[OPE-L:741] Re: price of land

Gilbert Skillman (gskillman@mail.wesleyan.edu)
Thu, 14 Dec 1995 18:25:22 -0800

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I value what Fred writes on the above subject for its own sake, both
in imparting a sense of Marx's method and giving a coherent
assessment of his argument re ground rent, but these comments in no
way address the issue at hand. Fast forward to where Fred says:

> Therefore, Marx "abstracted from" land and the price of land in Chapter 1 of
> Volume 1 (indeed in all of Volumes 1 and 2). Marx's deduction of the labor
> theory of value from the objective general equality of commodities should be
> understood within the context of this abstraction. This abstraction is not
> simply a "fiat", as Gil argues, but rather follows necessarily from the
> methodological presupposition of the prior determination of aggregate
> magnitudes. When Gil says that "nothing in the logical structure of Marx's
> argument in Chapter 1 requires that all exchangeables must be products of
> labor," (732), he does not recognize this larger context of Marx's logical
> method.

This misses the point. Whether or not I recognize the "larger
context of Marx's logical method", Marx's *argument* as to why a
system of exchange expresses relationships of equality does not
*itself* depend in any way on Marx's a priori restriction to
commodities. Nowhere does Marx show, or say, or even suggest, that
somehow only (mutually consistent) relationships of exchange among
*commodities* "express something equal", while at the same time
(mutually consistent) relationships of exchange among non-commodities
(or a mixed set of commodities and non-commodities) somehow do not
identically "express something equal."

Therefore, if Marx's argument from the conditions of exchange validly
establishes relations of equality for commodities, it should do so as
well for non-produced exchangeables, NO MATTER HOW Marx intended to
restrict his theoretical focus in Volume I Part 1, and NO MATTER WHAT
Marx's larger method was.

An invalid deductive argument does not become a valid argument simply
by virtue of being restricted by assumption to a certain class of items.

And this bottom line remains, despite Fred's quite informative posts:
contrary to Marx's assertion, a system of exchange expresses a
relationship of equivalence, not of equality, and equivalence is not
adequate to support the implication that there is of necessity some
measurable element or dimension common to all commodities.

There may be as a matter of fact--given Marx's a priori
restrictions--but not as a matter of logical necessity, as Marx
claims. Thus there is no valid sense in which embodied socially
necessary labor time is the basis of exchange value. One can assume
this, of course, but it's only an assumption.

Gil Skillman