Thursday, 26 April 2018

Theories of Surplus Value, Part II, Chapter 15 - Part 29

Another version of this is the fetishisation of gold as money, which thereby fills the same role as Smith here assigns to corn. The confusion arises because of equating value with exchange-value. Money acts as a measure of exchange-value; it is exchange-value incarnate, in the shape of a money-commodity, here gold, although the money-commodity can be any universally accepted equivalent form of value. The money-commodity provides a measure of exchange value in the form of money prices. Moreover, as gold becomes the general commodity, the commodity representing all other commodities, so the labour used in producing gold also, thereby, becomes a proxy for labour in general, for abstract labour. But, the value of commodities, as opposed to their exchange value, continues to be measured in terms of labour, not gold, i.e. by the abstract labour it represents. In other words, if we take a commodity such as linen, a metre of this linen may have an exchange-value equal to 10 grams of gold, so that 1 metre of linen exchanges for 10 grams of gold. If tomorrow this exchange relation changes, so that 1 metre of linen exchanges for 20 grams of gold, it is impossible to know whether that is because linen has become more valuable, or because gold has become less valuable. In other words, has the change arisen because more abstract labour is required to produce a metre of linen, or because less abstract labour is required to produce 10 grams of gold. Only by measuring the actual value of each commodity, i.e. the labour required for its production is it possible to make that determination. 

It may be that 1 metre of linen requires 10 hours of labour, as spinning and weaving labour, to produce, if we discount the value of constant capital. If gold is the general commodity, and gold producing labour thereby becomes the proxy for abstract labour, and 10 grams of gold require 20 hours to produce, we can conclude that the linen producing labour is complex labour. 

1 metre of linen = 10 hours of linen producing labour. 

10 grams of gold = 20 hours of gold producing/abstract labour. 

1 metre of linen exchanges for 10 grams of gold, therefore, 10 hours of linen producing labour exchanges for 20 hours of abstract labour. The linen producing labour is, therefore, complex labour, which produces twice as much value as abstract labour per hour. 

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