As Featured In Belonging Again (Part II)

The Situation of Capital (Part 2)

O.G. Rose
24 min readJan 29, 2024

Considering Labor and Value as Situation

Photo by Lasse Møller


“Use-value,” “exchange-value,” and “value” are not all the same in Marx (not that I myself manage to always maintain the language), and Marx seems to suggest that ultimately all “value” is real-ized through “exchange” in Capital (‘exchange value is the only form in which the value of commodities can manifest itself or be expressed’ (emphasis added)), but then on the other hand he speaks as if “value is labor” — what’s going on?¹¹ Is there a latent value always present that is brought out in the act of exchange thanks to labor, meaning “labor is more fundamental than exchange,” or is labor only value-creating to the degree it ends up in some “means of exchange?” “Value” cannot readily be found in nature and so must be “put in nature” through some human activity, but what is that activity? Is it one activity or a network of activities? A host of questions arise.

The “value” of things seems based on an “abstract notion of human labor,” which is to say we come to believe that things have value because it took labor to generate them, which in one way seems to say that “labor put value in things,” and in another way suggests value, which exists independent of labor, is nevertheless referred to by and through labor (like a radio tower picking up a radio signal that exists independent of the tower). Does labor create value or is value an innate and essential “human reality” (like “hierarchy” for Louis Dumont), which labor under Capitalism comes to measure and quantify (“as if” it creates it,” for in a sense it does in making it intelligible and exchangeable according to the “abstract standard of labor time”)? There is much to ponder, but let us first consider something Marx wrote:

‘A use-value, or useful article, therefore, has value only because human labor in the abstract has been embodied or materiality in it’ (emphasis added).¹²

What does Marx mean by “in the abstract?” Does he mean that we have translated labor into things “abstractly,” or that “the idea of labor” is why we believe things have value (as socially reinforced by Capitalism so that we see the basis of exchange and “equal signs” as concrete versus arbitrary)? Arguably, the whole hope of Capitalism is that “(exchange) value” is practically equivalent to labor to us even if it technically is not (for “value” instead is ultimately based on something like “spirit” or “God” or something “metaphysical”), but that leaves open a question:

Is “(exchangeable) value” practically the same as “(human) labor?”


Is “(exchangeable) value” technically the same as “(human) labor?”

I am not sure what Marx would say, but it seems to me that Capitalism might depend sometimes on making this distinction impossible to determine, for that is what Capitalism requires as a “plausibility structure” so that “the very judgment of similarity based on value” is plausible to us and seems authoritative. Here, I think we can see something tricky when discussing “political-economy” (versus say (just) “economics”), which is to say Marx is discussing “value” as both a sociological reality and as an economic principle, with the society needing to make the economic principle “plausible to us” so that the economy might function. We hence can’t just discuss economics as “existing in nature” or something, but also in terms of the process of socialization by which people come to believe in the terms of economics, to the point where those terms are authoritative over them (and we can generally say that something is “authoritative” over a people to the degree that people are willing to suffer for it). Furthermore, economics only works if we come to believe “as concrete” notions which aren’t in nature (and so “not concrete”), which is a very strange paradox that we can’t readily think of as a paradox or else the system won’t work. To discuss “political-economy” is to discuss then this whole process of (weirdly) creating “a concrete abstraction” that is somehow “authoritative” over people, while at the same time concealing from the people “the paradoxical quality” of this process — a process that might seem crazy and even bad, but without which “society” and “social relations” in general might not be possible.

