[OPE-L:5785] Re: Re: Re: Response to Fred - 1

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Mon Jun 04 2001 - 13:49:17 EDT

On Fri, 1 Jun 2001, nicola taylor wrote:

> >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.
> Fred, you asked me for a *VFT interpretation* of the passage: VFT theory is
> all about developing concepts (meanings?) and is, in this sense, a semantic
> enterprise - nothing is given.  So, from the start, reading Marx has
> "heuristic" rather than "historiographic" purposes - i.e. it is about
> developing what is only *implicit* or *anticipated* in Marx's theory...
> What is *anticipated* in this case is a systematic dialectical theory of
> value-form as *mode of association* - a very different concept of
> value-form to the one *actually* developed by Marx in his opening chapter.

Nicky, I thought that I asked you for the VF interpretation of Marx's
meaning of this passage, not for VF's own meaning of these words.  After
all, these are Marx's words.  And I thought that in your earlier posts you
were suggesting that this passage was textual evidence that Marx himself
had a "VF thread" in his own thinking and writing, according to which the
content of value is "form-determined".  One reason why I thought this was
that when you first presented this passage in (5617), you said:  

"On setting out the definitive object of his `critique' MARX EXPLICITLY
STATES that the great merit of classical political economy was to have
discovered the content of value in labour; it's great defect was never to
have discovered the determination of value and labour by social form.  HE
WRITES: ...   (emphasis added)

So I thought you were talking about Marx's own meaning of this passage.  

In any case, I think it should be concluded that this passage from Section
4 of Chapter 1 is not evidence that Marx himself had a "VF thread" (please
see my latest posts in response to Chris).   Instead, it suggests rather
strongly the opposite conclusion - that Marx assumed that abstract labor
exists as a separate entity as the content of value and that the form of
value (money) is derived from this content of value.  Marx's critique of
political economy in this passage is that they failed to derive the form
of value from the content of value, not they failed to discover the
determination of the content of value by the social form.

I would still like to see some textual evidence to support the VF
interpretation of what is "*implicit* or *anticipated*" in Marx's
theory.  Surely there must be some explicit textual evidence, right?

> >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.  
> The goal of VFT is to arrive at a more adequate theorisation and analysis
> of contemporary capitalism than Marx's (abstract)labour embodied theory
> allows (imho).  So, I never denied that Marx held an
> (abstract)labour-embodied theory of value, and elements of reductive
> logical (axiomatic?) modes of argument are clearly evident in the first and
> seventh chapters that we've been discussing.  Indeed, I developed at some
> length the argument that these elements of Marx's theory are *not*
> consistent with systematic dialectics (unless they are taken as analytic
> moments prior to a systematic dialectical presentation - an argument I
> don't find altogether convincing).  

Thanks for this clarification.  I didn't realize that you agree that
Marx's logic in Chapter 1 is fundamentally different from VF theory.  
I am glad to realize it now.  

> Chris Arthur, for eg (in
> Arthur and Reuten, 1998) draws out Marx's own insights into the
> form-determination of the capitalist economy in a detailed discussion of
> the circuit of capital in the first part of Volume 2 (where Marx, in fact,
> introduces the concept of 'form-determination'). The point is that a VFT
> interpretation of a single passage in the first chapter of Volume 1,
> anticipates these more systematic dialectical elements implicit in Marx's
> work (so, any parallel (?) discussion of Marx's own 'meaning' should also
> be located more broadly within the context of the whole project, rather
> than within the more limited context of Chapter 1, where you have located it).

I think Chris' paper makes some interesting points about capital being
fundamentally a process, but I don't see any argument in this paper that
Marx's theory as a whole can be "*read*" as systematic dialectics.  And I
don't see anything this is intended to suggest that there might be an
entirely different relation between the content and form of value than
Marx himself developed in Chapter 1 of Volume 1 and elsewhere.  All this
earlier theory is assumed in Volume 2.  Volume 2 is not about the
determination of values and prices, but about the circulation process,
with all the results of the production process in Volume 1 taken as given.

So would you please explain why you think Chris' paper provides textual
evidence that Marx's theory can be read as systematic dialectics, which
fundamentally overturns the relation between the content and form of value
that Marx developed in Volume 1?  Not necessarily right away, but when you
have the time.

Also, where in Part 1 of Volume 2 does Marx introduce the concept of

> Glad we have achieved some understanding into the character of our
> differences;  understanding, if not agreement, is surely what a list like
> this is for... I must drop out for a bit though, as work is piling up again,
> comradely
> Nicky

I too am glad that we have achieved better mutual understanding, and I
have enjoyed our discussion very much.  I know what you mean about work
piling up.  I look forward to further discussions in the future.


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