[OPE-L:7000] Re: Re: Re value-form

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Mon Apr 15 2002 - 12:51:25 EDT

I agree with all this (except the last para makes no sense). Probably what
I intended was that value-as-content has causal efficacy only in
capitalism. But the empty form of value can certainly carry other
information, so I was wrong to use the word arbitrary.
>After giving it some thought and finding some spare time, I'm not sure that
>I understand your claim that 'empty forms' lack 'causal efficacy'. After
>all, if exchange mediates between producers or solves the problems of
>barter, it surely has 'causal efficacy' in at least one sense.
>I think I agree with your claim that in other modes of production,
>exchange-value does not 'express a content  but is simply used by a foreign
>content as a mere mediator'.  Your expression 'mere mediator' suggests to
>me that what you mean by 'causal efficacy' is the system building causal
>efficacy of 'self-valorising value'. That is, taking the parallels that you
>admirably draw between 'self-valorising value' and Hegel's 'geist,only in
>the case of capitalist commodity production does the commodity form and
>'value' as its substance have the kind of causal efficacy that hegel
>ascribes to 'Geist'. But I don't think I understand or agree with a
>stronger claim.
>As to your claim that only in a value form of that kind of causal efficacy
>do we have value determining manitudes, if we accept that the pattern of
>exchanges values can be discerned in other cases (but not as an expression,
>as you put it, of 'a content') it is surely  an empirical matter whether as
>you put it 'in such pre/post-capitalist exchange systems, exchange ratios
>would be arbitrary or tautologically reducible to
>intersection of preference schedules.' The law of supply and demand in the
>form that prices move higher when supply falls short of demand and lower
>when it exceeds demand is not a tautology  and is even false in non
>perfectly competitive markets (which cannot exist), although it isd a good
>approximation for a wide range of markets and circumstances. Nor need it be
>the case that exchange ratios are 'arbitrary' in the sense that they are
>matter of random fluctuation behind which no pattern can be discerned,
>though they might be 'arbitrary' in the sense of not expressive of a
>content'.  Paul Cockshot's sort of analysis could show that the pattern
>lies between that of correspondence with embodied socially necessary labour
>contents and that of a uniform return on investment. It could also be
>argued that this is no mere accident by analysing the forces generally at
>work in commodity exchange.
>Perhaps the following might both accommodate something like what you are
>saying and could also be something that I agree with. Alternatively, it may
>not be possible to achieve that - but I think our conceptual categories
>should not become so rigid that they pronounce as meaningless, confused or
>wrong reasonable claims (resting on analogies perhaps) such as that slave
>owners appropriate surplus value from their slaves, or merchants
>appropriate surplus value from buying cheap and selling dear. (Of course,
>slave owners do not HIRE workers to be worked for a profit, but buy them as
>though they were cattle. Formally, they are in the same position as a small
>capitalist, who hires a few workers to tend a herd of cattle - where these
>human animals, of course, may yield profits on a scale that milking cows
>cannot, because of the competitive advantage of their costs of production)
>But let me try this out for agreement: The organising principle of
>capitalist commodity production is universal self-valorising value: let us
>call this V. V has systematic effects, reproducing and expanding capitalist
>commodity production, and lends its peculiar stamp to commodity exchange
>within the capitalist mode of production. Capitalist production and
>capitalist commodity exchange each produces the other as itself. Capital as
>a whole provides an account of self-valorising value as the principle of
>capitalist commodity production, in which more abstract elements of
>commodity exchange take their specific form from their place in a system of
>self-valorising value as a whole.
>In other social formations, commodity exchange might exist but it will not
>be 'the other' of a single mode of production (competitive capitalist
>exploitation, as you put it) which penetrates and develops the system of
>production and exchange. It plays a role in the economy of these social
>formations but is not the developmenta principle of the social system as a
>whole. The pattern of exchanges is either accidental or, if it has a
>substance - call it 'value' - that does not play a developmental role such
>as Value does.
>Surplus Value exists only in capitalist commodity production but surplus
>value may exist in other social formations.
>Please let me know what you can accept in the above (less than carefully
>considered email expression, typos, etc, aside),
>>Hello Ian,
>>I more or less agree with Tony. But I would use dfferent terminology. I
>>believe that, given the peculiar socially constituted relations of
>>exchange, we can have value as an  'empty form'. That could be so even with
>>MCM if that were restricted to merchant capital and not indusrial capital.
>>BY an empty form I mean one that does not express a content but is simply
>>used by a foreign content as a mere mediator e.g. the use of money to
>>overcome problems of barter. In such pre/post-capitalist exchange systems,
>>exchange ratios would be arbitrary or tautologically reducible to
>>intersection of preference schedules. Only competitive capitalist
>>exploitation allows the value form to appropriate a universal content that
>>in turn determines magnitudes.
