[OPE-L:5677] Re: Re: Response to Fred - 1

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Mon May 28 2001 - 13:18:48 EDT

re Fred's 5675

>Marx's critique of political economy was NOT that they failed to recognize
>that the content is "form-determined", i.e. that labor is determined by
>prices (or that labor is "jointly constituted" with prices).  This would
>be the opposite of Marx's theory, which assumed that prices are determined
>by labor.  Rather, Marx's critique was that they failed to show why labor
>must necessarily be expressed as prices.
>Marx elaborated his critique of political economy in the following
>footnote to this passage:
>"It is one of the chief failings of classical political economy that it
>has never succeeded, by means of its analysis of commodities, and in
>particular of their value, in discovering the form of value which in fact
>turns value into exchange-value.  Even its best representatives, Adam
>Smith and Ricardo, treat the form of value as something of indifference,
>something external to the nature of the commodity itself."
>We can see that the failure of political economy is that they did not
>explain how value is turned into exchange-value.  The failure is NOT that
>they did not explain how exchange-value determines value.

>There are many other passages in Marx's manuscripts in which he stated his
>critique of Ricardo and political economy in a similar way, i.e. as the
>failure to derive the "necessity of money", or the necessary connection
>between labor and money.

  I agree with Fred, and would point to the important passages in 
TSVII, in particular:

"This false theory of money is however based by Ricardo on this, that 
generally, he has only in view the *quantitative determination* of 
exchange value, namely that is is the same as a definite quantity of 
labour time, forgetting as against this the *qualitative 
determinant*, that individual labour, through its separation, must be 
represented as *general abstract social labor*."

>I don't know of any passages in which Marx
>stated his critique of Ricardo, etc. as the failure to recognize that the
>content is "form-determined".  If there are some such passages, please
>send the references. 
>Nicky, also I think you misinterpret Murray on this point.  As I read
>Murray (1993), he says essentially what I have said above.  The title of
>Murray's paper is "The Necessity of Money: How Hegel Helped Marx Surpass
>Ricardo's Theory of Value," which says a lot in itself.  According to
>Murray, Marx's critique of political economy is that they did not show the
>necessary connection between labor and money.  Murray calls Ricardian
>theory a "one-way street" from prices to labor, in contrast to Marx's
>two-way street of also deriving money and prices from labor (showing the
>necessary connection between them).  Murray argues that Marx used Hegel's
>"essence logic" (in which essence must necessarily appear in something
>other than itself) in his derivation of the "necessity of money" in
>Section 3 of Chapter 1, and in this way surpassed the Ricardian
>"one-way" logic.  The second-way is the key part that is missing in
>Ricardian theory.  
>MURRAY:  "In this [Ricardian] model of essence and appearance, science
>must be a one-way street, externally (since there is no internal relation
>between independent entities) relating the appearances to their real basis
>in the world of essence.  Just why *this*essence should have *these*
>appearances is never raised."  (p. 39)
>The title of the subsection on pp. 47-54 is:  "Essence Logic at
>Work: Marx's Theory of Value".  In this section, Murray writes:
>"Marx presents his theory of value in two movements: First he moves from
>exchange-value to value, that is, from appearances to the underlying
>essence that explains their behavior; then, in the analysis of the
>value-form, Marx show why is necessary that value appear as something
>other than itself, as exchange-value, a thing - money." ...   (p. 48)
>"The first movement captures the non-dialectical thinking about essence
>and appearance in which Ricardian value theory is confined.  Not so for
>the second movement, which answers the question never raised in Ricardian
>theory: Why does value appear in the form of exchange-value?"  (p. 49)
>This is exactly what I have been arguing.  Marx's critique of political
>economy is that the second movement is missing.  Marx's second movement
>explains why the underlying essence of value, which exists separately from
>money, must necessarily appear in the particular form of money and
>prices.  Marx's critique is NOT that political economy failed to explain
>how the underlying essence of value is determined in some way by money and

Yes but I am quite ambivalent about shrouding this critique in a 
Hegelian essence logic which even if it applies does not do so 
because of its philosophical superiority but because of the nature of 
capitalist social relations. It seems to me that Marx's argument can 
be made and grasped without any talk of Hegelian "essence" logic. 
Marx argues that the quantity of labor contained in the commodity 
cannot be expressed as a quantity of labor itself, in labor time. If 
men are only related through commodities, through things, the social 
labor must also be expressed in things, and therefore social labor 
contained in a commodity is expressed not in labor hours but by means 
of another commodity. What does this presentation miss?

Comradely, Rakesh

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