John R. Ernst ernst at pipeline.com
Wed Nov 29 00:42:35 MST 1995

Dear Jim, 
A couple of days ago, you raised a question 
about how more value can be created in a  
given amount just because the productiveness 
of labor increased.  I recommended that you  
take a look at Chapter 12 of Book I of CAPITAL. 
You responded: 
Jim says: 
   John had nothing of substance to say regarding the 
content of my last three posts. He did, however, express 
the view that I should read Chap. 12 of Vol. I of _Capital_. 
I appreciate his recommendation, but my invitation to 
him is still open: I would like to have an in-depth discussion 
with him on the law of value. I'd be willing to discuss further 
the passage from _Grundrisse_, as well, but that wouldn't 
be the most productive format, in my opinion. 
John says: 
I am, indeed, willing to enter into a discussion 
with you about the "law of value."  Let's begin 
by taking take a look at CAPITAL, BK I, Ch 12,  
para 9. 
"If one hour's labour is embodied in sixpence, 
a value of six shillings will be produced in a  
working-day of 12 hours.  Suppose, that with  
the prevailing productiveness of labour, 12  
articles are produced in 12 hours.  Let the value 
of the means of production used up in each article 
be sixpence.  Under these circumstances, each  
article costs one shilling: sixpence for the value 
of the means of production, and sixpence for the  
value newly added in working those means.  Now let 
some on capitalist contrive to double the  
productiveness of labour, and to produce in the  
working-day of 12 hours, 24 instead of 12 such  
articles.  The value of the means of production  
remaining the same, the value of each article will 
fall to ninepence, made up of sixpence for the  
value of the means of production and threepence 
for the value newly added by the labour.  Despite 
the doubled productiveness of labour, the day's  
labour creates, as before, a new value of six  
shillings and no more, which, however, is now spread 
over twice as many articles.  Of this value each 
article now has embodied in it 1/24th instead of  
1/12th, threepence instead of sixpence, or, what  
amounts to the same thing, only half an hour's  
instead of a whole hour's labour-time, is now added 
to the means of production while they are being  
transformed into each article." 
Jim,  this where you stop reading Marx.  Here, he 
simply says that a given amount of labor will create 
the same amount of value, regardless of its  
productiveness.   But, let's keep reading. 
"The individual value of these articles is now below  
their social value;  in other words, they have cost 
less labour time than the great bulk of the same article 
produced under the average social conditions.  Each 
article cost, on an average, one shilling, and represents 
2 hours of social labour; but under the altered mode 
of production it costs only ninepence, or it contains 
only 1 and 1/2 hours' labour.  The REAL VALUE (emphasis 
added, JRE) of a commodity is, however, not its individual 
value, but its social value; that is to say, the real value 
is not measured by the labour-time that the article in  
each case costs the producer, but by the labour-time  
socially required for its production.  If therefore, the 
capitalist who applies the new method, sells his commodity 
at its social value of one shilling, he sells it for  
threepence above its individual value, and thus realizes 
an extra surplus-value of threepence." 
Jim please note -- that in the example I posted a couple of 
days ago all I did was follow Marx's manner of computing 
what he calls the REAL value of the commodity. To be sure, 
there are more steps to go in this process since eventually 
the social value does fall to the individual value.  
But, let me be frank, I was a bit taken aback by your 
expressed shock at my example.  Not only is it clearly in 
CAPITAL itself but the movement from social value to  
individual value has been discussed more than a little 
by Juan and me.  His point of view is different than 
mine but both of us agreed that when new techniques 
are introduced there is a difference between the social  
and individual values produced by the innovating  

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