[OPE-L:5192] Re: Re: use-value as qualitative

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Sat Mar 17 2001 - 08:15:40 EST

Re Steve K's [5189]:

>  If Marx were a neoclassical, then it could of 
> course be a qualitative concept. But since 
> qualitative issues form no part of his core 
> analysis (except when he reduces qualitative
>  differences to quantitative ones, as in the
> reduction of skilled to unskilled labour--of 
> which more later), to become an issue in
>  Marx's political economy, use-value has to 
> somehow in some circumstances be quantitative.

I strongly disagree with your premise that 
qualitative issues lie outside of Marx's analysis. 
Indeed, Marx's philosophy and method of abstraction
embodies a tension and dialectic between quality
and quantity. Rather than lying outside of his
theory of  capitalism, qualitative issues are at the
very heart of that understanding. To miss this point
is to confuse Marx with the political economists that
he was critiquing. E.g. he critisized Ricardo for
conflating exchange-value with value and thereby
conceiving of value as merely quantity. By doing so,
Ricardo was not able to comprehend how the
value relationship is an expression of the social
relations of production associated with capitalism.
This internalization of quality and its dynamic
tension with quantity into the subject matter is
an expression of Marx's historical materialism.
Yet, this same integration of quality and quantity
was well understood by Hegel and Hegelians of
various kinds.

> Marx's special perspective on use-value arises 
> from its role in the circuit of capital, M-C-M. 
> Here he is quite emphatic that use-value 
> *MUST* be the explanation of the source of 
> surplus value. This can only occur if, in this 
> realm, use-value is quantitative.

All that is required is, rather, that the *commodity-
form* has both qualitative and quantitative
dimensions.  Use-value, in order words, need not
be quantitative but value must come to be 
expressed quantitatively even though it incorporates
a qualitative side (i.e. the "socially necessary" in

> Conceptualising use-value as purely qualitative 
> means it has no role in economics.


Political economy, at least Marx's and Marxist
political economy, is not merely about quantity.
*If the subject matter of economics is quantity
alone then, indeed, it is merely an applied branch
of mathamatics!*  Unfortunately, many economists
have come to view economics in precisely these
terms but it stands in stark contrast both to Marxian
theories and to heterodox theories generally.

In solidarity, Jerry

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