[OPE-L:4645] Re: Four-cornered triangle

Allin Cottrel (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Wed, 2 Apr 1997 11:02:43 -0800 (PST)

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On Wed, 2 Apr 1997, Michael A. Lebowitz wrote:

> How do those who accept the argument that the value of
> commodities is given before sale reconcile their position
> with Marx's clear statement in Vol. I, Ch. 2 that
> coomodities "must stand the test as use-values before they
> can be realized as values. For the labour expended upon
> them only counts in so far as it is expended in a form
> which is useful for others. However, only the act of
> exchange can prove whether that labour is useful for
> others, and its product consequently capable of satisfying
> the needs of others."

Most commodities most of the time are not totally new items;
they have shown themselves to be use-values. Given that,
their value is determined in production. There are places
where Marx seems to toy with the idea that if a commodity is
in excess supply then the labour-time that went into making
it is not fully "socially necessary", and therefore counts
retrospectively as creating value at a lower rate than if
supply and demand balanced. But this seems to me confusing,
and inconsistent with what he says most of the time. Better
to say that with excess supply a commodity will tend to sell
at a price below its value, which will then set in motion a
process of adjustment.

Allin Cottrell.