Space Bee vs Pizza 2

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Space Bee vs Pizza 2

Post by Archangel » Sun Apr 12, 2020 6:31 pm


honestly this would be a press the exist button to win match even if he wasn't ffing, so here's the first few pages of Das Kapital

Chapter 1: Commodities
Section 1: The Two Factors of a Commodity:
Use-Value and Value
(The Substance of Value and the Magnitude of Value)
The wealth of those societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails, presents itself
as “an immense accumulation of commodities,”1 its unit being a single commodity. Our
investigation must therefore begin with the analysis of a commodity.
A commodity is, in the first place, an object outside us, a thing that by its properties satisfies
human wants of some sort or another. The nature of such wants, whether, for instance, they spring
from the stomach or from fancy, makes no difference.2 Neither are we here concerned to know
how the object satisfies these wants, whether directly as means of subsistence, or indirectly as
means of production.
Every useful thing, as iron, paper, &c., may be looked at from the two points of view of quality
and quantity. It is an assemblage of many properties, and may therefore be of use in various ways.
To discover the various uses of things is the work of history.3 So also is the establishment of
socially-recognized standards of measure for the quantities of these useful objects. The diversity
of these measures has its origin partly in the diverse nature of the objects to be measured, partly
in convention.
The utility of a thing makes it a use value.4 But this utility is not a thing of air. Being limited by
the physical properties of the commodity, it has no existence apart from that commodity. A
commodity, such as iron, corn, or a diamond, is therefore, so far as it is a material thing, a use
value, something useful. This property of a commodity is independent of the amount of labour
required to appropriate its useful qualities. When treating of use value, we always assume to be
dealing with definite quantities, such as dozens of watches, yards of linen, or tons of iron. The use
values of commodities furnish the material for a special study, that of the commercial knowledge
of commodities.5 Use values become a reality only by use or consumption: they also constitute
the substance of all wealth, whatever may be the social form of that wealth. In the form of society
we are about to consider, they are, in addition, the material depositories of exchange value.
Exchange value, at first sight, presents itself as a quantitative relation, as the proportion in which
values in use of one sort are exchanged for those of another sort,6 a relation constantly changing
with time and place. Hence exchange value appears to be something accidental and purely
relative, and consequently an intrinsic value, i.e., an exchange value that is inseparably connected
with, inherent in commodities, seems a contradiction in terms.7 Let us consider the matter a little
more closely.
A given commodity, e.g., a quarter of wheat is exchanged for x blacking, y silk, or z gold, &c. –
in short, for other commodities in the most different proportions. Instead of one exchange value,
the wheat has, therefore, a great many. But since x blacking, y silk, or z gold &c., each represents
the exchange value of one quarter of wheat, x blacking, y silk, z gold, &c., must, as exchange
values, be replaceable by each other, or equal to each other. Therefore, first: the valid exchange
values of a given commodity express something equal; secondly, exchange value, generally, is
only the mode of expression, the phenomenal form, of something contained in it, yet
distinguishable from it.
28 Chapter 1
Let us take two commodities, e.g., corn and iron. The proportions in which they are
exchangeable, whatever those proportions may be, can always be represented by an equation in
which a given quantity of corn is equated to some quantity of iron: e.g., 1 quarter corn = x cwt.
iron. What does this equation tell us? It tells us that in two different things – in 1 quarter of corn
and x cwt. of iron, there exists in equal quantities something common to both. The two things
must therefore be equal to a third, which in itself is neither the one nor the other. Each of them, so
far as it is exchange value, must therefore be reducible to this third.
A simple geometrical illustration will make this clear. In order to calculate and compare the areas
of rectilinear figures, we decompose them into triangles. But the area of the triangle itself is
expressed by something totally different from its visible figure, namely, by half the product of the
base multiplied by the altitude. In the same way the exchange values of commodities must be
capable of being expressed in terms of something common to them all, of which thing they
represent a greater or less quantity.
This common “something” cannot be either a geometrical, a chemical, or any other natural
property of commodities. Such properties claim our attention only in so far as they affect the
utility of those commodities, make them use values. But the exchange of commodities is
evidently an act characterised by a total abstraction from use value. Then one use value is just as
good as another, provided only it be present in sufficient quantity. Or, as old Barbon says,
“one sort of wares are as good as another, if the values be equal. There is no
difference or distinction in things of equal value ... An hundred pounds’ worth of
lead or iron, is of as great value as one hundred pounds’ worth of silver or gold.”8
As use values, commodities are, above all, of different qualities, but as exchange values they are
merely different quantities, and consequently do not contain an atom of use value.
If then we leave out of consideration the use value of commodities, they have only one common
property left, that of being products of labour. But even the product of labour itself has undergone
a change in our hands. 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 labour of the joiner, the
mason, the spinner, or of any other definite kind of productive labour. Along with the useful
qualities of the products themselves, we put out of sight both the useful character of the various
kinds of labour embodied in them, and the concrete forms of that 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.
Let us now consider the residue of each of these products; it consists of the same unsubstantial
reality in each, a mere congelation of homogeneous human labour, of labour power expended
without regard to the mode of its expenditure. All that these things now tell us is, that human
labour power has been expended in their production, that human labour is embodied in them.
When looked at as crystals of this social substance, common to them all, they are – Values.
