Science -Reply to Juan

P8475423 at vmsuser.acsu.unsw.EDU.AU P8475423 at vmsuser.acsu.unsw.EDU.AU
Wed Jul 5 00:11:38 MDT 1995

Jerry comments on Juan's post that

|...I believe if you
|read  Juan's post  carefully, you will see why Marx, for instance,
|started his investigation  of capitalism with the commodity and why the
|study of the value-form is at very center of his analysis of capital.

I would rather suggest that a careful reading of the original (i.e.,
Marx) from the Grundrisse gives a better clue. The following
excerpts are respectively the first time that Marx perceived
the central role of the commodity (in a dialectical sense) in his
analysis, and his statement, at the end of his "rough draft" of
Capital, of how he intended to proceed in his magnum opus:

"Is not value to be conceived as the unity of use-value and exchange
value? In and for itself, is value as such the general form, in
opposition to use-value and exchange value as particular forms of it?
**Does this have significance in economics?* Use-value presupposed even
in simple exchange or barter. But here, where exchange takes place only
for the reciprocal use of the commodity, the use-value, i.e., the
content, the natural particularity of the commodity has no such standing
as an economic form. Its form, rather, is exchange value. The content
apart from this form is irrelevant; is not a content of the relation as a
social relation. But does this content as such not develop into a system
of needs and production? **Does not use-value as such enter into the form
itself, as a determinant of the form itself, e.g. in the relation of
capital and labour?* the different forms of labour?--agriculture,
industry, etc.--ground rent?--effect of the seasons on raw product
prices? etc. **If *only* exchange value as such plays a role in
economics, then how could elements later enter which relate purely to
use-value*, such as, right away, in the case of capital as raw material,
etc.? How is it that the physical composition of the soil suddenly drops
out of the sky in Ricardo? The word *ware* [commodity] (German *Guter*
[goods] perhaps as *denree* [good] as distinct from *marchandise*
[commodity]?) contains the connection. The price appears as a merely
formal aspect of it. **This is not in the slightest contradicted by the
fact that exchange value is the predominant aspect. But of course use
does not come to a halt because it is determined* *only* by exchange*;
although of course it obtains its direction thereby. **In any case, this
is to be examined with exactitude in the examination of value, and not,
as Ricardo does, to be entirely abstracted from, nor like the dull Say,
who puffs himself up with the mere presupposition of the word `utility'.
Above all it will and must become clear in the development of the
individual sections to what extent use-value exists not only as
presupposed matter, outside economics and its forms, but to what extent
it enters into it.* Proudhon's nonsense, see the `Misere'.(Footnote: This
refers to what Marx saw as Proudhon's childish attempt to apply a
Fichtean dialectic to the analysis of the commodity, using use-value and
exchange value as thesis and antithesis, with value being the
conflict-resolving synthesis. See **Marx, K.*, *The Poverty of
Philosophy*, Charles Kerr, Chicago, pp. 34-55 (no date given).) This much
is certain: in exchange we have (in circulation) the
commodity--use-value--as price; that it is, apart from its price, a
commodity, an object of need, goes without saying. **The two aspects in
no way enter into relation with each other*, except in so far as the
particular use-value appears as the natural limit of the commodity and
hence posits money, i.e., its exchange value, simultaneously as an
existence apart from itself, in money, but only formally. Money itself is
a commodity, has a use-value for its substance."(Footnote: *Grundrisse*,
op. cit., footnote pp. 267-68. Boldface emphases added.)

"The first category in which bourgeois wealth presents itself is that of
the *commodity*. The commodity itself appears as unity of two aspects. It
is *use-value*, i.e. object of the satisfaction of any system whatever of
human needs. This is its material side, which the most disparate epochs
of production may have in common, and whose examination therefore lies
beyond political economy. Use-value falls within the realm of political
economy as soon as it becomes modified by the modern relations of
production, or as it, in turn, intervenes to modify them.*... Now how
does use-value become transformed into commodity? Vehicle of *exchange
value*. Although directly united in the commodity, use-value and exchange
value just as directly split apart. Not only does the exchange value not
appear as determined by the use-value, but rather furthermore, the
commodity only becomes a commodity, only realises itself as exchange
value, in so far as its owner does not relate to it as
use-value."(Footnote: Ibid, p. 881. Some emphasis added.)

Steve Keen

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