added: that the work that directly values ​​capital is productive, that which produces surplus value, that is, that done – with no equivalent for the worker, for his performer – in surplus value (sur-plusvalue), represented by a surplus product (surplus produce), that is, a surplus merchandise increment for the monopolist of the means of labor (monopolize of means of labor), for the capitalist. "[28]

Afterwards, he goes on to unravel the productive logic in capitalist relations:

“Only labor is productive which posits variable capital, and therefore total capital, as C+DC=C+Dv. It is, therefore, work that directly serves capital as an instrument (age v) of your self-worth, as a means of producing surplus value. […] AND productive the worker who performs productive work, and is productive the work that directly generates added value, that is, that valorizes the capital. […] Only bourgeois narrow-mindedness, which takes the capitalist form of production for the absolute form, and consequently for the only natural form of production, can confuse the question of what is productive work e productive worker from the point of view of capital with the question of what work is productive in general, contenting themselves with the tautological answer that all work that produces something is productive, all that results in a product or some use value whatsoever; in short: in a result. […] Only the worker whose work process = at the same time is productive. productive consumption process of the labor capacity – of the depositary of this work – by capital or the capitalist.[29]

There is not a single line or insinuation proposing or even suggesting the reduction of productive work to manual or physical functions, as well as those that generate goods or material transformations. On the contrary, it literally refers to the productive capacity of intellectual functions, even without having had the cognitive advantage of facing the complexity present in the technical-labour division and integration of contemporary industrial processes:

“How, with the development of the real subsumption of labor to capital or specifically capitalist mode of production, is not the individual worker, but a growing socially combined work ability which becomes the agent (Funktionär) of the total labor process, and how the various labor capacities that cooperate and form the total productive machine participate in very different ways in the immediate process of formation of commodities, or rather, of products – this one works more with his hands, that one works more with his head, one as a director (manager), engineer (engineer), technician, etc., another, such as foreman (overlocker), another as a direct manual worker, or even as a simple helper -, we have to more and more work capacity functions fall under the immediate concept of productive work, and their agents in the concept of productive workers, directly exploited by capital and subordinates in general to its valorization and production process.”[30]

The multiple relationships in concrete work

In conclusion, Marx highlights the totalizing, integrating and social role of labor:

“If you consider the collective worker, of which the workshop consists, its combined activity takes place materially (materialiter) and directly into a total product which, at the same time, is a total volume of goods; it is absolutely indifferent whether the function of this or that worker – a simple link of this collective worker – is closer or farther from direct manual work. But then the activity of this collective labor capacity is its direct productive consumption by capital, that is to say, the process of self-valorization of capital, the direct production of surplus value, and hence, as will be analyzed later, the direct transformation of it into capital. "[31]

There are examples of anthological passages in Surplus Value Theories:

“An entrepreneur of shows, concerts, public houses, etc. buys the right to temporarily use the labor power of actors, musicians, prostitutes, etc. He readily sells his performances to the public, thus reimbursing wages and making profits. Such services are subject to repetition, as they replace the fund you pay for them. The same can be said about the work of assistants employed in a lawyer's office, with the special characteristic that the services are embodied in huge bundles of writings and documents.”[32]

another in Unpublished Chapter, in which it penetrates the core of the labor process:

“Mílton – serve as an example -, who wrote the Lost paradise (who did the paradise lost), was an unproductive worker. On the contrary, the writer who provides his bookseller with factory work is a productive worker. Milton produced the Paradise Lost just as a silkworm produces silk, as a manifestation his nature. Then he sold the product for five pounds, and thus became a merchant. The Leipzig proletarian literary man who produces books – for example, textbooks on political economy – at the expense of the bookseller, is close to being a productive worker, inasmuch as his production is subsumed under capital, and he only carries it out to value it. A singer who sings like a bird is an unproductive worker. To the extent that he sells his corner, he is either a wage-earner or a trader. But the same singer, hired by a businessman (entrepreneur), who makes her sing to earn money, is a productive worker, since produces capital directly. A schoolmaster who is hired with others to value, through his work, the entrepreneur's money (entrepreneur) of the institution that deals with knowledge (Knowledge Mongering Institution), is a productive worker. Even so, most of these works, from the point of view of form, are barely formally subsumed under capital: they belong to transitional forms.”[33]

Today, the author would not even need to emphasize the final caveat so much, because it only concerns exceptions. The role of intellectual functions is irrefutable in the social character of capitalist production. pari passu to the creative potential of manual work, is a fundamental moment in the self-valorization process of variable capital. It would be a byzantine matter to establish a gap between the two, especially in current technical flows – advanced and integrated. Curious how such evidence, much more pronounced by the globalization of capitalist relations, is covered up by the ideologues of order, who assert exactly the opposite.

