[OPE-L:8058] RE: Re: (Change the world!) magnitude and givens in philosophy and political economy

From: Nicola Taylor (19518173@student.murdoch.edu.au)
Date: Tue Nov 26 2002 - 03:51:32 EST

> Yet, the perspective that beings can only be comprehended in
> terms of magnitude is one-sided and hence false.  There are many
> *essential* aspects of social relations that *can not* be expressed as
> magnitude.   In fact,  I would assert that a systematic comprehension
> of  *CLASSES* and  *THE STATE* can not be developed merely
> through an examination of magnitude.  Indeed,  *ONE CAN NOT
> THE WORLD IN TERMS OF MAGNITUDE*.   Hence,  a rejection
> of Descartes  Rule 14.4  is a REVOLUTIONARY IMPERATIVE.

WONDERFUL!  I agree with Jerry that if we want to answer the question
'why Marx' we should not be looking to calculations of magnitude to
answer it.

In any case, as chris A has already pointed out somewhere, labour is not
the content of value since labour in general produces only use-values.
It is *capital that produces value* (with an eye to monetary profit) out
of living labour.  So value, strictly speaking, has meaning only as a
comparison with itself in different points of time, this comparison is
possible only because value is measured in money, and all that matters
(to the production of surplus value) is that the wage-bill (an external
purchase to the capitalist class) does not exhaust value added.
Magnitude is not therefore terribly interesting.  The far more
interesting question is how a value form, namely capital, comes to
determine the dimensions of production (including time) in the first
place.  This requires an inquiry into how alienated living labour
expended in production comes to count as abstract labour and a source of
value greater than that advanced at the start of a capital circuit (on
the confusion between 'source' and 'content' of value see Geert R, 1999
in Rivista di Politica Economica).

In answering this last question, much comes to depend on the sequencing
of arguments.  As you recently pointed out, Mike, what is needed up
front is a theory of forms of commodity exchange; to this I would add
'value forms of exchange', since ultimately capital is the value form of
exchange that we are dealing with, and as a means of association (or
condition of existence of dissociated labour) it determines all....  I'm
pressed for time, so will jump the gun a bit and say that only when the
concept of value form is further developed, up to the simple
valorisation form, M-C-M', is it possible to sensibly introduce the
question of magnitude, and along with that an analysis of the capital
labour relation in exchange and production.  In proposing this, I want
to stress that I am not advancing a theory of form without content, but
a simple methodological point: in the sequence of argument, form before
content.  Interested to hear Mike's comment, in particular!

Marx, imho, makes the mistake of developing form and content together
and in the process gets stuck in a Ricardian muddle.  I suggest that all
that matters at the early stage of his analysis is that a concept of
value is advanced as a principle of universality or commonality in the
*social relation* of commodities on either side of any set of exchange
relations.  What value is 'essentially' must of course be determined -
but not on the first pages!  Moreover, since value is not a material
property but a social relation, discussion of the 'content' of value
doesn't make much sense until the value form is fully developed and the
capital labour relation introduced.  On this I am much in agreement with
Chris A.  Although agreement between us breaks down once the content of
value (SNLT) once the capital-labour relation is finally introduced.
Chris maintains that once production is shown to be determined by value
form, then SNLT determines value in production (correct if wrong Chris).
I prefer to go along with Geert R's radical scepticism on that one! For
me the value measure can't be anything other than money, because what is
'socially necessary' in labour time is impossible to conceptualise
adequately outside monetary exchange.  That's all for now comrades.

Michael, great to have you on board!  Look forward to stimulating


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