[OPE-L:6967] Re: value-form

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Thu Apr 11 2002 - 16:46:31 EDT

>Response to Nicky [OPE-L:6963]
>On 'dimension' and 'magnitude'

>Okay, I see now what you are getting at.  I don't think there is any
>disagreement between us on the meanings of 'dimension' and 'magnitude';
>rather, you are saying that in discussing magnitude I have not been
>sufficiently carefully in differentiating between: 1) labour and
>labour-power, and 2) between the source and the measure of value.  Right?
Right but one must always be very careful to mark these distinctions.
Unfortunately below they are not.

>>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
>I agree that in V1 'magnitudes of value are proportional to SNLT', which
>implies that abstract labour can be measured in time units, at least in
>principle.  Nevertheless, the argument for money as the sole measure of
>value (in R&W) seems to me quite independent of whether an 'immanent
>measure' of abstract labour (in time units) can be arrived at

Yes - I have no problem with that

 >What they question is the relevance of such a measure,
>given that SNLT can be verified as socially necessary *only* by virtue of
>the fact that it has assumed a monetary (social) form, a transformation
>that mucks up the gravitational field .

The problem is what can be deduced from this 'only'; that SNLT is
verifiable 'only' in money does not mean it has no metric of its own.

 >But you
>seem to object to this with the argument that labour cannot be determined
>as valuable (or the source of value) through a monetary comparison of
>inputs and outputs, alone.

oops. Labour is NOT valuable,this is JUST BECAUSE it is the source of value
(otherwise the explanation of value becomes circular/regressive). I would
not myself say 'source' but something formally similar in this context. One
reason I do not like source is that it can suggest some preexisting 'pool'
of value which would be objectionable. 'Source', however, has another sense
as in 'light is the source of vegetable growth'. The magnitudes of light
and of growth may correlate but are different dimensions.
But that the LTV cannot be established on the basis of a comparison of
monetary outputs and inputs alone is something I do hold. R&W present this
argument and I entirely reject it as a 'circulationist' misunderstanding of
what is going on, and which, incidentally, conflates labour and labour
power as well.
One problem in R&W flows from the strength of the argument about
precommensuration which attempts to bridge circulation and production,
something that needs doing, but it leads to the danger of reading back into
production the categories of circulation, so they write 'labour is ideal
value'; since I deny labour is value it isn't going to convince me to put
'ideal' in front of it; I would put what is meant, by the formula 'labour
in the production process ideally posits value'. Probably Geert would
accept this amendment.

> What is required is a concept of value form, and
>a theory of how it is determining of the classical 'formulas'.  I agree
>with you, and I feel confident that R&W agree also.

I do not think so. I outlined my objections to R&W at great length orally
to Geert, and although he listened carefully I do not recall him saying

 > The question is: *how*
>does an immanent time measure of SNLT help in this endeavour?  How do you
>show that labour time is valuable, if in fact money is the only social
>measure of how valuable (or socially necessary) labour time is?
oops again: labour time is NOT valuable, only the product is valuable, and
then only because exchange says so. Once again I reiterate that I agree
with Marx that the L/LP distinction is crucial if we are going to get  out
a coherent theory that is centred on production. The problem is we start
with a value form which ignores production so what is needed is a series of
steps that 'zero in' so to speak on production as the appropriate
'content'. But of course the form is real enough that all sorts of capitals
claim a share in the surplus product no matter how parasitic they are. At
this point I would like to refer you to a paper explianing my LTV but there
is not one!  All I can refer you to is the last part of mY CApital and
CLass article. If I had a paper it would go: capital, time, circulation?
no; Production time? No. Labour time Yes. Capital can constitute itself
only through negating labour. Value is reifed labour. It and Surplus value
have magnitudes derived from Total social capital v. total labour, which
means the labour time measure reflects itself in the value measures.
Unfortunately I do not have a paper on transformation at all! But With many
capitals issues irrelevant to the class struggle come in, which are of
great interest to the form of capital such as organic composition, so
capitals start measuring their output and surplus product differently. This
obscures but does not cancel their fundamental constitution in class
struggle. If  i wrote a paper on the technicalities it would probably come
out similar to that in Riccardo Bellofiore's work.



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