As they say, the condensation of intellectual functions and the enormous autonomization of the financial sphere would mean a redemption – complete and definitive – of capital in the face of a job in a terminal phase or condemned to be an unimportant detail in the reproduction of life. They repeat, in the face of increasingly social production and increasingly private appropriations, that the mythical productive individualization and appropriative socialization should prevail. Here is the big lie: fragmented work that “tends” to collapse and impersonal capital that “tends”, at the same time, to dispense with and be of everyone.

Productivity is defined by the historical determination of work, conditioning its specific function in the self-valorization process of capital, not by its “content” concrete, “its particular usefulness or peculiar use-value in which it manifests itself.” It follows: “a work with identical content It can therefore be both productive and unproductive.[34] depending on the socioeconomic circumstances in which it operates. It matters less if its existence is predominantly manual or intellectual and generates material or spiritual goods, as well as producing values ​​for durable, immediate or simultaneous use with its own creation.

The metabolism of capital at work

Thus, all productive work is proletarian, but unproductive work is only so if directly subsumed under capital or its public personifications. Therefore, the top managers, who receive more than their socially determined productive capacity, the urban petty bourgeoisie who do self-employed work – “contapropristas” –, selling their goods or services to buyers, and the peasantry are excluded from this category. The substances of their concrete crafts are also observed in proletarian labor, however, already impregnated by the control of capital in the core of its configuration and its becoming.

It is curious that the reductionism on the notion of proletarian – thus: low-income manual worker who manufactures durable material things for an entrepreneur – encourages, by inadequacy, the vulgate that puts people busy, including those who dominate their productive process and sell their products. goods or services, in the undifferentiated proto-concept of the “working class”. Stressing: in the singular. This is how contemporary classificatory misery can be supported, even unconsciously, by the cult of dissimulation of abstract labor and the dilution of boundaries between classes in the capitalist economic-social formation.

The theme was carefully presented, investigated and dissected by Marx:

“The same work can be productive if a capitalist. a producer, buys his power to make a profit, and unproductive, if a consumer buys it, a person who invests a part of his income in it to consume a use-value, even if this disappears when the force of power is put into activity. work embodied or performed in an object. For those who buy their labor power as a capitalist, a hotel cook produces merchandise. The consumer [...] pays for the work of the cook, who returns it to the hotelier, deducting his profit, the mandatory reserve with which he will continue to pay him for his services. On the other hand, if I buy the cook's labor force with the aim of having her do me a service not as abstract work, but to consume it, to use it in its special concrete form, even if it takes the form of a material product, a commodity. likely to be sold for the same reason as that hotelier, it will nevertheless be unproductive work. There will remain an enormous difference: my private cook does not replace the fund with which I pay her. In fact, if I buy your labor force, it's not just to create value, but thinking about the use value itself. Thus, the work does not replenish the fund with which I pay the cook, just as the supper eaten at the hotel cannot be bought and eaten a second time. The same distinction holds for merchandise.”[35]

Therefore, one can hire a person on a contract basis or on a salary – to cook, clean, babysit, repair utensils, do construction work, fill teeth, teach privately, advocate, medicate and so on – without becoming a capitalist. “The worker also buys services with money, which constitutes a way of spending money, but not of transforming it into capital.”[36] However, the same functions can be carried out by companies – and are increasingly so –; in this case, typical industrial productive work will take place, even if vulgarly and officially listed as “de-industrialized” types of service.

Thus, there is not the much-touted replacement of a declining industry by mere hypertrophied services, accompanied by the contraction and tending disappearance of the modern and direct producer, but, on the contrary, the diversification and multiplication of companies – industrial or unproductive –, which as a whole are increasingly increasingly articulated and integrated into the superior movement of monopoly-financial capital, necessarily related to the broad and general proletarianization of labor, even if it takes place in an irregular and zigzag way.

