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‘The reality of the value of commodities differs in this respect from Dame Quickly, that we don’t know “where to have it.” The value of commodities is the very opposite of the coarse materiality of their substance, not an atom of matter enters into its composition. Turn and examine a single commodity, by itself, as we will, yet in so far as it remains an object of value, it seems impossible to grasp it. If, however, we bear in mind that the value of commodities has a purely social reality, and that they acquire this reality only in so far as they are expressions or embodiments of one identical social substance, viz., human labour, it follows as a matter of course, that value can only manifest itself in the social relation of commodity to commodity. In fact we started from exchange value, or the exchange relation of commodities, in order to get at the value that lies hidden behind it. We must now return to this form under which value first appeared to us.
(excerpts from section 3, Chapter 1, Capital Volume 1; it occurs @ https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/download/pdf/Capital-Volume-I.pdf)
Never ever did I confuse the term ‘value’ with use-value. Nevertheless, from the above citation, it’s evident that Marx regarded commodities as ‘object
of value’ as well as ’embodiments of one identical social substance, viz., human labour’ and remarked that ‘value can only manifest itself in the social relation of commodity to commodity.’ I fail to understand how this view clashes with my reply #230406.
‘Not an atom of matter enters into the reality of value. We may twist and turn a commodity this way and that way — as a thing of value it still remains unappreciable by our bodily senses.’
Not a unit of your body cells Nor a jot of your labour enters into the use-value of an egg from your poultry. So what?
If this fact doesn’t make the use-value of the egg ‘unappreciable’, I can’t see why the ‘value’ of a commodity should be ‘unappreciable’ by senses of the sensible.
‘The “general alienation of labor” – wage labor – is the precondition for value.’
I’ve excerpted the above from the German intellectuals’ reflections on ‘Abstract labour’ (https://www.angryworkers.org/2022/04/25/mathematical-capitalism-and-romantic-anti-capitalism-thoughts-on-heinrichs-introduction-to-the-critique-of-political-economy/).
What follows is my response to it.
But, products of non-wage labour, such as the labour of peasants, co-op members, carpenters, sculptors, actors, singers, painters, freelancers, writers, etc., are also bought & sold like commodities. Their market-prices, like the market-prices of commodities, are determined by market forces too. And we know it’s the stuff called value that alone makes commodities exchangeable in the market. What makes the products of non-wage labour exchangeable like commodities? Both the products of non-wage labour and the commodities possess use-value apart from which every commodity possesses only one more stuff called value, the magnitude of which equals the quantity of the socially necessary labour-time expended to create or collect it. And it’s this value, and this value alone, that happens to be the stuff that makes commodities exchangeable with one another. If the magnitude of the value of a pen is x and that of a pearl ball is y, then the total value of y pens= xy= the total value of x pearl balls. Nevertheless, usefulness doesn’t make things exchangeable just because usefulness is Not measurable in terms of money or any other common, universal stuff. It’s really impossible to exchange a pen with a pearl ball on the basis of their usefulness, isn’t it?
In order to be exchangeable with each other or with commodities, products of non-wage labour each must have some value, and thus there seems to exist No basic distinction between products of non-wage labour and products of wage labour, as I see it. Evidently, the German Angry Workers’ view that ‘wage labor’ happens to be ‘the precondition for value’, which implies that non-wage labour cannot create value, sounds absurd.
Read ‘this book’ and oblige me by making known what you consider the MIGHTIEST argument against my view of value and commodities, will you?
I’d like to get it deleted.
- This reply was modified 7 months, 4 weeks ago by Prakash RP.
Hey man, I asked you to oblige me by citing what you consider their MIGHTIEST argument against my view. I can see you’re evasive on this request of mine.
Really? You think so? Could you cite their MIGHTIEST argument against my view? I’m dying for it.
I’m afraid you’re Not talking sense. You seem to be unaware that sticking to a faulty gun is most likely to prove not only futile but disastrous as well.
Sad that you’ve chosen to beat a retreat. As I see it, it’s unbecoming of a person with backbone, a person that’s all for the Truth, and I believe that a communist must always stand for the Truth.
