RE: [OPE] [2] Marxian equilibrium & reply to Wright.

From: Paul Cockshott (
Date: Wed Feb 06 2008 - 15:03:57 EST


By the phrase 'depreciation of labour', I think Marx meant, in those passages, a decline in the payment
to labour or a decline in wages. This is something different from a depreciation of commodities below
their value.

It must also be born in mind that this is a relatively early text, and his economic terminology at
this stage is not quite the same as he used later on in Capital.

Paul Cockshott
Dept of Computing Science
University of Glasgow
+44 141 330 1629

-----Original Message-----
From: on behalf of Alejandro Agafonow
Sent: Tue 2/5/2008 11:33 PM
Subject: [OPE] [2] Marxian equilibrium & reply to Wright.
2) Ian Wright 25/08/2007: «Why do you think that the labour-value of a commodity depends on the market? The labour-value of a commodity depends on the conditions of production. In Marx's theory by definition it is not possible that the "market mechanism depreciates [the] labour content" of a commodity.»
In The Poverty of Philosophy Marx and Engels expressed the idea of labour's depreciation brought about by "imperfect" competition:
(A) Karl Marx: «Competition carries into effect the law according to which the relative value of a product is determined by the labor time needed to produce it. Labor time serving as the measure of marketable value becomes in this way the law of the continual depreciation of labor.» (Marx: The Poverty of Philosphy, Ch. 1.2)
(B) Karl Marx: «The continual depreciation of labor is only one side, one consequence of the evaluation of commodities by labor time. The excessive raising of prices, overproduction and many other features of industrial anarchy have their explanation in this mode of evaluation.» (Marx: The Poverty of Philosphy, Ch. 1.2)
(C) Frederick Engels: «In present-day capitalist society [.] demand is finally satisfied in one way or another, good or bad, and, taken as a whole, production is ultimately geared towards the objects required. How is this evening-out of the contradiction effected? By competition. And how does competition bring about this solution? Simply by depreciating below their labour value those commodities which by their kind or amount are useless for immediate social requirements [.]» (Engels: The Poverty of Philosophy, Preface to the First German Edition)
Yours sincerely,
Alejandro Agafonow

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