Note, as regards competition, that it does not explain the origin of the many capitals, but only how they work once they are a plurality, that is the way the generality realizes its laws through them. It does not create this trend, it only puts it into effect. It came out that many capitals are already inside generality but this does not imply a contradiction. Each one is a link in a chain and to posit properly the accumulation of a single one we have to consider the condition of the accumulation of each of them in their reciprocal relation.
What are the abstract conditions that allow the society as a whole through the single capitals to survive? The answer to this question is the general social reproduction that we can call Accumulation II. While working out its own model, Marx understands finally that his theory can be consistent only if he follows and presents its own dialectical logic, not an external one applied to it.
And to grow? We are from the point of view of the totality of capital, not yet from that of the single one. The core of the distinction in the Grundrisse between generality and particularity, that is the passage from capital as a whole to particular capitals, is turned out to be not acceptable. Capitals are already necessary in the generality, although it does not mean competition.
On the contrary, in the Grundrisse many capitals and competition went together. The general attitude to the whole, and more functionally the coincidence of production and consume, which we have in the first and not in the second. What characterized generality at the beginning was, as I said, the absence of a distinction among capitals. The other crucial presupposition was the coincidence of what is produced and what is consumed, of supply and demand. It should be clear that at this level this is not a result, something demonstrated, but simply a consequence of the presupposition of generality that will be dropped later dealing with competition more exactly.
Marx wants to study how categories works in pure conditions that is setting aside the troubling effects of competition and realization problems. These are not marginal of course, but their decisive role will be considered later. This condition is still valid in Capital in book I and II. Marx, exposing accumulation, claims that there are at that level two clauses of abstraction: 1. Note that this clause of abstraction was still valid in the simple circulation18 and will be valid in the circulation of capital in Capital, as well.
Circulation of capital has always been considered part of generality since the very beginning. This is also valid for social reproduction at the end of book two, where Marx explicitly states that, even if we have capitals and their material replacement and reproduction, this does not imply their action as particular. On the contrary, they are taken into account insofar as they act as molecular part of the whole. The attitude is to the whole not to the particular one, that is those are not free yet to re-act according to the proper law of self-valorisation. Just these clauses make possible the exposition of the first part of the process of accumulation before circulation accumulation I , of the second part of it after circulation and, above all, of the whole before competition.
In spite of this, all these pieces taken as a whole may contain superfluously expended labour-time. It the market cannot stomach the whole quantity at the normal price of 2 shillings a yard, this proves that too great a portion of the total social labour-time has been expended in the form of weaving … The division of labour converts the product of labour into a commodity, and thereby makes necessary its conversion into money.
At the same time, it makes a matter of chance whether this transubstantiation succeeds of not. We shall therefore assume here, both that commodities are sold at their values, and that the circumstances in which this takes place do not change. Thanks to the process of accumulation, we achieve: 1. However, although the attitude is to the whole, this whole already consists of many capitals; therefore Marx has now to put together these two dimensions of his theory: the whole should include the dynamics of the particular capitals aiming at valorisation.
Therefore, capital can no more be considered as ideal average and must become a result of their real dynamics in order to be properly posited and proceed to another more concrete level of abstraction. As average it will be shown to be a mere particular case. The fruit of its. When Capital refers to itself as a whole, surplusvalue seems to be achievement of this whole.
We have so profit and rate of profit. In the original plan this was the final step of generality that then, thanks to the further one made by Interest-bearing capital, proceeded to particularity. Now it has changed a lot. Before interest, the theory must include the average profit and competition.
This will be completely explained in paragraph 4. Now we can consider each capital acting particularly as such, that is, aiming at profit. Each one realizes its general laws yielding profit as particular agent, among various other particular ones.
This implies the drop of the clause of abstraction according to which we could presume that production and consume met perfectly. In the particularity Marx inquiries how capitals works when they are free to move in conformity not with an average established from outside as hypothesis, but with their real movement, that is competition. Only in this context and taking into account the gap — that is discontinuity and the continuity among various levels of abstraction — the transformation problem can be properly set and solved.
Marx speaks about the trend of two kinds of competition: the first is inside a sphere and produces a market value for all products realized and sold in that; this is already a social value that does not correspond to individual ones only the commodities produced by the average capitals have a value magnitude corresponding to the social one. The second one is among different spheres and produces the price of production. This is the average of the average, that is a particular market price, whose profit is at the same time socially average.
What competition brings about, first of all in one sphere, is the establishment of a uniform market value and market price out of the various individual values of commodities. But it is. It has been said that competition equalizes profit rates between the different spheres of production to produce an average rate of profit, and that this is precisely the way in which the values of products from these various spheres are transformed into prices of production … This uninterrupted emigration and immigration of capitals that takes place between various spheres of production produces rising and falling movements in the profit rate which more or less balance one another out and thus tend to reduce the profit rate everywhere to the same common and general level.
Thus, this average level of profit — average referred to the whole of capital — is not a presupposition we set as clause of abstraction; on the contrary it is the result of the real dynamics of particular capitals. We have that a particular case incarnates the general average. Trying to compare prices and values as two different criteria of measurement will eternally bring to contradictions. But they are not like that, they are two different levels of abstraction of the same thing commodities-money relation. But this is only an assumption to study how the model works even if there is no obstacle, not because consume is inessential.
So, in a way it is also possible to measure value magnitudes through labour time once the standards are given and for a certain period they are given. In the long run value magnitudes are determined by embodied labour, but the run is caused by the mutual relation of production and consume that are both essential to fix the resulting standards. An average that will change obviously but that will be replaced by another average.
Particular and general are actual in a single moment. This result is the link that allows the development of the theory to proceed toward singularity. In the cited letter to Engels, he spoke about the division of Capital book into four points. In the draft in the Grundrisse, particularity competition was followed by singularity divided in turn into three points: credit, share-capital and money market. The reconstruction of the inner logic of this part and its connection with the preceding one are made more difficult by the increasing reduction of the dialectical terminology.
So, if in the Grundrisse terminology itself helps follow the dialectical development, later we have to reconstruct it only on the basis of its inner logic. This logic shows that Interest-bearing capital is required to proceed to singularity. The dynamics that produced it disappears in the result: we have more money as a sort of fact. This is the foundation of Interest-bearing capital and of fetishism of capital not to be confounded with fetishism of commodities. Successively, this definition is partly conserved, partly changed. The owner of money who wants to valorize this as Interest-bearing capital parts with it someone else, puts it into circulation, makes it into a commodity as capital; as capital not only for himself but also for others.