All of this is difficult to understand and strange to think about, and that very strangeness could be part of why Value-Form and Labor-Value end up in conflict. They are not the same “theory of value,” no, but they also might apply in different ways, due to the distinction between what is “technically” the case and “practically” the case (not that we’ve yet concluded such). That said, it should be noted that if we don’t believe in value at all, because it is entirely a social construct, then it would not seem as if we could discuss a “technical” and “practical” distinction — what then? A fair position, suggesting grounds for debate, but then we have to say “value is always tied to labor” somehow, but this begs the question of how. There’s a difference between saying “value is labor” and saying “value requires labor,” and it is possible that we believe “value ultimately doesn’t exist at all” and we will only say “value requires labor” versus “value is labor?” How? Because the concrete reality of labor could be “from what I derive a notion of value” (that doesn’t ultimately exist) that nevertheless isn’t ultimately reducible to labor, precisely because “value” has additional functions which labor doesn’t have in of itself. I cannot use “value” to dig a hole, for one, and yet I could use “value” to help me trade a shovel for $20, and here it wouldn’t matter if “value” really and actually existed somehow if I could convince others that it existed, that my shovel had it, and that my shovel had it to a degree that was made it “exchangeable” for $20. At this point, the distinction between “practical” and “technical” would be socially inconsequential, and if theoretically we were always stuck in Capitalism, then in a sense this distinction wouldn’t matter at all. “Practical” would (“practically”) be “technical,” and such is such to the degree Capitalism is everywhere.

‘If then we leave out of consideration the use-value of commodities,’ Marx writes, ‘they have only one common property left, that of being products of labor.’¹³ Without labor, we seemingly couldn’t arrive at an abstract principle with which we could “judge” in all things to make possible exchange and hence Capitalism, but that’s not necessarily the same as saying labor is value (no more than saying my body is “Daniel” even if “Daniel” requires my body) (though it might be — that’s what we have to determine). We at the very least need labor as a basis or quantifier for our abstract judgment, so that we feel this abstract judgment is not “baseless” and arbitrary, but at the same time “value” functions precisely because it “leaves behind” labor in its particularity. I cannot possibly compare (especially at scale) “working at a computer” with “working in a shoe-store” (for what would it even mean to compare “standing at a register” with “typing on a computer?”), and so I need to “abstract” labor into “something else” that is nevertheless connected to the concrete reality (like “Daniel” isn’t my body and yet nevertheless connected to it). In this act, ‘the product of labor itself has undergone a change in our hands’ (like a miracle of transubstantiation, the eucharist).¹⁴ Marx writes:

‘If we make abstraction from its use-value, we make abstraction at the same time from the material elements and shapes that make the product a use-value; we see in it no longer a table, a house, yarn, or any other useful thing. Its existence as a material thing is put out of sight. Neither can it any longer be regarded as the product of the labor of the joiner, the mason, the spinner, or any other definite kind of productive labour […] there is nothing left but what is common to them all; all are reduced to one and the same sort of labour, human labour in the abstract’ (emphasis added).¹⁵

Labor becomes “an abstract idea of labor” in commodity and exchange, which is only possible because there is “concrete labor,” but that doesn’t necessarily mean value is “concrete labor,” because there is an act of human judgment and abstraction which is required (“in situation”), without which concrete labor would have no “(exchange) value” (even if it still had utility).¹⁶ Unless perhaps, that is, “labor” comes to be defined in a very particular and careful way (which necessarily entailed a judgement to make that definition and distinction apply), by which we could say there was a distinction between “labor” and general work (as we’ll soon discuss)…

What are considered “commodities” are that which we can (readily) believe ‘human labor is embodied in them,’ though please note we ourselves may not see or witness this labor in action, and so this “experience of labor” is an abstraction and “judgment” (following Leibniz).¹⁷ Thanks to this belief, we can believe ourselves that the shirt (for example) “has value,” versus we more so “believe-it-has value,” which then gives the shirt a kind of authority over us and over those around us, helping “bind us all together” into a social order. We in a society suddenly all have something in common in that, to us all, this shirt is worth $20. And this has authority over us all, which we can all know regarding one another, thus helping us understand better the situations we are all in (which further provides grounds for trust and reliability between us). And so we are all “similar” and so “social” thanks to that “similarity” which is possible because of “an abstract notion of labor” which is possible because of “concrete labor” (which we must necessarily believe is “plausibly” equivalent to the labor itself, or else we might start to wonder about why an “abstraction” has authority over us, at which point the social order could collapse). In this social condition, “labor” is practically “value” even if it is not technically such, and if it becomes impossible to identify this “technical” difference in any meaningful way (say because Capitalism has spread around the world), then it is perhaps “practically meaningless” to say that “value isn’t technically labor” (suggesting we enter something like “total depravity” in Christianity, Kierkegaard’s man in despair who can’t know he is in despair, and so isn’t in despair, just “is”). But these are all possibilities we’ll have to consider…

