[OPE-L:3527] Re: Re: Re: Re: Marxism and 19th century materialism

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Jun 22 2000 - 07:42:39 EDT

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At 11:30 21/06/00 -0400, you wrote:
> >The philosophical position that there exist configurations of matter
> >independent
> >of our knowledge of them is directly relevant here.
>Paul, I am surprised that you would make such a simplistic assertion. We
>both know that not an atom of matter enters into the objectivity of
>commodities as values; in this it is the direct opposite of the coarsely
>sensuous objectivity of commodities as physical objects. We may twist and
>turn a single commodity as we wish; it remains impossible to grasp it as a
>thing possessing value.

I agree that this is true, but the configuration of matter that I am talking
about is the set of actually existing production processes. The value of
an object is not part of the objects matter, but a property of the
technology matrix under which it was produced. This matrix has
properties which include projecting out a vector associating a number
- a labour value - with each product.

My assertion is that the matrix exists objectively and determines
what the values are.

> >
> >I read this as saying, unless value is explicitly measured as price it
> does not
> >exist.
>As you should. But you have yet to comment on the paragraph from Critique
>of Political Economy which I have typed up three times in this exchange.

Please clarify what passage you are refering to: I.e. which posting.

>And this passage settles nothing about when commodities acquire value. The
>debate is about whether socially necessary includes both a technical norm
>and a socially required stipulation, as Allin put it helpfully long ago.

Yes, I have been supporting Ajits argument that one should not include
socially required as a stipulation. Unless you stick strictly to the definition
of value as being determined in production all sorts of implications follow:

1. As I said before you have no means of assigning values to means
     of production that are used internally but not sold by a firm.
2. You have no means of saying whether market price is above or below
3. You have no means of saying whether in particular a monopoly price
     is above its value.
4. Going on from that, the theory of differential rent is put into question.
5. If value is not determined in production but in exchange, then the
     theory of surplus value itself begins to look suspect.

You are left with very little that is recognisably marxian political economy.

>There has been criticism of the putative Marxist inability to deal with
>fiat and credit money. I was just asking what is left if the material
>(metallic) substratum of money evaporates--nothing but form, pure form. So
>must a form (causa formalis) be of *something*, must there be some
>material substratum (causa materialis)? This was a new problem.

I suggest that instead of using old Aristotelean categories like form,
you ask yourself whether money might be an information structure.
In this view, possession of tokens is just a particular way of recording
information. Such information can be equally well recorded in ledgers
or on computer disks. The material used to make money then only
has relevance as a deterrent to forgery.

> >

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