[OPE-L:2004] Re: value-form theories

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Sun Jan 02 2000 - 08:24:08 EST

[ show plain text ]

Re Chris's [OPE-L:1976]:

> Yes. I do not think he [Tony Smith, JL] clearly distinguishes value and
> exchange value.

I'll leave that one for Tony to comment on when he has time.

> Now my view is this. The problem is I do not think Marx has a good ground
> for value in sec. 1 and 2. Moreover in my view the 'grounding' movment does
> not go *into* the object (not at first anyway) but happens through a
> further development of the value form itself.

When you say that you don't think Marx has a good ground for value, are
you developing a similar argument to the one you made in [1965] re "what
every child knows"?

I agree that one can not deduce the existence adequately for value from
the (apparent) opposition between UV and EV. In particular, the method of
deduction by means of eliminating other possibilities is not totally
convincing, imo.

> So that with money value is
> posited in the object, and with capital posited in its production, only
> then does labour become relevant and has to be taken as form-detrmined as
> abstract.

Labour becomes "relevant" as soon as we are talking about the
*production* of commodities.

[Digression: As Marx makes clear later on (in the "Critique of a Gotha
Programme"), labour is not the source of all wealth {"Labour is *not the
source* of all wealth. *Nature* is just as much the source of use-values
(and it is surely of such that material wealth consists!) as labour, which
itself is only the manifestation of a force of nature, human labour
power"). I interpret this to mean that nature and labour jointly create
wealth, but labour alone creates *value*.

Why is this of significance? Let us recall that Marx begins _Capital_ with
how the *wealth* of "societies in which the capitalist mode of production
prevails appears". Thus, from the very beginning there is the presumption
not only of commodities but also of wealth and, therefore, a role for
nature. Perhaps this is necessary for the grounding of *use-value* in the

> Now I argue towards your position as follows. To begin with V and UV are
> absolutely opposed. I am tempted to call them real extremes which can never
> be harmoniously reconcild in a 'third'.

I'm not sure I agree with this idea that they are "absolutely opposed". I
would say, rather, that they are *linked* in the commodity-form since
without UV there can be no V (or EV). I.e. there is a unity in the
commodity-form of UV, V, and EV. When this unity no longer exists and when
there is no UV, or V, or EV, then there is no longer commodity. Of course,
this doesn't mean that I think that V and UV are "harmoniously reconciled
in a 'third'".

> But the development traces
> capital's attempt to bring them into relation. The development has a double
> movement
> - on the one hand a dialectic of the separation of V from UV and positing
> of it as a power in its own right (this goes up to the general formula for
> capital) albeit always reliant on UVs as bearers. On the other hand there
> follows the conquering of the UV sphere by V, form-determining production,
> creating new needs etc. (See Sekine on this.)
> Now this 'conquering' is always aporetic, for one might just as well say
> that V is absolutely dependent upon UV e.g. there would be no SV without
> workers being able to produce more than they need, a material fact.

[Digression continued: your talk of "conquering" reminds me of what I was
writing about earlier in this post since there has been much talk of
humankind "conquering" nature {NB: not by Chris} in the last century and
before. Yet, this is an absurdity since human beings are *part of* nature
even if capital seems hell-bent on annihilating and exhausting much of
nature -- and possibly itself in the process. btw, can we conceive of the
"negation of the negation" as communism *or* the surpassing of humankind
itself by the self-annihilation of the human species?]

> So it seems to me Marx was wrong to dismiss EV as mere appearance form of a
> selfstanding V; of course *within* the system we can take it this way; but
> when we are discussing the founding *of* the system it seems to me
> plausible to argue that V is the outcome of the VF acting so as to posit
> it, and the UV sphere providing the material to ground it. If that is what
> you meant in your conclusion I agree.

While it is accurate to refer to EV as a necessary form of appearance of
value, it is misleading to use the term "mere", imo -- even if Marx also
used "mere". It is not "mere" because the presence of EV is a necessary
component in the realization of the commodity.

I better stop now ...

In solidarity, Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Jan 31 2000 - 07:00:05 EST