[OPE-L:2260] Re: Re: value-form theories and fetishism

From: clyder (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Fri Jan 21 2000 - 07:23:01 EST

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> I would appreciate the shortest answer you may give for 'why *labour* in
> the asbtract labour theory of value?'. The reference to Classical
> Economy is worrying me. Smith has the idea that labour is the source of
> value, because labour is the *active* element in production, in whatever
> mode of production. This cannot be Marx's perspective (I hold with
> Napoleoni that in capitalism labour is included in the technical structure
> of capital, which is the only 'producer' of wealth).

It is striking to me how people can read diametrically opposite meanings
into an authors work.

You say that Marx's perspective is that labour is incorporated into
the technical structure of capital and that is is capital that is the only
producer of wealth.

I understood him to be saying precisely the opposite - that capital
is just labour and that labour is the source of all value. As to capital
being the source of all 'wealth', marx explicitly denies that labour
is the source of all wealth, saying that nature is also a source of
wealth, this precludes capital being the source of all wealth.

I took the whole thrust of his theory of fetishism to be that what
appears as exchange value relations and the production of 'value'
is an alienated reflection of the social division of labour.

Far from capital being taken as the source of value, Marx deconstructs
the category of capital into two components variable and constant
capital. Variable capital is nothing but present labour and contant capital
is past labour.

> I would like to
> understand how the systematic dialectical presentation explain why labour
> is the source of *value*, a statement which I hold is valid *only* in
> capitalism.

Do you have any historical evidence to back this assertion up?
Have you studied the history of prices in pre-capitalist economies and
demonstrated that they were regulated by something other than
labour content?

Or are you just engaging in speculation.

If labour is only the source of value under capitalism you have
difficulty analysing the transition from feudalism to capitalism.
In the transition process, money capital arising from usury and
mercantile activity confronts peasants driven from their land
by enclosures etc. Whilst capitalist production is a minor
element of the total production, what governs the exchange
value of commodities?
How indeed could the value in the form of money that is
being transformed into capital exist at all?

>On the contrary, if value is constituted (only) in
> exchange, without nothing 'substantial' before, I understand that Marx's
> idea of exploitation (in production) vanishes.

In that case you have a Bailey not Marx.

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