(OPE-L) value, money, and the exchange of equivalents

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Nov 25 2003 - 08:52:32 EST

(was "Unproductive Labour")

Hi Phil.

> OK.  We have got two different notions of equivalance, hard and soft.
> The hard version says that whenever a product is sold, the seller gets an
> equivalent amount of money.  The soft version says that the seller does
>  not get an equivalent amount of money, or only does so by chance.  Is
> money really an equivalent in the soft version?  Is it a reasonable use of
the term?  An unequal equivalent?

The equality on the aggregate level is: the sum of value = the sum of prices
of production.   The subject of  prices of production is introduced in
Volume Three of _Capital_.


Once one allows for deviations of price from value then commodities
don't necessarily -- except in the aggregate -- sell at their value.

You ask, in regard to the "soft version",  does the seller gets "an
equivalent amount of money"?  I assume this to mean: does the
seller receives an amount of money equal to the value of the
commodity being sold? And, if not, is money still a universal

Let's take a simple example.  The following example is hypothetical
but millions of similar examples happen everyday in contemporary
capitalism.  Suppose next time you come to New York City (perhaps
for an IWGVT mini-conference) we meet and decide to go for a
walk.  A couple of blocks away from the Hyatt Regency Hotel, we
pass by a Duane Reade pharmacy.  In the window of the pharmacy
there is an advertisement that a 2 liter container of Coca-Cola is for
sale for  $1.29.  As we proceed, we pass by a Gristedes supermarket
and notice that a 2 liter Coke is being sold for $1.69.  A couple of
blocks further we pass by a CVS pharmacy where a 2-liter coke
is being sold for $0.79. In all three cases, there are not "minimum
purchase" requirements or limits on the quantities sold/customer.

Are all 3 potential exchanges the "exchange of equivalents"?

Clearly,  paying $1.69 for a commodity is not equivalent for
the buyer to paying $0.79 for exactly the same commodity.
Also, it matters quite a bit to the seller what the price is because
there is a different rate of return per unit depending on the price

In this instance, how do we even know what a price equivalent
to the value of the soda is?   Is it $0.79, $1.29, $1.69 or some
other amount?   In any event, if the same commodity during the
same time and market sells for different prices, how can we speak
of equivalent exchange for _each_ commodity sold?  I don't
think we can.  What then happens to the so-called "law of one
price" (LOOP)?

I think we have to be very careful when disaggregating that we
don't assume that what (perhaps) is true on the aggregate level
is also true in individual branches of production and for individual
exchanges.  Doing so would be an example of the fallacy of
division.  Similarly, we can not assume that what is the case in
the aggregate is also the case during all temporal or in all spatial

In solidarity, Jerry

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