Value, use-value, exchange- value, value-form, commodity fetishism,
The analysis of the commodity show that it is a doublet � yet what appears as an analytical separation exists in reality too. �The value form of the commodity is its social form�, opposed to the �natural form� of a given thing. (Value Studies by Marx; p. 99 (results of the immediate process of production))
The method of apprehending the role of the commodity is to take its simplest shape as point of departure. This is to be understood through the principles of simple exchange: one commodity relates to another, its exchangeability reliant upon the use-value of another. Yet these simple relations are soon overturned once money or the general equivalent has been introduced (and in capital at least consideration of use-value drops from the analysis). Several misunderstandings have arisen by the conflation of these abstract ideas of simple exchange and a historical idea of simple commodity production. It has been demonstrated (Arthur) that Marx did not have in mind early (i.e. pre- capitalist exchange relations) commodity production nor was he trying to describe the historical genesis of capital at this point. The distinction within the commodity is there in order to advance the understanding of the commodity as social form of value.
�The simple value form of the commodity is the simple appearance form of the oppositions of use-value and exchange value contained in it.� In many places Marx describes use-value as present in all societies, yet its disctintion to exchange value belongs especially to capitalist social relations. Marx in places describes use-value as natural, but this meant for Marx a, �palpable, sensible form of existence�. Use values are material things whereas exchange values do not contain an ounce of matter. �Value� has no meaning outside the general social relationships that give rise to it.
One question is: does this distinction still exist in modern capitalist economies? Firstly �use-values� have undergone major qualitative changes. Namely use-values can not easily be related to as �natural� in counterposition to the sociality of exchange value. They are arguably now just as social, this at least is the import of anti-productivist critiques of capitalism (Baudriallard). In the latter�s case they have a sign-value, a code, a role of social signification that goes far beyond their utility. Yet other criticisms have taken this further. Under capitalism use-value becomes quite simply useless. Capitalism creates social needs that are then supposedly satisfied by consuming certain use-values. Marx himself described many � in his day luxury commodities- as �crappy shit�. �Can we continue to ground the analysis of capital by separating off use-values in the analysis? Does this real separation adequately reflect the way particular commodities are considered or treated in actual capitalist practice?