[OPE-L:8288] Re: philosophy and political economy and time

From: Michael Eldred (artefact@t-online.de)
Date: Tue Jan 07 2003 - 07:10:23 EST

Cologne 07-Jan-2003

Re: [OPE-L:8283]

Christopher Arthur schrieb Sun, 5 Jan 2003 17:24:03 +0000:

> Re Michael's 8081 of Cologne 28-Nov-2002
> A long delayed reply on time. Of course when I say time is money I do not
> mean the dimension is time, what I mean is that the amount is a function of
> the time capital is tied up for. As far as I can see you think the deltaM
> is a contingent amount predicated on some Hayekian like creation out of
> market imbalance.

"Creation" too is a kind of cause. The magnitude of value is what is achieved on
the market. One can point -- post factum -- to all sorts of diverse ad hoc factors
influencing the price, but these are only regularities (at best) in social
relations which _endechetai allos echein_ "admit of having it another way". Value
is a social relation in practical, social life. For Aristotle, practical life is
the realm which "admits of having it another way", whereas _epistaemae_, science,
directs itself toward the phenomena which "cannot be otherwise". This seems to be
an important tip for thinking about social phenomena and has implications for what
something resembling 'social science' can be.

> But I would like to support a version of LTV as follows:
> Kapital situates production within the time of it own circuit of movement.
> This means that if the GRP functions as any kind of regulator of the
> strivings of individual capitals then there must be a form determining of
> the money measure such that in the first instance (there are many other
> instances, including contingencies) it is necessary according to the
> Concept of capital that each K is rewarded in proportion to the time for
> which it is tied up producing commodities, and in effect suffering a kind
> of freeze in its movement compared with an ideal K that produces
> instantaneously.

Proceeding from the Concept is indeed in conformity with Hegel's _Logik_, i.e. with
Hegel's specific metaphysics, but such a way of proceeding gives precedence to the
_logos_ (God thinking before the creation of the world) over the way the phenomena
open up and reveal themselves in practical life.

> The only way to for this to be acheived is to set the
> reward of the ideal K at zero and set a new value proportional to each LT
> such that every K valorises at the same rate.
> I am not saying SNLT is some originary principle but that the form of
> self-valorisation grounds itself in the exploitation of labour and it
> measures this ground according to its own form, i.e. not energy, not toil
> and trouble, not pleasant/unpleasant, or any other subjective perception of
> laborers, but objective time alone because for K time is money whereas for
> the peasant 'time costs nothing'.
> Of course for this to result in SNLT registering immediately as price
> requires a huge cet par and it requires arguments for why LT is more
> constitutive of value than e.g. turnover time. And then there is the
> 'revaluing' of specific Ls as a result of transformation, including skills
> etc.

All this ceteris paribus seems to me to be ad hoc explanation -- the search for a
cause whilst bracketing off all the phenomena which disturb the explanation (akin
to Newton's first axiom or law of motion which brackets off all the disturbing
phenomena such as friction and external forces in order to 'deduce' an axiom which
is not empirically observable anywhere).

You seem to be proposing a grounding of value in labour (cf."capital grounds
itself" by "touch[ing] ground in the labour process" [OPE-L:8284] ). This ground
seems to me to be quicksand.

I do agree with you that the concept of value, once established from the exchange
relation, is developed further (into substance, magnitude, capital, capitalist
production, etc.). This is in line with the claim that capitalism can be accounted
for in a connected way, i.e. that capitalism something resembling a social
totality. Value is precipitated in the thing, money, which mediates the abstract
commodity exchange relations, i.e. the social practice of commodity exchange. Money
is a customary thing mediating a usage, and is the reification/substantiation of
the social relation, value, in a thing, a 'substance', which moreover is
quantiatively determinate and indeed distinguished in itself only through quantity,
i.e. it is a pure measure of value.

Marx himself performs the "transformation of money into capital" in explicit
analogy to Aristotle's distinction between _oikonomikae_ and _chraematistikae_
(MEW23:167). "Simple commodity circulation" corresponds to _oikonomikae_ and
capital or M--C--M' corresponds to _chraematistikae_. For Aristotle, the social
relation of exchange is for the sake of gaining the useful things which one lacks.
Money is the customary mediator of exchange. But as a thing in itself, money is
also the universal equivalent of all commodity values, i.e. of all the goods which
contribute to "living well" (_eu zaen_). As this universal equivalent, money itself
becomes an abstract good which is striven for _in itself_. This is what Aristotle
calls _chraematistikae_ i.e. money-making. The very term _chraemata_ becomes
ambiguous. On the one hand it signifies 'useful things' (from _chraesthai_ 'to
use'), on the other, 'goods', 'money'. Instead of use (_chraesthai_), we now have
also _chraematizein_ 'deal-making', 'money-making'. The striving for goods as the
good things useful for living, i.e. _philochraematia_, becomes also the striving
for making money as the universal equivalent of goods.