The two expositions could seem similar but the difference is essential exactly because of the change in the general framework we analyzed before. As we saw, generality consisted in an ideal average that had to proceed to a real posited average. This is possible however only after competition posited the ideal average as a real fact as average social profit, something given to the social actor at the surface. This allows capital to be lent as a commodity, whose use value is profit generation, as though we should set aside the real process of valorisation.
The consequences are relevant:. The characteristic movement of capital in general, the return of money to the capitalist, the return of capital to its point of departure, receives in the case of Interest-bearing capital a completely superficial form, separated from the real movement whose form it is… Here therefore the return does not appear as a consequence and result of a definite series of economic processes, but rather as a consequence of a special legal contract between buyer and seller. The period of the reflux depends on the course of the reproduction process; in the case of Interest-bearing capital, its return as capital seems to depend simply on the contract between lender and borrower.
And so the reflux of the capital, in connection with this transaction, no. This manuscript is decisive even on this point. Of course, there transactions are actually determined by the real refluxes. But this is not apparent in the transaction itself [Capital III: f. Two points seem decisive: 1. This way it faces — empirically existing — the other operating capitals as their essence, in front of which these appear as one particular mode of its realization.
In Manuscript of Marx claims:. This is the quite tangible form of self-valorising value or of money-making money, and at the same time the quite irrational form, the incomprehensible, mystified form. We started with money as the converted form of the commodity. What we arrive at is money as the converted form of capital, just as we have known that the commodity is the pre-condition and the result of the production process of capital [Theories III: f. In Interest-bearing capital, therefore this automatic fetish is elaborated into its pure form, self-valorizing value, money breeding money, and its pure form, it no longer bears any marks of its origin.
Kapital und Politik (Livre en allemand)
The social relation is consummated ion the relationship of a thing, money, to itself. On the other hand, Interest-bearing capital is the consummated fetish. It is capital in its finished form — as such representing the unity of production process and circulation process — and therefore yields a definite profit in a definite period of time. In the form of Interest-bearing capital only this determination remains, without the mediation of either production process or circulation process. Memories of the past still remain in capital and profit, although because of the divergence of profit from surplus-value and the uniform profit yielding by all capitals — that is, the general rate of profit — capital becomes very much obscured, something dark and mysterious.
In Interest-bearing capital, this automatic fetish is consummated, the self-valorising value, the money-making money, and in this form it no longer bears any trace of its origin. This social relation is consummated as a relation of things money, commodities to themselves… It is clear that capital, as the mysterious and automatically generating source of interest, that is, source of its [own] increase, finds its consummation in capital and interest. It is therefore especially in this form that capital exists for the representation [Vorstellung].
It is capital par excellence [Theories III: f. Interest-bearing capital appears so as capital par excellence, existing capital as such that stays in front of the real processes of production as if it generated profit by itself, without going through them. Interest would be what re-pays its natural lucrativeness, while profit would be the result of the real material application of that abstract universality in a particular branch.
Interest is definitely posited as the offspring of capital, separate, independent and outside the capitalist process itself. It is due to capital as capital. In enters into the production process and therefore proceeds from it. Capital is impregnated with interest. It does not derive interest from the production process, but brings it into it. The surplus of profit over interest, the amount of surplus-value which capital derives solely from the production process, i. Interest is fruit of capital in itself, profit of capital in process. The abstract separation of real and value dimension in the realization of capital, two dimensions that.
This implies a doubling of figures of capitalists: on one hand the juridical owner of capitals, on the other the real operating capitalists. At the end of particularity we had average profit produced by a particular branch. This was a necessary step to go further. The universality of capital, present in each of them, is now concretely incarnated in a particular existing capital next to them.
Universal exists as particular and therefore is singular. It remains to be seen how the whole of capital works when we reach this final level of abstraction. Thanks to the new critical edition of Marx-Engels works Marx-Engels- Gesamtausgabe ,24 the original manuscript appeared in This was the occasion for a broad debate mainly on the transformation problem. That text however is very useful as regards the question of the abstraction levels as well, in particular as to the most concrete of those indicated at the beginning: singularity.
Above all, what Marx indicated as the final chapter — Kredit und fiktives Capital — became one chapter among several others, a single argument next to various ones, not the title of the whole. On the contrary, Marx quite clearly intended to work out a whole divided into three chapters that are coherently signed as I, II and III.
So: the real subject of the section became one chapter among several, all placed on the same level; moreover, some of those were even created by Engels himself. If we compare this structure with the hypothesis of the four levels of abstraction we find out interesting confirmations. Firstly, we have chapter n. Credit as totality constitutes then the last step of the exposition of capital as such; after that ground-rent follows.
Moreover: Interest-bearing capital represents clearly the link to it. This structure of singularity corresponds to that presented by Marx in the Grundrisse and in the mentioned letter to Engels. So, the bank is the phenomenal, empirically existing representative of capital as such. Capital in general, as distinct from the particular capitals, does indeed appear 1 only as an abstraction; not an arbitrary abstraction, but an abstraction which grasps the specific characteristics which distinguish capital from all other forms of wealth — or modes in which social production develops.
These are the determinations common to every capital as such, or which makes every determined sum of value into capital. And the distinctions within this abstraction are likewise abstract particularities which characterize every kind of capital, in that it is their position or negation e. The third step deals with the explanation of how capital, achieved its most concrete level — credit and share-capital — works as a whole. The exposition is divided into three further steps.
The general problem is to show the interconnected movement of fictitious and real capital. Firstly, to fix the general nature of monetary flow, Marx shows that capital and circulation are not independent concepts. Secondly, he shows the conceptual origin of share-capital and its connatural trend to become fictitious. Each capital has a double nature, material and monetary. The two of them do not exist separately, but interest-bearing capital allows that separation to appear possible and so these get split and act — each one on its own — respectively in the financial market and in the material production.
The first is of course dependent on the second one, but only at the end values magnitudes are required to correspond; insofar as the first lives its fictitious experiences, its value can apparently change according to demand and supply. This causes real money transfers, but not changes in the social value as a whole: someone get richer, someone poorer, but social wealth stays the same. Thirdly, he tries to point out the outline of the relationship between fictional accumulation, which seems to become autonomous, and real one.
