Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Use Value

A Use Value is something that someone finds useful. Use Values can be the products of Nature. The air, or spring water are Use Values. In fact, air and water are probably the two greatest Use Values for human beings, because without them we cannot live. But, despite that they are generally free, because they are provide by Nature, rather than being the product of human labour. Use values represent real wealth. The greater quantity and quality of the Use Values a society possesses the more wealthy it is. Use values that are the product of human labour, are also the products of Nature. As Marx puts it Labour is the Father, and nature the Mother. Even the labour is itself a product of Nature, because it is inseparable from the Human Being which is itself the product of nature. Labour takes the products of Nature, and manipulates them by the same kind of processes that Nature does, in order to change their form, to create some new Use Value. Wood is taken and carved, cut and shaped to become a table, for example.

Use Value derives from the inherent qualities of the object itself, and is inseparable from it. The usefulness deriving from the inherent qualities of a Use Value are what orthodox economics calls Utility.  If I find a diamond useful, and want it because of its specific hardness, I cannot separate its quality of hardness from the diamond itself. To possess the specific hardness, I also have to possess the diamond itself. The same applies to services provided by humans. If I want a live performance by Robbie Williams, I cannot have it without Robbie Williams. If I am happy with a recorded version, I cannot have it without also the physical medium on which it is recorded, and so on.

Use Values do not have to conform to any moral standard or cultural norms. A society might frown upon Opium or heroin use, but for someone who has a desire for Opium or Heroin, it constitutes a Use Value.

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