In all this, we see reason to think that “value” is always itself in a situation (such as “the situation of Capitalistic production,” which Marx opens Capital situating his analysis in), and that situation cannot technically be boiled down to a single variable, even if practically it might be (so that we can better “understand” and act), which is to say we might be able to treat “value” as practically the same as labor, but we should never forget that technically it is the result of an entire sociological condition (there is no such thing as “commodities” without (the idea of) Capitalism, as there is no Capitalism without “commoditization”). This reality becomes clearer when we consider the question on ‘if the value of a commodity [increases the] more time [spent] in its production.’¹⁸ If “labor is value,” shouldn’t that follow? No, because the labor that is valuable is the labor which is ‘socially necessary’ (emphasis added), which of course means that “valuable labor” is definable as itself relative to a society and whole social order: without that situation, what constitutes “valuable labor” could not be readily determined (there would be “labor” which “may or may not be valuable,” but nobody could really say, beyond at least the immediate situation in which the labor is exercised).¹⁹

Marx tells us that ‘[t]he value of a commodity would […] remain constant[] if the labor time required for its production also remained constant,’ but as new technologies are invented “the amount of required time” can lessen, and thus someone who continues to produce at the previous time-rate would not be “less valuable.”²⁰ This is interesting, because that would mean that the amount of value a given act of labor has is relative to the entire (technological) context in which it is situated. But if “labor is value” more innately (and more algebraically), why should that matter? If digging a hole with a shovel is worth $10 in 1920, why should digging the same hole with a shovel be worth $1 in 2020 just because heavy equipment now exists (though please note that this could vary between countries, offering another variable to consider)? Well, it suggests that “the value of labor” is actually “the value of labor-as-contextually-defined,” which means that to speak of “value as labor” is never to speak of value as just labor: it is labor plus context (geometric), which then allows us to make distinctions between say “labor” and (more general) “work” — as exactly Marx does when he writes that if something ‘is useless, so is the labour contained in it; the labour does not count as labor, and therefore creates no value.’²¹ I agree with Marx, but this does poise a problem to “The Labor Theory of Value” (if understood too algebraically), not in saying the theory is entirely wrong (it is not), but if it is forgotten that “labor as value” only works as a formulation if we bracket out certain expressions of work as “not labor” (which seems discriminatory, if we’re not careful).

Marx has told us that ‘[a] thing can be a use-value, without having value’ (as “exchange value”), as Marx has told us “useless labor” isn’t even labor, and though again I agree with what Marx is getting at it, this does mean that Marx is defining “labor” in a narrow sense in order to better align “labor and value” and so that we can meaningfully say “labor is (practically) value”(even if technically value is “something more” than just labor, which is to say “labor plus context”), as is “practically fair to say” under Captialism.²² I don’t think Marx himself would disagree with this notion, for he would say that he is “narrowing down what constitutes labor” because Capitalism itself “narrows down what constitutes labor” relative to what Capitalism finds valuable. Indeed, but the point is that what Capitalism so defines as valuable is relative to an entire situation — which is the main thrust of our point. If “The Labor Theory of Value” always keeps this in mind, there is no problem, but I think this requires Labor Theory not to dismiss Value-Form Theory too quickly.

