The Passing Op Marxism -- By: Orville B. Swift

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 077:308 (Oct 1920)
Article: The Passing Op Marxism
Author: Orville B. Swift


The Passing Op Marxism

Orville B. Swift

Moses was not alone in the glory Ingersoll attributed to him. Marx, quite humanly, made mistakes. Depending too much on Ricardo and on Smith, he was led into blunders he might otherwise have avoided. Some of these are so fundamental that we note them.

To Marx, wealth meant immense accumulation of commodities; and commodities, those things which satisfy human needs. While this definition of wealth might have been true at one time, it is patently untrue to-day, when we measure wealth, not in terms of accumulated commodities, but in terms of accumulated securities. Securities are titles to the possession of the means of the production of commodities.

Then Marx distinguished three kinds of value. “Use-value “he defined as the capacity of a commodity to be of use, that is, to meet some human need. This is simply to use new terminology for what economists bad long termed “utility.” “Exchange-value” he defined as that proportion in which values of one sort are exchanged for values of another sort. Tins “value “is not absolute, as he assumed, but is accidental and relative, because commodities are of changing value according to demand. Only a common term of measurement by which the values of the com-modifies to be exchanged are to be gauged, can make possible such equating of commodity-value as the Marxian principle required. Hence he posits “labor” as that tertium quid to which each of the commodity-values is equal in order to be equal to each other. But commodity has value not simply because labor has been expended upon it, but because the commodity is useful. It is the product not only of labor, but of other factors as well, which play as necessary a part in its production as labor. Marx’s theory completely ignores these other elements.

Marx stated his theory of value in terms of a law: The greater the productiveness of labor the less labor-time is required to produce a given article, so the less the amount of labor-material in the article, and hence the less the value of the article. Interpreted this means: The more unskilled the tool-maker, the more valuable the product of his labor; if he expends twice as much labor producing a chisel as his more skillful fellow-craftsman, his chisel is worth twice as much, even though that made by his more skillful fellow-laborer in half the time, is a better made tool. The absurdity of this is perfectly apparent.

Note that both Nature and Capital make contributions to the value of any commodity. Often the greater part of the value is the contribution of Nature. Consider the use-value of coal. A good deal of hard labor is required to mine the coal. But to what exten...

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