While writing his theory according to that. Some features that should have been part of particularity were included into generality i. Some features that should have been the link between generality and particularity became the link between particularity and singularity i. However the triad kept on constituting the core of the dialectical exposition of capital. Actually, what I said and the philological results about the development of the theory in the various editions of Capital edited by Marx show that only at the end a more adequate dialectical structure was achieved, although it was unfinished.
Die allgemein abstrakten Bestimmungen, die Kapital, Lohnarbeit, Grundeigentum. Ihre Beziehung zueinander. Staat und Land. Die drei grossen gesellschaftlichen Klassen. Austausch zwischen denselbem. Creditwesen Private. In Beziehung zu sich selbst betrachtet. Die Kolonien. Internationale Teilung der Arbeit. Almost all socialist countries that appeared in the 20th century arose out of wars.
Kapital und Technik: Marx und Heidegger (Michael Eldred)
Wars are generally bad for business except for the military industry and its suppliers , nobody likes them,  and governments try to prevent them,  but in reality the marketisation of the world has often been a very aggressive, violent process. Typically, therefore, the advocates of peaceful market trade blame "everything but the market" for the explosions of mass violence that occur, with the promise that, if people would just sit down and negotiate a deal, they wouldn't have to use force to get what they want.
This assumes that market trade is something quite separate from political power, because it is market-trade, i. In his story, Marx defines the magnitude of "value" simply as the ratio of a physical quantity of product to a quantity of average labour-time, which is equal to a quantity of gold-money in other words, a scalar :.
He admits early on, that the assumption of gold-money is a theoretical simplification,  since the buying power of money tokens can vary due to causes that have nothing to do with the production system within certain limits, X, Y and Z can vary independently of each other ; but he thought it was useful to reveal the structure of economic relationships involved in the capitalist mode of production, as a prologue to analyzing the motion of the system as a whole; and, he believed that variations in the buying power of money did not alter that structure at all, insofar as the working population was forced to produce in order to survive, and in so doing entered into societal relations of production independent of their will; the basic system of property rights remained the same, irrespective of whether products and labour were traded for a higher or a lower price.
As any banker or speculator knows, however, the expression of the value of something as a quantity of money-units is by no means the "final and ultimate expression of value". Eventually financial trade becomes so complex, that what a financial asset is worth is often no longer expressible in any exact quantity of money a "cash value" without all sorts of qualifications, and that its worth becomes entirely conditional on its expected earnings potential. He distinguished not only between "real capital" physical, tangible capital assets and "money capital",  but also noted the existence of " fictitious capital "  and pseudo-commodities that strictly speaking have only symbolic value which, however, can be converted into real product value through trade.
Consistent with this, Marx explicitly introduced a distinction between the form of value and the price-form early on in Capital, Volume I. The information may be true or false; it may refer to observables or unobservables; it may be estimated, assumed or probable. However, because prices are also numbers, it is easy to treat them as manipulable "things" in their own right, in abstraction from their appropriate context. The ambiguity of the modern concept of "price" already existed in the Latin root meaning of the word, in Roman times.
It has persisted in modern times. The Latin verb itio means "going, travelling", as in " itinerary ", and the Latin derivation pretiosus means "valuable or costly". Each of these ten sorts of price ideas referred to different social relations. Each social relationship, in turn, involves some kind of transaction - an exchange, an investment, an award, a grant, a fine, a disbursement or transfer, a compensation payment etc.
The word "transaction" is itself derived from the Latin transactionem , meaning an "agreement", "an accomplishment", "a done deal". The Latin word transactor refers to the mediator or intermediary operative in some kind of deal, and transactus means "pierced", "penetrated", or "stuck through" many Roman coins had holes through them, for storage on a string, or decorative purposes. The word pretium , or a price number, do not make all that explicit. Nevertheless, the classical concept of price already clearly displayed both an economic or instrumental dimension, and a moral dimension some prices are appropriate and just, others aren't.
According to Stephen Gudeman, one aspect of the fetish of prices can manifest itself, when "prices only refer to themselves". In that sense, the price numbers might hide as much as they reveal. While people are focused on the numbers, they forget about the real context that gives rise to the numbers. By the time that price numbers decide how people will be relating, prices have acquired a tremendous power in human affairs. The price resulting from a calculation may be regarded as symbolizing representing one transaction, or many transactions at once, but the validity of this "price abstraction" all depends on whether the computational procedure and valuation method are accepted.
The modern notion of "the price of something" is often applied to sums of money denoting various quite different financial categories e.
Full display result
It can be difficult to work out, even for an economist, what a price really means, and price information can be deceptive. A simple price is transparent, if 1 it expresses clearly how much money has to be paid to acquire a product, asset or service, and if 2 its meaning is understood in the same way by all concerned. Things get more complicated, if many prices have to be added, subtracted, divided and multiplied in order to value something an aggregated total price.
Here, a method of price calculation is involved which assumes conventions, definitions and concepts which could vary to some or other extent. In order to understand this price, it is necessary to understand how it is arrived at, and whether the method is acceptable or correct. According to Marx, the price-form is the idealized symbolic expression of the money-form of value that is used in trading things, calculating costs and benefits, and assessing what things are worth.
As such, it is not a "further development" of the form of value itself, and exists independently of the latter,  for five reasons:. In Marx's theory of the capitalist mode of production, not just anything has a value in the economic sense, even if things can be priced. Financial assets are regarded as tradeable claims to value, which can be exchanged for tangible assets. Value relationships among physical products or labour-services and physical assets — as proportions of current labour effort involved in making them — exist according to Marx quite independently from price information, and prices can oscillate in all sorts of ways around economic values, or indeed quite independently of them.
However, the expression of product-value by prices in money-units in most cases does not diverge very greatly from the actual value; if there was a very big difference, people would not be able to sell them insufficient income , or they would not buy them too expensive, relative to other options. If prices for products rise, hours worked may rise, and if prices fall, hours worked may fall sometimes the reverse may also occur, to the extent that extra hours are worked, to compensate for lower income resulting from lower prices, or if more sales occur because prices are lowered.
In that sense, it is certainly true that product-prices and product-values mutually influence each other. It is just that, according to Marx, product-values are not determined by the labor-efforts of any particular enterprise, but by the combined result of all of them. In discussing the form of prices in various draft manuscripts and in Das Kapital , Marx drew an essential distinction between actual prices charged and paid, i. Because prices are symbols or indicators in more or less the same way as traffic lights are, they can symbolize something that really exists e.
