Law of Value- drafts for the upcoming video series

The links below are drafts of my scripts for the upcoming video series “Law of Value”. At the moment there are 11 videos. I may make 2 more, on the why animals and machines don’t create value and a concluding video on “The Challenge of the Law of Value” which will talk about the challenges Marx’s analysis presents for those who seek to change the world.

I am posting these drafts because I would like feedback from viewers. I would like these videos to be a resource to people so it’s important that they make sense, that the answer the sort of questions people want answered, and that they are free of errors. Many viewers gave me a lot of good suggestions about topics they’d like to see covered, points to make, and questions to answer. I hope that some folks might find that time to read through the script of one or two videos and leave comments, questions or suggests. I can’t promise I will use all of them, but they are all welcome.

The production of each video can take some time. In addition to revising all of the scripts I have to find images for 11 different videos! If any viewers know of any great public domain film clips that might work well for a section of a script, or have the ability and time to create some good images (still or moving) that they think might help illustrate a point, I would be grateful for such contributions. I can’t promise I will use everything, but if I think it will work I definitely will.

I hoped to make each video in the series under 10 minutes. Some topics were too big to fit in. Eventually I hope to whittle down the longer scripts, but a few will probably stretch into longer videos. I may break some up into two videos.

Law of Value 1: Introduction

Law of Value 2: The Fetishism of Commodities

Law of Value 3: Das MudPie

Law of Value 4: Use-Value, Exchange-value and Value

Law of Value 5: Production and Exchange

Law of Value 6: Equalization of Commodities

Law of Value 7: Abstract Labor

Law of Value 8: Socially Necessary Labor Time

Law of Value 9: Simple and Complex Labor

Law of Value 10: Supply and Demand

Law of Value 11: Prices of Production


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15 Responses to Law of Value- drafts for the upcoming video series

  1. I didn’t read all of the drafts, but I have read 3 drafts and they are very easy to read and understand. I’ve struggled with trying to read Marx’s theories, so you have made this easy for folks like me. Thanks for that.

  2. uncle says:

    Love your videos. But what I never seem to find properly explained is why the heck animals and machines can’t produce value (which I kinda get, but would really want to hear a more specific explanation on). I know you are thinking of making a video on this. And I seriously encourage you to do it. Cause this assumption has appeared in several of your videos without – in my mind – being properly explained. And actually your not alone on this one. I’ve spent quite some time looking for concise explanations on the issue, with very moderate success. Which is funny, since for a beginner in marxist theory (like me) or even more a non-marxist, this whole issue is very important for accepting some of the most central claims made by Marx.

    Last but not least: Thanks!

  3. Zanthorus says:

    I’d like to echo “uncle”‘s request for an explanation of why machines and animals don’t create value. Specifically, one thing I’ve had a hard time grappling with is Steve Keen’s proposition that the idea of machines and animals not creating value contradicts Marx’s own reasoning. His paper on the subject is here:

    P.S I was originally going to ask when you first posted about your remaking of the series on the law of value. But it kind of slipped my mind, sorry.

    • I can’t get this link to work. Do you have copy of the paper you could send me?

      • Zanthorus says:

        That’s weird. It still seems to work for me.

        Well, his analysis isn’t all that complicated anyway, so I’ll just rehash his argument here.

        Keen argues that in the writing of the Grundrisse Marx realised that Use-Value was important as well as Exchange-Value and developed a Dialectical concept of Value that included both. He quotes from the Grundrisse:

