[OPE-L:1513] teaching technique

Michael Perelman (michael@ecst.csuchico.edu)
Mon, 18 Mar 1996 08:54:09 -0800

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I want to begin by noting how stimulating I found the value theory
seminar in Boston. I feel like I was able to strike up some real

I also want to mention briefly how a technique I use for reading Marx
with a group of very naive, relatively uneducated and non-political

I begin by defining the commodity. I use a definition of the commodity
that is built around Engels's controversial "historical transformation

Then I draw two stick figures on the board, each possessing a commodity
that has an exchange value but no particular use value for the owner.
Each owner sees the other commodity as a use-value.

>From there I replace one commodity with money. Then I extend this
relationship to a network of commodity relationships, which I call a
commodity map. The students like this because I make them locate
themselves in the commodity map.

I can use this map to discuss technical change/relative surplus value
and the changing social division of labor I can show the difference
between extracting surplus value at the point of production and
acquiring constant capital. I can show crises as a disruption of the
commodity map.

Maybe this sounds too simple, but, hey, I am in California.

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA 95929

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