[OPE-L:6954] Re: value-form

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Tue Apr 09 2002 - 19:24:51 EDT

Nicky [OPE-L:6951]

>>>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'?
'Abstract' is ambiguous. I do not see how *any* exchange relation could
fail to be concrete, whatever objects were being exchanged. But in the
sense of 'abstracted from' a totality that gives sense to it, OK.

>>>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'?
They are  subtly different. In any case I object to the phrase(s) 'Value is
the necessary dimension/magnitude of labour' (not of course to 'Value is
the necessary dimension of commodities').
By dimension I understand something like space and time within which things
capable of subsisting in that dimension gain an attribute: 'extension',
'duration', 'price'. All these take magnitudes hence the objects have
suitable measures. The magnitude of value is measured by reference to
whatever money obtains. Labour is a determinant of the magnitude of value,
but is not itself a value, nor does it take value-form (unlike
labour-power). This is why I cannot see it having the dimensionality of
value. Of course it is not labour per se that is determinant; valorisation
form-determines production of value so that the dimension of abstract
labour is formed and its metric is time. Magnitudes of value are
proportional to SNLT at a V1 level. I would accept the proposition 'The
value dimension is a necessary presupposition of the abstract labour
dimension'. Conversely, for the value dimension to have a regular metric it
must be posited as mapping onto the abstract labour dimension. And with V3,
many capitals 'wrinkle' this value space, just as the uneven density of the
moon mucks up its gravitational field. Finally, Geert pointed out somewhere
that measure is stretchable over functional relations (eg. the way we
measure temperature and pressure, which as molecular phenomena are
difficult to 'get at' directly), so one could 'measure' amounts of labour
in terms of the value of the output; but that still does not mean labour is
valuable, any more than temperature is extended. (Moreover, if we have the
physics right our measures of pressure etc are reliable, but labour/value
is a social relation of representation which could well often misrepresent.)
PS I have not rechecked your references but I recall Geert recently made a
big thing of the distinction between source (labour) and measure (money) of
value; so maybe he has changed his mind.


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