[OPE-L:698] Re: skip Part 1?

Steve.Keen@unsw.edu.au (Steve.Keen@unsw.edu.au)
Sun, 10 Dec 1995 11:29:59 -0800

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Paul attempts to whet our appetites for Althusser's propositions re
the problematic nature of Part I of Capital with:

|consider the
|division between use-value and exchange-value of a commodity. Now there
|is absolutely no reason bifurcate value into use- and exchange- value.
|Why not label the first utility or usefulness or something of the sort?

This could almost have been a quote from Adolph Wagner on Capital,
except that Wagner would have argued that utility was the true source
of value, whereas Marx, according to Wagner, focused on exchange-value
to the exclusion of use-value. On this, Marx satirically commented:

"Rodbertus had written a letter to him ... where he,
Rodbertus, explains why `there is only one kind of value', use
value... Wagner says: `This is completely correct, and
necessitates an alteration in the customary illogical
'division' of 'value' into *use-value and
exchange value*'... and this same Wagner places me among the
people according to whom `use-value' is to be completely
`dismissed' `from science'." (Wagner, pp. 197-98.)

Marx later states that, far from being an irrelevance to his analysis,
use-value is a crucial component of his thinking:

"Secondly, only an obscurantist, who has not understood a
word of *Capital*, can conclude: Because Marx, in a note to
the first edition of *Capital*, overthrows all the German
professorial twaddle on `use-value' in general, and refers
readers who want to know something about actual use-value to
`commercial guides',--therefore, *use-value* does not play
any role in his work..." (Wagner, p. 198-99.)

He concludes a long statement of the manifestations of
use-value within his logic:

"On the other hand, the obscurantist has overlooked that my
analysis of the commodity does not stop at the dual mode in which
the commodity is presented, [but] presses forward [so] that in
the dual nature of the commodity there is presented the twofold
*character* of *labour*, whose product it is:
*useful* labour, i.e., the concrete modes of labour, which
create use values, and abstract *labour, labour as the
expenditure of labour-power*,.. that *surplus value*
itself is derived from a `specific' *use-value of
labour-power* which belongs to it exclusively etc etc., that
hence with me use value plays an important role completely
different than [it did]] in previous [political] economy..."

With respect, if you believe with Althusser that there is
"is absolutely no reason bifurcate value into use- and
exchange- value" then you are, in Marx's own words,
"an obscurantist, who has not understood a word of *Capital*"

Steve Keen