[OPE-L:5699] Re: Response to Fred - 1

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Thu May 31 2001 - 11:11:48 EDT

This is a reply to Nicky's 5695.  Nicky, thanks again.

On Thu, 31 May 2001, nicola taylor wrote:

> What, then, is the point of your argument (below)?  In the first place, you
> seem to me to be attacking a straw man (I am, of course, assuming that you
> did read my longer post, so you know beforehand that I cannot use the term
> 'abstract labour' in the sense that you want me to use it).  Also, I have
> already set out my view that the reductionisms of the first chapter of
> "Capital" mean that abstract-labour as derived there is nothing but a
> generalisation of concrete-labour.  Hence I would reserve the term
> abstract-labour for a non-labour-embodied concept, and use the term
> concrete-labour to describe the contribution of labour to the technical
> labour process which creates the useful products to be exchanged.
> Abstract-labour has meaning for me only as the wage *form* of socially
> equalised labour - relevant only when the valorisation process comes to
> dominate the technical labour process.  You disagree, fine.  But, it would
> be nice if you didn't misrepresent my arguments.  Especially since I
> explicitly stated that my interpretation of the passage in Marx can have a
> value-form meaning *only* if the whole of Capital is taken to be a
> systematic dialectical work.  Also, I expressed my reluctance to give a
> 'summary' of such an interpretation because I am fully aware that the
> meaning of the terms I use will be disputed.  

Nicky, your argument at the end of this paragraph seems to be: If a
general VF (systematic dialectics) interpretation of Marx's theory is
accepted, then this passage from Section 4 of Chapter 1 could be
interpreted in a VF way.  In particular, the terms content and form in
this passage can be interpreted in a VF way.  Well, yes, I suppose, any
passage could be so interpreted, by assigning VF meanings to Marx's words.  

However, the point I was trying to make is that your interpretation of the
meaning of content and form in this passage contradicts everything else
that Marx wrote about content and form in Chapter 1, as I have
reviewed.  This is no small matter, since the entire logical structure of
Chapter 1 is organized around the content and form of value.  Sections 1
and 2 are about the content of value (abstract labor), and Section 3 is
about the form of value (money).  Section 3 derives the form of value from
the content of value, i.e. derives money from abstract labor.  Therefore,
I do not find it plausible, that in this passage in Section 4, Marx's
meaning of content is concrete labor and his meaning of form is abstract

You also seem to argue earlier in this paragraph something like the
following (please correct me if I am wrong):  I (Nicky) think (and others
think) that there are problems with Marx's derivation of abstract labor as
in Section 1.  Therefore, I reject this concept of "embodied" abstract
labor and I want to redefine abstract labor to mean a sum of money.  I
also want to redefine the meanings of content (to be concrete labor) and
form (to be abstract labor).  

However, Marx himself continued to use abstract labor as he derived it in
Section 1 and he continued to use the terms content and form of value in
his way (as described above).  So your interpretation of this passage in
Section 4 gives a different meaning to these terms than Marx himself
intended.  Which is of course your privilege, but I don't think your
meaning should be presented as an interpretation of Marx's meaning, which
is what I thought you were doing.  If I misrepresented your argument, it
was because I thought you were arguing that Marx himself intended content
to mean concrete labor and form to mean abstract labor, not that these
were your own interpretation of these concepts.  

That does not mean that I reject the VF interpretation of Marx's theory on
the basis of this one passage.  But I am arguing that this passage by
itself counts against the VF interpretation of Marx's theory, not for it,
as I thought you were suggesting.

This is not a huge point.  I just wanted to focus a bit on this passage
because you and Chris seemed to be suggesting that this passage supports
the VF interpretation of Marx's theory, which I don't think it does.  As
time permits, I would like to consider other passages and arguments that
have been presented to support the VF interpretation of Marx's theory.

Thanks again for the discussion.


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