        “Is not value to be conceived as the unity of use-value and exchange-value? In and for itself, is value as such the general form, in opposition to use-value and exchange-value as particular forms of it? Does this have significance in economics? Use-value presupposed even in simple exchange or barter. But here, where exchange takes place only for the reciprocal use of the commodity, the use-value, i.e., the content, the natural particularity of the commodity has no such standing as an economic form. Its form, rather, is exchange-value. The content apart from this form is irrelevant; is not a content of the relation as a social relation. But does this content as such not develop into a system of needs and production? Does not use-value as such enter into the form itself, as a determinant of the form itself, e.g. in the relation of capital and labor? If only exchange-value as such plays a role in economics, then how could elements later enter which relate purely to use-value… The price appears as a merely formal aspect of it. This is not in the slightest contradicted by the fact that exchange-value is the predominant aspect. But of course use does not come to a halt because it is determined only by exchange; although of course it obtains its direction thereby. In any case, this is to be examined with exactitude in the examination of value, and not, as Ricardo does, to be entirely abstracted from, nor like the dull Say, who puffs himself up with the mere presupposition of the word `utility’. Above all it will and must become clear in the development of the individual sections to what extent use-value exists not only as presupposed matter, outside economics and its forms, but to what extent it enters into it.”

        He argues that Marx then reconsidered things which he had previously considered only in Labour Value terms. He says that Marx then realised the origins of Surplus-Value in the difference between the Exchange-Value of labour (wages) and the Use-Value of labour (to create more exchange-value) quoting Marx again:

        “We are, therefore, forced to the conclusion that the change originates in the use-value, as such, of the commodity, i.e. its consumption. In order to be able to extract value from the consumption of a commodity, our friend, Moneybags, must be so lucky as to find, within the sphere of circulation, in the market, a commodity, whose use-value possesses the peculiar property of being a source of value.”

        He then says that Marx made an error in his analysis of why machines don’t create exchange value that contradict his own reasoning. He quotes Marx again saying that “its use-value has been completely consumed, and therefore its exchange-value completely transferred to the product”. He argues that Marx is trying to say that in the case of machines and raw materials, use-value and exchange-value are identical. However this contradicts his earlier discovery of the source of surplus-value by supposing them to be qualitatively different types of value.

    • And now, magically, the link does work for me. (not that I believe in magic)
      Now I have no excuse not to read it. I have just finished major revisions on all 12 of the first batch of scripts. I’m going to start working on the video production. I think then I’ll return to the remaining few scripts that I haven’t worked on yet:
      Why machines/animals can’t create value.
      The challenge of the law of value
      Rent and imaginary value.

      I have no idea how long this will take.

  4. Paul says:

    While reading these, my mind kept flitting back to this paragraph from Harvey’s Limits to Capital (page 18 in my copy):

    “More troublesome, however, is the fact that ‘the price form may also conceal a qualitative inconsistency’ to the point where ‘price ceases altogether to express value.’ Objects that are not products of human labour – land, conscience, honour, and so on, ‘are capable of being offered for sale by their holders and thus acquiring through their price the form of commodities’ (Capital, vol. 1, p. 102). Commodities that are products of human labour must be distinguished, then, from ‘commodity forms’, which have a price but no value.”

    I thought of this particularly when you mentioned selling your autograph; your intention appears to be to illustrate that in a market, we can ask for whatever prices we want, but it doesn’t “count” unless someone else is willing to be the counterparty to the exchange. However, there *are* people whose autographs fetch high prices, and it’s not immediately obvious how that fits into the LTV. This may be a distraction for some viewers; would the example work equally well with an ordinary commodity substituted for the autograph (say, a shoe)?

    Maybe this could fit into a broadened “exceptions” topic along with animals and machines.

  5. bobo says:

    Thanks! I also have some problems while reading Marx. Your videos help me a lot.

  6. Dave says:

    It seems like the comment-function on the Falling Rate of Profit-page has collapsed.

  7. Dave says:

    Brendan, do you have an e-mail address to which I can write?

  8. Dave says:

    Alternatively, if you do not want to publish it here, you could send a notification to my e-mail given in this link:

  9. grk says:

    I haven’t read all of the scripts, but when you mentioned “challenges” in this video, it occurred to me that maybe you could address the challenges that modern society presents to LTV (like the problem of intellectual property and immatirial labour).
    And you’ve done great job on this blog!

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