Date: Wed May 07 2003 - 09:45:14 EDT
I seem to remember that we have already been through this issue years ago, on this list. My comment, below, draws on Ben Fine's "Marx's Capital", 3rd ed, 1989, p.6 (a 4th edition is currently in preparation, by Ben and myself, and it will be launched later this year by Pluto Press): Marx develops the labour theory of value from Smith and, especially, Ricardo. But what is Marx's own contribution - the difference between his writings and those of Ricardo? The difference is that, for Marx, it is insufficient to base the source of value on labour time of production, as Ricardo presumes. Thus, "value is labour" is not so much wrong as Ricardian - for Marx, this claim is partial and potentially misleading. The trouble with such Ricardian views as "value is labour" is that they take for granted the existence of exchange, prices and commodities. That commodities are worth more because they embody more labour begs the questions of *why there are commodities at all*, and *why it is a relevant abstraction to assume, at certain stages in the analysis, that commodities exchange at their labour time of production*. This illustrates an important feature of Marx's method: what the economists (including Ricardo) tend to assume as timeless features of humans and societies, Marx wanted to root out and understand in historical context. Alfredo.
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