The concept of price is often used in a very loose sense to refer to all kinds of transactional possibilities. That can make the forms of prices highly variegated, flexible and complex to understand, but also potentially very deceptive, disguising the real relationships involved. Modern economics is largely a "price science" a science of "price behaviour" , in which economists attempt to analyze, explain and predict the relationships between different kinds of prices—using the laws of supply and demand as a guiding principle.
These prices are mostly just numbers, where the numbers are believed to represent real prices, in some way, as an idealization. Mathematics then provides a logical language, to talk about what these prices might do, and to calculate pricing effects. This however was not Marx's primary concern; he focused rather on the structure and dynamics of the capitalism as a social system.
His concern was with the overall results that market activity would lead to in human society. In what Marx called "vulgar economics", the complexity of the concept of prices is ignored however, because, Marx claimed in Theories of Surplus Value and other writings, the vulgar economists assumed that:. In his critique of political economy, Marx denied that any of these assumptions were scientifically true see further real prices and ideal prices. He distinguished carefully between the values, exchange values, market values, market prices and prices of production of commodities. However, he did not analyze all the different forms that prices can take for example, market-driven prices, administered prices , accounting prices, negotiated and fixed prices, estimated prices, nominal prices, or inflation-adjusted prices focusing mainly on the value proportions he thought to be central to the functioning of the capitalist mode of production as a social system.
The effect of this omission was that debates about the relevance of Marx's value theory became confused, and that Marxists repeated the same ideas which Marx himself had rejected as "vulgar economics". In other words, they accepted a vulgar concept of price. Not a single day passes without learning, making, and taking it. Fluctuating price signals serve to adjust product-values and labour efforts to each other, in an approximate way; prices are mediators in this sense.
But that which mediates should not be confused with what is mediated. Thus, if the observable price-relationships are simply taken at face value, they might at best create a distorted picture, and at worst a totally false picture of the economic activity to which they refer. At the surface, price aggregations might quantitatively express an economic relationship in the simplest way, but in the process they might abstract away from other features of the economic relationship that are also very essential to know.
Marx borrowed the idea of the form of value from the Greek philosopher Aristotle circa BC , who pondered the nature of exchange value in chapter 5 of Book 5 in his Nicomachean Ethics. Aristotle developed a fairly sophisticated theory of money, and in chapter 9 of Book 1 of his Politics , he describes the circuits of commodity trade C-M-C' oekonomia and M-C-M' chrematistikon. In so doing, Marx was also influenced by, and responding to, the "classical" political economy discourse about the economic laws governing commodity values and money,  in Europe beginning in Marx's view with William Petty 's Quantulumcunque Concerning Money ,  reaching a high point in Adam Smith 's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations and culminating with David Ricardo 's Principles of Political Economy and Taxation In particular, Marx's ideas about the forms of value were influenced by Samuel Bailey 's criticism of Ricardo's theory of value.
By this Marx meant that Aristotle was unable to clarify the substance of value, i. According to Marx, the substance of product-value is human labour-time in general, labour-in-the-abstract or " abstract labour ". This value an average current replacement cost in labour-time, based on the normal productivity of producers existing at the time exists as an attribute of the products of human labour quite independently of the particular forms that exchange may take, though obviously value is always expressed in some form or other.
It is perhaps not a very interesting insight if we consider only one commodity, but it is of much more interest when we face a huge variety of commodities which are all being traded, at the same time. Marx's value-form idea can be traced back to his Grundrisse manuscript,  where he contrasted communal production with production for exchange. Marx felt that the playwrights had expressed the social meaning of money very well, and he discusses the magical power of money: why money can create a "topsy-turvy world" verkehrte Welt which unites opposites, fools people, or turns things into their contrary.
However this textual interpretation is rejected by Althusserian Marxists, because of their separation of the stage of the "unscientific Young Marx" , from birth to age 27 from the stage of the "scientific Mature Marx" , from age 28 to age According to Althusserians, these playwrights have nothing to do with value theory, because they belong only to the unscientific stage, and not to socialist realism or scientific socialism. It is clearly evident in his manuscript of Theories of Surplus Value — In correspondence with Friedrich Engels in June , Marx provided a first outline of his text on the form of value.
As discussed in this article below, in the first few years of the Russian revolution , the Bolsheviks and their theoreticians took that idea very literally. In a moral sense, commercial activity came to be seen as intrinsically bad, alienating, exploitative and oppressive, because it enabled some people to get rich from other people's work. The idea was, that once commerce was got rid of, this whole problem would no longer exist; the state would prevent all private accumulation, or at least it would be tolerated only on a very modest scale.
State-directed production seemed efficient and effective to the communist modernizers, especially in backward Russia. If infrastructure needed to be built, the state ordered it to be built, whether it made a profit or not. Business would never have built it, unless it made a sufficient profit at the end of a year. The central problem for the communists then was, that they had to get workers to cooperate and make sacrifices, to get things built, with promises of a better life in the future. The Party conceptualized this primarily as a matter of authority, education, ideological staunchness,  exemplary practice, incentives, and penalties.
If workers did not cooperate, because they thought it was against their self-interest for whatever reason , they were forced to do so, in peace-time as well as in war-time. This caused endless management problems, and massive "policing" was required to ensure that things got done as documented by Western historians like R. Davies and Donald A. Despite never-ending reforms and policy changes, the cooperation problem was never truly solved.
There was a lot of cynicism about that in Soviet society,  even when life gradually got better and living standards improved. These were people with their own ideas, which they were unafraid to speak out about. They were the cream of the nation. Until the s, the Russian communists had generally expected that the categories of value and the law of value would disappear under socialism. Given that Joseph Stalin declared in that, with full state control over the whole economy, socialism had been achieved,  it was logical to think that commodity production and the law of value no longer existed either.
However, from this idea was in dispute. Some Russian economists denied the existence of the law of value in the Soviet socialist republics, others affirmed its existence, and yet others said that the law existed in a "transformed" way. In , Stalin settled the matter by affirming officially that commodity production and the law of value did exist under socialism, with the implication, that the planning authorities should account properly for true labour costs, as the basis for correct pricing of products, assets and salaries. The difficulties Marxist academics often had with Marx's own texts about the concept of value is because, abstractly, "economic value" can refer at the same time to many different things:.
So from the use of the expression "value" it may therefore not be immediately obvious what kind of valuation or expression is being referred to, it depends on the theoretical context. Rigorously investigated, the concept of "value" turns out not to be a "neat-and-tidy accounting concept" that can be manipulated with mathematical precision; it can be manipulated with mathematical precision only if a series of definitions are already fixed and assumed it is a fuzzy concept.
