utopia/Freeman's dynamics

glevy at acnet.pratt.edu glevy at acnet.pratt.edu
Sun Oct 15 21:39:56 MDT 1995

Steve Keen wrote:

> "`Only a *vir obscurus*, who has not understood a word of
> Capital could conclude [that] use-value plays no role for
> him... use-value plays a far more important part in my
> economics, than in economics hitherto'." Marx in Carver, T.,
> _Karl Marx: Texts on Method_, Basil Blackwell, Oxford, 1975,
> pp. 198-200.

Indeed, the role of use-value is an important, and often overlooked, part
of Marx's critique of political economy in _Capital_. Rosdolsky was
correct to emphasize the neglected role of use-value.

> His foul-up in logic in deciding that non-labor inputs are
> not such commodities, and therefore not sources of surplus-value:
> "If we now consider the case of any instrument of labour
> during the whole period of its service, from the day of its entry
> into the workshop, till the day of its banishment into the lumber
> room, we find that during this period its use-value has been
> completely consumed, and therefore its exchange-value completely
> transferred to the product." (p. 197)
> [In other words, a machine is purchased for its exchange-value
> and its exchange-value is transferred to the product. Logical
> error--use-value neglected.]

I read the above passage differently. The use-value of the machine is its
ability when used by labor to increase the productivity of labor and
hence create surplus value, and possibly, depending on what happens in
the market, profit. The exchange value of the machine depreciates over
time, though, in the course of production. After the machinery has been
fully depreciated, it ceases to have use-value, exchange-value, or value.

But getting it right in the Grundrisse: >
> "It also has to be postulated (which was not done above) that *the
> use-value of the machine significantly (sic) greater than its value*;
> i.e. that its devaluation in the service of production is not
> proportional to its increasing effect on production." (p. 383.
> Emphasis added.)
Please explain the context in which the above quote appears in the
_Grundrisse_. My reading suggests that it is part of a critique of
Carey's "confusion of profit and surplus value" before going on to a
critique of "the unfortunate Bastiat's famous riddle"  for which "Mr
Proudhon had no answer." So ... please try and connect the above quote
with the rest of the arguments presented in that chapter.


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