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I’m too pressed to update the dictionary right now, but I hope to do so next time, or at least when we’re done with the discussion on the equivalent form of value in the value expression x Commodity A = y Commodity B, with Commodity A being the relative form and Commodity B being an embodiement of its value equivalent. Value in its equivalent role/form.

In the equivalent form of value the commodity takes a form in which it is directly exchangeable with other commodities, as does our computer in the value expression

100,000 pencils = 1 computer

The magnitude of the value of computer ceases to be expressed, it is the expressor. 2 computers express the amount of value of 200,000 pencils, but 2 computers never expresses its own value. The equivalent form always takes the form of a quantity of use-value, but contains no determinant of value in and of itself. ‘Use-value becomes the form of appearance of its opposite, value. The natural form of the commodity becomes its value-form’ (148). This brings us to the peculiarities of the equivalent:

Peculiarity 1: Inasmuch the equivalent can only exist in relation to another commodity (the equivalent cannnot be its own equivalent) it ‘therefore must make the physical shape of another commodity into its own value form’. Take for example a system of measuring weight in which a particular use-value, say specific amounts of iron, serves as one possible method of measuring of weight. Iron plays the role of ‘the form of the manifestation of weight’ only within this relationship. Iron itself is nor more or less ‘the form of manifestation of weight’ than any other mass.

In the value expression the equivalent represents not its particular use-value(s) but rather value alone, value being a ‘purely social’ thing. With value embodied in the equivalent form; taking on the form of appearance of that particular thing, the material, the thing itself as the ‘expressor of value in everyday life’ seems endowed by nature itself as having the singular ability to serve in this role.  

Of course this cannot be the case. No one use-value is intrinsically more or less endowed to serve as the equivalent in the value relation. In other words, all commodities have the property of being able to serve as the equivalent for any and all other commodities; this property of equivalence does not arise from a commodity’s relation to other things rather this property is activated by these relations which are nothing other than social relations. 

In short, the use-value occupying the equivalent form only appears to be endowed by nature for its quality of direct exchangeability. In fact, this quality is socially constructed.

“Hence the mysteriousness of the equivalent form, which only impinges on the crude bourgeois vision of the political economist when it confronts him in its fully developed shape, that of money. He then seeks to explain away the mystical character of gold and silver by substituting for them less dazzling commodities, and, with ever-renewed satisfaction, reeling off a catalogue of all the inferior commodities which have played the role of equivalent at one time or another. He does not suspect that even the simplest expression of value, such as 20 yards of linen = 1 coat, already presents the riddle of the equivalent form for us to solve” (150).

Because the commodity serving as equivalent is itself both an embodiment of abstract human labor and product of some concrete useful labor this particular form of concrete labor then becomes the expression of abstract human labor. If the computer as equivalent is only the realized form of abstract human labor, the particular forms of labor that produced it; are realized in it, ‘is only abstract human labor’s form of realization’. 

‘The usefulness of computer making consists now not in making machines, and thus also people, but in making a physical object which we at once recognize as value, as a congealed quantity of labor, therefore, which is absolutely indistinguishable from the labor objectified in the value of the 100,000 pencils’.

‘In order to express the fact that pencil manufacture creates the value of pencils through its general property of being human labor rather than in its concrete form as pencil manufacture, we contrast it with the concrete labor which produces the equivalent of the pencils, namely computer manufacture. Computer manufacture is now seen as the tangible form of realization of abstract human labor.’

This puts us perfectly in place to deal with the second peculiarity of the equivalent form next time.

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One Comment

  1. Off topic – need help with email settings
    How do I change Gmails SMTP settings?
    Dr Gil Lederman
    Gil Lederman
    Gil Lederman MD


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