At the end of his life, David Ricardo had to "conclude, rather sadly, that 'there is no such thing in nature as a perfect measure of value' Although there are absolute limits to the formation of value, value is in essence a relative magnitude, which has no absolute constant in time and space. If a standard of value such as gold is adopted which Marx does , this is done only for the sake of argument, and for the sake of simplicity of exposition or reckoning in the era in which Marx lived, there was very little price inflation.
Orthodox economics typically takes it for granted, that the exchange processes on which markets are based already exist and will occur, and that prices already exist , or can be imputed. This is often called the "gross substitution axiom" by economists: the implication of this theorem is that all products are, in principle, supposed to be mutually interchangeable with all other products, and therefore the "price mechanism" can allocate resources in such a way, that market equilibria are assured by the laws of supply and demand. In modern economics, the "value" of something is defined either as a money-price, or as a personal subjective valuation, and the exchangeability of products as such presents no special problem; it normally does not merit any special inquiry since exchangeability as such is taken for granted in the real world, it is not strictly true that any good can be traded for any other good, for legal, logistic and technical reasons.
In conventional economics, money serves as a medium of exchange to minimize the transaction costs of barter among utility-maximizing individuals. Such an approach is very different from Marx's historical interpretation of the formation of value. In Marx's theory, the "value" of a product is something separate and distinct from the "price" it happens to fetch goods can sell for more or less than they are worth, i.
Marx's value-form analysis intends to answer the question of how the value-relationships of products are expressed in ways that acquire an objective existence in their own right ultimately as relationships between quantities of money, or money-prices ,  what the modalities of these relationships are, and how these product-values can change, independently of the valuers who trade in them. The political economists sought in vain for an invariable standard of value, and proposed theories of money which were hardly plausible.
The reason behind the errors was — according to Marx — that, as market trade developed, the economic relationship between commodity-values and money increasingly appeared in an inverted, reified way. In reality, economic value symbolizes a social relationship between human subjects, as reflected by a thing or expressed by the relationship between things.
Yet it often seems more like value is the thing which creates the social relationship. In vulgar Marxist economics, the commodity is simply a combination of use-value and exchange-value. That is not Marx's own argument. Marx believed that correctly distinguishing between the form and content of value was essential for the logical coherence of a labour theory of product-value,  and he criticized Adam Smith specifically because Smith:.
Smith had affirmed that labour is "the real measure of the exchangeable value of all commodities", but, as David Ricardo subsequently argued, Smith's definition confused the labour embodied in a commodity when it was produced, with the labour commanded by the commodity when it was exchanged. The fundamental reason for that was, that both economists mixed up "value" with "exchange value" and with "price" and also mixed up actual prices with theoretical prices.
That is, they mixed up the forms and substance of value, because they failed to distinguish correctly between them as qualitatively different things. The labour theory of product-value could, Marx argued, be made coherent and consistent, only when it was understood that product-values, prices of production and the market prices of commodities could vary independently of each other.
It was more that the normal labour requirements for supplying products in the end set limits to the price-range and the terms on which the products could be commercially traded. The form of value is often regarded as a difficult, obscure or even esoteric idea by scholars the " holy grail " of Marxism . Simon Clarke commented in that "the value debates of the last few years have become ever-more esoteric. Marx himself started off the controversy when he emphasized that Capital, Volume I was not difficult to understand, "with the exception of the section on the form of value.
The greatest difficulties, theoretical or otherwise, which are obstacles to an easy reading of Capital Volume One are unfortunately or fortunately concentrated at the very beginning of Volume One, to be precise, in its first Part, which deals with 'Commodities and Money'. I therefore give the following advice: put the whole of Part One aside for the time being and begin your reading with Part Two Althusser's suggestions were taken up by many New Left Marxists, which meant that Marx's theory of the form of value and its significance was rarely taught.
Marx aims to demonstrate that the "labour theory of value" that guided the classical political economists in interpreting the economy cannot be correct, because the concept of economic value itself is misconstrued. Marx never referred to his own theory of value as a "labour theory of value" even once,  knowing very well as indicated by his analysis of bank credit that the value of many assets is not determined by labour-time. The ideas of the political economists had to be modified very considerably, before the theory of value could truly make sense.
However, when the modifications were carried out, the previous understanding of capitalist economic life was also overturned. Hence Marx's own theory showed at the same time both continuities with the classical tradition, and radical discontinuities. This has been the cause of numerous controversies about the extent to which Marx broke with, or accepted, the previous theories of the political economists about economic value.
The theory of the forms of value is the basis for Marx's concept of commercial fetishism or economic reification. In Althusserian theory, however, this meaning is unknown, because Althusserian theory detaches the concept of "fetishism" from the concept of the form of value. Almost none of the New Left discussions of commodity fetishism refer to Marx's value-form analysis in any analytical depth. In the reified perception of the political economists and the vulgar Marxists, products have value because they are expressible in money-prices, but Marx argues that in reality it is just the other way round: because commodities have value, i.
The true relationship can, according to Marx, be traced out only when the historical evolution of economic exchange is considered from its most simple beginnings to its most developed forms. The end-result of market development is a fully monetized economy a "cash economy", although bankcards nowadays replace banknotes and coins , but how its workings appear to the individual at the micro-level, is often different or the inverse of its causal dynamic at the macro-level.
According to Marx, this creates a lot of confusions in economic theorizing. One aim of Marx's theory is to explain how the nature of the market economy itself shapes the way that people will perceive it. The secret of the form of value is, that the form in which the value of products is expressed as a relationship between traded objects , simultaneously obscures and hides the substance of the value of products. It obscures how the value of products is formed, and the social relations between people that exist behind the relationship between things.
Knowing what the social substance of value is, in fact, completely unnecessary for the purpose of trade. All that is required to navigate the market, is knowledge of cost prices, sale prices, price averages and whether prices are going up or down. The conflation of value with exchange value, with price and with money grows spontaneously out of the relations of commodity trade themselves.
The criticism most often heard from the critics of Marx, such as Friedrich von Hayek , Karl Popper , Francis Wheen and Ian Steedman and is that, even if Marx himself meant well, Marx's value-form idea is simply an esoteric obscurantism, "dialectical hocus pocus", "sophistry", or "mumbo jumbo". Francis Wheen refers to "a shaggy-dog story, a picaresque journey through the realms of higher nonsense.
