[OPE-L:5257] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: [Mike W] Re: use-value as quantitative

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Sat Mar 24 2001 - 20:15:58 EST

No Rakesh, I am not ignoring Grossman because you laud him--I simply 
haven't read him! But I will make amends. Can you send me some references 
(off-list, if you prefer).
At 09:34 AM 3/24/01 -0800, you wrote:
>re 5247
>>Hi Rakesh.
>>You remind us of some good points Marx made about Ricardo's world view, 
>>but I was talking more narrowly about the concept of the "use-value" of a 
>Dear Duncan,
>Marx's dynamics centers on the contradictory use value of the machine (and 
>you would surely put the point much better than I do here).
>  On the one hand, the machine is useful to the capitalist because it 
> allows him to reduce unit values by substituting a lesser sum of indirect 
> labor for a greater sum of paid direct labor on a per unit basis (of 
> course if capitalists had to pay for the total labor performed, instead 
> of simply labor power, the use value of the machine would even have a 
> greater scope). On the other hand, the machine is useful in that it 
> allows for the absorption of surplus labor or production of newly added 
> value. However, the less direct labor employed relative to total 
> capital--that is, the more unit values are reduced--the more difficult it 
> becomes for the capitalist to absorb surplus labor.
>However, Marx does not only consider the use of machines from the 
>perspective of value or net revenue. On the one hand, Marx emphasizes the 
>use of machines on gross revenue, i.e., in terms of the use values 
>available for working class consumption. On the other hand, Marx 
>emphasizes that even from the narrow perspective of valorization or 
>absorption of surplus labor, what matters is not only the value of 
>machinery but its quantity in use value terms. So as I said in my last 
>post with an expanded  mass of the elements of production, even if their 
>value is the same, more workers can be introduced into the productive 
>process and in the next cycle of production these workers will be 
>producing more value.
>That is,  it does seem to me that qualitative improvements in the machine 
>producing sector are quite important for Marx. This is where I seem to be 
>disagreeing with you.  That is,  use value (in the sense of the quantity 
>of machines as use values) plays a different role in Marx's theory than in 
>political economy and Ricardo's theory in particular.
>It seems to me that the question we are trying to answer is why Marx 
>emphasized in his notes on A Wagner that use value is not only not ignored 
>in his theory, it plays a novel role.
>Sweezy's denial of the importance of use value is one approach; Steve's 
>answer is another .  Grossman's interpretation of Marx is yet another. 
>It's strange to me that Steve would laud several people but Grossman for 
>emphasizing the centrality of use value to Marx though Rosdolsky whom 
>Steve praises to the sky is only summarizing Grossman's argument. I am 
>hoping that Steve is not ignoring Grossman because I have associated 
>myself with him.
>Yours, Rakesh
>>>re 5231
>>>>  So they try to find measures of the "qualitative improvement" of 
>>>> capital. (The new machine, which costs the same as the old one, can 
>>>> shape twice as many pieces of metal or execute twice as many 
>>>> instructions.) This is completely foreign to the Marxian/Classical 
>>>> (and even /Sraffian) way of looking at capital, and, as far as I can 
>>>> tell, just adds confusing noise to the macroeconomic data. If, as Marx 
>>>> argues, the use-value of a machine to the capitalist is the amount of 
>>>> wage cost it saves, changes in the concrete performance of the machine 
>>>> are irrelevant.
>>>Hi Duncan,
>>>It seems to me that Marx is not so exclusively interested in the value 
>>>surplus at the expense of use value. For example,   Marx criticizes 
>>>Ricardo for only being concerned with net revenue (pure profit), the 
>>>value surplus of price over costs, and not gross revenue, i.e., the mass 
>>>of use values necessary for the subsistence of the working 
>>>population.  Marx criticizes Ricardo precisely for only figuring these 
>>>use values as costs which are to be pushed down as low as possible. So 
>>>for an employer who makes $2000 profit on a capital of
>>>$20,000--10%--it is utterly irrelevant whether his capital sets 100 or 
>>>1000 people into motion...as long as in all instances profit does not 
>>>fall below $2,000. Since as you say above anything other than this value 
>>>surplus is, as you say above, noise to the macroeconomic data, Marx 
>>>writes: "By denying the importance of gross revenue, i.e, the volume of 
>>>production and consumption--apart from the value surplus--and hence 
>>>denying the importance of life itself, political economy's abstraction 
>>>reaches the peak of infamy."
>>>Moreover, as I suggested in my last post, the expansion in the mass of 
>>>use values in which a given sum of value is represented is indeed of 
>>>great INDIRECT significance for the valorization process. For example,
>>>There is indeed for Marx a dialectic of use value and value in more than 
>>>just the consumption of labor power. Steve credits Rosdolsky for 
>>>rescuing this key element of Marx's theory. But if Steve were to study 
>>>the footnotes of Rosdolsky, he will find that he is drawing from 
>>>Grossmann's work. In both HG's magnum opus and dynamics book there is 
>>>attention to said dialectic.
>>>Yours, Rakesh
>>Duncan K. Foley
>>Leo Model Professor
>>Department of Economics
>>Graduate Faculty
>>New School University
>>65 Fifth Avenue
>>New York, NY 10003
>>messages: (212)-229-5717
>>fax: (212)-229-5724
>>e-mail: foleyd@cepa.newschool.edu
>>alternate: foleyd@newschool.edu
>>alternate: dkf@ultinet.net
>>webpage: http://cepa.newschool.edu/~foleyd

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
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