[OPE-L:4303] Re: SV, labour and machines

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Oct 26 2000 - 10:01:31 EDT


What about my (Marx's?) argument that it is the distinctive nature 
of the use value of labour power that is significant?

Labour is universally and creatively transformative, unlike 
machines. This means that the contribution of labour to production 
is different to (bears no necessary relation to) the labour power 
hired. They are two different things so can have two different values 
so SV is possible. For machines, on the other hand, this 
contribution is already 'contained' in the machine purchased. On 
being 'realised' in production, the machine contributes something 
particular, preordained and fixed - its contribution to production is 
merely the realised form what was purchased to begin with. There 
are not two different things in this latter case, and so the (present) 
value of the sum of contributions of the machine is equal to the 
price of the machine. No SV here.

On a different point, any thoughts on my effort to interpret the 
exchange value / use value incommensurability?

Many thanks,


On 27 Oct 2000, at 0:31, Steve Keen wrote:

> Hi Andy,
> I'm quite willing to accept that the adjective "pure" is too extreme. Marx
> of course allowed that the use-value of workers had a qualitative
> aspect--that it was work of a particular type, whether weaving,
> ironworking, etc.--as well as having a quantitative use-value to its
> capitalist purchaser. Of course the same subtlety applies to machines,
> which have a qualitative aspect as well--that a machine used to produce
> steel cannot be used to shear sheep, for instance--as well as having a
> quantitative use-value to its capitalist purchaser.
> My proposition is that the latter, quantitative use-value, is the reason
> why capitalists both hire labour and purchase machinery, and that on this
> logic, both are sources of surplus value.
> Cheers,
> Steve

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