This type of criticism was already being made while Marx was still alive, as Marx himself reports in a postface to the second German edition of Capital, Volume I in Often, Marxists have replied to this type of criticism by restating Marx's arguments in clearer language, or by showing that Marx's theory of economic value at the very least fares no worse than the subjective theory of value the theory of the util as the measuring unit of utility.
Even so, when he published his very clear restatement Karl Marx's Theory of History: A Defence ,  the Marxist philosopher Gerald Cohen explicitly dissociated himself from Marx's value theory. Cohen argued that it is possible to have an historical materialism without a labour theory of value , because the one does not logically entail the other as well. This interpretation contrasts with Lenin 's opinion in — repeated by Johann Witt-Hansen  —that with the appearance of Das Kapital , "the materialist conception of history is no longer a hypothesis, but a scientifically proven proposition".
With these discoveries, Socialism became a science. Marx's argument is that the exchangeability of commodities with recognition of their value is enabled by the common factor that all of them are products of social labour co-operative human labour producing things for others. The critics suggest that Marx's observations fail to provide any logically decisive proof that human labour-time work effort is the substance of the economic value of all products. In a famous letter from Marx to Ludwig Kugelmann dated 11 July , Marx became extremely indignant and derisive about this objection, stating among other things that:.
All that palaver about the necessity of proving the concept of value comes from complete ignorance both of the subject dealt with and of scientific method. Every child knows that a nation which ceased to work, I will not say for a year, but even for a few weeks, would perish. Every child knows, too, that the masses of products corresponding to the different needs require different and quantitatively determined masses of the total labor of society.
That this necessity of the distribution of social labor in definite proportions cannot possibly be done away with by a particular form of social production but can only change the mode of its appearance , is self-evident. No natural laws can be done away with. What can change in historically different circumstances is only the form in which these laws assert themselves. And the form in which this proportional distribution of labor asserts itself, in the state of society where the interconnection of social labor is manifested in the private exchange of the individual products of labor, is precisely the exchange value of these products.
Science consists precisely in demonstrating how the law of value asserts itself. So that if one wanted at the very beginning to "explain" all the phenomena which seemingly contradict that law, one would have to present the science before the science. The vulgar economist has not the faintest idea that the actual everyday exchange relations can not be directly identical with the magnitudes of value.
The essence of bourgeois society consists precisely in this, that a priori there is no conscious social regulation of production. The rational and naturally necessary asserts itself only as a blindly working average. And then the vulgar economist thinks he has made a great discovery when, as against the revelation of the inner interconnection, he proudly claims that in appearance things look different. In fact, he boasts that he holds fast to appearance, and takes it for the ultimate. Why, then, have any science at all? In , Simon Clarke captured the essence of the modern value-form debate within Western Marxism, as a hyper-abstract scholastic debate about the form and content  of economic value:.
The Rubin School , on the other hand, brings the form of value to the centre of the stage, but at the risk of losing sight of labour as the substance of value. For the Rubin School, the substance of value is not embodied labour but abstract labour. However [according to Rubin] the amount of abstract labour embodied in a commodity cannot be defined independently of the exchange of commodities through which private labours are reduced to their common social substance. The only measure of abstract labour is correspondingly a monetary evaluation of the products of labour, expressed in their prices.
The danger of [Rubin's] interpretation is that reference to labour as the substance of value is reduced to an empty rhetorical gesture in a theory which never manages to penetrate the appearances of exchange relations because it obliterates the distinction between value and exchange value. The unresolved issue, David Kristjanson-Gural commented,  is that "If exchange effects the reduction of concrete to abstract labor, then the magnitude of value is determined not by the expenditure of labor in production, but only in exchange.
Paradoxically, it seemed that if value itself can only be determined with reference to exchange ratios in markets, then value cannot be the sole determinant of prices a conclusion already reached by Joan Robinson in Contemporary Marxian academic research in "value theory" has become a broad area. In , Riccardo Bellofiore, an Italian Marxist economist, concluded from his own perspective that Marx's value theory has "multiple meanings". The old Marxist theory was held together by the philosophy of dialectical materialism ,  but in the new academic Marxism of the West, "value theory" is said to be the unifying factor.
The unresolved issue then is, whether value theory really can be the unifying factor, if there are a large number of different and competing Marxist interpretations of value, with many different flavors, tastes and preferences, and pitched at many different levels of academic abstraction. Already in , when he had tried to create firm conceptual foundations for value studies,  the anthropologist Clyde Kluckhohn concluded that the task was exceedingly difficult, if not an impossible venture:.
A "sub-theme" of this academic controversy concerns the issue of whether concepts like abstract labour or the value-form are "historically specific" categories or "transhistorical" categories. For example, Massimo de Angelis and Christopher J. Arthur claim that abstract labour is a "specifically capitalist category", which has no transhistorical validity in different modes of production. Marx himself said that the abstract category of labour "labour in general", or "labour as such", i. If each social category was uniquely and exclusively applicable to only one specific stage of history, it would be impossible to understand the transition from one historical stage to another stage, or to understand human progress through different epochs.
Marx does not say that trans-historical categories are not valid, but instead that historical categories which are applicable only to a particular epoch in human history should not be generalized or eternalized, "as if" they are everlasting trans-historical realities. If current transitory realities are treated as eternal in the imagination, it appears as if they are immutable and cannot change anymore a conservative ideology , but that overlooks the very things which are changing. This leads to the confusion of analytical constants and variables, with constants and variables in the real world ultimately, almost nothing in the universe stays constant, although for humans there are constants "for all intents and purposes".
Long before commercial trade emerged, when subsistence hunters, gatherers and farmers had to judge how much time and work it would take to obtain food, they were already compelled to think abstractly and value the allocation of their labour time — giving rise to the first numerical expressions.
Even if they were not aware of the necessary proportions for the allocation of labour time by the clan, tribe, community etc. Namely, if they did it wrong, their own people died. So they learnt soon enough from experience, to avoid all the worst mis-allocations of labour - they wanted to stay alive, and prosper. Modern research provides evidence that some animals, too, exhibit at least a rudimentary ability for numerical abstraction and a sense of numerical proportion, suggesting it is necessary for survival.
The characteristics of this average labour are different in different countries and different historical epochs, but in any particular society it appears as something given. Later on, men try to decipher the hieroglyphic, to get behind the secret of their own social product Milling work took up 5, labor-days. The time dedicated to this task was calculated on the basis of the amounts of their finished products, that is, flour of different qualities. The source tablets for the balanced account provided the total amounts of the different types of flour milled.