We have seen that when commodities are exchanged, their exchange value manifests itself as
something totally independent of their use value. But if we abstract from their use value, there
remains their Value as defined above. Therefore, the common substance that manifests itself in
the exchange value of commodities, whenever they are exchanged, is their value. The progress of
our investigation will show that exchange value is the only form in which the value of
commodities can manifest itself or be expressed. For the present, however, we have to consider
the nature of value independently of this, its form.
29 Chapter 1
A use value, or useful article, therefore, has value only because human labour in the abstract has
been embodied or materialised in it. How, then, is the magnitude of this value to be measured?
Plainly, by the quantity of the value-creating substance, the labour, contained in the article. The
quantity of labour, however, is measured by its duration, and labour time in its turn finds its
standard in weeks, days, and hours.
Some people might think that if the value of a commodity is determined by the quantity of labour
spent on it, the more idle and unskilful the labourer, the more valuable would his commodity be,
because more time would be required in its production. The labour, however, that forms the
substance of value, is homogeneous human labour, expenditure of one uniform labour power. The
total labour power of society, which is embodied in the sum total of the values of all commodities
produced by that society, counts here as one homogeneous mass of human labour power,
composed though it be of innumerable individual units. Each of these units is the same as any
other, so far as it has the character of the average labour power of society, and takes effect as
such; that is, so far as it requires for producing a commodity, no more time than is needed on an
average, no more than is socially necessary. The labour time socially necessary is that required to
produce an article under the normal conditions of production, and with the average degree of skill
and intensity prevalent at the time. The introduction of power-looms into England probably
reduced by one-half the labour required to weave a given quantity of yarn into cloth. The handloom weavers, as a matter of fact, continued to require the same time as before; but for all that,
the product of one hour of their labour represented after the change only half an hour’s social
labour, and consequently fell to one-half its former value.
We see then that that which determines the magnitude of the value of any article is the amount of
labour socially necessary, or the labour time socially necessary for its production.9 Each
individual commodity, in this connexion, is to be considered as an average sample of its class.10
Commodities, therefore, in which equal quantities of labour are embodied, or which can be
produced in the same time, have the same value. The value of one commodity is to the value of
any other, as the labour time necessary for the production of the one is to that necessary for the
production of the other. “As values, all commodities are only definite masses of congealed labour
The value of a commodity would therefore remain constant, if the labour time required for its
production also remained constant. But the latter changes with every variation in the
productiveness of labour. This productiveness is determined by various circumstances, amongst
others, by the average amount of skill of the workmen, the state of science, and the degree of its
practical application, the social organisation of production, the extent and capabilities of the
means of production, and by physical conditions. For example, the same amount of labour in
favourable seasons is embodied in 8 bushels of corn, and in unfavourable, only in four. The same
labour extracts from rich mines more metal than from poor mines. Diamonds are of very rare
occurrence on the earth’s surface, and hence their discovery costs, on an average, a great deal of
labour time. Consequently much labour is represented in a small compass. Jacob doubts whether
gold has ever been paid for at its full value. This applies still more to diamonds. According to
Eschwege, the total produce of the Brazilian diamond mines for the eighty years, ending in 1823,
had not realised the price of one-and-a-half years’ average produce of the sugar and coffee
plantations of the same country, although the diamonds cost much more labour, and therefore
represented more value. With richer mines, the same quantity of labour would embody itself in
more diamonds, and their value would fall. If we could succeed at a small expenditure of labour,
in converting carbon into diamonds, their value might fall below that of bricks. In general, the
greater the productiveness of labour, the less is the labour time required for the production of an
30 Chapter 1
article, the less is the amount of labour crystallised in that article, and the less is its value; and
vice versâ, the less the productiveness of labour, the greater is the labour time required for the
production of an article, and the greater is its value. The value of a commodity, therefore, varies
directly as the quantity, and inversely as the productiveness, of the labour incorporated in it. *
A thing can be a use value, without having value. This is the case whenever its utility to man is
not due to labour. Such are air, virgin soil, natural meadows, &c. A thing can be useful, and the
product of human labour, without being a commodity. Whoever directly satisfies his wants with
the produce of his own labour, creates, indeed, use values, but not commodities. In order to
produce the latter, he must not only produce use values, but use values for others, social use
values. (And not only for others, without more. The mediaeval peasant produced quit-rent-corn
for his feudal lord and tithe-corn for his parson. But neither the quit-rent-corn nor the tithe-corn
became commodities by reason of the fact that they had been produced for others. To become a
commodity a product must be transferred to another, whom it will serve as a use value, by means
of an exchange.)12 Lastly nothing can have value, without being an object of utility. If the thing is
useless, so is the labour contained in it; the labour does not count as labour, and therefore creates
no value.
Section 2: The Two-fold Character of the Labour Embodied in
At first sight a commodity presented itself to us as a complex of two things – use value and
exchange value. Later on, we saw also that labour, too, possesses the same two-fold nature; for,
so far as it finds expression in value, it does not possess the same characteristics that belong to it
as a creator of use values. I was the first to point out and to examine critically this two-fold nature
of the labour contained in commodities. As this point is the pivot on which a clear comprehension
of political economy turns, we must go more into detail.
Let us take two commodities such as a coat and 10 yards of linen, and let the former be double
the value of the latter, so that, if 10 yards of linen = W, the coat = 2W.
The coat is a use value that satisfies a particular want. Its existence is the result of a special sort of
productive activity, the nature of which is determined by its aim, mode of operation, subject,
means, and result. The labour, whose utility is thus represented by the value in use of its product,
or which manifests itself by making its product a use value, we call useful labour. In this
connection we consider only its useful effect.
