[OPE-L:3301] Re: starting points [can surplus value be measured?]

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Wed May 24 2000 - 09:27:51 EDT

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Mattick Jr is not the first to argue the problem of measuring value.
Althusser, "Crisis of Marxism", 1978, poses the following question:

"When you read Section 1 of Book 1 of *Capital*, you find a theoretical
presentation of surplus value: it is an arithmetical presentation, in
which surplus value is *calculable*, defined by the difference (in value)
between the value produced by labor power on the one hand, and the value
of the commodities necessary for the reproduction of this same labor pwoer
(wages) on the other. And in this arithmetical presentation of surplus
value, labor power figures purely and simply as a commodity. It is clear
that this arithmetical present of surplus value conforms with the order of
exposition followed by Marx: it therefore depends on his 'starting point'
and on subsequent distinctions (constant capital transferring a part of
its value to the commodity, variable capital invested in labor power).
*Even if* we were to accept this starting point, this beginning, and these
distinctions, ... *this* (arithmetical) *presentation of surplus value may
be taken for a complete theory of exploitation*, causing us to neglect the
conditions of labor and of reproduction. Marx does however talk about
these conditions--but in other chapters.... You can in fact seriously
question whether this misunderstanding... has not finally constituted a
theoretical and political obstacle in the Marxist Labor Movement... [and]
contributed in part to a classical division between the economic struggle
and the political struggle... today still hindering the broadening of the
forms of the whole working class and people's struggles."

Paul Z.

******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

bhandari@Princeton.EDU (Rakesh Bhandari) said, on 05/23/00:

>Moreover, I follow Mattick Jr
>(personal correspondence) in his radical rejection of the idea that value
>can ever be measured (or operationalized).

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