Such a process, quite the contrary of being very recent or worthy of surprise, constitutes only a contemporary and generic form of the “production and reproduction of specifically capitalist relations”.[37] Obviously, in the pores of bourgeois production, distribution and circulation, independent work in its different and various shades continues to be regenerated even today, including those associated with new technologies, but the proletarian condition predominates, unequivocally and numerically. O Communist Party Manifesto he had already recorded it, with elegant style, fine irony and remarkable acuity, over 170 years ago. To remember:

“The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo all activities hitherto considered venerable and worthy of pious respect. The doctor, the jurist, the priest, the poet, the scientist, all have been converted into his salaried servants.”[38]

Creating value in industrial services

Ten years later, Marx, in Surplus Value Theories, showed why individuals active in these professions, “who until then had been precisely the object of superstitious veneration and found themselves surrounded by a kind of halo”, were forced to desecrate them[39] and fall into worldliness. He later picks up and develops the subject, with insight and down to earth:

“In capitalist production, the production of products as commodities on the one hand, and the form of labor as wage labor on the other, are absolutized. A series of functions and activities once surrounded by a halo, and considered as ends in themselves, which were exercised free of charge or paid indirectly – like professionals (professionals), doctors, lawyers, (barristers) etc., in England, who could not or cannot complain, in order to obtain payment of their fees - on the one hand they are directly transformed into wage jobs, no matter how different its content and payment; on the other, fall – your assessment, the price of these diverse activities, from the prostitute to the king - under the laws regulating the price of wage labor. "[40]

Nevertheless, the "branches of activity" are classified as follows by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE): "agricultural", "manufacturing industry", "construction industry", "other industrial activities", "transport and communications", “provision of services and auxiliary services of economic activity” – later broken down into “provision of services” and “auxiliary services of economic activity” -, “social”, “public administration”, “trade of goods” and, finally, “ other activities".[41] Similar criteria remain intact. It is immediately noted that empiricism generates several improprieties.

By removing the agricultural segment from industries, it ignores what an advertisement, conveyed by Organizações Globo Participações SA – a holding – they recognize: in Brazil, capital has already been largely territorialized. More rigorously: it became large-scale, as it maintained the monopoly structure of rural private property. Soon, the great agrarian production became characteristically capitalist, therefore, industrial, as detected by Kautsky in The Agrarian Question.[42] Obviously, income continues to depend on the natural power inherent in the soil-climate binomial; however, supporting the added value in the composition of profit.

Certainly, it recognizes that construction is an industry, but it disregards it as a “transformation” branch. This is an inexplicable separation, since, in building companies, capital is reproduced in the very act of modifying raw materials – a basic portion of inputs used in houses, buildings, sheds, tunnels, bridges, landfills, roads and so on. onwards, which are primarily goods to be supplied to contractors or marketed as real estate. Except for the specificities of the itinerant production process and certain orders, it differs little from factory operations.

This taxonomy is widespread. The US criteria, which are similar, also place civil construction on the margins of the “manufacturing industry”. This is how the formalist nomenclature contributes to eclipse the vast, complex and dynamic process of migration-regeneration endogenous to the proletarian being, as well as its varied active functions, whether traditional, innovative or informal, thus artificially minimizing subsidiary productive work. in unproductive companies, such as commerce and restaurants, or even completely suppressing some highly relevant industrial branches.

Even more unusual is the treatment given to transport. Arbitrary labeling clusters it together with “communications” of all sorts, at the same time that it places it completely outside the industrial list, even making the ultimate point of naming the domains from which it excludes it, be it “transformation”, be it “other activities”. It looks more like a disguised service, the mere delivery of goods or the movement of people, coagulated, immutable, reified. This is how the phenomenal “deindustrialization” of the supposed “hypernova” society reveals its real farcical nature, by verbally camouflaging the production of living labor.

