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An Outline of the Dialectic of Capital Volume 1 by Thomas T. Sekine

By Thomas T. Sekine

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1 VALUE, USE-VALUE AND EXCHANGE-VALUE The Value of a Commodity An outstanding feature of capitalist society consists of the transformation of social relations between human beings into "social" relations between things. This tendency towards the reification, or impersonalisation, of human relations follows from the fact that, in capitalist society, all goods (or use-values) tend to be produced as commodities. I say "all goods" but not "all goods and services". For services are not usevalues and cannot be capitalistically produced as commodities.

1057/9780230372207 - An Outline of the Dialectic of Capital, Thomas T. 1 The Doctrine of Circulation strictly speaking, refers to the physical properties of wealth, goods or products which are in some sense useful to the consumer. All goods, whether they are commodities or not, possess a use-value or "are" use-values in this broad sense. Yet, goods do not, because they each have a use-value, automatically develop into commodities. They become commodities only under a definite set of social relations.

Marx's well-known procedure abruptly to posit an equation of exchange such as: "1 quarter corn = x cwt. iron", (1) and then to infer that "the common factor" in those two entirely heterogeneous use-values must be the same quantity of labour socially required for their production cannot be defended. All that the equation says is that the two use-values are sold for the same price. What must be explained here is how every commodity acquires a price as expression of its value, and not how the substance of value may be formed in the process of production of the commodity.

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