Law of Value- the series

Though most use the term “Labor Theory of Value” Marx never did. Instead he referred to the “Law of Value”. Either way, that is the subject of this video series, which you can find linked below. The series will hopefully be around 15 videos long in the end. At the moment I’ve only completed the first few videos. You can see an initial draft of the scripts for all of them here.

1. Introduction

1.2 A quiz on Marx’s theory of Value

1.3 Addendum on how to watch these videos

2. The Fetishism of Commodities.

3. Das MudPie (on what it means for private labor to become social labor)

4. Use-Value, Exchange-value and Value

5. Contradiction

6. Socially Necessary Labor Time

7.  Production and Exchange

8. Subject/Object

9. Abstract labor

10. Value and Price

11. Money

12 ?

25 Responses to Law of Value- the series

  1. sasha says:

    Please finish this! I need to know # 13, # 14 and # 15!
    or, at least give me something to read about it.

  2. antonshavlik says:

    Neo-classical economists argue that exchange occurs not because of an equality, but a double inequality. Marx, on the other hand, considered it as a subjective double inequality but a social equality. I think a lot of opponents of the LTV would find this interesting to know, as the idea of a double inequality is important to modern bourgeois theories, and does make a lot of sense.

    “His commodity possesses for himself no immediate use-value. Otherwise, he would not bring it to the market. It has use-value for others; but for himself its only direct use-value is that of being a depository of exchange-value, and, consequently, a means of exchange. Therefore, he makes up his mind to part with it for commodities whose value in use is of service to him. All commodities are non-use-values for their owners, and use-values for their non-owners. Consequently, they must all change hands.”

  3. Nick says:

    This is a fantastic site! Thanks for making the effort to clarify Marx for everyone!

  4. JosAlembic says:

    This is an amazing project that fills a much felt gap!

    I’m planning to use your video’s on our website in a series about explaining Marx’s ideas.

    I’m trying to overcome the little problem of adding Dutch subtitles though, as the auto-translations are pretty useless :) I think I need to manually add them then to the video, but am not entirely sure. Could you help me out here?

    • Joe. The best way to do subtitles is to go to the website Overstream.net which will help you generate a .srt or .sub file (either will do.) Then you can email me the .sub file and I can upload to the youtube video. It is a bit time consuming, but it is really valuable to have. Many of my videos have been translated into different languages by viewers and I am always very appreciative of the effort. In order to email me the file you can send me a personal message over youtube (if you have an account) with your email address. Or you can post a comment here with the address and I can delete it so nobody else sees it.

  5. J Young says:

    Your videos are fantastic! Thanks so much!

    I just have a quick question (and pardon my ignorance if I didn’t fully understand something; my question is certainly not meant to be accusative, or in any way confrontational). If all value is created by labor, then couldn’t it be said that the capitalist is laboring by combining all of the disparate elements needed to produce a commodity into the finished product?

    That is, similar to the way in which a resource (say, iron ore) has no value until extracted by a laborer, and refined through production (again, by a laborer) into some good (say, metal; and eventually into, say, a fender for an automobile); each of those heterogeneous elements have no value until the capitalist who, through his own version of labor, combines the means of production with labor (not necessarily an easy task) to create an end-product. Further, with modern corporations being what they are: who within that corporation might be termed ‘the capitalist’? The middle-managers may not be a whole lot better off in this process than the lowest level employee, and their labor (say, in creating a documenting the paychecks for said laborers) does not seem to be less essential. I think you’ll probably see where I’m going with this, so I’ll leave it here.

    My question then would be this: Couldn’t the capitalist argue that it is his labor which is the most essential–above of all of the laborers beneath him because without it there would be no finished product to sell–and therefore deserving of the highest compensation?

    Thanks again!

    • arharris says:

      The same argument has been used for at least two centuries. Here is Marx’s answer: ‘”Have I (the capitalist asks) myself not worked? Have I not performed the labour of superintendence and of overlooking the spinner? And does not this labour, too, create value?”‘ His overlooker and his manager try to hide their smiles.” Vol I, Chapter 7, Section 2, Capital.

      The capitalist does not perform any work. In the U.S. about 1% of the people own about 80% of the wealth. Any guess on where the capitalist class is located?

