- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Marx & Value

Posted by: Joel Jacobson ( none, USA ) on March 29, 1999 at 16:13:48:

Let's analyze Marx's concept, not theory, of value:

a) Okay, let's take Marx's use-value; a value of a person's individual preferences. As a person has to give up more alternatives to make a particular choice the less likely that person with engage in that particular action.

b) Exchange-value, according to Marx, was what a particular commodity traded for on the market relative to other commodities and did not equal use-value. This is also known as price.

c) Social labor was the source of all value and, thus, the more socially valuable a commodity the more labor would be used to produce it and the more likely it would be produced (i.e. we currently produce cars not wagons because cars, currently, are more socially valuable.

Okay, now we have these three components: use-value, exhange-value, and social labor allocation (i.e. social cost). Now, let's draw a linear algebraic graph:

a) label the axes V, for value, on the vertical, and C, for the amount of a good produced, on the horizontal.

b) at the intersection of the axes put a 0 (duh), a 5 at the top of the vertical, V, axis, and 100 at the right end of the horizontal, C, axis.

c) now graph Marx's own use-value, preference scale, by drawing the line: (5,0) to (0,100), and make sure to label it use-value. This line shows that the more people have to give up for this good the less likely they will be to desire it. At cost 5 they will want none and at cost zero they will want 100.

d) next, graph the allocation of socially necessary labor. Draw a line from (0,0) to (5,100). As the social value increases more resources will be allocating to produce the particular good. At zero social value none of these particular items are produced and at 5 social value 100 such items are produced. Label this line socially necessary labor.

e) now that we've addressed Marx's socially necessary labor and personal use-value we'll go on to social exhange-value. You see where the two lines cross? Take that specific point and draw a horizontal line across to the horizontal, V, axis. The line should arrive at a V of 2.5.

f) Next, go back to the intersection of socially necessary labor and use-value and draw a vertical line to the horizontal, C, axis. This line should arrive at a C of 50.

Do we have any problems? Using Marx's own concept, rather than theory (an important distinction), of value we can ascertain that a commodity with an exchange-value of 2.5 will have 50 units produced according to the socially necessary labor allocated to it. Why is it's social exchange-value at 2.5? Well, why would anyone who personally valued the item below 2.5 pay above their own subjective use-value for the item? In the same manner, socially alloted labor wouldn't be allocated to produce beyond 50 of the items as the next person who want the particular item would value it below the amount of socially necessary labor to produce it.

I'd like some answers as to what y'all think of my analysis. Does Marx's concept of value really hold up?

Follow Ups:

  • Hmmmm.... Red Deathy Socialist Party UK March 31 1999 (1)
    • You awake RD? Samuel Day Fassbinder Citizens for Mustard Greens USA April 05 1999 (0)

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