[OPE-L:5206] Re: Re: use-value as qualitative?

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Mon Mar 19 2001 - 08:33:07 EST

Oh well,

I had thought that the cites would indicate that, whatever (mushy or 
otherwise) arguments can be made about use-value increasing or decreasing 
even when it lacks a quantitative dimension, you would have to concede that 
Marx was using use-value in a distinctly quantitative way when deriving the 
source of surplus value from the difference between the exchange-value and 
the use-value of labor-power.

But apparently not.

Such seems to be life.

At 08:29 AM 3/19/01 -0500, you wrote:
>RE Steve K's [5202]:
> > I actually focus on all three words too:
> > "intrinsically incommensurable
> > magnitudes". I emphasised the final one only to make the point that, at
> > least once in Capital I, Marx explicitly stated that use-value could be a
> > magnitude. It seems that you've accepted that point, so let's now check
> > phrase itself out.
>No, my point (which I'll draw out now) is that
>one can notice that a quality can increase or
>decrease even though it isn't itself a magnitude.
>[Mushy stuff follows:]
>Hath thou ever been in love, perchance?  If
>so, then you know that love is a quality which
>does not have a magnitude (i.e. it is not quantity),
>yet we can be able to make perfectly valid
>statements like "I love her MORE THAN I
>used to" or "My love for her has DIMINISHED".
>If something really has magnitude, though, then
>it should be able to be measured in some
>uniform way  (and there is no generally
>agreed upon socially valid way of "measuring"
> > Your take is quite feasible: it could be, for instance, that
> > is measured in tonnes of steel, while use-value is measured in volts.
>Exchange-value,  where e-v forms part of the
>totality of the commodity,  is measured in
>money.  What lies behind this measure, though,
>is value. Thus, e-v is a necessary form of
>appearance of value. This requires that value
>must come to take the money-form.
> > However, we know that the unit of measurement of exchange-value which Marx
> > used (and which I accept as a measurement tool) is units of socially
> > necessary abstract labor.
>Yet, this social relation (value) is necessarily
>linked to the money-form. *This means that
>we can only determine with certainty if a
>product has value EX POST, i.e. after it passes
>the 'test' and is sold*.  Thus, it is the act of
>exchange which socially validates the value and
>shows with certainty that what was *presumed*
>to have u-v and be value does *in fact* have
>u-v and is value. (You might recall that we
>discussed these issues once in a long thread
>called "Ideal vs. Real Value").
>Your quotes from Marx seem to be directed
>towards Mike W, so I'll let him (or someone
>else) discuss them ... eventually.
> >  From my point of view, Marx's characterisation of labor-power as a
> > commodity *in the first volume of Capital* is entirely understandable. I
> > believe that in the intended volume on Wage Labor, Marx would have shown
> > what happened when one dropped this supposition, and treated labor-power
> > both a commodity and a non-commodity. In other words, there is a further
> > dialectic which means that the rules which apply to strict commodities
> > (products which are produced for a profit using other products) do not
> > apply in toto to labor-power.
>On this point: have you read Mike L's
>_Beyond Capital: Marx's Political Economy of
>the Working Class_ (NY, St. Martin's Press,
> > One clear consequence of this is that the
> > wage would normally *exceed* the value of labor-power, since if workers
> > only received their means of subsistence in return for labor, they would
> > treated as no more than commodities.
>Yet, paradoxically, in the context of capitalist
>production, workers do come to be treated as
>no more than commodities. Indeed, it is part
>of the value-form imperitive that *everything*,
>including that which are not commodities, comes
>to be treated *as if* they were commodities. Thus,
>within a capitalist society even an intangible quality
>such as love comes to be intimately connected
>(pun intended) to the value-form. Just
>about everything, thus, under capitalism has a price
>even if it isn't itself value.
>As for the value of labor-power, this encompasses
>both physiological needs amd socially necessary
>needs. The latter (socially necesary needs) are
>established by custom and habit.
>And, of course, class struggle plays an important
>role in *establishing* custom, habits, and social
>needs. From Marx's perspective, thus, the wage
>equals the value of labor-power ON AVERAGE.
>Yet, this average is itself a VARIABLE that is
>subject to change as customs, habits, and social
>needs change. Furthermore, not only can there be
>a WIDE dispersion of wages where only a small
>minority of wage-workers receive wages equal
>to the value of labor power but the VLP (as
>well as wages) are constantly changing.
>Moreover, there are wide REGIONAL and
>INTERNATIONAL disparities here largely
>due to the inter-regional and inter-national
>variation in habits, customs, social needs and,
>relatedly, histories of class struggles.
>In solidarity, Jerry

Dr. Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
Campbelltown, Building 11 Room 30,
School of Economics and Finance
s.keen@uws.edu.au 61 2 4620-3016 Fax 61 2 4626-6683
Home 02 9558-8018 Mobile 0409 716 088
Home Page: http://bus.uws.edu.au/steve-keen/

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