djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Sat Oct 29 00:15:21 MDT 1994
Three questions, one for Hans and two for Justin. Paul C and Allen C may
find the Murray quote below interesting in that it attempts to
differentiate Marxian value from Ricardian value.
For Hans: could you please elaborate the distinction between individual and
social value? (Thank you for the citations).
A. The role of demand/Marxian vs. Ricardian value
I thought that I would quote this long but lucid passage from Patrick
Murray as the third point below indicates *a different role for demand*
even in the opening pages of volume I than given in your last post.
Already in section !, Marx had investigated the nature of this abstract,
"human labor." The labor that congeals as value is abstract labor in the
"physiological" that it is the expenditure of human labor power without
regard to any definite end. But for an hour's labor to count as an hour's
worthof value it must meet several conditions:
1. It must be an jour of "simple average labor"; hours of complex labor
count for more. And what counts as simple average abor is historically
variable, not naturally determined.
2. To be "socially necessary," the hour of labor must produce the number of
commodities equal to the number produced in an hour averaged across all
producers of that commodity. An hour's labor that produces more commodities
that the average counts as more value, and conversely.
3. An jour of labor that is socially necessary in sense (2) is socially
necessary in a further sense--ONE THAT BUILDS DEMAND INTO THE VERY CONCEPT
OF VALUE--only if the demand for that type of commodity matches the supply.
If the supply of a commodity exceeds demand, an jour's labor on that that
is socially necessary in sense (2) produces less than an hour's value,
conversely. This third consideration, involving as it does a
co-constitutive relationship between value and price, is a deeply
non-Ricardian element of Marx's value theory. According to Ricardo's
theory, prices are to be the variable completely dependent on labor inputs
construed in a technical sense. There is no room in Ricardian theory for a
dialectic of value and price.
What these three mean is that Marx's theory of value cannot be construed as
a labor theory in any ordinary or naturalistic sense. The labor that goes
into the production of any particular commodity, the "labor embodied," does
not determine the value of that commodity--for the three reasons just
specified. Value is not a concept appropriate for all human labor--as in
naturalistic theory. It applies only when conditions (1) through (3) above
are in force, that is, in competitive, market societies where all goods are
produced as commodities. VALUE is Marx's term for the specific, puzzling,
and self-obscuring form that social labor takes under capitalism."
B. Marxian value is not a theory of relative prices?
Well, I have burned myself out typing, and it's sunny. So I am out of here
for now. But I think many things cannot be explained if we so restrict the
theory of value, e.g. unequal exchange on a global scale or the attempt by
monopolies to stave off the fall in the average rate of profit through
unequal exchange relationships with suppliers.
Patrick Murray, "The Necessity of Money". In Marx's Method In Capital, ed.
Fred Moseley (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1993)
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