[OPE-L:5737] Reply to fred - A

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Fri Jun 01 2001 - 20:28:09 EDT

Nicky and Fred are going too fast for me but I will try to catch up. This
post responds to fred's 5664. Fred, I have good/bad [delete one] news: you
are a value-form theorist! This is examplified in the following 3 key
statements of your position.
1.>Marx's answer to his question is that labor assumes the form of
>exchange-value because this is necessary in order to regulate
>commodity-producing labor as a social system.  Marx's starting point is
>commodity-producing labor (the content of value) and from that
>starting-point the necessity of exchange-value (the form of value) is
Your argument shows that Marx starts from the requirements of the system
for regulation and this determines that labour must assume the form of
exchange value. A good example of systemic causality. It is quite contrary
to your claim to have started from the content. To start from the content
would mean showing there is something about labour that produces a socially
ordered system but Marx's argument clearly  goes in the other direction -
from the requirements of the system to how the content must be expressed
and regulated within it.

2.>The all-important Section 3 ("The Value-Form, or Exchange-Value") then
>derives money as the NECESSARY FORM OF APPEARANCE of the content of value
>(abstract labor).  Form is derived from content.  The characteristics of
>abstract labor (homogeneous, a definite quantity, comparable with all
>other kinds of labor) determine the necessary characteristics of
>money.  The simple form of value is "insufficient" (p. 154) and the
>extended form of value has its "defects" (pp. 156-7), because these forms
>of value do not adequately express the characteristics of abstract labor,
>the content of value.
Here your argument shows that only money makes possible the actuality of
abstract labour. This is the purest VFT argument I can think of. If the
argument were really from the content there would be no 'defects' or
'deficiencies' in the simple form and money would just be a numeraire
rather than doing any constitutive (form determining) work, which your
argument clearly shows it does. At least I assume that is what is meant by
the inclusion of the word 'NECESSARY'. If the content really were seperable
as is, then it would clearly be possible for it to have various forms of

3.>But this analogy doesn't work.  According to Marx's theory, THERE IS AN
>INHERENT TENDENCY for commodity-producing labor to be expressed as
>money.  Commodity-producing labor MUST be expressed as money, because that
>is the only way this labor can be regulated and coordinated as a social
>system.  This is what Marx meant by the "NECESSITY of money", or money as
>the NECESSARY form of appearance" of abstract labor.  This is what Section
>3 of Chapter 1 is all about.  Exchange does not "pick out" labor as the
>factor to commensurate; rather commodity-producing labor "picks
>out" exchange as its mode of regulation (actually, exchange is the only
>possible mode of regulation of commodity-producing labor).  Marx's
>starting point is commodity-producing labor and the necessity of some mode
>of regulation, which can only be through the exchange of commodities.
Yet again you employ systemic causality. You argue from  the requirements
of the system. This is contrary to your claim in the second sentence to be
showing an 'inherent tendency" for labour to be expressed in money. Such a
'tendency' is sheer absurdity IMO. The correct (VFT) argument appears in
the third sentence and the last. Namely that it is the mode of systemic
regulation that determines the necessity for labour to be represented in
money. It has no inherent tendency to do so whatsoever. If it did, a
moneyless economy would be impossible.
The sentence about 'picking out' is irrelevant here because that refers to
my own unique VFT which is certainly not in Marx or anyone else.
(By the way on a general point, I agree with Nicky that you tend to drag in
quotes from Marx that are irrelevant when dealing with a theory that
explicitly departs from Marx as you well know mine does. Equally, I mustt
rememeber to try to avoid citing Marx so as to avoid misunderstanding on
this score. So I am sorry I repeated the Marx quote which I will not
address directly  but cover indirectly in future posts.)
Now to Rubin. Like Marx, of whom he is the most  careful reader, there is a
mix of VFT and relapses into Ricardianism.
>Finally, Rubin is often mentioned as an early forerunner of the VF
>interpretation of Marx's theory (including Chris in his latest post).  But
>I don't see how Rubin supports the VF interpretation.  Would someone also
>please explain this to me - specifically how does Rubin support the VF
Because he attacks the indentification of value and abstract labour e.g. p.
115 and stresses the importance of both sides of the question e.g. p.121
and 146.

>For example, on the specific issue discussed above of the relation between
>form and content in Marx's theory, Rubin clearly argues that content
>determines form.
Note that on p.148 he quotes marx: "only exchange brings about the
reduction, opposing the products of different forms of labour with each
other on the basis of equality". Exactly - a pure case of form

>Chapter 14 of Rubin's book is entitled: "Content and
>Form of Value".  In this chapter we find the following very interesting
>passage:>"One cannot forget that, on the question of the relation between
>and form, Marx took the standpoint of Hegel, and not of Kant.  Kant
>treated form as something external in relation to the content, and as
>something which adheres to the content from the outside.  From the
>standpoint of Hegel's philosophy, the content is not in itself something
>to which form adheres from the outside.  Rather, through its own
>development, the CONTENT ITSELF GIVES BIRTH TO THE FORM which was already
>ITSELF.  This is a basic premise of Hegel's and Marx's philosophy, a
>premise which is opposed to Kant's methodology.  From this point of view,
>VALUE."  (p. 117; emphasis)
But here we see two things: that he has got Hegel completely wrong; in
Hegel causality is always from the side of form (allegedly - in truth he
smuggles in material determinations) to the point where in the Logic form
is said to be its own content; and second that Rubin relapses as siad above.

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