[OPE-L:2019] Re: Re: value-form theories

From: nicola taylor (nmtaylor@carmen.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Mon Jan 03 2000 - 10:07:35 EST

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Hello Mike W, pleased to meet you finally, and commiserations:- I too have
been snowed under by commitments (fortunately, in my case, seasonal). Hope
nobody minds if i briefly tackle your reply to Fred (OPE-L 1937), regarding
his inference from the Marx quote he cited:
>> The fact that the purpose of the process is that x should be
>> transformed into x + dx also POINTS TO THE PATH OUR OWN
>> INVESTIGATION SHOULD TAKE. The result must be expressed
>> as the FUNCTION OF A VARIABLE QUANTITY, or be transformed into
>> one during the process. As a given sum of money, x is a constant
>> from the outset and hence its increment = 0. In the course of the
>> process, therefore, it must be changed into another amount which
>> contains a variable element. OUR TASK IS IS TO DISCOVER THIS
>> (Capital, vol. 1, Vintage edition, p. 977; emphasis added).
>From this quote Fred inferred "that they key question in a theory of
capitalism is to explain the determination of the magnitude of the dM". You
disagree, making crucial two points:


>Rather, Marx says quite clearly here that the capitalist system must
>determine (throw up determinations of) the quantity of surplus-value
>(expressed in money).


>And that we (the investigators) must grasp the
>mediations by which this occurs. That doesn't speak one way or the other to
>the necessity for the theory to determine magnitudes - just that it must
>explain how such magnitudes are reproduced in the theoretical object -

It seems to a newcomer to Marx that the question of what Marx meant by
determination, what 'type' of abstraction he used, and what sort of theory
of causation he held (and the sheer multitude of the differing
interpretations of all of these) are the issues upon which Marxists talk
past each other (dialogues of the deaf, etc). So, to get this clear, I
hope you don't mind if I ask you to elaborate:

1) What do *you* mean by determine in the context of (1)? For Marx (and
Fred) the whole of capital, and the theory of surplus value in particular,
are based on Marx's derivation of abstract labour in Part 1; i.e. that
surplus value is the objective 'form of appearance' of abstract labour, and
that money is a measure of these immanent values of commodities. This
implies a causal connection between labour and value. If this connection
is denied, the duality of the commodity must (surely?) be reconstructed as
a duality of use-value and money; the whole notion of surplus value becomes
defunct in favour of a theory of value-added (during production).

2) If so, what you mean by the 'capitalist system' and what you mean by the
'determinations' it throws up are different from what Fred means by these
concepts; i.e. the 'theoretical object at (2) differs, as do the
'mediations' that the investigators think that they should be grasping.

Do you see any way to construct a dialogue with Fred, or must the two of
you simply agree to disagree, each retaining great respect for the work of
the other, each equally puzzled as to what the work of the other actually

belated *new millenium* greetings to all

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