[OPE-L:6408] Re: multiple recipients of list <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>

From: Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Date: Tue Jan 22 2002 - 04:37:01 EST

There are multiple places where Marx uses this phrase--but its meaning 
is not what I think most people on this list expect. It is normally 
that exchange involves the transfer of equivalents, so that exchange 
cannot be the source of surplus value.

For example, in Theories of Surplus Value I, Marx has a section heading 
with the phrase "law of value" in it (page references to the Progress 
Press editions; notes my own obviously; <169> and (170> are quotation 

Smith's failure to grasp the specific way in which the
law of value operates in the exchange between capital and wage

The capitalist buys the worker's labour with money, <169>
But as the money with which the capitalist buys labour is nothing
other than the transmuted form <I>of all other commodities<D>
<193> it can equally well be said that all commodities in
exchange with living labour buy more labour than they contain. It
is precisely this more that constitutes surplus-value.
<170><$FIbid, p. 87.>

Marx lauds Smith for feeling that in the transition from simple
commodity exchange to the exchange between worker and capitalist,
the law of exchange is somehow suspended:<169>More labour is
exchanged for less labour (from the labourer's viewpoint)<193>
His merit is that he emphasises<196>aand it obviously perplexes
him<196> that with <I>the accumulation of capital<D> and the
<I>appearance of property in land<D> <193> something new occurs,
apparently the law of value changes into its opposite.
<170><$FIbid, p. 87.>

And again from this volume:

<169>The profit that the capitalist makes, the surplus-value
which he realises, springs precisely from the fact that the
labourer has sold to him not labour realised in a commodity, but
his labour-power itself as a commodity. If he had confronted the
capitalist in the first form, as a possessor of commodities, the
capitalist would not have been able to make any profit, to
realise any surplus-value, since according to the law of value
exchange is between equivalents, an equal quantity of labour for
an equal quantity of labour. The capitalist's surplus arises
precisely from the fact that he buys from the labourer not a
commodity but his labour-power itself, and this <193> realises
itself in more materialised labour that is realised in
itself.<170><$FIbid, p. 315.>

Or from Capital III (Gil might find this one interesting):

Marx next explores a possible solution which I think, on his
terms, would make sense - letting rates of surplus-value diverge
- but then dismisses it. His explanation for the impact of
machinery on labour productivity could allow for different rates
of exploitation in different industries, without the workers
"feeling" anything and still receiving identical wages.

<169>The fact that capitals employing unequal amounts of living
labour produce unequal amounts of surplus-value,, presupposes at
least to a certain extent that the degree of exploitation or the
rate of surplus-value are the same<193> This would assume
competition amoung labourers and equalisation through their
continual migration<193> Such a general rate of surplus-value
<193> is an actual premise of the capitalist mode of
production.<170><$FIbid, p. 175.>

<169>The whole difficulty arises from the fact that commodities
are not exchanged simply as <I>commodities<D>, but as <I>products
of capitals<D>, which claim participation in the total amount of
surplus-vale, proportional to their magnitude.<170><$FIbid, p.
175.><$ITransformation problem, source of.><$ICommodity
production, laws of, modification of.>

Marx imagines a world with two workers who own their means of
production and exchange with each other. The industries differ in
organic composition of capital and the amount of living labour
absorbed. Both workers work identical hours. He eventually
reaches the proposition that the rate of profit wouldn't be a
factor, hence goods could exchange at their values; but since his
concept of necessary labour and surplus-labour signify a
subsistence bundle of goods, this would need to be included in
this model, and therefore necessary labour incorporates an
average of the labour in each sector. This could complicate his
model, possibly by resulting in the two workers producing
different amounts of surplus-value in the same time.
<169>The exchange of commodities at their values <193> thus
requires a much lower stage than their exchange at their prices
of production.<170><$FIbid, p. 177.><$ISmith, agreement
with.><$ILaw of value, breakdown of.>

Anyway, to conclude, the works in which I found references to the law 
of value were:
Capital I Chs 7,11,17,22
Theories of Surplus Value I,II, & III
Contribution to a critique...


> Another place where the "law of value" is mentioned is the famous 
> letter to Kugelmann, July 11, 1868, commenting a review of Vol I 
> in the "Centrablatt".
> Can somebody check this with the German original? I checked some of 
> references of Capital, Vol I, with the French translation and, in some
> cases, the term "law of value" is dropped.
> There is also a mention to the "law of exchange value" at the end of 
Ch. 1
> of "Contribution..."
> A.

Associate Professor Steve Keen
University of Western Sydney
Locked Bag 1797
Penrith South DC NSW 1797
Phone: +61 2 9852 5222

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