As the coat and the linen are two qualitatively different use values, so also are the two forms of
labour that produce them, tailoring and weaving. Were these two objects not qualitatively
different, not produced respectively by labour of different quality, they could not stand to each
other in the relation of commodities. Coats are not exchanged for coats, one use value is not
exchanged for another of the same kind.
To all the different varieties of values in use there correspond as many different kinds of useful
labour, classified according to the order, genus, species, and variety to which they belong in the
social division of labour. This division of labour is a necessary condition for the production of
commodities, but it does not follow, conversely, that the production of commodities is a

* The following passage occurred only in the first edition. “Now we know the substance of value. It is labour.
We know the measure of its magnitude. It is labour time. The form, which stamps value as exchange-value, remains to
be analysed. But before this we need to develop the characteristics we have already found somewhat more fully.”
Taken from the Penguin edition of “Capital,” translated by Ben Fowkes.
31 Chapter 1
necessary condition for the division of labour. In the primitive Indian community there is social
division of labour, without production of commodities. Or, to take an example nearer home, in
every factory the labour is divided according to a system, but this division is not brought about by
the operatives mutually exchanging their individual products. Only such products can become
commodities with regard to each other, as result from different kinds of labour, each kind being
carried on independently and for the account of private individuals.
To resume, then: In the use value of each commodity there is contained useful labour, i.e.,
productive activity of a definite kind and exercised with a definite aim. Use values cannot
confront each other as commodities, unless the useful labour embodied in them is qualitatively
different in each of them. In a community, the produce of which in general takes the form of
commodities, i.e., in a community of commodity producers, this qualitative difference between
the useful forms of labour that are carried on independently by individual producers, each on their
own account, develops into a complex system, a social division of labour.
Anyhow, whether the coat be worn by the tailor or by his customer, in either case it operates as a
use value. Nor is the relation between the coat and the labour that produced it altered by the
circumstance that tailoring may have become a special trade, an independent branch of the social
division of labour. Wherever the want of clothing forced them to it, the human race made clothes
for thousands of years, without a single man becoming a tailor. But coats and linen, like every
other element of material wealth that is not the spontaneous produce of Nature, must invariably
owe their existence to a special productive activity, exercised with a definite aim, an activity that
appropriates particular nature-given materials to particular human wants. So far therefore as
labour is a creator of use value, is useful labour, it is a necessary condition, independent of all
forms of society, for the existence of the human race; it is an eternal nature-imposed necessity,
without which there can be no material exchanges between man and Nature, and therefore no life.
The use values, coat, linen, &c., i.e., the bodies of commodities, are combinations of two
elements – matter and labour. If we take away the useful labour expended upon them, a material
substratum is always left, which is furnished by Nature without the help of man. The latter can
work only as Nature does, that is by changing the form of matter.13 Nay more, in this work of
changing the form he is constantly helped by natural forces. We see, then, that labour is not the
only source of material wealth, of use values produced by labour. As William Petty puts it, labour
is its father and the earth its mother.
Let us now pass from the commodity considered as a use value to the value of commodities.
By our assumption, the coat is worth twice as much as the linen. But this is a mere quantitative
difference, which for the present does not concern us. We bear in mind, however, that if the value
of the coat is double that of 10 yds of linen, 20 yds of linen must have the same value as one coat.
So far as they are values, the coat and the linen are things of a like substance, objective
expressions of essentially identical labour. But tailoring and weaving are, qualitatively, different
kinds of labour. There are, however, states of society in which one and the same man does
tailoring and weaving alternately, in which case these two forms of labour are mere modifications
of the labour of the same individual, and not special and fixed functions of different persons, just
as the coat which our tailor makes one day, and the trousers which he makes another day, imply
only a variation in the labour of one and the same individual. Moreover, we see at a glance that,
in our capitalist society, a given portion of human labour is, in accordance with the varying
demand, at one time supplied in the form of tailoring, at another in the form of weaving. This
change may possibly not take place without friction, but take place it must.
Productive activity, if we leave out of sight its special form, viz., the useful character of the
labour, is nothing but the expenditure of human labour power. Tailoring and weaving, though
32 Chapter 1
qualitatively different productive activities, are each a productive expenditure of human brains,
nerves, and muscles, and in this sense are human labour. They are but two different modes of
expending human labour power. Of course, this labour power, which remains the same under all
its modifications, must have attained a certain pitch of development before it can be expended in
a multiplicity of modes. But the value of a commodity represents human labour in the abstract,
the expenditure of human labour in general. And just as in society, a general or a banker plays a
great part, but mere man, on the other hand, a very shabby part,14 so here with mere human
labour. It is the expenditure of simple labour power, i.e., of the labour power which, on an
average, apart from any special development, exists in the organism of every ordinary individual.
Simple average labour, it is true, varies in character in different countries and at different times,
but in a particular society it is given. Skilled labour counts only as simple labour intensified, or
rather, as multiplied simple labour, a given quantity of skilled being considered equal to a greater
quantity of simple labour. Experience shows that this reduction is constantly being made. A
commodity may be the product of the most skilled labour, but its value, by equating it to the
product of simple unskilled labour, represents a definite quantity of the latter labour alone.15 The
different proportions in which different sorts of labour are reduced to unskilled labour as their
standard, are established by a social process that goes on behind the backs of the producers, and,
consequently, appear to be fixed by custom. For simplicity’s sake we shall henceforth account
every kind of labour to be unskilled, simple labour; by this we do no more than save ourselves the
trouble of making the reduction.
