[OPE-L:4724] Re: Re: SV and the F of D

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Wed Dec 20 2000 - 14:49:21 EST

I sent this to a list member who has criticized the manner in which I 
have replied to Gil

I just don't get the point of Gil's argument.

He has argued that if surplus value by definition requires 
production, then Marx's chapter five argument is mere tautology, but 
I have granted that there is an element of that here. For example, in 
Marx's criticism of Condillac, he wants to show how circulation can 
increase the service of commodities as use values to their new owners 
without increasing the value in circulation. So Marx is sharpening 
the distinction between use value and exchange value.

Gil has argued that Marx is wrong to say that surplus value has to be 
explained on the basis of the assumption of price-value equivalence, 
but you have yourself noted that Marx does not set this condition. 
Gil has said that Marx ignores that merchant capital or interest 
bearing capital can profit even if the sum of values in circulation 
does not increase, but Marx clearly himself highlights this; 
moreover, Gil pays no attention to how in his complete theory Marx 
sees the relations among the different circuits of capital. This 
stikes me as very ungenerous.  Gil has then said that surplus value 
can be produced, to take a simple example, if merchants lend out raw 
materials or extend credit to independent commodity producers who 
then sell back the final product below value to merchants (this sort 
of mercantile industrial capital circuit is indeed found in 
India--see writings of Jan Breman), so surplus value production does 
not depend on the commodification of labor power (though the 
possibilities of relative surplus value production are limited by 
such mercantile industrial capital as Breman), but even if this is 
true (and because of the law of value such independent commodity 
production is usually done in by large scale enterprise in which free 
wage labor is employed), it in no way undermines Marx's argument that 
in the case that capitalists find on the market only free wage 
workers, the production of surplus value can only be explained if it 
is labor capacity (rather than labor time) that is alienated by 
proletarians, qua juridical subjects. That is, there is still the 
discovery of what is alienated by whom... labor power and the 
juridical persona who is free to enter into and thus is bound by 
contract (see Pashkunis).

At any rate, I find no clear point to Gil's argument.  Gil seems to 
me a very ungenerous reader of Marx out to hoist him by his own 
petard or impale him on his own sword. He seems to have haughily 
dismissed anyone who has been convinced by Marx's theory of value as 
Ptolemian--it seems that you do not find this as insulting as I do. 
Again, if you do look over the exchange, I did not call Gil an anti 
semite. I MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT THINK THIS.  Gil responded that it 
was implied in my criticism that if one criticizes Marx on logical 
grounds, he becomes an apologist for the Holocaust. I said that 
Marx's theory provides the most solid foundations for the criticism 
of common sense notions of the roots of exploitation which has 
animated modern anti semitism. I do think this this is true of 
Marxian theory.

I remain not clear at all as to what the ultimate point of Gil's 
critique is. Since he is so obviously smart, I worry that I may be 
missing something of great importance; this is why I attempted to 
engage him.  But after five years of reading his criticism, I just 
don't get the point.

All best, Rakesh

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