Re: [OPE-L] Question

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sat Mar 31 2007 - 16:12:41 EDT

Quoting Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@TISCALI.NL>:

> When Marx begins to sketch in the first chapter of Cap. Vol. 3 how the law
> of value would assert itself in capitalism as the unity of production and
> circulation, he writes:
> "But the capitalist can sell the commodity at a profit even if he sells it
> at less than its value. As long as its sale price is above its cost price,
> even if below its value, a part of the surplus-value contained in it is
> always realized, i.e. a profit is made (...) The basic law of capitalist
> competition, which political economy has so far failed to grasp, the law
> that governs the general rate of profit and the so-called prices of
> production determined by it, depends, as we shall see, on this difference
> between the value and the cost price of commodities, and the possibility
> deriving from this of selling commodities below their value at a profit."
> (Cap. Vol. 3, Pelican edition, p. 127-128).
> The "difference between the value and the cost price of commodities" is
> presumably the (potential) surplus-value they have, and the cutting edge of
> capitalist competition is to "sell commodities below their value at a
> profit". The question however is, what "value" does Marx have in mind here?
> My interpretation is that he means the socially established value for that
> commodity, namely that value, which represents the average socially
> necessary labour-time currently required for its production. Is this
> correct?

Hi Jurrian,

This is a very good question.

I think the Marx’s meaning of “value” in the first chapter of Volume 3,
including the passage that you quote, if very clear from earlier pages
of the chapter.

In the second paragraph of the chapter, Marx defines value as = (C + V
+ S), and gives the numerical example of $600 = $400 + $100 + $100 ($
sign replace pound sign).

On the next page (118), value is redefined as (cost price + S), because
cost price = C + V, and the example is $600 = $500 + $100.

On the third page (119), Marx’s basic theory of the determination of
the value of commodities is succinctly summarized:

“We know from Volume 1 … that the value of the product newly formed, in
this case, $600, is composed of (1) the reappearing value of the
constant capital of $400 spent on means of production, and (2) a newly
produced value of $200.”

It is clear from these passages that the meaning of the “value” of
commodities is not the labor-time required to produce them, but is
instead defined in terms of quantities of money (capital).

On subsequent pages, Marx repeatedly compares the capital advanced
($500) and the “value” of the product ($600).  This cost PRICE is
clearly a PRICE in terms of money, and so is the “value”.  If “value”
were a quantity of labor-time, then it could not be compared with the
“cost price”, because they would have different units of measure.

And then a few pages later (129-30), we come to the passage quoted by
Jurrian (see above).

I think it is very clear from the foregoing pages that the meaning of
“value” in this paragraph is not the labor-time required to produce the
product, but is instead the money price of the product, under the
assumption that profit = surplus-value.  This is the only way that
there can be a quantitative “difference” between the “value” and the
“cost price”, which is emphasized in Marx's paragraph and by Jurrian.


This message was sent using IMP, the Internet Messaging Program.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Apr 02 2007 - 00:00:09 EDT