[OPE-L:2155] Re: Re: Re: value-form theories

From: Michael Williams (mwilliam@torres.mk.dmu.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Jan 14 2000 - 10:22:51 EST

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----- Original Message -----
From: nicola taylor <nmtaylor@carmen.murdoch.edu.au>
To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Monday, January 03, 2000 3:07 PM
Subject: [OPE-L:2019] Re: Re: value-form theories

> Hello Mike W, pleased to meet you finally

You too - I have been thorougly enjoying lurking on the Value Form thread
that your arrival initiated. I'm now trying to work back through it before
professional demands close in again ... .

Mike W
> disagree[s with Fred], making crucial two points:
> (1)
> >Rather, Marx says quite clearly here that the capitalist system must
> >determine (throw up determinations of) the quantity of surplus-value
> >(expressed in money).
> (2)
> >And that we (the investigators) must grasp the
> >mediations by which this occurs. That doesn't speak one way or the other
> >the necessity for the theory to determine magnitudes - just that it must
> >explain how such magnitudes are reproduced in the theoretical object -
> >capitalism.
> 1) What do *you* [Mike W] mean by determine in the context of (1)?

A causal determinant is a necessary but not sufficient element of a set of
elements that is sufficient but not, in toto, necessary for the consequent.
This is standard philosophy of science. The systematic dialectic spin is
that this set is in fact not unstructured, but the social *system*:
value-form dominated bourgeois society with a capitalist economy at its
economic core

> 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,
> that money is a measure of these immanent values of commodities.

Make this last ..."money is *the* measure of these immanent values" and you
can include value-form theory amongst the defenders of this view

> implies a causal connection between labour and value.

It depends (as you have said earlier) on how we interprete causality, and
for VFT it has an irreducible systemic component, that is indeed the
theoretical object of that theory

> If this connection
> is denied, the duality of the commodity must (surely?) be reconstructed as
> a duality of use-value and money;

With this gloss on the causal connection, rather than denying it, VFT does
indeed hold that a condition of existence (reproduction) of the Commodity is
its appearance as use-value and Money (the sole independnet existence of

So I do not see how your conclusion that
> the whole notion of surplus value becomes
> defunct in favour of a theory of value-added (during production).

follows. Especially as it is taken as read that (Commodity producing) labour
is the sole source of new value

> 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
> means?

As far as I can see, on the one hand VFT provides an account of the
conditions of existence of the social entitities that make quantitative work
such as Fred's relevant; on the other, many of Fred's formulations seem to
threaten a regression to 'embodied labour' dualist interpretations of Marx
that have been roundly critcised from Bohm-Bawerk (sorry about the lost
umlauts) to Ian Steedman.

Comradely Greetings,

Dr Michael Williams
Economics and Social Sciences
De Montfort University
Milton Keynes
fax: 0870 133 1147
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