[OPE-L:6371] Re: On the meaning and implications of price-value equivalence

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@stanford.edu)
Date: Fri Jan 18 2002 - 21:40:25 EST

Again assuming that Marx's method is logico historical as Meek claimed, Gil 
writes in 6366: 

> My point here is that this representation begs the central question at
> hand, since in light of the above, there is no need in *value-theoretic*
> terms to "derive" the possibility of surplus value-producing merchant's
> capital (which historically preceded the circuit of industrial capital, in
> any case) from the circuit of industrial capital.

You don't get the central question. The central question is not why the capital 
form comes to depend on the free wage labor form; Marx has already assumed that 
independent producers have been expropriated and that there is a free wage 
labor pool. He says so much. He is going to confine himself theoretically to 
what the capitalists are confined to practically. That's from memory, but he 
says something to that effect.  

Further assume that capitalists don't loan money or constant capital out to 
worker collectives.

Why assume that? Again: because that is in fact not what is practically 
happening. Marx wants to explain the nature of the dominant relation between Mr 
Moneybags and workers as he finds it to exist in a fully developed capitalist 

To put it another way: assume that we are on the free wage labor island.  

But even if you elimiante merchant and loan capital by fiat, the central 
question still remains. The problem has not been solved by fiat. 

and AGAIN the central question is: if the value in circulation has been 
increased (and PVE is just an assumption so we don't have to take account of 
mutual cancellations), what then what was it that workers had to have alienated 
in their exchange with Mr Moneybags?

 It could not have been their labor time--so what is it that was exchanged? and 
how is the value of this thing that workers alienated determined?

Chs 5 and 6 are ultimately about sharpening the distinction between labor power 
and labor, not proving that the capital form comes to depend on the hiring of 
free wage labor rather than the putting out system or the loaning of constant 
capital in other forms.

 It's fine to trace out historically and theoretically why the latter two have 
been done in and are usually done in by the free wage form.

But as Chris Arthur, Martha Campbell, Fred Moseley and my buddy Wm J Blake have 
argued--Marx's method is not logico-historical, as Meek claimed.

Marx is not trying to give the historical logic behind why the production of 
surplus value via the putting out system was vanquished by the free wage labor 

Marx assumes the fully developed capitalist system as he finds it almost 
realized in England. But this system presents great mysteries and problems. And 
that is what he is mostly concerned to analyze from the very first lines of 

In short, the mystery of the free wage form itself requires intensive analysis. 

I'll respond to the rest later. 


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