  6. Everpresent says:

    “My question then would be this: Couldn’t the capitalist argue that it is his labor which is the most essential–above of all of the laborers beneath him because without it there would be no finished product to sell–and therefore deserving of the highest compensation?”

    Without laborers there would no capitalists and vice versa. A laborer transfers value of the technology into a commodity that discloses the nature of social relations in the mode of production.
    Keep also in mind that “capitalist” and “worker” are roles in Marx his work. For example: a miser can become a capitalist if he reinvests his money into variable or constant capital. If he doesnt he isnt a capitalist any more. This is very important to acknowledge.

    • Thanks so much for the reply, Everpresent :) Very helpful!

      Also, I noticed in Kapitalism101′s video titled, ‘Who is Exploited?’, that he addressed my question perfectly.

      Thanks!

      • Everpresent says:

        No problem. If you have more questions, I’ll answer them. Marx has no more secrets for me.

  7. Omaha wob says:

    Dude, can’t wait for you to finish these. I just finished reading Marx’s “Capital Vol. 1″ and your videos are just as good, if not better, than David Harvey’s lecture on the book. Can’t wait for the rest of the series.

  8. Luke says:

    Oh man I am so thankful for this this site!!! I am currently taking Macroeconomics in a C.C and it’s very fun to screw with my professors by using what you have done here. They all have no idea about Marx or his criticisms or insights, not even a little understanding. It makes me sad, but it makes me want to learn this that much more so I can speak to people with a great understanding of this very powerful subject.

    I have had a paradigm shift in my world view after being seriously introduced to Marx criticisms and you’re another amazing source for me to learn from. I’ve also been looking at rdwolff.com, for those looking for more to ingest on this sadly ignored subject.

    Any idea when you will be finishing these up?

    I am really very appreciative of this site, even if you do not finish it, you have contributed a lot to me and those I will talk to when I attempt to summarize some of Marx’s fundamental insights.

    • Thanks for the support! The next Law of Value video,which contains a critique of marginal utility theory that may be of interest to you, will be up later today, as soon as I get done processing and uploading the video.

      B

  9. thepeoplesfriend says:

    Brendan,
    if the rate of profit is determined by the organic composition of capital (!) and the rate of surplus value, why do you state that machines do not create value?
    Best regards,
    Tomislav Zahov.

  10. thepeoplesfriend says:

    If the machines do not create value then this contradicts to Marx’s statement that the rate of profit is determined by the organic composition of capital (= machines) and the rate of surplus value. Am I wrong? Is there any contradiction between ,,the machines do not create value” and ,,the rate of profit is determined by the organic composition of capital and the rate of surplus value”?

    • The rate of profit is the total surplus value produced (s) divided by the cost of producing that value (c+v). The surplus value is produced by labor. The cost of production is the cost of buying materials (c) and labor power (v). The fact that machines are in the denominator of the equation doesn’t make them productive of value.

      The organic composition of capital is the ratio of living labor to dead labor in production. Because this ratio is a determinant of the profit rate doesn’t mean that the ratio itself creates value. I think you are confusing the terms “determinate of” and “create”. Or maybe you are confusing the rate of profit (the ratio of surplus value over cost of production) with the value product (the total amount of new value produced by living labor.)

  11. thepeoplesfriend says:

    Thanks a lot for the answer Brendan. I will think about it, but now it is too late, it is 03:40 in the morning here in Europe. If there is again something unclear to me after this answer I will come back. Thanks once again.

  12. thepeoplesfriend says:

    Aha! However, I understood. The machines actually are dead labor. And that’s why the machines as such do not produce value, but use values. Thanks Brendan! :)

  13. MrEverpresent says:

    Brendan: which parts of your law of value series will still be made in the future? Are you still following this plan?

    • The loose plan at this point is:
      Supply and Demand
      Value and Price
      Money
      Behind the Backs of the Producers
      Machines, Robots, Land and the Mona Lisa
      The Challenge of the Law of Value

      So, that’s a modification of the original plan… we’ll see. I wonder if I can finish in a year…. life has gotten busy.

  14. mreverpresent says:

    Are you still alive Mr.Kapitalism101? Last update was long time ago.

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