‘Yes I agree, labour (but *concrete* labour – abstract labour cannot create anything for the same reason that you cannot milk an abstract cow!) …’
You sound like a child that’s got No idea of womanhood because it cannot see any such stuff. The example of ‘milk’ and ‘cow’ seems silly as both of them are concrete things while both the value and the labour that creates it are each abstract stuff.
‘So commodities … are the form of value.’
But, there exist so many commodities (an example: a doctor’s examination, diagnosis & prescription or an expert economist’s counsel to raise the rate of interest to deal with swelling inflation) that have got No forms really.
‘They are the ‘form’ of value because ‘value’ is not something we can see.’
But, such an argument should lead you to mistake things like a mannequin, a bot, etc. for life-forms and shooting stars for stars really.
‘How does real concrete living labour become dead congealed labour?’
I think it’s similar to the way solar energy enters your cold body on a winter-day morning. The abstract labour is as real as the womanhood of a woman, and it enters the body of an apple from an orchard to create some value that stays in apple’s body as the womanhood in a woman’s body does.
‘When the commodities meet each other in the market and the different labours that went into making them become equalised and reduced to abstract labour.’
Commodities possess value, and so they’re brought to markets by people to realise their value.
As I see it, the capitalist mode of production is the production for profit the source of which is the surplus-value contained in the value of each commodity. Would like to know how this view clashes with Marx’s view.
My view of value is: human labour (abstract) creates value the amount of which equals the quantity of socially necessary labour incorporated in a useful thing; Human labour itself is valueless.
Two quotes from Capital Vol. I in defence of Marx’s view that human labour itself is valueless:
‘… or human labour, creates value, but is not itself value.’ (Chapter I, Section 3., A. Elementary or Accidental Form Of Value, 2. The Relative Form of value, (a.) The nature and import of this form)
‘Labour is the substance, and the immanent measure of value, but has itself no value.’ (Chapter XIX: The Transformation of the Value
(and Respective Price) of Labour-Power into Wages)
Dear DJP, I don’t think I ever said anything that suggests that I think value is synonymous with wealth.
I said the concrete labour that creates a concrete use-value is the form of the abstract labour that creates the value of this concrete use-value. Evidently, by my view, the abstract labour happens to be the content that assumes the form of the concrete labour. I said this to contradict your view that the ‘“Abstract labour” isn’t contained in [the] “concrete labour”.’ You seem to have missed this point.
I also remember that Marx compared labour with the cosmic force called gravity and remarked that as gravity that creates weight but is weightless itself, the value-creating labour has got No value. I don’t think I ever said anything to contradict this view of labour. Nevertheless, it’s in fact you who claimed that labour “take
the form of ‘value’” in the market during exchange.
You’ve also failed to respond to my argument that your view of labour & value inevitably leads to the view that value originates during exchange in the market. You have yet to respond to my query of what really prevents labour from creating value before the products of labour are brought to the market.
‘“Abstract labour” isn’t contained in “concrete labour”. They are more like the same thing but looked at from different angles.’
The abstract labour at issue must be either contained in or inseparably associated with the concrete labour that creates a concrete use-value, the value of which is the product of the abstract labour. The expression like ‘more like’ is useless outright as it doesn’t help resolve any dispute.
As I see it, the concrete labour (‘building a brick wall’) is the form while the abstract labour is its content.
“It’s this process of market comparison that enables the labour that went into them to take the form of ‘value’. Without a market the labour cannot take the form of ‘value’.”
I’m afraid the above-quoted argument of yours, if true, inevitably leads to the conclusion that the stuff called value originates during exchange in the market. Labour (abstract) cannot create value unless products of labour (concrete) are bought & sold. Why? What prevents labour really from creating value?
I think it’s a most serious issue which, if we fail to resolve it, is certain to lend credence to the capitalists’ claim that the concept of communism is fundamentally flawed.
It seems implied that you’ve got No good reason for objecting to the refusal by someone to take ‘the word “reproducable”’ in such a sense.
I added another query a few seconds later: how does this classification of labour leads us to the view that the abstract labour contained in the concrete labour that creates concrete use-values meant for self-use, Not exchange, fail to create value?
- This reply was modified 8 months ago by Prakash RP.