For “labor to be the source of value” in Capitalism, Marx has to carefully define “labor” from other forms of “work” and “toil” (as we described above), a distinction and defining which requires a whole “situation” to be possible. If the work that is labor is the work that is valuable, relative to context, then we must always maintain that context for work to be labor. Well, again, that means value isn’t just located in labor, but the entire situation in which some work can be valued as “labor” and other work cannot so be. This is important, because that would mean we have to be careful to emphasize “labor as value,” because this might make us hesitate to change the context of Capital in which “labor” and “work” can meaningfully be defined apart, precisely because that would threaten “value” itself. Really, labor is contextually (how we quantify) value, and the goal then is not to simply liberate labor to be “valued” over owners and bosses (as some Communist efforts seem to have emphasized), but to abolish “labor” as an (autonomous) “measure” of value at all. “Labor as autonomous quantifier of value” is the problem (as possible because of the context of Capital), not simply the denial of labor of the value it creates because it is captured by the owners of the means of production.

That all said, as Sahil brilliantly noted, a concern could be that if “labor isn’t what creates value,” don’t we remove legitimacy for workers to make political claims to “worker’s rights?” If we say that “labor only has value” in a Capitalistic context, doesn’t that almost suggest labor should be grateful for the value they are allowed to create (and so shouldn’t complain)? A fair point, but without labor we cannot quantify value, and so owners of means of production cannot make “value” anything but an abstraction without the labor by which “the abstract value” could be quantified; hence, there is a way in which labor is necessary for value (because value must be quantifiable for us to exchange it), but also not sufficient for value (unless by “labor” we mean to include with the term the context of Capital in which “labor” is defined from mere “(shadow) work,” to allude to Illich). But on this point, which can help us honor labor without making “labor” necessary for any version of value, we suggest a distinction between “quantification” and “formulation,” as we will elaborate on soon.


Alright, but doesn’t this all suggest that Marx does think “value is labor,” which suggests “The Labor Theory of Value” over “The Value-Form Theory?” Yes and no: contingently, relative to a “context of Capitalism” (and the multitude of values which accompany this context, like ethics, efficiency, want, etc., for please note it is possible to labor to create something which is very useful but nobody realizes it or wants it, and/or something that people want which is immoral, etc.). Our problem might be framed in considering “2 + 2 = 4” as a formulation — is that true? Yes, of course, right? Well, “2 + 2” in one way isn’t 4, but just “2 + 2,” which is to say “2 + 2 = 2 + 2” (and only “2 + 2”). There are no “equal signs” in reality, as we discussed, only “equivalences,” and so we find ourselves faced with something strange when we consider “=.” It means identification and “practical equality,” but it does not mean “technical equality.” This in mind, we can consider the notion that “labor is value,” which is to say “labor = value.” Is that true? It could be true in the same way “2 + 2 = 4” is true, which is to say that it is practically true but perhaps not technically (and it can only be such “in the abstract,” which is to say “labor as abstract idea”). Likewise, “labor is value” practically (within Capitalism), but not technically or ultimately, if — and this is a big “if” on which a lot of debate and disagreement could ride — value is some “third thing” we decide on and judge, as we discussed with Leibniz. Labor is practically value in Capitalism, but if value exists outside of Capitalism, then labor isn’t technically value. But does “value exist outside of Capitalism?” A very fair question.

