Forwarded from Anthony (value theory and land)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Wed Mar 7 07:34:25 MST 2001

Hi Lou:

A question about Value Theory and the price of land.

I have a question for all of you more knowledgeable about "Value Theory"
than I am.

In the mass of things that have been written about the transformation
problem, has anyone focused on the role of real estate?

I ask this question because in studying the question of the price of land,
I have come up with an interesting contradiction: land is not a "commodity"
with exchange value expressing the socially necessary labor required to
produce and distribute it. Its price, according to Marx, Kautsky and Mandel
(as I understand them)- and also according to a lot of people who buy and
sell real estate but have nothing to do with Marxism -, is essentailly
determined by capitzlization of expected future rents (expressing complex
social relations through price movements).

However, and this is the contradictory part, like commodities - especially
some commodities like gold, other precious metals, etc. - land can, and
does act as a store of value.

How might this be related to the transformation problem?

Prices move around exchange values - but exchange values are not determined
individually but in relation to all other commodities being exchanged in
the whole market - and they are being excahnged against things which have
prices, but not exchange value.

In other words, price are not determined solely by already created exchange
value, but in part by anticipated surplus value which has not yet been
created but is already expressed in the price of land.

Or did I get this all wrong?


Louis Proyect
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