[OPE] Understanding Value

From: howard engelskirchen <he31@verizon.net>
Date: Thu Apr 23 2009 - 06:51:01 EDT

'Value' is a word with meanings from aesthetics to ethics to theology and all that diversity will inescapably be thought to license its freewheeling use in economics. My own effort is to use the word in a way capable of developing and consistent with a science grounded in Marx's work.

In Marx the category 'value' picks out a relation between persons or productive entities with respect to the expenditure of their labors. It is a consequence of the social relation that accounts for the commodity form of the product of labor -- value exists because persons or productive entities independently produce products useless to them as part of the social division of labor. Market exchange is a consequence.

Value is manifested or given phenomenal expression in market exchange by exchange value; exchange value expresses the ratio in which products exchange. Value expresses a relation among persons or productive entities; exchange value expresses a relation among things.

Market participants experience the ratio in which things exchange and the social relation of producers with respect to their labor expenditures remains largely hidden. Without much thought (and without science) they therefore recharacterize a social relation among persons as a relation among things, assuming, as seems obvious, that this may be accounted for by the useful attributes of things. The result is achieved by subjectivizing (a piece of objective reality, a social relation, is redefined in terms of its effect on me, what I experience) and by displacing (the effect is not attributed to its real source, a relation of persons, but instead to something else, things).

When we speak of a product's value we refer to the proportion of aggregate labor expenditure it represents.


ope mailing list
Received on Thu Apr 23 06:53:06 2009

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue May 12 2009 - 15:26:04 EDT