Value versus exchange value

Paul Cockshott wpc at
Tue Nov 1 20:33:13 MST 1994

> In
>> commodity-producing society, value is 'represented' by exchange-value; in
>> a planned economy it can be calculated directly, and does not take on the
>> form of exchange-value.
>Well, necessary labor time, Marx asserts without argument, can be this
>calculated. But it's not value, properly so called, outside a commodity
>economy. That's why the producers in the lower stage of communism in the
>Critique of the Gotha Program do not exchange their products, , "just as
>little does the labor employed on the products appear here as the value
>of these products."

As I understand Marx in Capital I he defines value to be abstract
socially necessary labour time, and treats exchange value as its
phenomenal form. He presents exchange value as a quaternary relation
of the form

A units of commodity X = B units of Commodity Y

In this two numbers: A and B, and two dimensions: pounds of sugar,
pints of milk, are combined. He argues that this is only possible
if there exists some common substance - value that supports the relation.
Thus the existence of value - social labour - is a precondition for
the existence of exchange value, but not vice-versa. Value= social labour time,
exists in any society with a social division of labour, but only in
commodity producing society does the social labour manifest itself as
a relation between products. But a socialist society must still perform
economic calculation, when people chose between to techniques of
house building ( to use von Mises example ) they no longer see which
has the lowest money cost, instead they directly compute how much labour
is required by different means. Value then appears in unalienated form
as the social cost of production.

Paul Cockshott , 		
Phone: 041 637 2927		wpc at
				wpc at


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