Keen on value

jones/bhandari djones at
Mon Nov 6 16:04:45 MST 1995

A quick note on this argument from Steve's thesis which Jim has recently

>   "Yet in arguing that labor was the only substance of
>all commodities, Marx is effectively stating that all
>goods can eventually be reduced to pure labor, with no
>commodity residue. 

1. Where did Marx argue that labor is the only substance of commodities?
True, he argues that there is a dependency of profits on variable capital
alone and that there will be a decline of the rate of profit with the
decrease of variable in relation to total capital (even at a rising rate of
exploitation, I would argue).  This however is consistent with nature being
as much a substance of commodities as labor.  

2. I don't how  Marx's LTV is dependent at all on  the minimization of the
physical residue of all inputs, leaving only pure labor. In fact we
wouldn't know the Marxian value of a commodity if we could determine its
pure labor content.  

As I suggested before--inspired by Grossmann and Blake-- it is important to
emphasize that Marx understands value as the socially necessary time
required to REproduce a commodity.  So as Guglielmo Carchedi has argued,
"even if this method [Sraffa's reduction equation] did find...greater and
greater labor contents, of the means of production, this quantity would not
be the social value of the means of production as inputs: this is given by
their cost of reproduction at the time the output is sold." (p.97,
Frontiers of Political Economy. Verso, 1991).  


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