Just as, therefore, in viewing the coat and linen as values, we abstract from their different use
values, so it is with the labour represented by those values: we disregard the difference between
its useful forms, weaving and tailoring. As the use values, coat and linen, are combinations of
special productive activities with cloth and yarn, while the values, coat and linen, are, on the other
hand, mere homogeneous congelations of undifferentiated labour, so the labour embodied in these
latter values does not count by virtue of its productive relation to cloth and yarn, but only as being
expenditure of human labour power. Tailoring and weaving are necessary factors in the creation
of the use values, coat and linen, precisely because these two kinds of labour are of different
qualities; but only in so far as abstraction is made from their special qualities, only in so far as
both possess the same quality of being human labour, do tailoring and weaving form the
substance of the values of the same articles.
Coats and linen, however, are not merely values, but values of definite magnitude, and according
to our assumption, the coat is worth twice as much as the ten yards of linen. Whence this
difference in their values? It is owing to the fact that the linen contains only half as much labour
as the coat, and consequently, that in the production of the latter, labour power must have been
expended during twice the time necessary for the production of the former.
While, therefore, with reference to use value, the labour contained in a commodity counts only
qualitatively, with reference to value it counts only quantitatively, and must first be reduced to
human labour pure and simple. In the former case, it is a question of How and What, in the latter
of How much? How long a time? Since the magnitude of the value of a commodity represents
only the quantity of labour embodied in it, it follows that all commodities, when taken in certain
proportions, must be equal in value.
If the productive power of all the different sorts of useful labour required for the production of a
coat remains unchanged, the sum of the values of the coats produced increases with their number.
If one coat represents x days’ labour, two coats represent 2x days’ labour, and so on. But assume
that the duration of the labour necessary for the production of a coat becomes doubled or halved.
In the first case one coat is worth as much as two coats were before; in the second case, two coats
33 Chapter 1
are only worth as much as one was before, although in both cases one coat renders the same
service as before, and the useful labour embodied in it remains of the same quality. But the
quantity of labour spent on its production has altered.
An increase in the quantity of use values is an increase of material wealth. With two coats two
men can be clothed, with one coat only one man. Nevertheless, an increased quantity of material
wealth may correspond to a simultaneous fall in the magnitude of its value. This antagonistic
movement has its origin in the two-fold character of labour. Productive power has reference, of
course, only to labour of some useful concrete form, the efficacy of any special productive
activity during a given time being dependent on its productiveness. Useful labour becomes,
therefore, a more or less abundant source of products, in proportion to the rise or fall of its
productiveness. On the other hand, no change in this productiveness affects the labour
represented by value. Since productive power is an attribute of the concrete useful forms of
labour, of course it can no longer have any bearing on that labour, so soon as we make abstraction
from those concrete useful forms. However then productive power may vary, the same labour,
exercised during equal periods of time, always yields equal amounts of value. But it will yield,
during equal periods of time, different quantities of values in use; more, if the productive power
rise, fewer, if it fall. The same change in productive power, which increases the fruitfulness of
labour, and, in consequence, the quantity of use values produced by that labour, will diminish the
total value of this increased quantity of use values, provided such change shorten the total labour
time necessary for their production; and vice versâ.
On the one hand all labour is, speaking physiologically, an expenditure of human labour power,
and in its character of identical abstract human labour, it creates and forms the value of
commodities. On the other hand, all labour is the expenditure of human labour power in a special
form and with a definite aim, and in this, its character of concrete useful labour, it produces use
Section 3: The Form of Value or Exchange-Value
Commodities come into the world in the shape of use values, articles, or goods, such as iron,
linen, corn, &c. This is their plain, homely, bodily form. They are, however, commodities, only
because they are something two-fold, both objects of utility, and, at the same time, depositories of
value. They manifest themselves therefore as commodities, or have the form of commodities,
only in so far as they have two forms, a physical or natural form, and a value form.
The reality of the value of commodities differs in this respect from Dame Quickly, that we don’t
know “where to have it.” The value of commodities is the very opposite of the coarse materiality
of their substance, not an atom of matter enters into its composition. Turn and examine a single
commodity, by itself, as we will, yet in so far as it remains an object of value, it seems impossible
to grasp it. If, however, we bear in mind that the value of commodities has a purely social reality,
and that they acquire this reality only in so far as they are expressions or embodiments of one
identical social substance, viz., human labour, it follows as a matter of course, that value can only
manifest itself in the social relation of commodity to commodity. In fact we started from
exchange value, or the exchange relation of commodities, in order to get at the value that lies
hidden behind it. We must now return to this form under which value first appeared to us.
Every one knows, if he knows nothing else, that commodities have a value form common to them
all, and presenting a marked contrast with the varied bodily forms of their use values. I mean their
money form. Here, however, a task is set us, the performance of which has never yet even been
attempted by bourgeois economy, the task of tracing the genesis of this money form, of
34 Chapter 1
developing the expression of value implied in the value relation of commodities, from its
simplest, almost imperceptible outline, to the dazzling money-form. By doing this we shall, at the
same time, solve the riddle presented by money.
The simplest value-relation is evidently that of one commodity to some one other commodity of a
different kind. Hence the relation between the values of two commodities supplies us with the
simplest expression of the value of a single commodity.
