In a system of commodity production it is logically possible that the supply and demand for each product would exactly match, with each commodity exchanging at its individual value (the labour-time of production whether it be by the most or least efficient method). Capitalism, however, is dominated by commodity production, and the extension of the market ensures that prices for identical products do not diverge. Even if supply and demand match now, the only way that the owner of a commodity can ensure that it sells at (or above) its individual value is by ensuring that this value is at (or below) the market evaluation, by expending only one and a half hours of labour-time on a shirt with a market evaluation of two hours. Competition is created between producers in the market. The reaction to this by an independent self-employed artisan, who had survived the vagaries of the market, would be to modify output either in quantity or type. These options are also open to the capitalist, but neither is likely to be as effective for the purpose of expanding value as joining in the battle of competition. Marx stressed that this battle is fought by the cheapening of commodities through reducing their value, that is to say the labour-time necessary for their production.


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Copyright information

© Ben Fine 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Birkbeck CollegeUniversity of LondonUK

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