Topics: Capitalism, Labor theory of value, Das Kapital Pages: 4 (1636 words) Published: September 26, 2014
Commodities are objects that satisfy human needs and wants. Commodities are the fundamental units of capitalism, a form of economy based on the intense accumulation of such objects. The basic criterion for assessing a commodity’s value is its essential usefulness, what it does in the way of satisfying need and wants. This usefulness is its use-value, a property intrinsic to the commodity. Commodities also possess an exchange-value, the relative value of a commodity in relation to other commodities in an exchange situation. Unlike use-value, exchange-value is not intrinsic to a commodity. Exchange-value allows one to determine what one commodity is worth in relation to another commodity, for example how many units of corn one might exchange for a given unit of linen. In a complex market, all sorts of different commodities, although satisfying different needs and wants, must be measurable in the same units, namely money. Exchange-value as monetary value is what one means when one says a commodity has “value” in a market. Marx poses the question of where this value comes from. His answer is that universal measure for value, expressed in terms of money, corresponds to the amount of labor time that goes into the making of each commodity. Labor time is the only thing that all commodities with different use-values have in common and is thus the only criterion by which they are comparable in a situation of exchange. This is Marx’s labor theory of value. This theory implies that commodities have a social dimension because their exchange value is not intrinsic to them as objects but instead depends on the society’s entire division of labor and system of economic interdependence, in which different people produce different products for sale on a common market. Exchange-value allows this market to function. As an expression the amount of “congealed labor” in a given commodity, the value of that commodity, measured in monetary terms, always refers to the system of social and...
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