[OPE-L:5229] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: RE: RE: Re: [Mike W] Re: use-value as quantitative

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Thu Mar 22 2001 - 01:33:43 EST

No Rakesh,

 From my point of view, and Bose's, I haven't confused physical 
productivity with value productivity. Bose's argument is quite different in 
style to mine--and well worth reading. We both find a more direct link 
between physical and value productivity than exists with the LTV, but our 
routes to that conclusion differ. My route is directly from the concepts of 
use-value and exchange-value.

I argue that use-value is quantitative in the M--C--M+ circuit, and 
measured in value units, and the two magnitudes are incommensurable with 
each other in the sense Marx meant, which was that one plays no role in 
determining the other *for strict commodities*. This incommensurability 
means there will be a difference between the use-value and the 
exchange-value of *any* input to production--no input is privileged above 
any other. All are potential sources of surplus-value.

The analysis is more complex when one takes into account the fact that 
neither labor nor machinery are strict commodities in the sense Marx 
considers them in the first 9 chapters of capital--as indeed neither is 
money, which Marx nonetheless also treats as a commodity in that section of 
his analysis. When one allows for the non-commodity aspects of labor and of 
machinery (and money), you get complications to this basic result. However, 
the basic result remains accurate given the issues from which it abstracts.

Take a careful look at the section of capital after the quote I have 
given--in the Progress Press edition, from pages 188-199. Disregard the 
issue of whether my interpretation of Marx is or is not valid: just look at 
how Marx attempts to make the case that machinery does not produce 
surplus-value. You will see that an enormous part of his argument is in 
terms of the use-value and exchange-value of machinery. I argue that he 
achieved the result he wanted by erroneously equating the use-value of the 
machine to its exchange-value--whereas when talking of labor, he was 
adamant that the two (value) quantities are incommensurable. I regard this 
as the error of logic which preserved the labor theory of value.

I don't hold an iceblock in hell's chance of convincing you of my argument, 
and I'm not attempting to do so. What I am trying to point out to you, 
however, is the extent to which the intellectual challenge Marx set himself 
in this crucial part of capital was expressed in terms of the use-value and 
exchange-value of machinery. I believe that the vast majority of marxists 
miss this issue completely (the only ones who ever saw it were Hilferding, 
Rosdolsky, Groll, Desai, and me).


At 10:16 PM 3/21/01 -0800, you wrote:
>>Dear Rakesh,
>>please read my posts more carefully.
>>I was quoting Arun Bose in the section you highlighted.
>Yes, Steve, I understand that I am expressing a criticism of Bose's 
>conclusion with which you are expressing assent (and I'll look for Bose's 
>book in the library). But the question remains: have you and Bose confused 
>the possibility of an indirect effect on surplus value from the use value 
>of a machine with the thesis that the use value of a machine (that is dead 
>labor) is itself directly productive of new value?
>I'll reattach my original post since you did not respond to it.
>>>It seems to me that you are conflating use value and value, the 
>>>determination of the physical quantities produced and the determination 
>>>of the value of the produced output.
>>>Marx is not saying that the use value of labor power is the only source 
>>>of surplus produce, defined as the physical quantity of goods over and 
>>>above those needed for replacement of the goods consumed in production.
>>>The physical quantity of commodities produced is determined by the 
>>>quality and quantity of the consumed means of production, the quantity 
>>>and quality of the direct labor employed and the interaction of tools 
>>>and direct labor (e.g., more will be produced if better tools are 
>>>employed by more skilled labor).
>>>(1) Qmp + Qlp + (QmpxQlp) => Quv
>>>In the above we count means of production and labor power of greater 
>>>quality simply as a greater quantity.
>>>Now  no one is denying that the physical quantities produced are 
>>>determined as much by the use value of the machine as the use value of 
>>>labor power. Indeed in an advanced economy, it may make most sense to 
>>>say  that it is the interaction between machine and workers which best 
>>>accounts for the quantities produced.
>>>However, no matter how great or little in quantity the use values 
>>>produced, their value is determined as the sum of indirect and direct 
>>>labor time.
>>>(2) Lmp + Lc => V
>>>Now of course if labor is more physically productive in use value terms 
>>>due to use of a better machine, the rate of exploitation can be higher 
>>>in value terms  since (assuming a constant real wage) there will be a 
>>>reduction in the variable capital which has to be advanced to allow 
>>>workers to buy the wage goods which they  need.
>>>(For the same reason, there could be a gain in surplus value from a 
>>>reduction in the constant capital which has to be advanced to purchase 
>>>the means of production needed to absorb surplus labor).
>>>So yes it can be said--and here perhaps I break with Michael W-- that 
>>>the use value of the machine INDIRECTLY contributes to the determination 
>>>of which portion of total value is surplus value no less than the use 
>>>value of labor power directly determines the sum of surplus value produced.
>>>But I don't think this is what you are saying.
>>>Yours, Rakesh

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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