[OPE-L:8220] Re: _dynamis_ and _energeia_ of commodity & surplus-value

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Fri Dec 20 2002 - 13:59:16 EST

Re Michael E's  [8217]:

I think we agree more than disagree on these issues.  A few comments:

> The more complex structure of the exchange relation (in comparison to the
> relation of using something) can be seen more clearly in going back to the
> exchange of one good for another. For two commodities, such as toothbrush
> and  cloth, to be exchanged, there are "at least four" terms involved (as
> Aristotle  points out): the two products and the two exchangers. The
> exchangers  themselves must enter in a social relation with one another.
> This is the very sense of exchange as a _social_ relation -- it
> as-sociates  (at least two) exchangers with one another. Each must offer
> on a market a  potential use-value which they do not want to realize for
> themselves. For an  exchange to actually take place, the two _dynameis_
> of toothbrush and cloth  (i.e. their respective exchange-values) must be
> reciprocally exercised.

A potential use-value that they do not "want" to realize for themselves?
This suggests that "wants" and "choice" determine exchange relations.

> This shows that the ontological structure of the exchange relation, which
> is a  genuine social relation involving another (social relations are
> always  _pros  heteron_, i.e. "toward another"), is more complex than
> that of the simpler  relation of use-value.

I agree with this conclusion.

> The reason for this is that the very category of _dynamis_ in Aristotle's
> ontology/metaphysics was thought along the lines of the paradigm of
> production, of _poiaesis_. In Books Delta and Theta (V and X) of the
> Metaphysics, the lead meaning for _dynamis_ is gleaned from the paradigm
> of  production. This lead meaning of _dynamis_ is _archae metabolaes en
> alloi ae  haei allo_ (X 1046a10), i.e "starting-point governing a
> transformation  in  something else or insofar as it is something else".
> Thus e.g. with the art of building, the starting-point governing the
> transformation of stone and wood into a house lies in something else,
> namely,  the builder, in whom resides the know-how of building.
> The qualification "or insofar as it is something else" is necessary to
> cover as the art of medicine when the doctor treats him/herself. The
> doctor does not treat herself as a doctor, but insofar as she is herself
> her  own patient.

The 'starting point'  of  commodities and value is in the exchange relation
between wage-laborers and capitalists, i.e. in the 'employment contract'.
This is the starting point because without wage-labour, capitalist
production can not commence.  This starting point itself presupposes a
set of conditions including the existence of  "free" labor (in Marx's double
sense of the term) and hence the creation of a class that is characterized
by its ownership and control of the means of production and another class
that is forced to sell labour-power on the market in exchange for a wage
because of its non-ownership and control of the means of production.
In this sense, the meeting in the marketplace of capitalists and
wage-earners as buyers and sellers respectively forms the 'starting point'
for capitalist production.  Yet, it remains dynamis until first labour has
actually been performed and commodities result and then again in the
market when/until/if  the commodity is sold.  Consequently, if we look
at the circuit M-C-M' we can see in the first movement M-C the
'starting point' as a set of specific class relations that is required for
C-M'  and hence surplus-value to materialize.   In other words, by
focusing on the exchange relation between capitalists and wage-earners
we see that there is more to exchange than "wants", choice and

> So, a toothbrush or a ship are indeed each potential exchange-values, but
> the  actualization of this potential exchange-value depends also an
> _another_.  This  condition of reciprocity is the reason why
> exchange-value is quantitatively so  variable and uncertain.

Yes, there is a degree of uncertainty.  This uncertainty also stems from the
capital/wage-labour relation since capitalists can not know in advance
what the productivity of workers will be.

> The experience of what can usually be had for a
> certain commodity on the market can suddenly turn out to be no reliable
> indicator.


> The advance sales revenue calculations and hence profit
> calculations of a capitalist can turn out to be very wide of the mark,
> either  up or down. Surplus-value can turn out to be nought or
> abnormally great. The  reason for this lies in the essence of the
> market, i.e. that it consists of   myriad 'starting-points', i.e.
> myriad dissociated market participants --  despite all efforts to
> control the market.

It also depends on what happens in the production process.   There is
uncertainty in _all_ phases of the circuit.

In solidarity,  Jerry

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sun Dec 22 2002 - 00:00:00 EST