[OPE-L:379] Value Digressions & Questions

John R. Ernst (ernst@pipeline.com)
Tue, 31 Oct 1995 07:54:26 -0800

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This may or may not be a digression from
the task at hand. At any rate, what follows
are two areas which raise questions I've
had for some time about Marx's notion
of value in the first book of CAPITAL.
I'd appreciate any thoughts members of
this list might have.

1. As Marx begins his discussion of relative
surplus value, he introduces the idea of the
social value of a commodity differing from its
individual value. If I recall correctly, the
process of competition is simply referred to as
the mechanism by which the social value is to
fall to the individual value. Several questions
occur to me as he does this:

a. Are the concepts of individual and social
value present in the 1861-3 manuscripts?

b. In models is it legitimate simply to say that
the two magnitudes become equal without showing
how competition brings this about? In general,
are crises required to bring about intense price

c. In doing empirical work, how does one know if
one is capturing the individual value or the
social value?

2. Does the worker in one country create the same
amount of value as a worker in another, given
differences in productivity? It seems to me
that Marx in the first book says answers this
question in two different ways. In Part VI,
the worker in the more productive country is
seen to produce as if she/he created more value
in a day. In Part VII, the opposite or, rather,
both workers create the same amount of value in
a day. Is this a problem or are we back to
individual value and social value?

If you've got the time, I'd appreciate comments on
these "digressions."


John Ernst