use value

Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU
Wed Aug 24 00:27:24 MDT 1994


Dear Chris,
I'm glad to have given you some food for thought--as I commented last
time, I found your last posting quite stimula
ing too.

While I can appreciate your initial reaction--that the Grundrisse was
an earlier, unpolished attempt, with mistakes that were later corrected
in Capital I--I think you'll find that isn't the case. In fact, in the
papers I've written (I have reprints which I could mail you, BTW), I
commented that "later developments of his dialectic as it relates to
value-creation tarnished rather than polished the tool, obscuring the
fundamental contradiction it uncovered in his labor theory of value."

Of course, I can' convince you of that--especially with a quotation
from me! But I can suggest some avenues of investigation. Some time
ago, I made the comment that Marx thought that the use-value/
exchange-value dialectic was "the best thing in Capital". In fact,
what he wrote to Engels was that the distinction between abstract
labor and concrete labor was the best thing. I expected to be
challenged on this, but no-one took the bait.

The logic behind the bait was that I contend that Marx saw the
application of the uv/ev dialectic and the abstract labor/concrete
labor distinction as near synonyms--that in this case, he was
using a "short-hand", though the reverse of the one Gene first
suggested. However, if Marx in fact saw these two as different,
and used the latter to derive the source of surplus, then my
case collapses.

To decide which interpretation is correct, I suggest looking
at Engels. Which method did he use to show the source of
surplus--one based on the distinction between abstract and
concrete labor (a literal interpretation of Marx's letter,
and one which would damage my argument), or one based on
the dialectic between use-value and exchange-value?

You will find he used the latter. Check Anti-Durhing:

"whence comes this surplus-value?.. The solution of this problem
was the most epoch-making achievement of Marx's work. It spread
the clear light of day through economic domains in which
Socialists no less than bourgeois economists previously groped
in utter darkness. Scientific socialism dates from the discovery
of this solution and has been built up around it.

The solution is as follows: The increase in value of money that
is to be converted into capital cannot take place in money itself,
nor can it originate in the purchase, as here this money does no
more than realise the price of the commodity, and this price,
inasmuch as we took as our premise an exchange of equivalents,
is not different from its value. For the same reason, the increase
in value cannot originate in the sale of the commodity. The change
must, therefore, take place in the commodity bought; not however
in its value, as it is bought and sold at its value, but **in its
use-value as such**, that is, the change of value must originate
in the consumption of the commodity. "In order to be able to extract
value form the consumption of a commodity, our friend, Moneybags,
must be so lucky as to find ... in the market, a commodity,
whose use-value possesses the peculiar property of being a source of
value, whose actual consumption, therefore, is itself an embodiment
of labor, and consequently, a creation of value.  The possessor of
money does find on the market such a special commodity in capacity
for labor or labor-power." (pp. 232-33, emphasis added.)

You will find similar comments in _On Marx's Capital_.

You should also have a good look at the _Marginal Notes on Adolphe
Wagner_, which is reproduced in McLennan'st from there!

Cheers,
Steve Keen

PS Happy reading in Switzerland, and best of luck at getting connected
to the net from there!
I have eough hassles getting connected remotely to a VAX on campus
from my home office (to whit, the dropped characters in the above
post).


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