reply to Keen

Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU Steve.Keen at unsw.EDU.AU
Thu Sep 29 23:26:36 MDT 1994

Dear Fred,

The main non-Marx references (all cited in those two papers) are:
Rosdolsky, _The Making of Marx's Capital_, especially pp. 73-95;
Groll, HOPE 1980 Vol 12 No. 3 pp. 336-371

Rosdolsky points out that use-value plays an essential role in
Marx, in contrast to Sweezy's line; but doesn't say what it is.
Groll details Marx's extensive use of the term, and tries to
develop a form of heirarchy of uses.

The key Marx references are his comments on Wagner (see T Carver,
_Karl Marx: Texts on Method_, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1975) and
the Grundrisse, footnote pp. 267-68 (Penguin 1973 edition).

The following quotes provide part of my argument on both scores,
and you will find all of them in the thesis. All quotes are from
Progress Publishers editions. Most of the following are quotes;
but in a couple of cases my comments surround them to provide
a context (e.g., to explain that Marx is discussing Sismondi):

"Hence we see, that whether a use-value is to be regarded as raw
material, as instrument of labour, or as product, this is determined
entirely by its function in the labour-process, by the position it
there occupies; as this varies, so does its character."
(Vol I, p. 178.)

"So far as constant capital enters into the production of commodities,
it is not its exchange-value, but its  use-value alone, which matters...
the assistance rendered by a machine to, say, three labourers does not
depend on its value, but on its use-value as a machine." (Capital, Vol.
III, p. 80. )


"It is only on this basis that the difference arises between the value
of labour power and the value which that labour power creates--a
difference which exists with no other commodity, since there is no
other commodity whose use-value, and therefore also the use of it,
can increase its exchange value or the exchange values resulting from
it." (Theories, Part I, p. 45.)

Turning to Smith, he lauds him for the perception that in the transition
from simple commodity exchange to the exchange between worker and
capitalist, the law of exchange is somehow suspended, because "More
labour is exchanged for less labour (from the labourer's viewpoint)".
"His [Smith's] merit is that he emphasises--and it obviously perplexes
him--that with the accumulation of capital and the appearance of property
in land ... something new occurs, apparently the law of value changes into
its opposite." (p. 87) However Marx observes that Smith does not see
"how this contradiction arises, through labour power itself becoming a
commodity, and in the case of this specific commodity **its use-value--
which therefore has nothing to do with its exchange value--is precisely
the energy which creates exchange value.**" (p. 88. My emphasis)

"the use-value of labour power to the capitalist as a capitalist does
not consist in its actual use-value ... that it is spinning labour,
weaving labour, etc... What interests him in the commodity is that
it has more exchange value than he paid for it; and therefore the
**use-value of the labour is, for him, that he gets back a greater
quantity of labour-time than he has paid out in the form of wages.**"
(p. 156)

"For it [capital], the use-value of labour power is precisely the excess
of the quantity of labour which it performs over the quantity of labour
which is materialised in the labour power itself and hence is required
to reproduce it. Naturally, it supplies this quantity of labour in the
determinate form inherent in it as labour which has a particular utility,
such as spinning labour, weaving labour, etc. But this concrete
character, which is what enables it to take the form of a commodity,
is not its specific use-value for capital. **Its specific use-value for
capital consists in its quantity as labour in general, and in the
difference, the excess, of the quantity of labour which it performs
over the quantity of labour which it costs.**" (p. 400.)


Marx does not consider Sismondi in Theories of Surplus Value.
"because a critique of his views belongs to a part of my work dealing
with the real movement of capital (competition and credit) which I can
only tackle after I have finished this book". (p. 53.) Nonetheless he
pays tribute to him while castigating Malthus for plagiarism, and as
part of that tribute, Sismondi's awareness of the "contradictions of
use-value and exchange value" is mentioned: "Sismondi is profoundly
conscious of the contradictions in capitalist production; he is aware
that, on the one hand, its forms--its production relations--stimulate
unrestrained development of the productive forces and of wealth; and
that, on the other hand, these relations are conditional, that **their
contradictions of use-value and exchange value**, commodity and money,
purchase and sale, production and consumption, capital and wage-labour,
etc., assume even greater dimensions as productive power develops."
( pp. 55-56)

Mill's artifice concerning wages has increased the difficulty of
understanding the relationship between capitalist and worker (and hence
the source of surplus value) "because the peculiarity of the result is
no longer comprehensible in terms of the peculiarity of the commodity
which the worker sells (and the specific feature of this commodity is
that its use-value is itself a factor of exchange value, its use
therefore creates a greater exchange value than it contains)" (p. 90)

"These same circumstances (independent of the mind, but influencing it)
which compel the producers to sell their products as commodities--
circumstances which differentiate one form of social production from
another--provide their products with an exchange value which (also in
their mind) is independent of their use-value." (p. 163.)



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