[OPE-L:6939] Re: value-form

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Mon Apr 08 2002 - 11:11:43 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
Nicky [6931]
>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).

Yes  - but I assume 'not' is a typo.

>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).

Sort of but I am a little doubtful of this way of puttin it because
particularity has two references in Hegel, the conceptual and the material.
In one  way value itself is also conceptually particular and singular.

>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).

The relation is not abstract. I take it you mean the initial character of
the value form?

>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).

I disagree with R&W (More, I have trouble understanding what can be meant.)
This is simply the converse error of those who say the dimension of value
is labour-time. Value homogenises the products and through that labours. So
what could be the dimension of abstract labours? Time, as Marx correctly
says. What he does not explain is: why? IMO only VF theory can explain why
it is time and not e.g. ergs, as the 'physiological ' definition should
surely imply (cp. Carchedi). But, N.B., this explanation *must* come from
the form of capital, so the issue of labour-time should not be raised at
all at the level of ch.1.

>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.

It still isn't clear why this contradiction is more fundamental than the
original introduced in point 3. This language is probably not helpful. I
would put it by saying pt 3 is the abstract form of the contradiction
(value and use value 'fall apart') which becomes concrete antagonism  in
the case of capital (value 'for itself') and labour (use value 'for
itself') where both try to negate the other.


PS Andy I will reach your post eventually.

17 Bristol Road, Brighton, BN2 1AP, England

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