[OPE-L:5808] Re: form and content re value-form and abstract labour

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Wed Jun 06 2001 - 12:42:51 EDT

Hi Jerry, thank for your post.

I agree (and have emphasized) that abstract labor is NECESSARILY RELATED
to money.  One cannot have abstract labor without money.  But that does
not mean that abstract labor is THE SAME THING as money.  The two things
are DISTINCT ENTITIES but they are NECESSARILY RELATED.  To say that they
are necessarily related does not imply that they become the same
thing.  Indeed, to have a necessary connection between two things, the two
things have to be separate entities.  

In Marx's logic, he started with abstract labor ("INDEPENDENTLY of its
form of appearance"; C.I. 128) and then derived the necessity of money
from this abstract labor.  So I think it would be more accurate to say
that abstract labor is LOGICALLY PRIOR to money, or is defined and derived
independently of money, than to say that it exists independently from
money.  Abstract labor exists independently from money only in the sense
that it is not the same thing as money.  But abstract labor does not exist
independently in the sense that it could continue to exist even if there
were no money.  The fact that abstract labor is a distinct entity from
money does not imply that it can exist without money.  Abstract labor is a
distinct entity that has a necessary connection with money.  So Marx's
theory negates the premise of your question: Marx's theory concludes that
as long as there are commodities and abstract labor, there will be
money.  But that does not mean that abstract labor is the same thing as
money, as it is in value-from theory.

Jerry, does this help?


On Tue, 5 Jun 2001, Gerald_A_Levy wrote:

> Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2001 16:19:52 -0400
> From: Gerald_A_Levy <Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com>
> Reply-To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> To: ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu
> Subject: [OPE-L:5796] form and content re value-form and abstract labour
> Re Fred's [5795]:
> > My main point is that Marx derived
> > money as the necessary form of appearance of > the underlying essence (or
> content or substance)
> > of abstract labor, which is assumed to exist as
> > an entity distinct from money.
> Hi Fred.
> I believe it is mistaken to view the relation between
> form and content as uni-directional. I.e. I believe
> that content determines form _and_ form determines content for the
> commodity.
> Let me illustrate the problem with your reasoning
> above: you say that your main point is that
> abstract labor (what you claim to be content)
> is 'distinct from' (i.e. exists independently from)
> exchange value (i.e. the value form; the necessary
> form of appearance of value).  Yet, there is
> something manifestly wrong with your logic (which
> I believe can be traced to an attempt to
> comprehend a dialectical relation in terms of
> analytical logic):  If abstract labor is, as you say,
> truly 'distinct from' the value-form then if a
> 'commodity' for whatever reason ceases to have
> a value-form then it thereby ceases to have value.
> This result is OK by my reasoning, but I don't
> think it can be reconciled with yours. If it is
> truly the case, as you say, that 'content' (abstract
> labor) is distinct from form (the value-form), then
> abstract labor would continue to exist  *without
> form* (and thereby the value-form would _not_
> be the _necessary_ form of appearance of value).
> The way out of this is to conclude that the
> absence of form can *negate* the 'content'.  Yet,
> if this is one's conclusion then abstract labor,
> the value-form, and money are all necessarily
> *linked* and no one concept exists 'distinct
> from' the concepts they are mated to.  This
> sort of mutual determination is not easily
> expressed with analytical logic.
> In solidarity, Jerry

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