[OPE-L:5234] Re: Re: 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 - 06:46:36 EST

Here we go with "read my lips again".

Jerry, what I said was "one plays no role in determining the other": i.e., 
that for strict commodities, the use-value of the commodity plays no role 
in determining its EXCHANGE value. You instead read me as saying that 
use-value plays no role in determining VALUE. I did not say that!

The nuance from further developments of this analysis, however, is that for 
things which are not strict commodities--including labor itself, machinery, 
and money--the use-value of the item *does* play some role in determining 
its exchange-value. Consider Marx when he was criticising Ricardo for his 
analysis of the (exchange) value of minerals in an undeveloped mine:

"Ricardo never uses the word value for utility or usefulness or "value in 
use". Does he therefore mean to say that the "compensation" is paid to the 
owner of the quarries and coalmines for the "value" the coal and stone have 
before they are removed from the quarry and the mine--in their original 
state? Then he invalidates his entire doctrine of value. Or does value mean 
here, as it must do, the possible use-value and hence the prospective 
exchange-value of coal or stone?" (Marx 1861 Part II, p. 249)

Notice the expression "does value mean here, *as it must do*, the possible 
use-value and hence the prospective exchange-value of coal or stone?". The 
use-value of such things as unworked mines is a prospective exchange-value 
from its output. Again, the concept of use-value is quantitative, but also, 
it involves expectations and uncertainty--something Post Keynesians think 
Keynes invented when it came to valuing capital assets. In fact, Marx did 
it first--but most Marxists haven't noticed.

I take the point that use-value has been a part of the lexicon of marxist 
discourse since Rosdolsky, and that the Sweezy school alone ignores it 
completely. But I still believe that most marxists haven't realised how 
central the concept was to Marx's logic. In that sense, I think Rosdolsky 
is still correct:

"How often has the thesis of the
`contradiction between use-value and exchange value' been
repeated? On the other hand, how often has anyone really taken
the trouble to develop this thesis or regard it as something more
than a survival of the time when Marx `coquetted with the
Hegelian manner of expression'? In reality we are dealing here
with one of the most fundamental discoveries of Marx's economics,
the neglect of which makes his conclusions in the theory of value
and money appear utterly distorted". (*Rosdolsky*, p 133.)

At 06:23 AM 3/22/01 -0500, you wrote:
>Re Steve K's [5229]:
> > 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*.
>Putting aside the question of the supposed
>quantifiability of use-value (which we already
>discussed), you argue above that use-value
>plays no role in the determination of value
>'*for strict commodities*'.
>Let us consider this (once again):
>A 'strict' commodity, from Marx's perspective,
>must simultaneously have:
>a) use-value;
>b) exchange-value;
>c) value.
>Thus, your statement above is simply incorrect.
>Use-value *does*  play a role in the determination
>of the value of a 'strict' commodity. I.e. if
>a 'commodity' (i.e. a product of labor that was
>presumed to constitute a commodity) has
>'value' (i.e. what is presumed to be value) but
>not use-value *then* it can not be a commodity
>nor will its 'value' necessarily come to appear
>through exchange-value nor will its 'value'
>*be* value.  This simply follows from a literal,
>linguistic reading of Marx.
>Now for meaning: what are supposed to become
>products and are produced by wage-labor
>which is employed by capital take the value-form
>when entering the market.  But do these products
>which are *presumed* to be commodities and
>*presumed* to have value actually (i.e. really)
>have value and are they actually (really)
>commodities (i.e. in the 'strict' sense above)?
>Not necessarily.
>*If the product does not have use-value*, then
>this will become apparant in the marketplace
>since the 'commodity' will not be sold and thereby
>its 'value' can not be *actualized* (i.e. REALized).
>Therefore, the absence of use-value *negates*
>(what was presumed to constitute) value and
>transforms what was presumed to be a commodity
>into a simple (and unexchangeable) product of
>labor. This possibility not only exists in Marx's
>definition -- it exists in the nature of the unity
>of the production and circulation process. And
>indeed a reflection of this is in the nature of value
>as *socially-necessary* labor time. How can
>a 'commodity' be socially-necessary if it doesn't
>contain use-value?
> >. 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).
>You've made the claim repeatedly that 'most'
>Marxists ignore use-value. I'm not so sure.
>At one point in time, I think that would have
>been correct. That doesn't mean that it is
>correct today. To begin with, let's consider
>Rosdolsky who was a major influence on
>Mandel and Mattick Sr who in turn influenced
>many others like Altvater and more recently
>Fred and others. Let us also not forget the
>influence of I.I. Rubin who influenced many,
>many Marxists in the 1970's and beyond (after
>the publication of his book in English on value).
>I consider value-form theory, for example,
>to have been influenced by Rubin as have many
>others like Elson.
>The more interesting question, then, might be
>to ask: what contemporary traditions in Marxism
>*do* ignore use-value?  Perhaps the Monthly
>Review school, having been influenced by
>Sweezy? The former 'diamat' school based out
>of what is now the former USSR?  Who else?
>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/

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Mon Apr 02 2001 - 09:57:29 EDT