It leaves it isolated in a box, next to the “public services”, as it also happens in the USA. There, not by chance – as it is the Mecca of contemporary empiricism – such an arbitrary operation caused the so-called “tertiary sector” to become hypertrophied, representing, according to data issued by the World Bank, “more than three quarters of GDP ( 77%)” and to employ “more than 79,40% of the active population”.[43] This is how the unfathomable mystery is put together that one of the nations with the highest industrialization rate in the world would have created such immense and formidable values, basically, with unproductive services.

It goes unnoticed that in service industries, which are not included in the classification of factories, capital is also valued, as in private medicine and teaching companies, as they use salaried labor that performs “transformation”. They generate surplus value, as long as the services, instead of being sold in the very act of making them by the self-employed worker converted into a merchant, are marketed by the personified capital that controls them and keeps them appropriate in the complete production process. Two cases call for further analysis due to their similarity: storage in time and translation in space.

Added value in storage and transport

In storage, even when the function takes place in commercial establishments as a complementary activity, there are modifications of material goods under labor custody, with methods that protect their use value and even – in the case of some foods, musical instruments and fine woods – cause their increase by improving certain intrinsic qualities. A classic work detects, narrates and analyzes such productive processes:

“During storage, the value of commodities is preserved or increased only because the use-value, the product itself, is placed in certain material conditions which require capital expenditure, and is subjected to operations in which additional labor acts on the value of goods. use." [44]

Different are some correlated, unproductive, yet useful functions:

“The calculation of the values ​​of commodities, the accounting of this process, the business of buying and selling, on the contrary, do not influence the use value in which the value of the commodities exists. They relate only to the form of the value of commodities.”[45]

In transport, the place of goods in the physical-geographical extension in which the capitalist economic-social formation is distributed in the national territory and internationally, undergoes more or less relevant changes, which add value to them. How one deals, in bourgeois society, with primary commodities, the transporting impulse – that is to say, the transforming volition – is motivated by the search for better environmental positions in the realization of surplus value, that is, in the blending with the market’s request, in search for demand and a relatively better price for manufacturers or distributors.

Marx notes how spatial transformation interferes with exchange value:

“This exchange can determine the change of space of the products, their effective movement from one place to another. […] Thus, the productive capital applied to it adds value to the transported products, formed by the transfer of value from the means of transport and the additional value created by work. [..] this additional value is divided, as in all capitalist production, into salary replacement and surplus value.”[46]

Drivers who would be hired, carrying goods, giving them additional value and reproducing capital with surplus value, are productive proletarians. In turn, the self-employed, owners of cargo vehicles or renters, sell the goods or services they provide. Therefore, they do work on their own, as well as operate app carriers without employment ties, but with their belongings: cars, motorcycles, bicycles, smartphones. They become, however, semi-proletarian – a transitory form – if they establish a prolonged and repetitive bond with their contractors.

Finally, there are proletarians who move crowds on public transport, as Hamilton did. There is a transfer of people due to work sites and other social purposes, fulfilling some essential needs for their expanded reproduction, including culture, sport, leisure or affections. The workforce – organically linked to the material and individual personality of the “direct salesperson of living work […] in the capital production process”, now converted into the “component Variable"[47] – increases “by the transfer of value from the means of transport and by the additional value created by work”.[48]

But, what about the exchanger? In the role of “merchant”, selling tickets as was the rule in the past, he only converts the value created in transport to its money form. However, he also worked on related tasks, such as supporting people with disabilities, the elderly or minors, organizing passengers in the interior compartment and complementing the driver's performance, allowing him to focus exclusively on driving. Therefore, he creates value, instead of being an employee whose usefulness is limited to releasing other people's productive tasks and committing "a smaller part of the strength [...] and work time".[49]

This is how the figure of the combative unionist who was active in the Belo Horizonte movement of road workers, organizing the economic category and directing extremely important strikes, escapes the classification that treats him as an employee of a service, to characterize him as a productive proletarian of an industry : the transports. His life embodied the contradiction of multiplying capital and, on the contrary, developing society, in addition to contributing, as a social pioneer that he was, to an emancipated world. In the light of materialism, the Memorial can place him in an eternity without idealist and metaphysical contamination.

*Ronald Rocha is a sociologist, essayist, member of the Sérgio Miranda Institute – Isem – and author of Anatomy of a creed (financial capital and production progressivism).


