[OPE-L:6940] Re: value-form: reply to nicky

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Mon Apr 08 2002 - 10:36:17 EDT

NO. I disagree completely.
1. 'Physiology' notwithstanding, IMO Marx understands very well that
abstract labour is not transhistorical.
2. Marx quite definitely does not derive mooney from barter. (Below another
extract from work-in-progress.)
3. I am currently writing the section defending commodity money at this
level of abstraction.
"There can be no doubt that the topics of Marx's first two chapters, and
their order, were very deliberately chosen by Marx: first 'the commodity';
and only then 'exchange'. In this light it is quite extraordinary how many
accounts of the forms of value offend against this separation by discussion
of  the motives of exchangers at the more abstract level. (Uno, Sekine,
Cartelier) Marx quite consciously postponed such considerations until after
he had already analysed the nature of what it was they exchanged, analysing
the commodity as a unity of use value and value. It would be completely out
of order to discuss the need of an exchanger for a certain use value in the
context of the dialectic of the forms of value of section 3, for example.
Confusion may have been occasioned by the term 'use value'; if this is
taken as 'what is wanted', as it is in Chapter 2, then the motives of
exchangers may be implicated. But in the context of chapter one 'use value'
refers merely to the 'natural body' of the commodity. It is in virtue of
this that it is of interest for 'use', but that relation is abstracted from
so as to concentrate on the objectivity of commodity relations in chapter
A very important point about the nature of money is involved here also. To
put the point negatively, there is no trace of any discussion of barter in
chapter one. Marx does not derive money as a device to overcome the
limitations of barter. Positively, we shall see, he derives money as the
form necessary to constitute value objectively (and therewith, incidentally
the meaningfulness of 'abstract labour'). As Marx notes, the abstraction he
employs in discussing the simple form is 'x of commodity A = y of commodity
B' which is not that of 'direct exchange of products' which has the form 'x
use-value A = y use-value B'. (p. 181)"

>Also, on your [6915] reply (below) to Geert [6891] and the relation between
>the two dynamics.  On the first relation, would you agree with Backhaus's
>conclusion that in the first chapter of C1 the dynamics of value considered
>as content can 'only be construed as a pseudo-dialectical movement of
>pseudo-dialectical contradiction' (1980, p.101) because Marx actually
>*fails* to explicate the double character of labour as the *essential*
>opposition of capitalist production i.e. he fails to ground that opposition
>in the Value-Form (because of the retention of a transhistorical concept of
>abstract labour)?  So that the second relation (that between value and its
>forms in section 3) appears rather ambiguously as a theory of commodity
>money derived from an exchange relation - in the context of non-monetary
>barter exchanges! - rather than an exposition into 'fully dialectical'
>monetary relations of a Value-Form determination?
>all best
>	Firstly, the value form is entirely alien to the product and
>is entirely alien to production. The main problem for us is to theorise
>this almost impossible combination. Because it is a combination it is
>logically possible to examine each separately, and their relations will be
>ones of interaction such that the language of 'cause' is not too far off:
>the  value form 'causes' the development of industry, this development in
>turn 'causes' changes in socially necessary labour times, which in turn
>'causes' the magnitude of value to vary.  It is because of the relative
>autonomy of the value form that two things are possible, namely the
>self-development of value, regardless of the matter regulated, and the
>force which it exerts on production which underpins quantitative changes in
>the magnitude of value.
>	Secondly, the other relation, that between value and its forms is where
>fully dialectical relations such as form and content, essence and
>appearance, have their place. It is literally senseless to separate value
>from money because value only exists in a money economy. Occasionally Marx
>sees this (but I concede he often fails to) e.g.: "[without money] they
>definitely do not confront each other as commodities but as products or use
>values only." (180). The relation between these sides will be internal.

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