Value and exchange value

P8475423 at vmsuser.acsu.unsw.EDU.AU P8475423 at vmsuser.acsu.unsw.EDU.AU
Sun Aug 6 17:02:31 MDT 1995

I agree with Jerry's statement that, while Marx frequently
gave the definition that the value of a commodity "is expressed
as the amount of socially-necessary-labor-time required to
produce a commodity",

|... value can not be understood as a definition, it has to be
|understood as a dialectical process. So, some additional comments
|are in order....

Jerry, however, begins from the definition itself, discussing
what socially-necessary-labor-time might be:

|1) What is socially-necessary-labor-time? This is *measured*
|quantitatively as an exchange ratio. To understand this concept ...

While this accords with how Marx proceeded before he developed
the use-value/exchange-value analysis of the commodity which
both Jerry and I see as vital, it is not how he proceeded
after that development. Instead, he attempted to derive the
result that value was "socially necessary labor-time"
"from first principles"--using dialectical reasoning.

I have stated my arguments on this issue several times before,
and I have neither the time nor the inclination to state them
in detail again. So I will instead point to a couple of riddles
that are generated by Marx's own reasoning on this issue.

In his attempt to use this new logic to bolster the old conclusion
that that value is socially necessary labor-time, Marx began with
the following:

"The only use-value, i.e. usefulness, which can stand opposite
capital as such is that which increases, multiplies and hence
preserves it as capital.... the opposite of capital cannot
itself be a particular commodity, for as such it would form no
opposition to capital, since the substance of capital is itself
use-value; it is not this commodity or that commodity, but all
commodities." (p. 271.)

He next concludes that the joint substance of all commodities
"as commodities and hence exchange values, is this, that they
are objectified labour... The only use-value, therefore, which
can form the opposite pole to capital is labour."(Footnote: The
passage continues " (to be exact, value creating, productive
labour...)". (p. 272.)

Does anyone else see a potential contradiction here between
the statements that the opposite of capital is "all
commodities", and the subsequent conclusion that a single
use-value, labor, is the opposite of capital?

There is also this curious passage:

"It also has to be postulated (which was not done above) that
the use-value of the machine significantly greater than its
value; i.e. that its devaluation in the service of production is
not proportional to its increasing effect on production." (p.

What might be the consequences of the use-value of a machine
being significantly greater than its value?

Steve Keen
ps all cites from the grundrisse, penguin edition

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