Use-value/Marx's dynamics (was utopia...)

John R. Ernst ernst at
Tue Oct 17 13:03:50 MDT 1995


It's all to easy to take shots at Steve on this one.  But I think
we ought to recall the ground on which we stand as we fire
away, or, at least, be clear about it.  The concept of value
in Marx as generally understood by Marxists has gotten us
nowhere for over a century.  Steedman (Marx after Sraffa) more
or less destroys that position.  Keen offers an alternative.  I'd
like to see that alternative developed into an explanation of the
accumulation process.  Hence, I'm unwilling to toss definitions
at him in the hope he will proceed with that explanation on this

Further, it seems to me that the position Steve takes if nothing else
can be treated within Marx as part of Marx's discussion of the "Trinity
Formula."  Thus, it would become the position of a capitalist, albeit
one who is intellectually honest.

Hence, my words to you, Jim,  are: "Chill and Listen."

John Ernst
P.S.  Ok, Steve, here's Rhodes, now jump.

On Tue, 17 Oct 1995 Jim Jaszewski <jjazz at> said:

>On Mon, 16 Oct 1995 Steve.Keen at wrote:
>> So "the daily cost of maintaining it", the depreciation of the machine,
>> is its exchange-value; "its daily expenditure in work", the amount it
>> contributes to production, is its use-value. As with labor-power, these
>> are "two totally different things", and from that difference arises the
>> possibility of surplus.
>	How can you compare a machine's `maintenance' (upkeep or
>depreciation) to a human-being's `maintenance'??  The two are semantically

>different!!  A machine is an instrument made of metal/plastic/glass/wood
>/whatever that does NOT need `reproducing' as a human does on a daily
>basis.  When you `feed' something into a machine it is a mere figure of
>speech!!!  Little machinelets do not issue forth periodically (Sci-Fi
>nano-bots notwithstanding...)
>	Machines are not a separate species of worker -- ALL machines are
>MAN-MADE.  All machines come from Man's labor -- and all(?) that labor is
>taken into account in Marx's calculus.  Once they take on a `life of their

>own', machines return gradually to dust -- as they do ONLY what human
>labor directs. ANY human can do otherwise and even produce new generations

>of laborers...
>> What this means for analysis is that there is no necessary link between
>> the amount of direct labor employed in any line of production, and the
>> rate of surplus in that line;
>	This would follow IF your above premise were true.  I don't
>believe it is...
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