On Sun, 15 Oct 2000, John Ernst quoted Steve quoting Marx: > "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." (The Grundrisse, p. 383. Emphasis > added.) and quoted Steve himself: > This would mean, of course, that the value transferred by > the machine could exceed the value of the machine itself, > which is the same case as for labor. and commented: > I don't get it. My problem here starts with the quote from > Marx. > At first, he seems to be comparing the "use-value" for the > machine with its "value." But if we keep reading (after the > ie) he seems to be comparing increases in productivity with > the amount of devaluation. That is, a 30% increase in > productivity will not lead to a 30% decrease in the value of > the machine. One way to make sense of his remark. I agree with John. That's the only way I can make sense of Marx's remark. Percentage changes in value and physical productivity are commensurable, but use-value and value are not commensurable. > Now how you get to the idea that the value transferred by > the machine could exceed the value of the machine is > something I really don't see. Me too. Steve then came back with: > You're reading that quote as most people do, as a discussion > of technical change over time. And there is some foundation > for that reading, since Marx was considering technical > change in the surrounding text. However, his previous > considerations had unconsciously presumed that the use-value > of the machine (the amount of value it could transfer to the > product) was equal to its exchange-value (the amount of > value embodied in the machine). I can't make sense of this. A use-value "equal to" an exchange value: how can that be parsed? > This section of text came after Marx made his "discovery" of > the dialectic between use-value and exchange-value (about > 100 pages earlier in the manuscript), and from that point on > Marx was applying this concept to all manner of > issues--eventually including technical change. It sounds to me as if this distinction has not yet stabilized in Marx's thinking. > As an exercise, why not compare this passage with the > section of Capital I where Marx tries to prove the > conventional position, that a machine cannot add any more > value to output than it contains in its own value? In the > Progress Press edition, the relevant pages are > 193-199--finishing, of course, with the famous statement > that "However useful a given kind of raw material, or a > machine, or other means of production may be, though it may > cost $150 ... yet it cannot, under any circumstances, add to > the value of the product more than $150." Comparison: By this point Marx has worked out properly what he wants to say. The confusing statements in his earlier jottings have been left behind. (?) Allin Cottrell.
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