Value and exchange value

glevy at glevy at
Sat Aug 5 21:35:51 MDT 1995

Erwin Marquit wrote:

> A correction to Jerry's formulation of exchange value. Exchange value,
> or value, is not a phenomenological form (appearance). It is really
> part of the essence of a commodity. Price is the phenomenological
> form. Because of the differences in the organic composition of
> capital, value does not manifest itself directly. This is why
> bourgeois economy has no use for exchange value (not having a
> theory of value) and restricts itself to price.
Erwin's correction has me really confused.

1) When Erwin writes "exchange value, or value, .... does he mean;
   a) exchange value *is* (the same as)value?; or
   b) both exchange value *and* value?
I *believe* he means b) above.

2) If I am correct in my interpretation above, one could reconstruct the
sentence as "both exchange value and value  are not phenomenological
forms (or appearances) of the commodity -- they are really part of the
essence of the commodity."  To the extent that the appearance of value is
*part* of the nature of value, I think I could agree with this.

3) "Price is the phenomenological form" of value? ... exchange value? ...
or both?  It is true that exchange value *appears* as price. It is also
true that the price-form conceals the qualitative dimensions of value. Is
that what Erwin means?

4) in #3 above, when Erwin says price, does he mean actual market prices?

5) "Value does not manifest itself directly", but is that due to
"differences in the organic composition of capital"?

6) by "bourgeois economy" does Erwin mean a) classical political economy?
b)... "vulgar economy"? ... c) contemporary bourgeois economics? ... d)
all of the above? e) some combination of the above?

7) Putting aside for a moment the specific meaning of "bourgeois
economy", can we say that bourgeois economics "has no use for exchange
value (not having a theory of value) and restricts itself to price"?
Certainly, some schools of thought never get beyond the appearance of
price to understand value in Marx's sense of the term. But, does that
mean that those schools do not have a theory of value? It seems to me,
for instance, that the marginalists have a theory of value, but that
theory of value is very different from Marx's.

I am very confused by Erwin's post. If there is anyone out there who
understands its meaning, *please* respond.


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