Hypothetical Character and Actual Foundation of the Concept of Labour−Value
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The subject of this paper is to reveal the hypothetical character of labour−values of commodities based on the precise determination of the concept of labour−value. Labour−values of commodities are not the actual labour embodied in the commodities but the necessary labour to reproduce them under socially averaged conditions of production. The substance and the following three features of labour−values give the concept hypothetical character which has often been overlooked conventionally. (1) Labour−value of each commodity takes the form of labour commanded by the proportional money to the social necessary labour of the commodity and the command of labour by money stays in potentiality before the money is actually expended. (2) The aggregated amount of labour−value of commodities in an economy for a given period is more than that of labour necessary to reproduce the commodities under socially averaged conditions of production because the labour−values of commodities often constitute the parts of labour−values of other commodities as means of production. (3) The aggregated amount of labour−value of commodities in a department for a given period is not equal to that of labour necessary to reproduce the commodities under individual conditions of production because the compositions of homogeneous means of production are variable in each individual process of production and the variations necessarily cancel out neither in their own department nor in the economy as a whole. The hypothetical character of labour−value, however, does not mean the concept useless or unrealistic. Labour−values of commodities can indicate the unequal exchanges of labour under their equilibrium prices in a pure market economy, which exit behind the market prices of commodities as the centres of their fluctuations.
The Economic Association of Okayama University
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