A. Elementary or Accidental Form Of Value
x commodity A = y commodity B, or
x commodity A is worth y commodity B.
20 yards of linen = 1 coat, or
20 Yards of linen are worth 1 coat.
1. The two poles of the expression of value. Relative form and Equivalent
The whole mystery of the form of value lies hidden in this elementary form. Its analysis,
therefore, is our real difficulty.
Here two different kinds of commodities (in our example the linen and the coat), evidently play
two different parts. The linen expresses its value in the coat; the coat serves as the material in
which that value is expressed. The former plays an active, the latter a passive, part. The value of
the linen is represented as relative value, or appears in relative form. The coat officiates as
equivalent, or appears in equivalent form.
The relative form and the equivalent form are two intimately connected, mutually dependent and
inseparable elements of the expression of value; but, at the same time, are mutually exclusive,
antagonistic extremes – i.e., poles of the same expression. They are allotted respectively to the
two different commodities brought into relation by that expression. It is not possible to express
the value of linen in linen. 20 yards of linen = 20 yards of linen is no expression of value. On the
contrary, such an equation merely says that 20 yards of linen are nothing else than 20 yards of
linen, a definite quantity of the use value linen. The value of the linen can therefore be expressed
only relatively – i.e., in some other commodity. The relative form of the value of the linen
presupposes, therefore, the presence of some other commodity – here the coat – under the form of
an equivalent. On the other hand, the commodity that figures as the equivalent cannot at the same
time assume the relative form. That second commodity is not the one whose value is expressed.
Its function is merely to serve as the material in which the value of the first commodity is
No doubt, the expression 20 yards of linen = 1 coat, or 20 yards of linen are worth 1 coat, implies
the opposite relation. 1 coat = 20 yards of linen, or 1 coat is worth 20 yards of linen. But, in that
case, I must reverse the equation, in order to express the value of the coat relatively; and so soon
as I do that the linen becomes the equivalent instead of the coat. A single commodity cannot,
therefore, simultaneously assume, in the same expression of value, both forms. The very polarity
of these forms makes them mutually exclusive.
Whether, then, a commodity assumes the relative form, or the opposite equivalent form, depends
entirely upon its accidental position in the expression of value – that is, upon whether it is the
commodity whose value is being expressed or the commodity in which value is being expressed.
2. The Relative Form of value
(a.) The nature and import of this form
35 Chapter 1
In order to discover how the elementary expression of the value of a commodity lies hidden in the
value relation of two commodities, we must, in the first place, consider the latter entirely apart
from its quantitative aspect. The usual mode of procedure is generally the reverse, and in the
value relation nothing is seen but the proportion between definite quantities of two different sorts
of commodities that are considered equal to each other. It is apt to be forgotten that the
magnitudes of different things can be compared quantitatively, only when those magnitudes are
expressed in terms of the same unit. It is only as expressions of such a unit that they are of the
same denomination, and therefore commensurable.17
Whether 20 yards of linen = 1 coat or = 20 coats or = x coats – that is, whether a given quantity of
linen is worth few or many coats, every such statement implies that the linen and coats, as
magnitudes of value, are expressions of the same unit, things of the same kind. Linen = coat is the
basis of the equation.
But the two commodities whose identity of quality is thus assumed, do not play the same part. It
is only the value of the linen that is expressed. And how? By its reference to the coat as its
equivalent, as something that can be exchanged for it. In this relation the coat is the mode of
existence of value, is value embodied, for only as such is it the same as the linen. On the other
hand, the linen’s own value comes to the front, receives independent expression, for it is only as
being value that it is comparable with the coat as a thing of equal value, or exchangeable with the
coat. To borrow an illustration from chemistry, butyric acid is a different substance from propyl
formate. Yet both are made up of the same chemical substances, carbon (C), hydrogen (H), and
oxygen (O), and that, too, in like proportions – namely, C4H8O2. If now we equate butyric acid to
propyl formate, then, in the first place, propyl formate would be, in this relation, merely a form of
existence of C4H8O2; and in the second place, we should be stating that butyric acid also consists
of C4H8O2. Therefore, by thus equating the two substances, expression would be given to their
chemical composition, while their different physical forms would be neglected.
If we say that, as values, commodities are mere congelations of human labour, we reduce them by
our analysis, it is true, to the abstraction, value; but we ascribe to this value no form apart from
their bodily form. It is otherwise in the value relation of one commodity to another. Here, the one
stands forth in its character of value by reason of its relation to the other.
By making the coat the equivalent of the linen, we equate the labour embodied in the former to
that in the latter. Now, it is true that the tailoring, which makes the coat, is concrete labour of a
different sort from the weaving which makes the linen. But the act of equating it to the weaving,
reduces the tailoring to that which is really equal in the two kinds of labour, to their common
character of human labour. In this roundabout way, then, the fact is expressed, that weaving also,
in so far as it weaves value, has nothing to distinguish it from tailoring, and, consequently, is
abstract human labour. It is the expression of equivalence between different sorts of commodities
that alone brings into relief the specific character of value-creating labour, and this it does by
actually reducing the different varieties of labour embodied in the different kinds of commodities
to their common quality of human labour in the abstract.18
There is, however, something else required beyond the expression of the specific character of the
labour of which the value of the linen consists. Human labour power in motion, or human labour,
creates value, but is not itself value. It becomes value only in its congealed state, when embodied
in the form of some object. In order to express the value of the linen as a congelation of human
labour, that value must be expressed as having objective existence, as being a something
materially different from the linen itself, and yet a something common to the linen and all other
commodities. The problem is already solved.
