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I realized a need to revise the titling strategy somewhat. We’re still on track. Scanning real quick it appears we have the following concepts to add to the glossary:

Complex labor: simple labor that has been intensified or multiplied in some manner so that a smaller quantity of it is considered equal to simple labor.

Division of labor: the totality of heterogenous forms of useful labor of a given society, differing in order, genus, species, and variety. A precondition of commodity production.

Labor: The substance of exchange-value, and therefore value in the capitalist mode of production.

Productivity: The degree of effectiveness of productivity directed towards a given purpose within a given period of time.

Simple Labor: The expenditure of labor power posessed in the bodily organism of every ordinary person of a given a society.

Useful Labor: Productive activity of a definite kind carried on with a defnite aim. The element of labor that corresponds to the use-value of a commodity as it is the kind and aim of useful labor which realizes the commodity as an object.

Previously we discussed capitalism as an economic system structured upon the production and exchange of commodities. Each commodity posesses certain uses (use-values) which can all be exchanged with each other because they posess something similar in that they are all products of labor -each commodity comes to be a carrier (a carrier because exchange-value is not a property intrinsic to the object) of exchange value. Exchange value is a social substance, and so is its objective character which can only appear in the social relations of people as carriers of commodities.

Today we start to explore exchange value, the value form of the commodity, which when objectified becomes what we all must learn to love (or else)… money. But how does this objectification come to take place? To learn the origins of money one must analyze the idea of exchange value from the start, from the:

Simple, Isolated, or Accidental form of Value

x pencils is worth y computers, or (x commodity A = y commodity B)

This expression of value is bipolar. There is a relative form of value (100,000 pencils) and its equivalent form (1 computer). This is what is happening here:

1. The 100,000 pencils express their value in the computer; the computer serves as the material through which that value is expressed. The relative commodity, the pencils, is said to play the ‘active’ role and the equivalent (computer) a ‘passive’ role in the relationship. The relative and equivalent forms of value representing their value through each other expresses also a relation of mutual exclusivity. One must be the relative form of value in relation to the other as equivalent.

For this relationship to be apparent it must involve different commodities. That 1 computer has an equivalent in 1 computer is clear, but then these two do not stand opposed and represented as commodities, they are then simply 2 computers. In short, the relative form of value (x commodity A) cannot be its own equivalent form (y commodity B).

Of course the exchange of pencils for computer, is for another the exchange of computer for pencils -but more on that at a not much later time! For now just note that whether a commodity is in the role of relative or equivalent depends upon its place in the bipolar relation, commodity A or commodity B.

There is a lot that needs to be said about this relationship and its elements. The relative form of value itself is an involved discussion which I will start next time. I’m going to look online for a good (free) translation of capital and get a link set up so that those who do want to read along or review the original text can do so with more convenience.

Next time the relative form of value…


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