[OPE-L:6931] Re: Re: value-form

From: nicola taylor (n.taylor@student.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Sun Apr 07 2002 - 12:24:20 EDT

Nicky [6896]:
>>I think that the most fruitful way forward theoretically is to
>>emphasise our agreement on two key points: 1) that the capital-labour
>>relation is more fundamental than the exchange relation, and from this 2)
>>money and capital must be theorised as a relationship with labour along two
>>interconnected dimensions (reflected in the circuit of capital): the
>>exchange (in markets) of labour power for wages and the subsumption of
>>living labour (in production) under the aspects of time.  Differences
>>mainly concern how that is to be done.

Chris [6930]:
>But I have a question for you, nicky: can you expand more on your point
>(1)? Surely in some sense exchange is absolutely fundamental. The
>presuppositions (later posits) of the bourgeois epoch are the
>dissociations: betweeen production and consumption; between production
>units; between labour and its conditions. All these are overcome by
>exchange; commodities are exchangeable goods; M-C-M is an exchagne
>sequence, etc. Obviously you know this, so I must have missed your point

Hi Chris, 
elaborating point 1, I hope we can agree on *all* of the following points.
But I will be very interested to hear if you have disagreements:

1. As a preliminary, the abstract character of the exchange relation should
not be conflated with the abstract character of the labour that produces
value.  This is because value creation is enabled not by the abstraction
from heterogneous particularity (in money/exchange) nor by the existence of
productive activity under time but by the subordination of productive
activity to the imperatives of profit (i.e. divergence of inputs and
outputs is not the purpose of production).
2. Value-Form is 'causal' in the sense of your previous post.  
3. Value-form is the 'mode of association' that gives rise to the
contradictory character of the commodity as universality (value) and
particularity (use-value), and to the opposition of 'abstract associated'
and 'concrete dissociated' labour (cf. Eldred & Hanlon, 1981).
4. The basic form of the contradiction is that dissociated activities are
only associated in the exchange of their result.  Important: I don't mean
to say that contradictions are *resolved* by negation in exchange, but
rather that association (exchange) is a *necessary* condition enabling the
very existence and perpetuation of disassociated activity (given
microeconomic organisation of production and consumption).
5. So the necessity for money seems to be demanded by the Value-Form, which
the exchange relation is the grounding moment, the movement of force that
provides for the coming into being of dissociation-association as an
'identity of opposites' (cf Reuten & Williams, 1989).  That is, association
shows the contradiction (dissociation) that it cannot exist for itself, but
only in conjunction with a moment of association (i.e. as a difference in
6. The exchange relation nevertheless remains at the level of an abstract
universal, therefore inadequate as a representation of the totality of
determinations constitutive of capitalist produciton for exchange, which
have yet to be determined (as you say above).
7. In exchange, the value/use value opposition (universal/particular) is
such that value satisfies a necessary requirement for association; it
uniformly and universally directs all particular use-values (by making them
conformable to a common denominator).  Value is the 'necessary dimension of
labour and of the useful objects produced by it' (R&W, p.51).
8. The Value-Form and its value 'forms' are thus constituted in the market,
in the sense that the market is a mode of social synthesis cnetred on the
function of money as a universal equivalent.  In this capacity money is
vested with the abstract capacity to equate symbolically all products on
the market and all types of labour-power (labour?) in money terms.
9. Money thus grounds concretely the distinction between use and exchange
as mutually exclusive practices; with dissociation of production and
consumption still further grounded in relative prices (cf, Sohn Rethel,
1978, p.6).  Here, the practice of use covers the whole field of human
interaction with nature, it is a material practice that must be foregone
while exchange, a social practice, holds sway.  In other words, the
negation of use-value in exchange is a 'real abstraction', a social act
that enables the actual disregard for the useful properties of commodities
and enables their sole expression in quantitative differences measured in a
uniform common denominator.  So much for the exchange relation.
10. The capital-labour relation is constituted through the interplay of
Value-form and exchange relation in the market, and concerns the nexus of
value and price.
15. The first point about it is taht value manifests as a money price,
anticipated (precommensurated) in advance as 'ideal money' (cf R&W, 1989),
a precommensuration that begins of course with an act of exchange (of money
for labour power).  To the extent that the technical labour process
(use-value production) is subordinate to the valorisation imperatives
implied by precommensuration, the capital-labour relation is form
16. Capital as self-valorising value is a motion of money -> produciton ->
more money.  As self-valorising value, the contradictory character of
capital is that form determines content, yet requires content for it's
existence (compare the 'empty form' you talked about with Ian in a recent
17. Since this is the fundamental contradiction of capitalism, I consider
that the capital-labour relation is more fundamental than the exchange
relation; i.e. although the purchase of labour-power for money enables the
valorisation process to commence, living labour (the content in production)
is the fundamental determinant of the transformation of labour into capital.
18. But, in reaching this conclusion, I'm don't think I am overlooking the
*interaction* between Value-form and exchange: labour time (duration and
intensity) acquires 'practical reality' only because labour power has taken
the value-form (wages) and is bought by capital as an input to production;
the output (value) must be realised in markets.  Moreover, living labour
expended in production posits abstract labour which, once again, has its
only 'actual' measure in a market exchange for money, since this is the
only indicator of capital's successful reproduction.     
I've writtne this very late evening, with teaching prep still to do.  So,
if you spot serious errors or oversights please tell me, I'll correct them.
 Also if you have time Chris, I'm very interested to know if you have any
serious disagreement with my brief 'sketch' (skeleton!) of the circuit of
capital (presented in 6919)?
best Nicky

Nicola Taylor
Faculty of Economics
Murdoch University
South Street
W.A. 6150

Tel. 61 8 9385 1130 
email: n.taylor@stu.murdoch.edu.au

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