Further evidence that “value is labor-in-Capitalism-as-context” is suggested after Marx notes that ‘a commodity present[s] itself to us as a complex of two things — use-value and exchange value’ (which means commodities are themselves in a “situation” in which “exchange” is intelligible and “use” is definable).²³ Marx tells us that ‘two objects not qualitatively different […] could not stand to each other in the relation of commodities’; in other words, ‘[c]oats are not exchangeable for coats; one use-value is not exchangeable for another of the same kind.’²⁴ Funny enough, that means things which truly are “equal” can’t actually be exchanged for one another, which means we can’t “exchange” “2 + 2” for “2 + 2,” only “2 + 2” for “4,” per se. We can exchange linen of some quantity for a coat of some quantity, but not linens of the same quantity for linen of the same quantity, and yet the whole reason we make an exchange (and speak of “exchange value”) is precisely because we treat things as equal. What we exchange is what we treat as “practically equal,” which is precisely possible because things are not “technically equal” (in other words, to allude to Leibniz, we can exchange things that are “similar” because they are not “the same”). We must believe things are “practically the same” even though we at the same time know they are not, which is a paradox that must be “plausible” for us to believe in and act on — and that “plausibility” requires an entire society to be possible and managed. Thus, for “labor as value” to be plausible to us (and for us “not to see” the paradox of it, like not seeing that gorilla in the famous “selective attention” experiment…), we need a whole social, active order which can make the premise plausible to us (a use of “The Solomon Asche Conformity Experiment” that could be good — or not). It becomes “invisible” like a working doorknob (as Heidegger discussed), which can help us function and less anxious, but it can also make us more vulnerable to oppression (the great tension of “givens”).

Interestingly, Marx considers “the division of labor” in light of the fact that we don’t exchange “identical coats,” which is to say that people must all have different works, products, and jobs so that they might have reason to “exchange” with one another. ‘This division of labour is a necessary condition for the production of commodities, but it does not follow, conversely, that the production for commodities is a necessary condition for the division of labour.’²⁵ This line particularly struck me, for though Marx might not have meant it this way, it’s funny to think of “the production of commodities” both in terms of “the production of the idea of commodities” and in terms of “production like an assembly line.” For there to be the idea of “commodity,” there needs to be a division of labor, for the less a given person is able to do, the more that individual will need “exchange” to access what the individual lacks. In this way, we can sense why the “disablement” Ivan Illich discussed might be central to the project of Capitalism and commodification.

People can have different jobs and there not be commodities (Marx often seems concerned about people having one job, for then they end up “disabled” regarding everything else), but there is something about commodities which require different jobs. Why? Well, again, a part of the reason at least seems to be because “commodities” particularly require “exchange,” and the more different tasks people prove capable of, the less they need to exchange anything. If I can farm, hunt, design cars, and build houses, then there are a lot of things I don’t need to hire anyone to do; hence, there is a lot less exchange. The more a market relies on commodities, the more a market may naturally “disable” people from being capable of much beyond a single task, which makes them able to contribute to “the exchange market” without so much being able to leave it. Also, a “division of labor” is needed in the sense that if everyone made coats, nobody would engage much in exchange, for nobody would exchange a coat for the same coat. In this way, “a division of labor” is needed so that people can make different things (like coats and cars) which could be exchanged (in various quantities) according to an “abstract “value (of labor)” that could be “judged into and through” all commodities (as we discussed earlier). In everyone “doing different things” (collectively, not individually, please note, which is critical), then there arises the possibility of an “exchange market,” which then, once everyone is divided in terms of labor (and “disabled” accordingly), makes it seem as if an “exchange market” is the only possible kind of market (and so it “is”).

‘Use-values cannot confront each other as commodities, unless the useful labour embodied in them is qualitatively different in each of them,’ at which point an exchange is possible.²⁶ If I have a shovel that digs well and you have a shovel that digs just as well, or perhaps a different piece of equipment but it still digs just as well, an “exchange” between us wouldn’t make much sense. But if I had a shovel that dug well, and you had a blender that blended well, perhaps an “exchange” might prove possible, which would be for us to treat one another as having an “equal value” to what we have, and yet this “exchange” at the same time is also only possible because the shovel and blender are not the same: it is the “abstract sense of equal value” that allows us to treat two things which are not “the same” as if they are “=” (which, again, requires an entire “sociological situation” for us both to believe is “plausible” and hence willing to interact and “exchange” on those terms).