The time needed to produce these was calculated on the basis of standardized performance expectations. The accountant knew, for example, that liters of fine flour had been produced during the year. As it was expected that one woman milled 20 liters of that type of flour in one day, it was easy to calculate that 43 labor days had been involved. According to archaeologist Robert K. Englund, "The concept of value equivalency was a secure element in Babylonian accounting by at least the time of the sales contracts of the ED IIIa Fara period, c.
Labour historian Jan Lucassen states that the first wages were paid to soldiers employed by early states 5, years ago, the first labour markets emerged between 2, and 1, BC when temple officials began to subcontract labour , and waged workers were being paid with coins since about BC. Already 2, years ago, workers could be paid for a specific part of a working day with coin. The significance of such historical and archaeological data about the evolution of abstract labour and value is denied by many Marxists, because, according to their idea of "historical specificity", capitalism is capitalism only if there is capitalism, and value is exclusively a creation of capitalism.
Since , when Isaac Rubin's book  was republished in translation, the Western Marxist value-form controversy has continued for nearly half a century. However, in reality, the intellectual controversy has much deeper historical roots. Answering this question was an historic task for economic thought. In Marx's view, the particular merit of his theory of value was that it gave a solution to this problem. Rubin's claim was that, in Marx's view, the labor theory of value and the theory of production prices represent "two logical stages or degrees of abstraction from the same economic phenomena" instead of being two models that contradict each other.
- Teddy Bears.
- Something in Disguise;
- A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies?
- NOT ONE AMONG THEM WHOLE: A Novel of Surgeons and the Wounded at Gettysburg.
- The Shipwreck.
- Think Classical: Ist Richard Wagner für den Zweite Weltkrieg und Holocaust Verantwortlich?.
- Biological Interactions on Materials Surfaces: Understanding and Controlling Protein, Cell, and Tissue Responses.
And therefore, critics argue, Rubin's alleged "solution" is no scientifically acceptable solution at all, of the problem of the relationship between production prices and labour-values—it is just a "definition". In Marx's finished theory of value, the "value" of a commodity turns out to be the social valuation of its average, current replacement cost in labour time a synchronic economic reproduction cost  but this particular labour requirement turns out to be quite a different quantity than either "labour embodied" in production the actual worktime performed to make the commodity or "labour commanded" in exchange how much worktime can be purchased, on average, for the money-price of the commodity.
It remains true, however, that if we want to estimate or measure this average quantity empirically, as a statistic, this requires reference to money prices and price aggregates; we cannot measure average product-value, without reference to the forms in which value is expressed - in order to establish the connection between product units, prices and labour.
Because of the controversy over the substance of value, the famous Japanese Marxist scholar Kozo Uno argued in his classic Principles of Political Economy that Marx's original argument had to be revised. The arguments therefore had to be re-ordered. In the revised version, the theory of the value-form is integrated in the theory of commodity circulation, and does not refer to the substance content of value at all.
The substance of value as labour then becomes apparent and is theoretically demonstrated only in the analysis of the production of commodities "by means of commodities" including the commodity labour-power. Some Western Marxists do not find this Unoist approach very satisfactory however, among other things because 1 a "form" is a form "of" something, the form that a content takes, hence form and content are not really separable, and 2 Marx claims that the formation of product values is an outcome of both the "economy of labour-time" and "the economy of trade" working in tandem.
How much that value is, however, becomes apparent only when it is traded regularly and compared with other products. From the s, the so-called "value-form theorists" "value-form school"  have emphasized—influenced by Theodor W. Adorno  and the rediscovery of the writings of Isaak Illich Rubin  —the importance of Marx's value theory as a qualitative critique—a cultural, sociological or philosophical critique of the reifications involved in capitalist commercialism.
The value-form school has become very popular especially among Western Marxists who are not economists. Supporters of the "value-form school", especially in Germany and Britain, often regard Marx's theory of the form of value as proof of a radical break from all conventional economics. Critics of the value-form school often see this intellectual tradition as an "evasive tactic", which avoids difficult quantitative problems concerning the relationship between economic value and money-prices which still need to be solved. Value-form theory as a special branch of radical theory has been popular among intellectual supporters of Autonomism  and Anarchism ,  although Antonio Negri thinks the theory is outdated now.
In a text which had a big influence on the scholarly discussion,  Alfred Sohn-Rethel examined the meaning and implications of Marx's concept of the forms of value in some detail. He claimed that "The formal analysis of the commodity holds the key not only to the critique of political economy, but also to the historical explanation of the conceptual mode of thinking and of the division of intellectual and manual labour, which came into existence with it.
Marx had noted that by equating their products in exchange as values, people also equate the quantities of human labour ordinarily required to produce them, regardless of whether they are aware of it or not very likely they would not—and could not—know accurately how much labour the products represent, or even where the products originated.
This is a "functional effect" of the trading relationship. It then seems that abstract labour is purely an effect of economic exchange. Sohn-Rethel pondered the question of what holds society together, when all production is carried on by private agents acting independently of each other. He concludes, like Friedrich Hayek , that society can in that case cohere only through "buying and selling". It then seems to follow, that "The nexus of society is established by the network of exchange and nothing else. What disappears from view in Sohn-Rethel's interpretation is that, in the production and reproduction of human life, people also need to cooperate in many ways which have nothing to do with trade being a "market transactor" is just one role among others.
Sohn-Rethel's radical idea is moreover not even very plausible, since 1 society does not simply collapse everywhere, if, in a crisis, the trading process breaks down to some large degree,  and 2 at any time, the majority of the stock of objects of value in society stored, or in use is not being traded at all. So in reality, the "social nexus" or "social synthesis" involves at any time far more relations of cooperation than trade alone.
Borrowing ideas from among others Patrick Murray and Derek Sayer,  Moishe Postone based his value-form interpretation on an excerpt of a footnote from Marx's Capital, Volume I , which was incorrectly translated by Ben Fowkes:. This mode is thereby characterized as a particular sort of social production and, therefore, as historically specific. If one then makes the mistake of treating it as the eternal natural form of social production, one necessarily overlooks the specificity of the value-form, and consequently of the commodity form together with its further developments, the money form, the capital form, etc.
