Forwarded from Anthony (value)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Dec 30 19:31:53 MST 2001


Exchange Value and Use value of Capital

Either Jim Drysdale is confused about the use value of capital, or I
am.

He wrote ( Subject: Re: Forwarded from Anthony (query for J.
Drysdale) From: "Jim Drysdale" <jimd48 at btinternet.com> Date: Sat, 29
Dec 2001 10:22:16 -0000),

"But, also it [capital] is a use value. That is, labour power is
bought by the bosses and consumed in the production process. And,
*only* the *use* of labour power embodies value. (exchange
value...the snlt of the commodity) Labour power is the essential use
value of capital because only the *use* of labour power embodies
value. Thus, labour power is the variable component of capital. That
is, the use of which in the production (process) of the commodity
adds value to the capital cost of production. M - C - M+.."

In my opinion, the 'use value' of labor power is simple: it produces
'useful things and services'. Capital, as commodified labor power,
has the same use value - i.e. it is used to produce useful things.
('Useful' in the sense that somebody wants to use them, even if they
are weapons of mass destruction, nintendo games, or junk food.)

The 'use' of 'labor power' does not "embody value". (I am guessing
that Jim means 'exchange value' (not 'use value') when he says
'emodies value'.)

"Exchange value" is the average labor power necessary to produce an
average representative of any commodity under given social
circumstances.

But the 'use value' of 'labor power' (and hence of capital), as I
understand it, is related to the creation of use values, not to the
creation of exchange values.

Labor power is the variable component of capital because it produces
a surplus of exchange value over its own exhange value - a process
related to use values only, and no further than, the fact that the
commmodities produced must have use value in order to be sold, and
the exchange values realized.

This, as I understand it, and not Jim's explanation,

"But, also it is a use value. That is, labour power is bought by the
bosses and consumed in the production process. And, *only* the *use*
of labour power embodies value. (exchange value...the snlt of the
commodity) Labour power is the essential use value of capital because
only the *use* of labour power embodies value. Thus, labour power is
the variable component of capital."

is why labor power is also the variable component of capital.

Another point of difference I have with Jim, is his statement that,

"Capitalist society the only society were all workers sell their
labour power. (commodified labour power)."

All workers in capitalist society do not sell their labor power.
Housewifes do not, share croppers do not, slaves do not, etc. The
capitalist society Jim is talking about is an ideal, abstract, model
- not the real society we live in.

A more complete quote from Jim follows,

"Capitalist society the only society were all workers sell their
labour power. (commodified labour power) Thus, labour power in
capitalist society is a commodity. i.e. having both use value and
exchange value. Its exchange value. (wage)...i.e. the snlt (exchange
value) of the essentials of life; food, shelter, clothing
entertainment, required to replenish *used -up* labour power in order
that the worker remain a worker. But, also it is a use value. That
is, labour power is bought by the bosses and consumed in the
production process. And, *only* the *use* of labour power embodies
value. (exchange value...the snlt of the commodity) Labour power is
the essential use value of capital because only the *use* of labour
power embodies value. Thus, labour power is the variable component of
capital. That is, the use of which in the production (process) of the
commodity adds value to the capital cost of production. M - C - M+..

Fixed capital can be viewed as dead obectified labour. Which calls on
living labour. That is, requires to *use*living labour power in order
to become (as process) self-expanding value, self-expanding money,
capital. M in the production process of C becomes M+. That is,
(briefly) in the production 'process' the bosses' capital has created
more value than the initial outlay. And, this only by the *use* (use
value) of commodified labour power."

"On passing, like all other useful labour, the *use* of labour power
both conserves and adds value.....this is the key vis a vis the *use
value* aspect of commodified labour power."

All the best, Anthony

--
Louis Proyect, lnp3 at panix.com on 12/30/2001

Marxism list: http://www.marxmail.org



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