[OPE-L:5870] Re: Reply to fred

From: Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Date: Thu Jun 28 2001 - 00:08:00 EDT

Howard, thanks for your (5868).  I agree in general with what you say.  I
don't have the time right now for a full response (we are packing up to go
to Maine for two months), but a quick comment on your last paragraph.  

On Tue, 26 Jun 2001, howard engelskirchen wrote:

> One consequence of this argument, Fred, if it is correct, is that you
> cannot without a good deal of qualifying explanation easily identify money,
> price and exchange value as the form of value.  I think you can defend that
> usage, but it invites the idea that value is a phenomenon of exchange and
> that exchange is decisive from the point of view of form determination.
> But it is a particular form of social labor which is value and so it is
> possible also to think of that form as a crucially important value form --
> in other words the value form can refer to value as a historically
> determined form of labor, and in fact that usage is common.  

I agree with your formulation here.  Exchange-value is the form OF
APPEARANCE of value.  Abstract labor, as the substance of value, also has
a form, a historically specific form of social labor.  Chai-on's comments
were helpful here (thanks, Chai-on).  Although Marx sometimes used
"exchange-value (or money) is the form of value" as a shorthand for
"exchange-value is the form OF APPEARANCE of value."  

> This emphasis
> on a determined form of laboring producers can be preserved with less
> confusion by referring to money, price and exchange value, plainly
> phenomena of exchange, as forms of appearance of something which is not
> exclusively a phenomenon of exchange.  That is, we insist that these, which
> belong to exchange, refer to something beyond exchange to which they give
> expression.

I agree completely that exchange-value is a form of appearance of
"something beyond exchange to which it gives expression."  It is this
"something else" - this "essence" - that makes a quantitative theory of
exchange-value possible.

I argue that value-form theory (at least in the Reuten and Williams
version) does not provide a quantitative theory of exchange-value and
surplus-value precisely because it rejects abstract labor as the
"essence" or "substance of value".  

Thanks again.


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