[OPE-L:7022] surplus value (and use-value) discussion

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Fri Apr 19 2002 - 08:26:12 EDT

Re [7016]:

> I thought I said that the sale does NOT add to the use-value of the thing
> sold but itself COULD be a use-value to the purchaser.

Hi  Ian. Yes, I understood that. What I wanted to do was consider all of
the related possibilities  -- not just the case you raised.

> That is, in addition
> to the commodity sold, the purchaser obtains title to it, and this
> obtaining of title could be regarded as a use value according to the most
> general definition of 'use-value'. Or so it seems to me, but i remain
> uncertain whether this is a 'useful' way of looking at sale.In any case, I
> hope this explains my comment about a 'double use-value'.

I guess it depends on  whether we should use "the most general definition
of use-value".  I would express it as follows:  use-value has a *double
aspect*  in the sense that for the buyer:

a.  the commodity (*potentially*) has a useful purpose  (i.e. the act of
buying alone does not mean that the commodity will be used or used in
the manner anticipated but there is the *presumption* of the realization
of use-value beginning after exchange)  and;

b. the act of exchange confers to the new owner -- the buyer -- certain
*property rights*.  Thus, the change in "title" is a change in ownership
which  allows the new owner *property-use rights*  including the right
to sell the commodity again and thereby transfer the ownership title to
another.  Property-use rights could, thus, be conceived of as a different
aspect of use-value.

I will also agree that the subject of use-value is more complex than most
Marxists believe.  We saw this, for instance, in our extended discussions on
moral depreciation.  With moral depreciation, there is a pre-mature loss
of use-value (and hence exchange-value and value) due to the introduction
of new advances in fixed capital.  So, in that case there might be (and
often is) an unanticipated loss of use-value (this is a possibility even
where capitalists anticipate moral depreciation and factor it into their
"books" beforehand: i.e. they may mis-estimate the timing of the change and
the severity of  the loss of use-value, exchange value, and value).  What is
not often mentioned, though, is that there can be unanticipated *gains* in
use-value over time.  For instance, a farmer buys a farm implement and
uses it in the field (and there is thereby a loss of use-value  and
exchange-value and and value over time).  Yet, that worn-out farm tool
might be 're-born' at a later date as an antique. If that were to happen
then  the use-value and exchange-value would change in unanticipated
ways (at least from the perspective of the farmer at the time of purchase.)
Another  example might be old wooden golf clubs.  With the advent of
light-weight  metal golf clubs  the old clubs were rendered obsolete and
many were "junked" in favor of the newer technology (indeed,
because they were wooden they might not have even had "scrap value".)
Yet -- some time later -- wooden golf clubs became  a "collectors item" and
experienced an increase in use-value and exchange-value  (even though the
value of the golf clubs was not increased by their re-sale.) So it is
certainly the case that use-value can change in unanticipated ways, but this
alteration in the form for how a commodity is used (or whether it is
fashionable) does not increase the value of the commodity.

> I agree that not all the surplus labour takes the form of profit. i also
> agree that there are forms of exploitation additional to the extraction of
> surplus value from wage workers by industrial capitalist, so that the
> claims on surplus value are not claims on surplus value entirely generated
> by industrial capitalists. This is all a matter of the incidence of the
> other claims to surplus labour which either has the effect of increasing
> exploitation of the working class, independent proprietors, etc or of
> diverting surplus labour from industrial capital. I suppose the incidence
> of other claims varies with conditions a weakened working class with
> crippled unions or individual proprietors facing a merchant monopoly might
> very well lose a lot,


In solidarity, Jerry

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