The need for an “abstract value” is clear when considering “the problem of making ‘paradoxical equality’ plausible,” but Marx brings up an additional reason, which is the problem of making exchange possible according to value which is not “given” by the facticity of life itself. Marx notes that coats have value because the earth can be cold, which means a coat can have ‘use-value […] independent of all forms of society […] it is an eternal necessity imposed by Nature without which there [could] be no material exchange between man and Nature, and therefore no life.’²⁷ But what do we do regarding goods that Nature doesn’t make obvious have some kind of value? Like computers or golf or books? We could argue that none of these are necessary, so on what grounds do we speak of their value? Indeed, not easily, but this is why an “abstract value” becomes important: it allows us to enter the possibility of “exchanges” between anything. Everything can now be put into relation, which in one way is wonderful, but again (as we already noted) suggests a risk of “flattening” and making everything “one dimensional.” But what is the basis of this “abstract valuation?” So again the debate between “Labor Theory” and “Value-Form” still lurks…

First though, at this point, we should note Žižek’s thinking on ideology (as Sahil brought up), where Žižek wonders how something that we know is false can nevertheless structure our lives. This is like the paradoxical “magic” of sociological “givens,” where people are organized in their lives by things which they may have never thought about as true or false, but there does seem to be a difference between “value” as “practical given” (or “ideology”) and say Christianity. It is clear that Capitalism is unique as a sociological “givens,” for it continues to work even though we know it isn’t “given,” which is to say “givens” have been lost today, and yet Capital is still “practically given.” How? Considering Žižek, “exchange value” is unique because even if we don’t believe in it (which is to say we realize the “=” can’t exist in nature), nevertheless we find our lives hardly changing, which is to say we continue to participate in the market. If we stopped believing in Christianity, however, the whole belief system could instantly vanish from our lives. No, I might not stop attending church so that I don’t lose my community (which suggests some degree of similarity to Capital), but there will still be a radical reduction of the influence of Christianity on my life, at least internally. But if I stop believing in “value,” will any of my life change? Probably not, and I’ll likely also keep acting “as if” I believe in “value” (or at least “value as understood by Capital”), despite what I might claim or say.

Capital doesn’t need us to believe in it to keep working on us, which is to say we can recognize there is no “=” in nature, and yet we can keep on living and working “as if” there is an “=” all the same. Sure, the same can apply to Christianity to some degree, for if everyone around me is Christian, it might be a matter of life and death for me to keep acting as if I am Christian. But the more “givens” collapse and Pluralism spreads, the more that ceases to be the case for seemingly everything except Capital and “value” (which makes them uniquely part of what we have to consider for there to be the possibility an “address”), which is to say that Capital is still “practically given,” regardless what we think about it. This is what Marx means when he discusses “fetish,” as Sahil Kumar brilliantly explained on Theory Underground (Capital Mondays Moseley Pt. 3), which is why we can think of Marx as a father of thinking on ideology (as Žižek famously explains). As we discussed, for “exchange” to be possible, a people must prove able to live with the paradoxical reality of the “equal sign,” which requires the positing of an “abstract value” which cannot be found in nature. The people must “practically believe” in this “abstract reality” which makes “exchange” possible, or else, the entire socioeconomic system will cease to work. And somehow Capitalism pulls it off, much to its credit in making possible Global and Pluralistic relation, but also much to our great danger in making it possible for us to be “flattened” and “reduced.”

