[OPE-L] Proposition #4

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu Mar 08 2007 - 09:41:19 EST

Now we turn to discuss at greater length the character of
*commodities*   [NB: plural, i.e. commodities, not commodity.]

In Proposition #2, we agreed on the following initial  (standard)
definition (slightly modified to make plural).

"commodities are any goods or services which are produced with
the intention of selling them in order to make a profit".

From this definition,  and other stipulations already made,
a number of  statements can be made:

a) commodities are *produced*.

b) production requires the expenditure of  *human labor*.

c) *capitalist production* requires the expenditure of human labor
by wage-workers (see proposition #2).

d)  capitalist production ordinarily involves the performance of labor
by workers utilizing *means of production*.  Those means of production
themselves are commodities. The ownership and control of those means of
production are, as we've already stipulated, key to the class relationship
that exists under capitalism.

d) the expenditure of labor requires that the producers (wage-workers)
expend energy during a period of *labor time*.

e) the definition of capitalism used (see proposition #2) means that
capitalists control the labor and labor time of wage-workers.

f) the definition of commodities indicates that commodities are produced
in order to be *sold*.   The *sale* of commodities requires not only
exchange but *money* and *markets*.

g) assume, as a simplifying assumption, that money also is a commodity.
For the purposes of the model, assume that the money commodity is

h)  The exchange of commodities requires that there are *exchange ratios*
which are expressed in terms of money (gold).

i) because all production takes the form of commodity production and
all goods sold are commodities, this requires that both labor time and
means of production take the form of commodities.  Define the amount
of money which is used to purchase means of production as *constant
capital* and the amount of money used to hire wage-workers  as
*variable capital*.

j) if products did not have a utility (a quality of being useful) for
someone else, then they would not be produced or purchased as commodities.
This follows from the definition of commodities since they are produced
in order to be sold rather than individually consumed by the direct
producers or by the class which  controls the labor of the direct
producers and owns the means of production (the capitalists).  Hence,
commodities must have a *use-value*.

k) since commodities are produced with the intention of being sold, they
must also have an *exchange-value*.  Although the exchange-value of
commodities is  *presumed* (by the seller) before sale based on past
transactions,  it is only *known*  once it has been sold on the market.

To be continued --  assuming there is agreement on the above.

In solidarity, Jerry

> Capitalism is understood here as a *mode of production*
> in which there is:
> *  private ownership and control of  the means of production by
>       capitalists where
> *  capitalists  hire wage-workers
> *  in order to produce *commodities*
> *  for the purpose of making a *profit*.
> In this abstract model of 'pure' capitalism, there are *only 2
> classes*: capitalists, who have a monopoly of ownership and
> control of means of production, and wage-workers who
> neither own nor control any means of production.
> Let's use the following *initial definition* of commodity (to
> be developed at greater length as we proceed):
> * any good or service which is produced with the intention
>    of selling it in order to make a profit.

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