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When occupying the position of equivalent in the equation of value, the coat ranks qualitatively
as the equal of the linen, as something of the same kind, because it is value. In this position it is a
thing in which we see nothing but value, or whose palpable bodily form represents value. Yet the
coat itself, the body of the commodity, coat, is a mere use value. A coat as such no more tells us it
is value, than does the first piece of linen we take hold of. This shows that when placed in valuerelation to the linen, the coat signifies more than when out of that relation, just as many a man
strutting about in a gorgeous uniform counts for more than when in mufti.
In the production of the coat, human labour power, in the shape of tailoring, must have been
actually expended. Human labour is therefore accumulated in it. In this aspect the coat is a
depository of value, but though worn to a thread, it does not let this fact show through. And as
equivalent of the linen in the value equation, it exists under this aspect alone, counts therefore as
embodied value, as a body that is value. A, for instance, cannot be “your majesty” to B, unless at
the same time majesty in B’s eyes assumes the bodily form of A, and, what is more, with every
new father of the people, changes its features, hair, and many other things besides.
Hence, in the value equation, in which the coat is the equivalent of the linen, the coat officiates as
the form of value. The value of the commodity linen is expressed by the bodily form of the
commodity coat, the value of one by the use value of the other. As a use value, the linen is
something palpably different from the coat; as value, it is the same as the coat, and now has the
appearance of a coat. Thus the linen acquires a value form different from its physical form. The
fact that it is value, is made manifest by its equality with the coat, just as the sheep’s nature of a
Christian is shown in his resemblance to the Lamb of God.
We see, then, all that our analysis of the value of commodities has already told us, is told us by
the linen itself, so soon as it comes into communication with another commodity, the coat. Only it
betrays its thoughts in that language with which alone it is familiar, the language of commodities.
In order to tell us that its own value is created by labour in its abstract character of human labour,
it says that the coat, in so far as it is worth as much as the linen, and therefore is value, consists of
the same labour as the linen. In order to inform us that its sublime reality as value is not the same
as its buckram body, it says that value has the appearance of a coat, and consequently that so far
as the linen is value, it and the coat are as like as two peas. We may here remark, that the
language of commodities has, besides Hebrew, many other more or less correct dialects. The
German “Wertsein,” to be worth, for instance, expresses in a less striking manner than the
Romance verbs “valere,” “valer,” “valoir,” that the equating of commodity B to commodity A, is
commodity A’s own mode of expressing its value. Paris vaut bien une messe. [Paris is certainly
worth a mass]
By means, therefore, of the value-relation expressed in our equation, the bodily form of
commodity B becomes the value form of commodity A, or the body of commodity B acts as a
mirror to the value of commodity A.19 By putting itself in relation with commodity B, as value in
propriâ personâ, as the matter of which human labour is made up, the commodity A converts the
value in use, B, into the substance in which to express its, A’s, own value. The value of A, thus
expressed in the use value of B, has taken the form of relative value.
(b.) Quantitative determination of Relative value
Every commodity, whose value it is intended to express, is a useful object of given quantity, as 15
bushels of corn, or 100 lbs of coffee. And a given quantity of any commodity contains a definite
quantity of human labour. The value form must therefore not only express value generally, but
also value in definite quantity. Therefore, in the value relation of commodity A to commodity B,
of the linen to the coat, not only is the latter, as value in general, made the equal in quality of the
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linen, but a definite quantity of coat (1 coat) is made the equivalent of a definite quantity (20
yards) of linen.
The equation, 20 yards of linen = 1 coat, or 20 yards of linen are worth one coat, implies that the
same quantity of value substance (congealed labour) is embodied in both; that the two
commodities have each cost the same amount of labour of the same quantity of labour time. But
the labour time necessary for the production of 20 yards of linen or 1 coat varies with every
change in the productiveness of weaving or tailoring. We have now to consider the influence of
such changes on the quantitative aspect of the relative expression of value.
I. Let the value of the linen vary,20 that of the coat remaining constant. If, say in consequence
of the exhaustion of flax-growing soil, the labour time necessary for the production of the linen
be doubled, the value of the linen will also be doubled. Instead of the equation, 20 yards of linen
= 1 coat, we should have 20 yards of linen = 2 coats, since 1 coat would now contain only half the
labour time embodied in 20 yards of linen. If, on the other hand, in consequence, say, of
improved looms, this labour time be reduced by one-half, the value of the linen would fall by
one-half. Consequently, we should have 20 yards of linen = ½ coat. The relative value of
commodity A, i.e., its value expressed in commodity B, rises and falls directly as the value of A,
the value of B being supposed constant.
II. Let the value of the linen remain constant, while the value of the coat varies. If, under
these circumstances, in consequence, for instance, of a poor crop of wool, the labour time
necessary for the production of a coat becomes doubled, we have instead of 20 yards of linen = 1
coat, 20 yards of linen = ½ coat. If, on the other hand, the value of the coat sinks by one-half, then
20 yards of linen = 2 coats. Hence, if the value of commodity A remain constant, its relative value
expressed in commodity B rises and falls inversely as the value of B.