Ideology and “fetish” make it possible for us to say things like, “Four pears equal two apples,” and for us to “practically believe” it to such a degree that a whole socioeconomic order can function, regardless what we might think or believe, precisely because Capital comes to structure “the (nonrational) background” (or “truth”) of our thinking and rationality, which is to say Capital comes to “make our (present) thinking possible” (rationality without a (nonrational) truth self-effaces). Capital doesn’t work on our rationality so much as what is “under our rationality,” per se, making it possible, which is why Capital can continue basically unaffected, regardless what we might rationally think about it. In a way, as described throughout Belonging Again (Part I), “the loss of givens” has been useful in helping using realize (and “experience”) the unique social character of Capital in being “practically given” even if we know it isn’t “given” (a social quality that perhaps only Capital is able to exercise). That way, we can identify Capital as needing special and focused “address” if it is to stop organizing us “toward” Discourse and away from Rhetoric. At the same time, sociological “givens” and cultures could help defend us from the incredible power of (the “given” of) Capital, weakening it to some degree; now, Capital seems all-powerful and unstoppable, precisely because we lack “givens” that could help us created spaces “outside” sociopolitical and economic forces. We’re naked, but in that nakedness, we can also glimpse the special character of Capital as “fetish” (there is a benefit found in our danger).

We have discussed Nick Land and how Artificial Intelligence could be “The End of (True) History,” and here we can understand why addressing Land is such a great and difficult challenge. If it is true that Capital organizes our behavior regardless what we belief, then escaping “the logic of Capital,” as necessary for us to avoid “The End of (True) History” will not be easy, for what in the world can we do to overcome the problem? This is where Accelerationism seems to have a point, which is to say our only option is to “accelerate” the logic of Capital to the point where it reaches “total saturation” (Alex Ebert) and self-effaces or negates/sublates — all other paths seem untenable. Hard to say, but the point is that our challenge is great precisely because we cannot simply “change the market” or “means of exchange” and believe that alone will help us move beyond Capital: for those emphasizing Labor Theory, we can change the market all we want, and the social relations of citizens will still operate according to the qualities and characteristics of Capital. The work place itself will not change, as won’t necessarily change ways people interact with one another (still ascribing to “(exchange) value”); for that to occur, it won’t suffice to close Wall Street; there must be a move from Discourse to Rhetoric, Capital to timenergy, childish to Childlike — and so on (which, please note, we have argued throughout Belonging Again would actually be good for Capitalism: to support a restructuring of our social relations away from “autonomous Capital,” as Marx supported, is not necessarily the same as being against Capitalism in all possible manifestations — everything depends on what we mean, what we do, how we formulate ourselves…).

For those emphasizing Labor Theory, the point is that because “the means of exchange” can be erased and Capital not be transcended, this must mean that “value” (and/or “the regime of value”) must be located more so in labor. “How we work” is the main incubator of the psychological characteristic of Capital (which leads to corresponding habits, character, etc.), far more than “how we exchange”: there has always been exchange in human history, Marx understood, but what made Capitalism unique was “Capital as sociological and psychological reality,” which arose thanks to the unique way that Capitalism organized, defined, and divided labor. If people didn’t labor like they do under Capitalism, then people wouldn’t live and think like they did under Capitalism, and if by “value” we mean “the unique sociological and psychological way of thinking and living” which arises under Capitalism to make “exchange” and Capital, then it seems to make a lot of sense to say that “labor is value.” And indeed, in Capitalism, I think that is “practically true,” but the problem arises when we use words like “source.” Is labor the source of value, or is labor a quantifier of value? And so we approach critical concerns…





¹¹Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 14.

¹²Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 15.

¹³Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 14.

¹⁴Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 14.

¹⁵Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 14.

¹⁶To the point, not everything with “use-value” has “exchange value,” such as ‘air, virgin soil, natural meadows, etc. A thing can be useful, and the product of human labor, without being a commodity.’¹ Also, please note that if something can be “a product of human labor” and not be a commodity, how might “labor be value” versus a basis for value?

¹Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 16.

¹⁷Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 14.

¹⁸Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 15.

¹⁹Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 15.

²⁰Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 15.

²¹Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 16.

²²Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 16.

²³Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 16.

²⁴Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 16.

²⁵Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 16.

²⁶Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 16.

²⁷Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 17.

²⁸Marx, Karl and Friedrich Engels. Capital. Chicago, Ill: The University of Chicago (Great Books Series, Vol 50), 1952: 13.




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