[OPE-L:2336] RE: Fw: RE: value form and m-c-m'

From: Michael Williams (mwilliam@dmu.ac.uk)
Date: Wed Feb 09 2000 - 11:05:22 EST

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Subject: [OPE-L:2329] Fw: RE: value form and m-c-m'

Michael W

> > 1. A Bunsen burner is the source of heat, but it is neither the
> 'substance'
> > nor the 'measure' of it.
Paul C

> This is a misleading analogy, when talking about the value form we are
> talking
> about a mathematical function that maps from the set of unique commodity
> identifiers onto some set that is homomorphic with the natural numbers.
Well, you may be. But this is not (all) that value-form theory is concerned

> The question of whether it has a 'substance' is just childish philosophica
> point scoring which mistakes a metaphor in which a theory is expressed
> for the serious logical content of the theory.
That's a very scientific comment, comrade.

> Labour can be timed whether its product is sold as a commodity or not.
I don't deny that it can be - I've seen it done! My concern has been to
discern what such a measurement might mean in political economic discourse.
When I've got a little more time, I'll try to synthesise the Cockshot (et
al) trans-historical, quasi-biological concept of abstract labour, and the
value-form system-specific social-form concept. I hope you won't find that
too childish an exercise, but we shall see.
> What I mean is that unless you have a postulate of proportionality between
> prices and labour values, then the statement that labour is a source
> of exchange value has no real meaning.
At the risk of being accused of more childish (albeit philosophical) word
games, I suspect you and I would unpack 'real meaning' differently.
> >If we have good
> reason
> > to believe that labour is the source of all new value, it behoves us to
> > incorporate that in our conceptualisations.
> What are these 'good reasons'?
They are being rehearsed as we speak in the discussion about Marx's
so-called argument by elimination at the beginning of Capital. I am under
the impression that Marx accepted the general gist of the Classical labour
theory of value, and was specifically concerned to find a grounding for it
under capitalism.

> This still strikes me as a very weak theory since it depends upon the
> hypothesis that labour is the only source of new value. All you are saying
> is that if you have some defined quantity of labour L and if you have
> some national income Y, and you map the national income onto the
> labour by some function of the form
> L = kY
> then if profits form a portion of Y then a portion of L must correspond
> to the profits and you then call this unpaid labour.
> Well, you could make L stand for Land instead of labour, then there
> will be some 'unpaid land' corresponding to k(Y-r) where r is the
> amount of rent in the national income.
Again, see discussion of Marx's argument by elimination.
Dr Michael Williams
Economics and Social Sciences
De Montfort University
Milton Keynes
fax: 0870 133 1147
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