If we compare the different cases in I and II, we see that the same change of magnitude in relative
value may arise from totally opposite causes. Thus, the equation, 20 yards of linen = 1 coat,
becomes 20 yards of linen = 2 coats, either, because the value of the linen has doubled, or
because the value of the coat has fallen by one-half; and it becomes 20 yards of linen = ½ coat,
either, because the value of the linen has fallen by one-half, or because the value of the coat has
III. Let the quantities of labour time respectively necessary for the production of the linen and
the coat vary simultaneously in the same direction and in the same proportion. In this case 20
yards of linen continue equal to 1 coat, however much their values may have altered. Their
change of value is seen as soon as they are compared with a third commodity, whose value has
remained constant. If the values of all commodities rose or fell simultaneously, and in the same
proportion, their relative values would remain unaltered. Their real change of value would appear
from the diminished or increased quantity of commodities produced in a given time.
IV. The labour time respectively necessary for the production of the linen and the coat, and
therefore the value of these commodities may simultaneously vary in the same direction, but at
unequal rates or in opposite directions, or in other ways. The effect of all these possible different
variations, on the relative value of a commodity, may be deduced from the results of I, II, and III.
Thus real changes in the magnitude of value are neither unequivocally nor exhaustively reflected
in their relative expression, that is, in the equation expressing the magnitude of relative value. The
relative value of a commodity may vary, although its value remains constant. Its relative value
may remain constant, although its value varies; and finally, simultaneous variations in the
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magnitude of value and in that of its relative expression by no means necessarily correspond in
3. The Equivalent form of value
We have seen that commodity A (the linen), by expressing its value in the use value of a
commodity differing in kind (the coat), at the same time impresses upon the latter a specific form
of value, namely that of the equivalent. The commodity linen manifests its quality of having a
value by the fact that the coat, without having assumed a value form different from its bodily
form, is equated to the linen. The fact that the latter therefore has a value is expressed by saying
that the coat is directly exchangeable with it. Therefore, when we say that a commodity is in the
equivalent form, we express the fact that it is directly exchangeable with other commodities.
When one commodity, such as a coat, serves as the equivalent of another, such as linen, and coats
consequently acquire the characteristic property of being directly exchangeable with linen, we are
far from knowing in what proportion the two are exchangeable. The value of the linen being
given in magnitude, that proportion depends on the value of the coat. Whether the coat serves as
the equivalent and the linen as relative value, or the linen as the equivalent and the coat as relative
value, the magnitude of the coat’s value is determined, independently of its value form, by the
labour time necessary for its production. But whenever the coat assumes in the equation of value,
the position of equivalent, its value acquires no quantitative expression; on the contrary, the
commodity coat now figures only as a definite quantity of some article.
For instance, 40 yards of linen are worth – what? 2 coats. Because the commodity coat here plays
the part of equivalent, because the use-value coat, as opposed to the linen, figures as an
embodiment of value, therefore a definite number of coats suffices to express the definite quantity
of value in the linen. Two coats may therefore express the quantity of value of 40 yards of linen,
but they can never express the quantity of their own value. A superficial observation of this fact,
namely, that in the equation of value, the equivalent figures exclusively as a simple quantity of
some article, of some use value, has misled Bailey, as also many others, both before and after
him, into seeing, in the expression of value, merely a quantitative relation. The truth being, that
when a commodity acts as equivalent, no quantitative determination of its value is expressed.
The first peculiarity that strikes us, in considering the form of the equivalent, is this: use value
becomes the form of manifestation, the phenomenal form of its opposite, value.
The bodily form of the commodity becomes its value form. But, mark well, that this quid pro quo
exists in the case of any commodity B, only when some other commodity A enters into a value
relation with it, and then only within the limits of this relation. Since no commodity can stand in
the relation of equivalent to itself, and thus turn its own bodily shape into the expression of its
own value, every commodity is compelled to choose some other commodity for its equivalent,
and to accept the use value, that is to say, the bodily shape of that other commodity as the form of
its own value.
One of the measures that we apply to commodities as material substances, as use values, will
serve to illustrate this point. A sugar-loaf being a body, is heavy, and therefore has weight: but we
can neither see nor touch this weight. We then take various pieces of iron, whose weight has been
determined beforehand. The iron, as iron, is no more the form of manifestation of weight, than is
the sugar-loaf. Nevertheless, in order to express the sugar-loaf as so much weight, we put it into a
weight-relation with the iron. In this relation, the iron officiates as a body representing nothing
but weight. A certain quantity of iron therefore serves as the measure of the weight of the sugar,
and represents, in relation to the sugar-loaf, weight embodied, the form of manifestation of
weight. This part is played by the iron only within this relation, into which the sugar or any other
39 Chapter 1
body, whose weight has to be determined, enters with the iron. Were they not both heavy, they
could not enter into this relation, and the one could therefore not serve as the expression of the
weight of the other. When we throw both into the scales, we see in reality, that as weight they are
both the same, and that, therefore, when taken in proper proportions, they have the same weight.
Just as the substance iron, as a measure of weight, represents in relation to the sugar-loaf weight
alone, so, in our expression of value, the material object, coat, in relation to the linen, represents
value alone.
Here, however, the analogy ceases. The iron, in the expression of the weight of the sugar-loaf,
represents a natural property common to both bodies, namely their weight; but the coat, in the
expression of value of the linen, represents a non-natural property of both, something purely
social, namely, their value.
