A friend mentioned that in Marxism, the distance a good was transported was used to determine the price of said good.

I can't find anything on the Internet to support this claim, although I might be misremembering his statement.

Can anyone think to what he was referring?


1 Answer 1


Quantities of products are not increased by transportation. Nor, with a few exceptions, is the possible alteration of their natural qualities, brought about by transportation, an intentional useful effect; it is rather an unavoidable evil. But the use-value of things is materialised only in their consumption, and their consumption may necessitate a change of location of these things, hence may require an additional process of production, in the transport industry. The productive capital invested in this industry imparts value to the transported products, partly by transferring value from the means of transportation, partly by adding value through the labour performed in transport. This last-named increment of value consists, as it does in all capitalist production, of a replacement of wages and of surplus-value.

Source: Capital Volume II, Chapter 6: The Costs of Circulation, I. Genuine Costs of Circulation, III. Costs of Transportation

My understanding of Marx's argument is the following: Transportation does not alter the quantity/quality of products significantly. But, products need to have a use-value in order to also have an exchange value. Thus, an orange for example produced in Spain has an exchange value in UK, only if it arrives in UK, so that it can be bought and consumed. So, transportation adds value to the products, and this is done (as with all products) partly from the labor value (transportation workers) and partly from the means of production (means of transportation: airplanes, ships, cars, trucks...).

Since transportation adds value to the product, and since price is a mirror of value according to Marx, then we can say that transportation tends to increase the price of the product (which is a logical assumption on average).

Regarding distance, I am not sure if that is explicitly mentioned, but again we can deduce from the previous that: bigger distance --> more transportation needed (given constant technological advancement in a period) --> more transportation labor needed + more transportation means of production --> more added value --> tendency for bigger price.


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