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Andy, I think we now pretty much agree on Banaji's interpretation of
Marx's "double starting-point." I think I agree with everything with you
say in your latest (below). But there is one point that I do not
understand. In your sequence of categories, you have:
value (congealed abstract socially necessary labor-time)
COMMODITY-FORM [emphasis added]
I do not understand what you mean by "commodity-form" in this sequence and
how this "commodity-form" differs from the "commodity" with which the
sequence begins. Would you please explain further?
You also say that the "commodity-form" is the "concrete historical
synonym" of value. What does "concrete historical synonym" mean?
Why is the "concrete historical synonym" of value the "commodity-form" and
not the "money-form"?
Looking forward to further discussion,
On Tue, 25 Apr 2000, Andrew Brown wrote:
> Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 14:42:16 GMT0BST
> From: Andrew Brown <A.N.Brown@uel.ac.uk>
> Reply-To: email@example.com
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Subject: [OPE-L:2899] Re: Re: Re: re:starting points
> I read Banaji's article to death some years back. Great to see the
> interest in him now.
> Having looked at the article again, some suggestions:
> First, Fred is right that Banaji stresses two points of departure, not
> three (as I had orginally and mistakenly suggested). Nicky is right,
> also, to stress the beginning as a *movement* between the two. The
> two points of departure are (1) the 'commodity' (as 'Schein' or
> immediate so illusory being) and (2) 'value' (NOT 'value-form')
> whose concrete historical synonym is the 'commodity-form'.
> However, I don't think I was all that far off the mark in suggesting
> three starting points. This is because value is only the 'abstract
> essence' of Marx's investigation; in its 'concrete essence' value posits
> itself as capital (M-C-M'). This latter is the most abstract definition of
> capital, one which Marx goes on to develop more and more
> concretely. Thus the 'double structure' of the beginning is indeed a
> movement from Being to Essence; a movement between two points of
> departure; but it is vital to note that value [the second point of
> departure] is only the 'abstract essence' of Marx's investigation;
> capital being the 'concrete essence'. [I should add that Banaji himself
> does not say absolutely explicitly that capital is the 'concrete essence'].
> Alfredo, the notion of 'two points of departure' is fairly clear from the
> first few pages of Volume one, chapter one: Marx starts with the
> 'commodity' as the immediate appearance of bourgeois wealth; he
> then analyses it (the commodity as analytic point of departure) first
> into use value and exchange value, next (looking at the matter more
> closely) reaching the concept 'value', of which exchange value is the
> form. Marx returns to the commodity, but now he grasps the
> commodity as a form of value. Value, or the commodity*-form*, is
> then the synthetic point of departure from which Marx derives the
> money-form and then the capital-form.
> The sequence of categories entailed is: commodity, use-value,
> exchange value, value [here we get congealed abstract socially
> necessary labour], commodity-form, money-form, capital-form. In
> general, I don't think that the various presentations of systematic
> dialectics follow the above sequence (eg. I interpret Tony Smith,
> 1990, as starting from the 'synthetic' point of departure - value - so
> missing out the first three categories of the above sequence; Chris
> Arthur rejects the introduction of labour so early in the presentation.
> Apologies if I have mis-interpreted).
> For myself, looking back at Banaji, I am a little bit apprehensive that
> he cites Itoh's criticisms of Marx (regarding the illegitimate discussion
> of value prior to the discussion of money). This would then have,
> perhaps, some resonance with the 'value-form' criticisms of Marx
> (with which I disagree). I don't think that Banaji refers to 'congealed'
> abstract labour quite as I would. But he does refer to the abstract
> reified form of labour so, to the extent that I can grasp it at all (few,
> it's tough going!), I pretty much agree with Banaji's interpretation.
> Many thanks,
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