[OPE-L:1960] Re: value-form theories

Steve Keen (s.keen@uws.edu.au)
Mon, 20 Dec 1999 09:13:37 +1100

Chris comments that

"Marx's separation of V from EV ocurred very late. There is no trace of it
in 1859".

In fact, it can be seen in 1857, in the footnote in the Grundrisse where
Marx first started to employ value, use-value and exchange-value in a
dialectical triage:

"Is not value to be conceived as the unity of use value and exchange value?
In and for itself, is value as such the general form, in opposition to use
value and exchange value as particular forms of it?" (footnote pp. 266-267
Penguin Grundrisse)

However, this is the first expression of the concept, and much later on (in
his commentary on Wagner), Marx provides an exposition which matches
Chris's reading of the relationship:

"All this is `driveling'. In the first place... What I start out from is
the simplest social form in which the
labour-product is presented in contemporary society, and this is the
*`commodity'*... Here I find that it is, on the one hand ... a *use-value*;
on the other hand, it is a *bearer of exchange value*... Further analysis
shows me that exchange value is only a `*form* of appearance'... Hence I do
not divide *value* into use value and exchange value as antitheses into
which the abstraction `value' splits, rather [I divide] the *concrete
social form* of the labour-product; `*commodity*' is, on the one hand, use
value, and on the other hand, `value', not exchange value, since the mere
form of appearance is not its proper *content*" (p. 198 Carver's "Marx on
Method": Notes on Adolph Wagner)

Steve Keen
At 06:43 1999-12-19 +0000, you wrote:
>>A short comment on Andy's [OPE-L:1938]:
>>> Value must express itself in its own opposite, viz., use value.
>>The opposite of value is not use value.
>>The opposite of use value is exchange value.
>>Nonetheless, the negation of use value prior to sale requires that value
>>also is negated since if a product doesn't have use value, it can't have
>>exchange value, and therefore can't have value and therefore can't be a
>>In solidarity, Jerry
>A very interesting point: but I agree with Andy, not Jerry. The crucial
>passage is C1 pp.152-3 where Marx says it was wrong to counterpose
>use/exchange v., it should have been use-value v. value. Initially it
>seemed Marx was going to leave aside use value but even before treating
>constant and varable K (where uv obvously comes back in as a determinant of
>a specific economic relation) we find in the forms of value, or exchange
>value, that the "internal opposition between use-value and value" has to be
>expressed "externally" in the value expression , by each commodity
>appearing differently. Thus consider: 'The value of CX is CY'. Here CX is
>present immediately as a use value but manages to extrude its value as CY.
>Therewith CY is posited as the value equivalent of CX and appears
>immediately as value-for-itself, but nota bene only insofar as this v is
>posited incarnated in the *UV* CY. (Note the value expression is *not*:
>'The value of CX = the value of CY' but 'the value of CX *is* (the UV) CY'.
>The former is reflexive; the latter is not, as Marx points out.) Exchange
>value is the form in which the abstract opposition of UV and V is brought
>into a dialectical interchnge of these determinations.
>It is also of interest that Marx's separation of V from EV ocurred very
>late. There is no trace of it in 1859. As Rubin argued it was Marx's
>encounter with Bailey's Ricardo critique that forced him to abandon the
>simple opposition of UV and EV because the latter is purely relative as
>Bailey argued. But as late as 1867 Marx is still using the terms
>inconsistently in the 1st edition of C (as can be seen in the Appendix) and
>even has a footnote in ch. 1 saying V is just short for EV. (This is missed
>out, like many other footnotes, in the only English translation.) For the
>second edition this is missed out. And to make the matter very clear he
>inserts the above-mentioned passage. Curiously this 1st edition footnote is
>attached to a sentence also missed out in the second which makes reference
>to "absolute value" (again 'absolute' is not in the English translation).
>Am I right in thinking the term "absolute value" does not appear in the
>second edition anywhere?
> Comradely
>Chris A
>P. S. Please note that I have a new Email address,
>but the old one will also run until next summer. (To be doubly sure load
Dr. Steve Keen
Senior Lecturer
Economics & Finance
University of Western Sydney Macarthur
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