>>The empty form can of course be the sub-structural basis for a legal
>>superstructure as in Pashukanis.Such empty form could be called an
>>organising structure but perpahs not 'principle' if the latter means some
>>sort of causal efficacy is involved. I associate causal efficacy only with
>>self-valorising value, i.e. industrial capital.
>>Chris A
>>>Thanks for that interesting clarification (or different slant). I agree
>>>that in Schweickart's 'economic democracy', the self-valorisation of
>>>capital would no longer be the organising principle of society. I think,
>>>though, that there is an argument for saying that commodity exchange is an
>>>organising principle of the society and, if one does not absolutely
>>>counterpose the spheres of production and exchange, that the market
>>>functions as a social relation of production within that society. But I
>>>have no fierce objection to taking the term 'value' as the substance of a
>>>system based on M-C-M' and to take something else as the substance of a
>>>system based on C-M-C'. I was only concerned that all categories relating
>>>to commodities might be pronounced smeaningless outside the context of the
>>>categories of capitalist commodity production.  If the possibility of
>>>embryonic elements of M-C-M', such as merchant's capital, which have
>>>existed since at least the ancient world, is existed, then there could be
>>>no substantive difference at all over the substantive organising principle
>>>of capitalism, though differences might still perhaps remain over the
>>>organising principle of the phenomena of commodity exchange,
>>>>If I can jump in here, I think it is important to distinguish "exchange
>>>>value," a property of individual commodities, from "value," an organizing
>>>>principle of society as a whole.  The former is present in any and all
>>>>historical contexts where commodities have been exchanged.  The latter is
>>>>historically specific to capitalism (and brings about historically specific
>>>>qualities to the property of exchange value).  In Schweickart's model
>>>>commodities are exchanged, and so these commodities have exchange
>>>>value.  But if all new investments in the economy are allocated through a
>>>>democratic decision process, and if the capital/wage labor relation has
>>>>been dismantled, then I myself would say that value (the "self-valorization
>>>>of capital") is no longer the organizing principle of the society.  And
>>>>those are two crucial features of Schweickart's model.
>>>>         Tony
>>>>At 09:22 PM 4/4/02 +0900, you wrote:
>>>>>given your account, what would you say about Schweickart's 'economic
>>>>>democracy'? That this is a form of capitalism, that 'value' exists in it
>>>>>but is not actual, that what exchanges are not commodities but some other
>>>>>form of the product of labour?
>>>>>At 04:47 PM 4/3/02 +0100, you wrote:
>>>>> >Re [6868]:
>>>>> >,Hi Andy.
>>>>> >>
>>>>> >>> This notion of 'identity' puzzles me. If value *is* money, then what
>>>>> >>> is the value-*form*?
>>>>> >>
>>>>> >>I'll let one of  our VFT comrades answer your question concerning
>>>>> >>their perspectives.
>>>>> >
>>>>> >It maybe that someone has said value is money. But speaking for myself I
>>>>> >would stress hat value is only actual in the entire system of capitalist
>>>>> >commodity production and exchange. Aspects of its 'concept' are as it
>>>>> >'distributed' over varioius points each of which are systematically
>>>>> >required to complement the others. Just to stick with form, I beleive
>>>>> >has commodity form, money form and capital form. Money has some sort of
>>>>> >'visibility' as 'value for itself' (Marx Gr.) but all these forms are
>>>>> >required (just as in Hegel Being/Essence/Concept are jointly required to
>>>>> >make up the thought totality) for example the commodity must be a
>>>>> >of capital. Certainly value cannot be identified with any element
>>>>>taken in
>>>>> >isolation (e.g. money or labour); nor can it be given a two-word
>>>>> >definition, its concept must be *developed* systematically. (Althugh
>>>>> >made some major blunders, he did stress this in a couple of places.)
>>>>> >
>>>>> >Chris A
>>>>> >
>>>>> >
>>>>> >>
>>>>> >>For myself, I would express the relation as follows:
>>>>> >>
>>>>> >>Within a system of generalized commodity production and exchange,
>>>>> >>commodities are defined by the duality of use-value and value where
>>>>> >>the value-form is a necessary form of appearance of value and money
>>>>> >>is a necessary form of appearance of the value-form. Thus, value, the
>>>>> >>value-form, and money are all necessarily linked to each other and to
>>>>> >>the commodity.  I guess that means I have a "single-system" (as
>>>>> >>distinct from a "dual system") interpretation.
>>>>> >>
>>>>> >>So that we don't all repeat ourselves endlessly, is there anybody that
>>>>> >>wants to say something about this topic that they have _not_ said
>>>>> >>on this list?
>>>>> >>
>>>>> >>In solidarity, Jerry
>>>>> >
>>>>> >
>>>>> >17 Bristol Road, Brighton, BN2 1AP, England
>>>>> >
>>>>> >
>>>Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
>>>Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
>>>Philosophy Dept, School of Humanities,
>>>Flinders University of SA,
>>>Humanities Building,
>>>Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
>>>Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784
>>17 Bristol Road, Brighton, BN2 1AP, England
>Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
>Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
>Philosophy Dept, School of Humanities,
>Flinders University of SA,
>Humanities Building,
>Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
>Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

17 Bristol Road, Brighton, BN2 1AP, England

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