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The way in which people exchange things with each other in a capitalist mode of production and reproduction is the subject at hand. We have discussed the role of relative and equivalent forms of value in the following value expression:

x commodity A = y commodity B; with commodity A adopting the role of the relative form of value and commodity B adopting the role of A’s equivalent form of value. At the end of this discussion on the simple expression of value I hope to have working definitions for both – something I didn’t take the time to do my first time through the text.

Anyway, and even more recently discussed was the equivalent form of value and the ‘three peculiarities’ of the commoditiy that fills the role:

1. use-value becomes the form of appearance of its opposite, namely value.

2. concrete (useful) labor becomes the form of apperance of its opposite, namely abstract social labor

3. private labor takes on the form of its opposite, labor in a directly social form.

Now that we have examined the pieces of the simple expression of value it’s time to put them back together and consider the simple expression of value as a whole.

Our scenario, as a reminder: 100,000 pencils = 1 computer (or any like relation between two different commodities).

This value expression is not contained in the commodities themselves, rather only in relationship to and with another commodity of a different kind.

The value of pencils is expressed qualitatively (seemingly as a quality of the commodity in the relative form of value) by and through its direct exchangeability with computers. The quality of exchange value is expressed in exchange; the value of pencils is expressed quantitatively by and through the exchangeability of pencils and computers in specific quantities: 100,000:1, or whatever.

Value is expressed independent of the specific commodity. A commodity is /not/ both a use and an exchange value. Rather, a commodity is a use-value looked at in a value relation – a use-value bearing socially produced and realized value.

“The product of labor is an object of utility in all states of society; but it is only a historically specific epoch of development which presents the labor expended in the production of a useful article as an ‘objective’ property of that article, i.e. as its value. It is only then that the product of labor becomes transformed into a commodity”

What is the simple form of value? “it is an embryonic form which must undergo a series of metamorphoses before it can ripen into the price-form”.

Next time we move on to the next, less embryonic, form of the value expression: ‘The Total or Expanded Form of Value’.


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