File spoon-archives/marxism-international.archive/marxism-international_1997/marxism-international.9710, message 273

Date: Tue, 14 Oct 1997 07:52:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: M-I: Re: Value and Women's Unpaid Work (fwd from moderator)

To marxism-international:

The following post bounced to the moderators (non-member submission).

Louis Godena,


From: Justin Schwartz <>
Subject: Re: M-TH: Re: Value and Women's Unpaid Work
To: marxism-thaxis-AT-jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
cc: marxism-thaxis-AT-jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU,

On Mon, 13 Oct 1997, Hugh Rodwell wrote:

> voiding the transaction. Plus guarantees etc. Use value is realized in the
> act of paying for the commodity. Use, on the other hand, is not quite the
> same thing. 

Not quite. If payment is revoked or rscinded because of a failure of a
warranty, the realization of exchange value is undone. Use value, by
contrast, is realized in using something. 

Use value is part of capitalist value, not just ahistorical
> usefulness. It is what makes a commodity desirable to a purchaser to such
> an extent that she'll hand over her money.

It's both. Use value is the potential of something to be used, what makes
it useful. That's part of capitalist value. Things with no use value can
have no value in the capitalist sense. It's also something that pre-exists
and could post-exist value. This computer would be just as good for
computing if it were made in a nonmarket society, and in just the same way.

> This is ahistorical, equating "value" produced by socially necessary labour
> in a capitalist mode of production with work done in human society in
> general. They're not the same things.

Um, value Marx defines as the expression of the fact that making useful
things requires effort, a completely ahistorical notion. But value becomes
"objective," he says, only in market societies where useful things are
produced as commodities.

> before exchange value is validated as such. For the exchange value in a
> good to be more than just potential, it has to be realized in the exchange
> of good for money. Price is a label for the guessed-at value of a
> commodity. Only the sale itself will substantiate the guess or not, as the
> case may be.

This wrongly confuses value analysis with market psychology. Marx is quite
clear that value works behind the backs of the exchangers; it's not
obvious and it';s nothing people have to guess at, or indeed can guess at.
Price is the money amount at which things exchange. It may represent or be
related in a hard to specify way to value, but that's a fact about
political economic analysis, if it is, not about the behavior of market
agents, least of all their psychology. That psychology is driven by price. 

In addition, individual commodities don't have value--value is an
aggregate notion for Marx. This is the point of his critique of
Ricardo and his insistence on socially necessary abstract labor time as the
measure of value. So the results of a particular transaction can have no
implications for the value of the commodity involved.

> If an unsold commodity can be got rid of to some emergency buyer, this
> simply redefines the value of the thing as something other than it was
> speculated to be before the non-sale and then the emergency cheapo sale
> showed its real value.

Same mistake made in a way that makesd the error clear. Suppose a car
dealer is going bankrupt and has to unload a Toyota at a fire sale prices
because he can't wait. That doesn't show the Totoya is worth ionly what he
got for it--worth taht in value terms. If Toyotas generally go for normal
and higher prices at other dealers, this dealer's bad luck is irrelevant.
If, however, Toyotas, or cars in general, have to be sold for half their
production costs (say because gas prives went through the roof, or there
was a depression), then one would have the devaluationm scenario suggested
> Just wanting to sustain the labour theory of value is wonderful in itself.
> Once the idea is freed of all the psychological and ahistorical mystified
> crap taken over from vulgar bourgeois economics, though, it starts showing
> its real power.

Bah. The LTV is a morass of confusion.
> It is symptomatic of dependence on bourgeois ideas to insist on:
> 	value as a concept valid in any society, and
> 	the fetishized independence of production in the  red corner and
> 	consumption in the blue corner. Separating them is an act of
> 	abstract analysis, not a description of their real essence which is
> 	only present in their interaction.
> So Marx's ideas are both less fetishized than bourgeois ones, and more
> dialectical.

I'llbuy the first part, if construed as the proposition that value needn't
be "objective," where that means that market relations aren't per se
univerally necessary. Aftera ll, they weren't even actual for most of
human history.

The second part I regard as gobblygook. Seperating production and
consimption is an act of analysis, but a useful one. 

> The introduction to Grundrisse gives a brilliant and brief analysis of >
production and consumption in general, ie as needed for any human >
community. All the rest is specific to a given mode of production.

The cited passage is famous for obscurity.

--Justin Schwartz> 

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