ADORNO, Theodor W.; and HORKHEIMER, Max. Dialectic of Enlightenment - philosophical fragments. Rio de Janeiro, Jorge Zahar Editor, 1985.

ANTUNES, Ricardo. Goodbye to Work? Essay on Metamorphoses and the Centrality of the World of Work. São Paulo / Campinas, Cortez Ed. / Ed. from Unicamp, 1995.

GONZAGA, Thomas Antonio. Marilia de Dirceu. In: “Complete Works of Tomás Antônio Gonzaga – Critical Edition of M. Rodrigues Lapa”. RJ, National Book Institute / MEC, 1957.

IBGE Statistical Yearbook of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, IBGE, 1980.

IBGE Statistical Yearbook of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, IBGE, 1996.

KAUTSKY, Karl. the agrarian question. São Paulo, Editorial Proposal, 1980.

KONDRATIEFF, Nikolai Dimitrievich. The broad waves of the conyuntura. In: KONDRATIEFF, Nikolai Dimitrievich; GARVY, George. “The Broad Waves of the Economy”. Madrid, Revista de Occidente, 1946.

KURZ, Robert. The Collapse of Modernization - From the collapse of barracks socialism to the crisis of the world economy. Rio de Janeiro, Peace and Land, 1992.

MARX, Karl; and ENGELS, Friedrich. The Holy Family. Lisbon, Ed. Presence, s/d.

MARX, Carl. Chapter VI (unpublished) of Capital, Book I. São Paulo, Livraria Editora Ciências Humanas, 1978.

MARX, Carl. Contribution to Hegel's Critique of Law. In: MARX, Karl. “Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts”. Lisbon, Editions 70.

MARX, Carl. Gotha Program Review. In: MARX, Karl; and ENGELS, Friedrich. “Obras Escogidas entre tres tomos”. Moscow, Editorial Progreso, 1980, T. III.

MARX, Carl. Fundamental elements for the critique of political economy (blotter) 1857-1858. Mexico, Siglo Veintiuno Editores SA

MARX, Karl; and ENGELS, Friedrich. Communist Party Manifesto. In: MARX, Karl; and ENGELS, Friedrich. “Obras Escogidas entre tres tomos”. Moscow, Editorial Progreso, 1980, TI

MARX, Carl. The capital. Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Civilization, 1968-1974.

MARX, Carl. plusvalia theories. Madrid, Alberto Corazon Editor, 1974.

NONATO DA SILVA, Vínícius Marcus. About Hamilton de Moura's employment relationships. Belo Horizonte, Message by email, 3/11/2020.

NONATO DA SILVA, Vínícius Marcus. Status of the proceedings relating to the murder of Hamilton de Moura. Belo Horizonte, Message by whatsapp, on 23/6/2021.

SANTANDERTRADE, Portal. US economy. In: santandertrade.com/pt/portal (accessed on 4/11/2020).


[1] GONZAGA, Thomas Antonio. Marilia de Dirceu. In: GONZAGA, Tomás Antônio. “Complete Works of Tomás Antônio Gonzaga – Critical Edition of M. Rodrigues Lapa”. RJ, Instituto Nacional do Livro / MEC, 1957, V. I (Poesias), p. 78.

[2] NONATO DA SILVA, Vínícius Marcus. Status of the proceedings relating to the murder of Hamilton de Moura. Belo Horizonte, Message by whatsapp, on 23/6/2021.

[3] Idem. About Hamilton de Moura's employment relationships. Belo Horizonte, Message by email, on 3/11/2020.

[4] KONDRATIEFF, Nikolai Dimitrievich. The broad waves of the conyuntura. In: KONDRATIEFF, Nikolai Dimitrievich; GARVY, George. “The Broad Waves of the Economy”. Madrid, Revista de Occidente, 1946, p. 12.

[5] MARX, Carl. Gotha Program Review. In: MARX, Karl; and ENGELS, Friedrich. “Obras Escogidas entre tres tomos”. Moscow, Editorial Progreso, 1980, T. III, p. 5.

[6] MARX, Karl; and ENGELS, Friedrich. The Holy Family. Lisbon, Ed. Presence, n/d, p. 7.

[7] MARX, Carl. The capital. Rio de Janeiro, Brazilian Civilization, 1968-1974, L. 1, V. I, p. 44.

