[OPE-L:2272] Re: Re: value-form theories

From: C. J. Arthur (cjarthur@pavilion.co.uk)
Date: Fri Jan 21 2000 - 20:35:44 EST

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Geert says
>Here goes the elimination process in a few sentences, i.e. the question of
>why labour is the source of value.
>1) Capitalist production is a two-fould process: production of use-value
>and production of value (both at one).
>2) Use-value. Permit integration af all production; i.e. macro. WITHIN this
>intergrated whole we have 3 factors of production: a) unappropriated
>nature; b) means of production (including appropriated nature, such as
>land); c) labour [3 factors, cf. Neoclassical economics]. However, looking
>at this whole as a CIRCUIT we have only two facors coming from outside as
>inputs: a) unappropriated nature; b) labour(power) [two factors, cf Petty,
>Marx, Austrian economics].
>3) Value. Now look at the same CIRCUIT as value-production, valorisation.
>We had before two factors coming from outside. However, unappropriated
>Nature cannot (till today) take the value-form (e.g. sun, air, rain). And
>surely that poses an ecological danger for the capitalist system (of course
>for people in the first place -- but without people no capitalism).
>Ergo (and this is what Jerry calls: by elimination), labour-power is the
>only factor entering the valorisation circuit from outside: that adds from
>outside. (The use-value of labour-power is labour. Labour is a two-fould
>entity: physical/concrete labour -- with time dimension if you like -- see
>(2); abstract labour -- with money dimension (which is `ideal' money, that
>can be looked upon as a precommensuration, during production.
>Thus we have one factor of production of value [cf. Marx].
>Of course since the notion (1) above is Marx's, we have Marx appearing in
>(2) AND (3).

IMO this is a muddle; esp. point two. This conflates two quite different
classifications: the factors *of* production and the inputs *to*
production. Only the latter take a value form. Thus the use value factors
*of* production are nature, produced means of production including worked
up nature and labour.
G's version of this makes no sense because it drags in the extraneous
question of whether the nature is appropriated or not which has nothing to
do with use value production. Moreover this means he falsely concludes that
the two factors coming from outside are unappropriated nature and labour
(power) {NB why this uncertain slippage from 'labour' to 'labour (power)'?}
whereas appropriated nature also comes from outside. As Marx quotes Petty
wealth comes from Labour and Land (all land not just unappropriated land).
The inputs *to* production differ in two significant respects: while we
still have produced means of production which naturally come as commodities
in the full sense, labour is *not* an input but labour power is and comes
in commodity form - the wage (misleadingly I agree with G) while nature
divides into unappropriated nature and appropriated nature which comes with
a commodity form (rent).
Now to point 3 where the origin of value is discussed. Geert starts with
his two things coming from outside. Apart from the fact his two things are
wrongly described as I just said, he makes to me the quite extraordinary
deduction that because unappropriated nature does not take a value form
therefore it cannot be a source of value. Greens would certainly be up in
arms at this, and I too would have thought that intuitively anything
productive which the capitalist gets for free is almost certain to explain
where new value comes from. Moreover it is in conflict with Marx's own
structure of argument. Labour precisely does not have a value form (it is
not-value as Gr. puts it) yet Labour (*not Labour power*) is identified by
Marx precisely as the source of new value and moreover just because there
is no equation of labour with labour power this allows him to suppose this
new value could be greater than that of labour power.
What might be true is that it seems unlikely that genuine values , namely
the produced means of production, could do anything but transfer their
value. So eliminate that. THis leaves two factors *of* production Nature
and Labour which might be sources of value. As just indicated I fail to see
what the relevance of the value form of the *inputs to* production is here,
but since Geert seems concerned with it let us notice that labour power
comes with a wage reward (what about cases where the employer also works
tho'?) and appropriated nature with a rent reward. How can one be
 In reply to my earlier objection to the VFS derivation on this ground Mike
said rent is a residual. I don't understand that. If rent is a residual,
why is the wage not a residual?
It seems to me the two cases are exactly parallel; both L and N are factors
of production. While the inputs LP and approriated nature are both rewarded
out of value created in production.
Lest people think I am just a critic I do have my own answer to why labour
is special , which is partly set out in my Rivista piece.


P. S. Please note that I have a new Email address,
but the old one will also run until next summer. (To be doubly sure load both!)

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