[OPE-L:6952] Re: Re: value-form

From: Andrew Brown (Andrew@lubs.leeds.ac.uk)
Date: Tue Apr 09 2002 - 11:02:13 EDT

Hi Chris, and all,

re OPE-L: 6945

It is worth recalling the discussion that led up to OPE-L: 6945. 
Essentially, Nicky, Geert, Chris, Jerry and Tony had, amongst 
other things, recapped some of the initial steps of the VFT 
reconstruction of capitalism. In my previous post I drew on these 
various presentations in order an attempt to grasp the VFT notion 
of value, value form, form of value, money, and so on. Chris has 
responded by pointing out that my attempt was flawed not least by 
my inadequate grasp of the notion of a 'predicate'. Let me try again.

The value-form is the mode of association definitive of capitalism, a 
mode necessitated by dissociation. The first step in explicating 
this mode of association is to introduce the category 'value'. What, 
then, is 'value'? It is the form that things take that is specific to 
capitalism. 'Things', (let's say 'products'), are in fact 'commodities' 
in capitalism. They have a 'two-fold character': on the one hand 
they are use-values, on the other hand they are 'values'.  

Now, the natural properties of the commodity (determined by its 
extension in time and space) are no different to the natural 
properties it has outside of capitalism (when it is not a commodity). 
>From the point of view of material constitution, the commodity is 
identical to the product outside of capitalism. So the new 'form of 
value' that the commodity acquires within capitalism is, in this 
sense, 'purely social'. It seems, then, that value has something to 
do with 'society' but nothing to do with the material constitution of 

To recap: 'value' is that which is necessary for association; value is 
a form taken by the product within capitalism; value is purely 
social; value has something to do with society (but not with the 
material constitution of objects). But none of this gives a full 
answer to the question, 'what is value?'. We will only learn more 
through further systematic dialectical development (whence money, 
capital, and so on are derived)

Final note: there seems to be a difference difference between Chris 
and Geert/Michael re the introduction of value: R&W introduce 
value as necessary to preserve dissociation; Chris introduces value 
simply as a possibility at this stage, one which is grounded only 
later in the presentation. 

Is the above an accurate VFT answer to the original questions, 
'what is value?', 'what is value form'? Or do I find myself, once 
more, barking up the wrong tree?!

Best wishes,


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