[OPE-L:5616] RE: Ockam's Razor now becomes value form and labour values

From: Michael Williams (michael@williamsmj.worldonline.co.uk)
Date: Fri May 18 2001 - 04:39:38 EDT

Thanks to Howard for his contribution.

I will leave Geert to take up the question of exactly what he intended in
the post that kicked off this sub-thread, and just respond to the specifics
addressed to me.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: howard engelskirchen [mailto:lhengels@igc.org]
> Sent: Friday, May 18, 2001 3:00 AM
> To: michael@williamsmj.worldonline.co.uk
> Subject: Re: [OPE-L:5603] RE: Ockam's Razor
Howard says:
> ... You write,
> >Value emerges from the expenditure of labour
> Can I conclude from this that labor is the common element in products that
> allows them to be compared as values?

No, this is not my position:

1. Marx's 'residual' argument in vol 1 is not valid

2. There is no homogenous substance in common between two commodities
(logically) prior to their systematic exchange. Rather it is the intrinsic
location of capitalist commodity production within ubiquitous systematic
exchange that both allows such a 'substance'*, viz abstract labour, to
emerge from the systematic commensuration of heterogeneous concrete labours
by and through the exchange of the commodities they produce, and at the same
time quantifies it.

* the 'scare quotes' indicate that I am sceptical of the appropiateness of
this term in this context, but that is another issue.

Howard again:
> In addition, in response to my suggestion
> >>>that value exists only in exchange
> you comment,
> >>This is not the value form position
> and again, when I begin
> >>> To say that value exists only in exchange
> you comment,
> >>I know of no contributor to any value-form perspective who
> claims any such
> >>thing!
> If I have misunderstood this, then certainly my post is off target.  In
> "The Difficult Labor of a Theory of Social Value," Geert wrote, "Is value
> an entity that exists prior to exchange?"  (p98), suggesting that Marx
> indeed did hold this position.  Then, a number of pages later (p108) he
> writes, "Of course the current theory maintains that value has no
> existence
> prior to the market."

I think Geert should reply to this. But I am quite sure that these quotes in
context will reveal that his position, like mine, is that value emerges
along with the actual abstraction of labour in and through the systemic
intersection of capitalist commodity production and exchange: circulation.
(Note that we are talking logically here. We then would need to move on,
more concretely, to the ongoing and repeated nature of the value-form
system, invoke 'pre-commensuration' and so on.)

Comradely greetings,


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