Postone alleged that in "traditional Marxism" such as " Sweezy , Mandel , and others" ,  the meaning of "value" and "labour" was wrongly interpreted: . Postone concludes from his story among other things that "the law of value , then, is dynamic and cannot be understood adequately in terms of an equilibrium theory of the market"  and that the movement of history "can be expressed indirectly by time as a dependent variable; as a movement of time, though, it cannot be grasped by static, abstract time".
This interpretation is often called the monetary theory of value. Marx himself flatly denied this "monetary" interpretation of value when he said explicitly in chapter 2 of Capital, Volume I that "The act of exchange gives to the commodity converted into money, not its value, but its specific value-form". It has to do with the reality that the commodities are the products of quantities of social labour they have an average replacement cost in labour time; some people have to do the work, so that others can acquire the products. Yet, only through regular exchange does it become observably manifest how much value the commodities represent.
It was this subtlety, that stumped the Western Marxist scholastics, i. There do not exist any "substantialist" scholars in economics who think that "value" is literally a kind of "stuff" inserted into every commodity when it is produced. Modern money is fiduciary currency, or money of account, that actually has very little intrinsic value. It is true though that the ability to express value in currency units, is ordinarily presupposed and crucial for the growth of trade on a very large scale.
And, to measure the labour-value of outputs, reference to prices is necessary. The act of exchange whether a cash deal, barter, or a credit arrangement reveals the form in which the value of commodities is expressed, accurately or inaccurately; the trading process provides various possibilities for expressing the value of products using different price assumptions, valuations, currencies etc. Marx's whole theory of economics is based on the idea that it is not "the market" which creates value, but that value is created in real production, involving the work of billions of workers.
If those workers are not there, it leaves only a derelict area or ghost town situation see also: decline of Detroit. The Greek Marxian economist John Milios also argues for a monetary theory of value, where "Money is the necessary form of appearance of value and of capital in the sense that prices constitute the only form of appearance of the value of commodities.
Milios conflated the money that actually changes hands with all kinds of possible computable price data for a commodity under various conditions. Effectively, he conflated the form of value with the price-form, and real prices with ideal prices. Milios implies, that only priced goods can have value, but this idea flatly contradicts Marx's theory according to which product-values exist also quite independently from exchange simply because products necessarily represent quantities of labour-effort.
If Milios's interpretation is correct, Marx's value theory serves no good purpose—values and prices are hardly distinguishable. In all his economic manuscripts, Marx says that at best prices are the "idealized expression" of the forms of value. This view is only logical; after all, prices express the quantity of money for which particular commodities will, or could, change owners. If the idealization of the form of value as a price is equated with the value-form itself, the whole value-form idea is itself redundant. It is a bit like saying, that the price information about a good is the same thing as the actual money that changes hands when the good is traded.
Most people know very well what the difference is; they could hardly afford not to know it. In various works, the Australian phenomenologist Michael Eldred radicalizes the reading of 'form' in the value-form concept so that it becomes a socio-ontological category.
Hence, money reveals itself to be the quintessential, rudimentary form of reified social power in capitalist society. The further value-forms developed during the course of the capital-analysis, starting with the capital-form and the wage-form of value, through the value-forms of ground-rent, interest, profit of enterprise, to the revenue-form of these income-sources on the surface of economic life, unfold the socio-ontological structure and movement of capitalism as a " reified power-play ". Eldred argues that such a total ontological structure of capitalist power-play can only come into view, if the whole of Marx's capital-analysis is reconstructed, not just the famous, notoriously difficult first chapter of Marx's Capital.
From a different angle, Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler  also depict the phenomena of economic value as power relationships. This interpretation also has its critics, the main criticism being that by reducing all economic values to a matter of power, the concept of power itself becomes a nebulous idea, which explains "everything and nothing". On this view, "a market cap that is times as great as the average doesn't give the owners times as much power; it simply is times as much power.
It cannot be automatically inferred, from the position taken by participants in market trade, what kind of power they really have. There are also anthropologists such as the socialist Lawrence Krader and the anarchist David Graeber who have argued that Marx's value categories should be modified in the light of historical and anthropological research about how human communities value objects.
Ever since Werner Sombart and Nikolai Bukharin first argued it,  Marx's theory of value has been described as a purely objective theory of value, as opposed to the subjective theory of the bourgeois economists. Lange that Marx's theory of value and the theory of utility are compatible, i.
Marxian school of economics
Graeber's work is very focused on how value categories shape human lives, and the direct political effects of that. To understand and aggregate the subjective preferences that determine trading choices and economic decisions in the real world, those subjective preferences themselves have to be treated as knowable, objective and measurable data. Therefore, even a subjective theory of value cannot get away entirely from treating value also as an objective social fact. If that wasn't the case, then all economic statistics and marketing research would be invalid and useless. It follows that in the real world, all economists always have to deal with both subjective value and value as an objective market reality.
True, Marx focused mainly on the overall objective outcomes of capitalist valuations.
Individual workers and individual owners of capital could not determine what the markets were going to do, although important decisions by politicians can strongly influence the markets. Yet that obviously did not mean, that workers and capitalists made no subjective valuations or choices at all, or that they were completely at the mercy of market forces. On this view, value cannot exist without the presence of valuing subjects, it is just that the value of objects escapes from their control, and starts to lead a life of its own, independent from the volitions of particular individuals.
Paradoxically, as Marx himself says, the more that producers become dependent on exchange, the more exchange appears to become independent of them. Market movements can be quite different from what people expected or predicted, giving rise to many theories of market expectations, to fathom how trading patterns and people's expectations interact and influence each other. In his widely-read book More Heat than Light: Economics as Social Physics, Physics as Nature's Economics , Philip Mirowski examined in greater detail the theoretical conflicts between "substance" theories of value and "field" theories of value.
One theory is the "embodied" labour theory of value or crystallized labour , the other theory is a "cost" theory of value. Mirowski claims that Marx, in the tradition of classical political economy, believed that "regular capitalist trades are normally trades of equivalent values"  This claim is not easy to sustain, since the whole architecture of Capital, Volume III is built upon the idea that product-values, prices of production and market prices systematically diverge from each other, and can diverge very considerably for a prolonged time — profit-making does not require that commodities trade at their values, and, as Marx himself notes at the beginning of Capital, Volume III , good profits can be made by trading large quantities of goods quite fast below their value the classical principle of competition.
As the accumulation of capital grows, more and more durable and financial assets exist external to the sphere of production. Contrary to a pernicious but popular myth, Marx only provided a theory of the foundations of capitalist society, its characteristic mode of production.