[OPE-L:6951] Re: Re: value-form

From: nicola taylor (n.taylor@student.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Tue Apr 09 2002 - 09:42:45 EDT

Chris [6939], a few brief clarifications and questions about 'differences'
in VFT perspectives:

>>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.

What I want to do is to distinquish between the character of "exchange" as
a transhistorical phenomenon that might take many shapes (eg M-C-M) and the
character of "exchange" as a historical phenomenon, i.e. an initial
determination of the Value-Form where the abstract character of the
exchange relation *is* associated with the abstract character of the labour
that produces value (M-C-M).   

>>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.

Yes, point taken.

>>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?

I agree with your second sentence, not the first.  The value form is the
abstract universal.  Yes.  But, as an 'initial' determination of that
abstract universal, the exchange relation is nevertheless abstract also
surely?  Not an 'abstract universal' (that is wrong in my sentence) but
'abstract' in the sense that it has yet to be grounded more concretely in
markets for commodity and labour, relative prices, etc.  Why is it only the
value form that is 'abstract'?

>>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.

I don't *at all* understand your objection.  For me i) the 'necessary
dimension' referred to is not the 'measure' of value in labour time, but
the 'magnitude' of value.  It is this dimension of magnitude, the capacity
that products and labour have of being measured (as a result of value's
homogenisation of products), that Marx introduces in chapter 1.  At least
that is my understanding of it.  ii) R&W seem to have a similar
understanding; i.e. they *don't* raise the question of time at the level of
chapter 1; in fact, Geert argues *against* doing that in one of his papers,
and emphasises instead the dimension of magnitude.  Eldred and Hanlon
(1981, p.29) also explicitly say that they are setting out to analyse (in a
critical way) the nature of the relationship between the magnitude of value
and the value form in chapter 1. iii) On my own side, I strongly emphasised
the form of capital [in 6919] in a context related precisely to the issue
of the measure of labour time.  So I can't see where the disagreement can
lie, unless it is in the use of the term 'dimension' itself.  Do you
consider that a poor term to use for 'magnitude'?  

>>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.

Yes, this makes sense; after all it is 'capital' (value for itself) that
produces value, not 'labour' (use-value for itself).

Many thanks

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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