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By Thomas T. Sekine

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Such a special commodity (or commodity by chance), however, is not relevant in the present context. What is at issue here is that all capitalistically produced commodities are value-objects, and consequently must express their value by pricing themselves. , regardless of whether these proposed exchanges are in fact realisable or not. Needless to say, value is always positive (> 0); otherwise it cannot be expressed. The price that expresses value is also always positive because a value expression requires a positive quantity of both the commodity for sale and the equivalent commodity.

It is the social, and not material, dimension of the commodity that makes its value, in terms of which it does not qualitatively differ from any other commodity. All commodities relate themselves with one another only quantitatively in prices because they share the same property of being socially significant. The substantive content of this social significance (or social substance, as Marx calls it) cannot as yet be revealed. All that can be anticipated here is that it must be something objective, instead of a merely imaginary, or metaphysical, substance such as social utility.

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

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