[OPE-L:4698] Re: use-value of money

Allin Cottrel (cottrell@wfu.edu)
Wed, 9 Apr 1997 18:06:27 -0700 (PDT)

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On Tue, 8 Apr 1997, Michael Williams wrote:

> As I argue in my paper, to be socially or privately 'useful' (as Money is)
> does not exhaust the import of the category 'use-value'. Use-value is one
> moment of Commodity, in contradictory unity with Value. Money has no Value
> and no use-value, rather it is the sole autonomous existence of Value as
> form.
> Is this just some kind of philosophical obscurantism (of the kind of which
> Marx stands accused in 'making a fuss' about abstract labour, and not
> seeing that we don't need a complex social system, proximately market
> mechanisms, in order to commensurate concrete labours as Abstract Labour,
> because a stop-watch will perform the abstraction for us ... Allin? Andrew

I would agree that money does not have a 'use-value', though
my grounds for thinking this are not necessarily the same as
yours. Money clearly has a _function_ in commodity-
producing societies, but I think of 'use-value' as meaning
something more specific -- the ability to satisfy some
definite human need, or something like that. And money does
not satisfy that criterion; its 'usefulness' is purely
instrumental, as a means of obtaining commodities that do
satisfy definite needs. OTH, I agree with Andrew and Paul
(!) that a stopwatch performs the abstraction from the
particularity of individual labours admirably, and with Paul
that the stopwatch does not of itself settle the issue of
the "social necessity" of particular labours.

While I'm at it, I'll respond to the thread on the notion
that value is determined in exchange. How do the
enthusiasts for this notion square it with the proposition,
reiterated over and over and over again in Capital, that the
value of a commodity is the labour-time _required to
produce_ that commodity? If a commodity is produced in a
quantity that exceeds the quantity demanded, at the given
price, then its market price falls below expectation (and
below that corresponding to its value), but if one chooses
to say that the _value_ of the commodity in question is ipso
facto reduced, one is simply collapsing the distinction
between value and price -- achieving a nice conceptual
confusion for no theoretical benefit that I can see.

Allin Cottrell