[OPE-L:1207] What is the meaning of value

Michael Perelman (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Fri, 23 Feb 1996 10:06:00 -0800

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What is value? I am still seeing the discussion continue as if our goal
is to get an exact quantitative measure of value. For me value is
Marx's counterpart of Smith's Invisible Hand. Only, with Marx it is
visible, but unseeing.

A capitalist system regulates human activity unlike a slave, feudal, or
co-operative economy. Workers take direct orders from capitalists while
the capitalists take indirect orders from the market. Value is the glue
that holds this together.

Value is non-measurable, although it must roughly conform to the overall
prices structure. When prices get out of line, a crisis forces them
back in conformity with the underlying values.

What interest me about devalorization is the tension it creates between
the value system and the price system.

I am very impressed with the learning that many of you have displayed
about the forces which affect the value system, but I think that Marx
wrote to further political work. He used his analysis of values as a
means of showing the nature of exploitation and the weakness and
vulnerabilities of capitalism. Maybe we could try to make that

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

Tel. 916-898-5321 E-Mail michael@ecst.csuchico.edu