[8] Same, ibid. L.1, V.I, p. 45.

[9] Same, Ibidem. L.1, V.I, p. 50.

[10] Same, Ibidem. L.1, V.I, p. 44.

[11] Same, Ibidem. L.1, V.I, p. 45.

[12] KURZ, Robert. The Collapse of Modernization - From the collapse of barracks socialism to the crisis of the world economy. Rio de Janeiro, Paz e Terra, 1992, p. 240.

[13] MARX, Carl. Contribution to Hegel's Critique of Law. In: MARX, Karl. “Economic-Philosophical Manuscripts”. Lisbon, Editions 70, p. 92.

[14] Idem. Fundamental elements for the critique of political economy (blotter) 1857-1858. Mexico, Siglo Veintiuno Editores SA, V. 1, pp. 475 and 476.

[15] Idem. Chapter VI (unpublished) of Capital, Book I. São Paulo, Livraria Editora Ciências Humanas, 1978, p. 90.

[16] Idem. The capital. Cit., L. 1, V. II, p. 885.

[17] ADORNO, Theodor W.; and HORKHEIMER, Max. Dialectic of Enlightenment - philosophical fragments. Rio de Janeiro, Jorge Zahar Editor, 1985, p. 215.

[18] ANTUNES, Ricardo. Goodbye to Work? Essay on Metamorphoses and the Centrality of the World of Work. São Paulo / Campinas, Cortez Ed. / Ed. from Unicamp, 1995, p. 18. (Italics by Antunes)

[19] MARX, Carl. Chapter VI (unpublished)… Cit., p. 72. (editor's italics)

[20] Idem. Ibidem, P. 74.

[21] Idem. Ibidem, P. 75.

[22] Idem. The capital. Cit., L. 2, V. III, p. 135.

[23] Idem. Ibidem, L. 3, V.V, p. 338.

[24] Idem. Ibidem, L. 3, V.V, p. 427.

[25] Idem. plusvalia theories. Madrid, Alberto Corazon Editor, 1974, T. 1, p. 151.

[26] Idem. Ibidem, T.I, p. 150.

[27] Idem. Chapter VI (unpublished) … Cit., pp. 73 and 74.

[28] Idem. Ibidem, P. 70. (editor's italics)

[29] Idem. Ibidem, P. 71. (editor's italics)

[30] Idem. Ibidem, P. 71. (editor's italics)

[31] Idem. Ibidem, P. 72. (editor's italics)

[32] Idem. Theories … Cit., T. 1, p. 143.

[33] Idem. Chapter VI (unpublished) … Cit., p. 76. (editor's italics)

[34] Idem. Ibidem, P. 75. (editor's italics)

[35] Idem. Theories ... Cit., T. 1, pp. 142 and 143.

[36] Idem. Chapter VI (unpublished)… Cit., P. 79. (editor's italics)

[37] Idem. Ibid, p. 90.

[38] MARX, Karl; and ENGELS, Friedrich. Communist Party Manifesto. In: MARX, Karl; and ENGELS, Friedrich. “Works …” Cit., T. I, p. 113.

[39] MARX, Carl. Theories... Cit., T. 1, p. 150.

[40] Idem. Chapter VI (unpublished) … Cit., p. 73. (editor's italics)

[41] IBGE Statistical Yearbook of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, IBGE, 1980, p. 126. Same. Statistical Yearbook of Brazil. Rio de Janeiro, IBGE, 1996, p. (2)88.

[42] KAUTSKY, Karl. the agrarian question. São Paulo, Editorial Proposal, 1980, pp. 38 and 139.

[43] SANTANDERTRADE, Portal. US economy. In: santandertrade.com/pt/portal (accessed on 4/11/2020).

[44] MARX, Carl. The capital. Cit., L. 2, V. III, p. 142.

[45] Tdem, Ibidem. L.2, V.III, p. 142.

[46] Idem. Ibidem. L.2, V.III, pp. 152 and 153.

[47] Idem. Chapter VI (unpublished)… Cit., p. 72. (editor's italics)

[48] Idem. Ibidem. Cit., p. 72.

[49] Idem. The capital. Cit., L. 2, V. III, p. 135.

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