djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Mon Oct 16 00:15:25 MDT 1995
Before I go on to the main point of this post--use-value--it seems to me
that if value is understood as socially necessary time reuqired to
RE-produce a good, rather than labor time required to have produced it,
much is clarified: dynamics are built into the concept of value; and we now
have the task before us of explaining why and in what direction
re-production 'costs' change. In other words, we can get on with the
analysis of what John Ernst has been urging: the law of motion of
If we read Korsch's chapter on the "Law of Value" in his excellent 1938
book Karl Marx, we can see that dynamic analysis is what Marx intended to
do. Blake in his 1939 Marxian Economic Theory and Its Criticism also made
this point--with much greater rigor. At any rate, the law of value is
confirmed by Marx's theory of the motion of capital in its totality, in
particular in the crash of unit values and downward pressure on the average
rate of profit. How many times did Paul Mattick make this argument!
At any rate, check out a highly acclaimed book just out by a former editor
of Business Week, Jeffrey Marsden (I believe that's his name--I read the
$25 book in the store); everyone in the real world speaks in fetishistic
language of the tendencies which Marx alone explained and explained--in
dialectical and revolutionary manner--as the necessary consequences of a
system moving towards its objective breakdown (though this does not make
revolution automatic). At any rate, it is a fascinating book and has a
favorable review by the neo-Schumpeterian Richard Nelson on the back--I say
this for identification purposes.
>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.
I believe that Marx goes on to argue that use-value plays not only an
important part but a unique role in his "economics". How does Marx's
conception of use-value differ from previous or later economic theories?
Is there a good treatment of this in the literature?
Steve examines use-value in terms of enigma of surplus value. Is this
Marx's basic insight about use-value? Steve's analysis does not move us any
closer to understanding capital's dynamics; it only offers another theory
for the source of surplus.
Is there more? By the way, I don't think Rosdolsky's chapter is the
strongest in the book. I found it difficult to follow. Despite the
citation, I don't think he advanced Grossmann's arguments well in the
chapter. For Grossmann, use value also included the technical sides of
production, the examination of which enabled him to prove the impossibility
of the full employment of resources--this is basically the same point that
David Harvey makes in Limits to Capital, where he theorizes capital from
the point of view of its *total reproduction in time*.
Harvey does not however take up the problem (which I repeat yet again)
that results from a technical aspect of fixed capital: its durability, its
periodic overproduction, the consequent disturbances over the whole
structure of bourgeois society. It seems to me that the insight was lost
with Grossmann who has isolated here the efficient cause of the unique
dynamical properties of capital in the period of machino-facture.
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