[OPE-L:8230] Re: Re: Re: Marx's Notes on Wagner

From: Christopher Arthur (cjarthur@waitrose.com)
Date: Sun Dec 22 2002 - 13:06:08 EST

Re 8218 >Chris, you argued that in the Notes on Wagner, Marx denied that
labor is
>the substance of EXCHANGE-VALUE.  I argued in response that in Chapter 1,
>Marx certainly did not deny, but rather affirmed and emphasized, that
>abstract labor is the common substance of COMMODITIES that determines
>their exchange-values.  You seem to agree with this - you say "your
>summary of Marx is generally accurate except ..."
Fred - why are you changing the subject? Marx is not talking of commodities
he is talking of exchange value which is a form of value that involves
*relations of two* commodites. Incidentally the commodity has two
substances, a material substance that makes it a use value and a social
substance that makes it a value.

>But then you say "... except where you write:
>"As previewed in Section 1, Section 3 derives money as the necessary form
>of appearance of the substance of value (abstract labor), as derived in
>Sections 1 and 2."
>You go on to say:  "This repeats Wagner's error; if labour is not the
>common substance of exchange-value, a fortiori it is not the substance of
>But I am not arguing that labor is the substance of MONEY.

Sorry fred - but the quote from your mail says precisely that "money as the
necessary form of appearance of the substance of value (abstract labor)".
Was it a slip of the pen? What is the differewnce between what you write
and what I would write, namely money is the necessary form of appearance of
value whose substance is labour?
If you intended the same we agree.
>Rather, I am
>arguing that abstract labor is the common substance of COMMODITIES, whose
>necessary form of appearance is money.  This is clearly how Marx derived
>the necessity of money in Section 3 of Chapter 1.  The characteristics of
>money - homogenous quality and definite quantities - are derived from
>these same characteristics of abstract labor.  Thus, money is the
>appropriate and sufficient form of appearance of the salient
>characteristics of abstract labor.
>You, not I, are making the same mistake as Wagner - thinking that I am
>arguing that labor is the substance of MONEY, but I am arguing instead
>(following Marx) that abstract labor is the substance of COMMODITIES.
Once again your first para last line seems to   repeat Wagners error when
you directly relate money to labour instead of via value. even tho' in the
second para you withdraw it. As for the rest of the second para the
substance of commodities is not in dispute. ALso the characteristics of
money are required to represent *value*, the difficult question  is how in
turn can value represent labour when labour is immediately various and
qualitiatively hierarchical, and so we have to justify taking it abstractly.
But when you say labouris NOT the substance of money, we agree.

>Chris, you want to define something called "value" that is distinct from
>both abstract labor and money - the middle place in a "three place
>scheme".  How exactly is this "value" defined?   And since value must be a
>quantity, what is its unit of measure?
Defining value takes 3 volumes of capital I have argued. As for measure I
agree with all your papers in which you correctly argue that once Marx
derives price than all measures of value are given in money. If one was to
set the measure of value as labour-time then this would destroy the labour
theory of value if this is taken to assert that 'the magnitude of value is
determined by the SNLT' because it would reduce to 'labour time is
determined by labour time', an absurd tautology.

>I argue that value is not one place in a "three place scheme", but instead
>value is all three places together - the substance of VALUE is abstract
>labor, the magnitude of VALUE is socially necessary labor-time, and the
>necessary form of appearance of VALUE is money.  This is what Marx clearly
>said in the passage from Section 1 that I quoted in my last post:
While I don't agree that magnitude is a 'place' your assertion that 'Value
is in all three places together' is an interesting one. Although "value' is
in the middle "place' it is absolutely incoherent without a 'substance' and
a form - that is why its concept has to be developed rather than given in a
simple definition. Traditionally it was defined as 'a power of drawing
other commodities in exchange' which would do as a start but obviously
raises all kinds of questions.

>"Now we know the  SUBSTANCE OF VALUE.  It is LABOUR.  We know the MEASURE
>OF ITS MAGNITUDE.  It is LABOUR-TIME. The FORM, which stamps VALUE as
>EXCHANGE-VALUE, remains to be analyzed.  (C.I.: 131; emphasis in the
>Chris, how do you interpret this passage?
Well it is very clear it is the three place scheme with value as the middle
betwen its substance and its form.  Serious errors result from collapsing
value into exchange value (as with Bailey and Wagner) or collapsing value
into its substance (as with Mandel, Carchedi and many others who assert
labour IS value thus opening themselves to the tautology above mentioned
and making such notions as 'self-valorising value' impossible to construe:
"self-labouring labour"??? - whereas 'self-empowering power' is not a bad
description of capital I have just realised) The problematic element here
is the measure sentence. (as it stands here measure could refer not to
value but to labour of course.) As we know money is the real measure.
Elsewhere Marx refines this statement here to read LT is the 'immanent
measure'. This is not a concept known to me from any other science. It is
tempting to read it as a confused way of saying immanent determinant as
when we say weight is 'mG' where m would model LT and G would be modeled by
some kind of exchange field. Or it could be there is some very intimate
relation between value and labour time which is neither identity nor
determinant but something in betwen. My instinct is to go for this last.
But we have drifted away from what Marx actually says which is what is the
issue in this exchange.
And what he actually says is
"Nowhere do I speak of 'the common social substance of EV' but I say EVs
represent something common to them [commodities] which is wholly
independent of UV, namely 'value'... and since I deal extensively with the
value-form, ie. the development of exchange value, it would be strange to
reduce that form to a common social substance, labour."
So from the EVs of commodities we infer the common Value and then we seek
the substance of this value and find it in labour. Although Marx blusters
here about Wagner's stupidity I believe Marx in ch 1 does not make this
double retreat  from surface appearance to the underlying determinant very
clear and Wagner could be excused, certainly if he looked at the 1859
critique, where Marx did not distinguish value from exchange value as Rubin
fraternally, and happy holidays


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