Since the relative form of value of a commodity – the linen, for example – expresses the value of
that commodity, as being something wholly different from its substance and properties, as being,
for instance, coat-like, we see that this expression itself indicates that some social relation lies at
the bottom of it. With the equivalent form it is just the contrary. The very essence of this form is
that the material commodity itself – the coat – just as it is, expresses value, and is endowed with
the form of value by Nature itself. Of course this holds good only so long as the value relation
exists, in which the coat stands in the position of equivalent to the linen.22 Since, however, the
properties of a thing are not the result of its relations to other things, but only manifest themselves
in such relations, the coat seems to be endowed with its equivalent form, its property of being
directly exchangeable, just as much by Nature as it is endowed with the property of being heavy,
or the capacity to keep us warm. Hence the enigmatical character of the equivalent form which
escapes the notice of the bourgeois political economist, until this form, completely developed,
confronts him in the shape of money. He then seeks to explain away the mystical character of
gold and silver, by substituting for them less dazzling commodities, and by reciting, with ever
renewed satisfaction, the catalogue of all possible commodities which at one time or another have
played the part of equivalent. He has not the least suspicion that the most simple expression of
value, such as 20 yds of linen = 1 coat, already propounds the riddle of the equivalent form for
our solution.
The body of the commodity that serves as the equivalent, figures as the materialisation of human
labour in the abstract, and is at the same time the product of some specifically useful concrete
labour. This concrete labour becomes, therefore, the medium for expressing abstract human
labour. If on the one hand the coat ranks as nothing but the embodiment of abstract human labour,
so, on the other hand, the tailoring which is actually embodied in it, counts as nothing but the
form under which that abstract labour is realised. In the expression of value of the linen, the
utility of the tailoring consists, not in making clothes, but in making an object, which we at once
recognise to be Value, and therefore to be a congelation of labour, but of labour indistinguishable
from that realised in the value of the linen. In order to act as such a mirror of value, the labour of
tailoring must reflect nothing besides its own abstract quality of being human labour generally.
In tailoring, as well as in weaving, human labour power is expended. Both, therefore, possess the
general property of being human labour, and may, therefore, in certain cases, such as in the
production of value, have to be considered under this aspect alone. There is nothing mysterious in
this. But in the expression of value there is a complete turn of the tables. For instance, how is the
fact to be expressed that weaving creates the value of the linen, not by virtue of being weaving, as
such, but by reason of its general property of being human labour? Simply by opposing to
weaving that other particular form of concrete labour (in this instance tailoring), which produces
the equivalent of the product of weaving. Just as the coat in its bodily form became a direct
40 Chapter 1
expression of value, so now does tailoring, a concrete form of labour, appear as the direct and
palpable embodiment of human labour generally.
Hence, the second peculiarity of the equivalent form is, that concrete labour becomes the form
under which its opposite, abstract human labour, manifests itself.
But because this concrete labour, tailoring in our case, ranks as, and is directly identified with,
undifferentiated human labour, it also ranks as identical with any other sort of labour, and
therefore with that embodied in the linen. Consequently, although, like all other commodityproducing labour, it is the labour of private individuals, yet, at the same time, it ranks as labour
directly social in its character. This is the reason why it results in a product directly exchangeable
with other commodities. We have then a third peculiarity of the equivalent form, namely, that the
labour of private individuals takes the form of its opposite, labour directly social in its form.
The two latter peculiarities of the equivalent form will become more intelligible if we go back to
the great thinker who was the first to analyse so many forms, whether of thought, society, or
Nature, and amongst them also the form of value. I mean Aristotle.
In the first place, he clearly enunciates that the money form of commodities is only the further
development of the simple form of value – i.e., of the expression of the value of one commodity
in some other commodity taken at random; for he says:
5 beds = 1 house (χλιναι πεντε αντι οιχιας)
is not to be distinguished from
5 beds = so much money. (χλιναι πεντε αντι ... οσον αι πεντε χλιναι)
He further sees that the value relation which gives rise to this expression makes it necessary that
the house should qualitatively be made the equal of the bed, and that, without such an
equalisation, these two clearly different things could not be compared with each other as
commensurable quantities. “Exchange,” he says, “cannot take place without equality, and
equality not without commensurability". (ουτ ισοτης µη ουσης σνµµετριας). Here, however,
he comes to a stop, and gives up the further analysis of the form of value. “It is, however, in
reality, impossible (τη µεν ουν αληθεια αδυνατον), that such unlike things can be
commensurable” – i.e., qualitatively equal. Such an equalisation can only be something foreign to
their real nature, consequently only “a makeshift for practical purposes.”
Aristotle therefore, himself, tells us what barred the way to his further analysis; it was the absence
of any concept of value. What is that equal something, that common substance, which admits of
the value of the beds being expressed by a house? Such a thing, in truth, cannot exist, says
Aristotle. And why not? Compared with the beds, the house does represent something equal to
them, in so far as it represents what is really equal, both in the beds and the house. And that is –
human labour.
There was, however, an important fact which prevented Aristotle from seeing that, to attribute
value to commodities, is merely a mode of expressing all labour as equal human labour, and
consequently as labour of equal quality. Greek society was founded upon slavery, and had,
therefore, for its natural basis, the inequality of men and of their labour powers. The secret of the
expression of value, namely, that all kinds of labour are equal and equivalent, because, and so far
as they are human labour in general, cannot be deciphered, until the notion of human equality has
already acquired the fixity of a popular prejudice. This, however, is possible only in a society in
which the great mass of the produce of labour takes the form of commodities, in which,
consequently, the dominant relation between man and man, is that of owners of commodities. The
brilliancy of Aristotle’s genius is shown by this alone, that he discovered, in the expression of the

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