[OPE-L] what is irrational in the functioning of capitalism? II

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@TISCALI.NL)
Date: Wed Nov 29 2006 - 15:32:15 EST

Oh, as a footnote, I just located Gil Skillman's relevant argument from the

It is manifestly the case
that *if* one assumes that all commodities exchange at their respective
values (and one does not regard the exchange for the money commodity in its
guise as usury capital as an instance of commodity exchange), then the
*only way* one can account for the "general formula" M-C-M', with M'>M, is
by positing the purchase at its value of a commodity, i.e. labor power,
whose use value is the creation of value itself, and potentially more value
than represented in its exchange value.

It's *also* manifestly the case that at the beginning of Chapter 6 Marx
explicitly advances the condition of price-value equivalence as the
*logical justification* for his subsequent focus on the purchase and
subsumption of labor power: "The change [from M to M'] *therefore*
{emphasis on logical connective-GS} take place in the commodity which is
bought in the first act of circulation, ...but not in its value, *for it is
equivalents which are being exchanged, and the commodity is paid for at its
full value.* The change can therefore originate only in the actual use
value of the commodity....our friend the money-owner *must* {note again the
indication of logical necessity} be lucky enough to find within the sphere
of circulation... a commodity whose use value possesses the peculiar
property of being a source of value...The possessor of money does find such
a special commodity on the market: the capacity for labour, in other words
labour-power." [I, p. 270, Penguin ed.]

Conclusion: Marx is here self-consciously advancing as a logical deduction
that if one is to explain M-C-M' on the basis that all commodities exchange
at their respective values, then one *must* focus on the extraction of
surplus labor from the commodity labor power purchased at its value. Thus
*I'm* not imposing an argument about the logical necessity of focusing on
wage labor; *Marx* is manifestly the one advancing this claim.

*My* point, contrary to Fred's suggestion, is that this focus is a valid
implication, but from an invalid starting point. Specifically, Marx's Ch.
5 arguments do not suffice to establish the necessity, let alone the
relevance, of price-value equivalence as a basis for explaining surplus


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