[OPE-L:4111] Re: Re: Revaluation (Steve)

From: Allin Cottrell (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Date: Mon Oct 16 2000 - 11:29:05 EDT

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

> 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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