From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Sun Apr 15 2007 - 07:18:43 EDT
>>>Hi Rakesh, >>> >>>is the citation below taken from TSV or from a >>>letter written by Engels? I have not read that >>>text before. Seems more like Marx´s language! >>>Paulo >>> >>Pretty sure it is from Marx. It's included in >>Kuruma's famous Marx lexicon, and I was reading >>Michael Schauerte's translation of those three >>volumes. But I shall check. >>Yours, Rakesh > >Yes Theories of Surplus Value Chapter XX, 3. >Polemical Writings (d) Samuel Bailey > >http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1863/theories-surplus-value/ch20.htm Paulo, Also in this discussion the following passage is important as it reveals that the theoretician Marx needed an invariable measure of value to do very different calculations than Sraffa intended . Marx wanted to be able to make intertemporal comparisons in the value of say a basket of use values, not hold the size of the pie invariant with changes in distribution in an impossibly stationary technical system. The creation of an invariable standard of value to solve the latter problem would not solve Marx's problem. One can distinguish Marx's problematic from misguided readings of Ricardo's problematic. Moreover, one can point to the difference between setting the barter terms of exchange for commodities in terms of a numeraire and explaining why all commodities had to and could indeed represent their value as a physical quantity of a single use value (that gold mining labor was fetishized, that is immediately transformed in the only immediately social, general and abstract labor, appears all the more sur-real the more one acquaints oneself with the actual grueling and crude nature of this labor, including diving into and below the mud bottoms of rivers--see here Michael Taussig's My Cocaine Museum) . Here's the crucial and generally ignored passage: The problem of finding an "invariable measure of value" is thereby eliminated. But this problem itself (the interest in comparing the value of commodities in different historical periods, is, indeed, not an economic interest as such, [but] an academic interest) arose out of a misunderstanding and conceals a much more profound and important question. "Invariable measure of value" signifies primarily a measure of value which is itself of invariable value, and consequently, since value itself is a predicate of the commodity, a commodity of invariable value. For example, if gold and silver or corn, or labour, were such commodities, then it would be possible to establish, by comparison with them, the rate at which other commodities are exchanged for them, that is, to measure exactly the variations in the values of these other commodities by their prices in gold, silver, or corn, or their relation to wages. Stated in this way, the problem therefore presupposes from the outset that in the "measure of value" we are dealing simply with the commodity in which the values of all other commodities are expressed, whether it be the commodity by which they are really represented-i.e., money, the commodity which functions as money-or a commodity which, because its value remains invariable, would function as the money in terms of which the theoretician makes his calculations. It thus becomes evident that in this context it is in any case a question only of a kind of money which as the measure of value-either theoretically or practically-would itself not be subject to changes in value... Let us assume that gold has an invariable value.
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