Ceteris paribus

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Mon Jul 31 10:29:17 MDT 1995

I thank Steve for his stimulating post.  I will ask only one question about
part of it (ignoring his discussion of credit, interest, rent and
wages--all of which Steve nests within Marx's dialectic of the commodity).

Steve quotes the following from the Grundrisse, which anticipates Marx's
later statement in his Notes on Wagner that use value plays an entirely
different role in his critique than in other theories:

> *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.*

How could the use-value aspects of commodities modify modern relations of
production?  I was wondering what Steve had in mind here as this would help
us clarify why Steve believes that the dialectic of use value and exchange
value was Marx's fundamental discovery. (Also, I am not quite clear what
exactly Steve is arguing is the outer-most level--is is the exchange value
only of the commodity or the dialectic of value and use value within the

For Grossmann (from whom Rosdolsky is drawing and to whom Steve has pointed
our attention) use value modifies capitalist relations of production in
several ways (Grossmann critiques classical political economy for its
exclusive concern with exchange value):

first it is the use value of labor power alone which makes possible the
pursuit of surplus value;

second, it is from the use value characteristics of fixed capital (it takes
a longer time to be used up in physical terms for example) that Marx
explains both periodical crises (this confuses me) and certain dynamical
tendencies resulting from tendential overproduction in Div I industries,
namely the revolutions in value characteristic of modern relations of
production; and

thirdly, it is as concrete labor becomes more productive of use values,
that both the permanent tendency for unit values to drop and the related
tendency for the falling profit rate assert themselves.

I have read Rosdolsky's chapter on use value, Steve, and I have been
confused by it. Moreover, I may have misunderstood Grossmann's essay from
which Rosdolsky is drawing.   Perhaps you could provide some reading tips
for this chapter.

Thank you


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