The important thing to see is that this ambiguity in what is to be striven for
arises in practical everyday life associated through abstract commodity exchange
relations and that these two different possibilities for directing one's activities
in practical life depend on an ambiguous mode of disclosure of things, on the Janus
face which they present to human understanding as being either suitable for use or,
more abstractly, an opportunity for monetary gain.

Money, once acquired or 'made', can either be used in its function as universal
equivalent to purchase the 'good things of life', i.e. all those things offered on
the market, or it can be used as capital to make more money. The first possibility
that lies to hand in this second case is merchant activity, i.e. buying cheap and
selling dear, either by taking on the distribution task of mediating between
wholesale and retail, or by taking on the productive task of transportation from
one place to another, i.e. buying (wholesale) in one market and selling (wholesale
or retail) in another. Why is it possible to make money out of trading? Because it
is a useful, mediating activity and is practically honoured in the money paid to
those doing it. Such merchant activity is a possibility of practical, money-making
activity depending upon abstract social relations of exchange, i.e. markets of
various kinds on which buyers and sellers can meet and freely exchange. The
question is whether such social relations of exchange collide with other social
relations of control and subjugation. Where markets are strictly controlled, say,
by a despot or by traditional notions, where there are strictly controlled merchant
guilds, mercantile capital cannot unfold the chrematistic possibilities of trading.

To go one step further, the possibility of making money out of production, i.e. out
of advancing money-capital to set up a production process in order to finally sell
dearer, depends also other social relations of direct subjugation (slavery,
serfdom) not colliding with exchange relations, which presuppose formally free
exchangers. Slaves or serfs are themselves part of someone's _ousia_, i.e.
belongings of someone's estate, and are not free to indulge in the practice of
earning a living or making money. Such conflicting social relations constrict the
free abstract movement of money as capital M--C--P--C'--M'. Other traditional
social relations (e.g. religious prescriptions) can restrict the movement of money
as capital by not allowing the activity of money-making to appear as a viable
possibility/opportunity in that traditional life-world. The social world has to
open up as offering opportunities for monetary gain in such a way that social
relations themselves are adapted to these possibilities of practical life. Thus
wage-labour accords with the abstract formula of capital better than the dependent
social relations of slavery, which restrict how the production process itself can
be shaped to maximize the possibilities of monetary gain. Wage-labour is also
compatible with the striving to make money as an endless end in itself (e.g.
dishwasher to millionaire).

When the simple abstract movement of value as capital seizes the production
process, it too becomes a streamlined process oriented toward the final sale on the
market for which cost-efficiency and productivity are crucial. But even labour
performed in the capitalist production process does not 'create' value. Rather, the
risk taken to make money by setting up and running a production process is always
subject to final validation in the abstract relations of the market. The selling
price had for commodity products on the market depends not simply on an amount of
labour embodied in them, but what the products are worth in use in some social
usage or other, which in turns depends upon how the products present themselves to
potential consumers in promising enjoyment in use. A potato peeler's worth lies in
its practical usefulness in peeling potatoes, but even this use is dependent upon a
customary usage, i.e. upon how people are used to peeling their potatoes. A new
kind of potato peeler with a different, more efficient approach to peeling may be a
market flop because it cannot be 'seen' from current social usages. Monetary
recognition ultimately decides which labour has been 'socially necessary' and which
was socially unnecessary.

Another, contemporary example: it makes no difference how much high-quality labour
is put into making a hat -- if hats are not fashionable, the labour will not be
acknowledged in price, whereas the same care and attention to detail put into
making sunglasses will be acknowledged in a very high price, providing that the
design is currently in fashion. To resort to the difference between value and price
to cope with such phenomena and to explain away the value of commodities, which
relies upon how they connect with social usages, as mere contingency amounts, in my
view, to bankruptcy of the LTV, which itself is fashioned along the lines of a
physical law of motion totally inappropriate to social relations.

I agree that the abstract formula of capital, M -- C -- M', supported by the
abstract desire to make money, tendentially transforms all social relations into
abstract relations, including the relations in production, which are increasingly
subjected to quantifiable criteria of cost-efficiency. Technology teams up with the
capitalist striving to make money in optimizing efficiency and thus productivity.
The mathematical casting of world aligns with value-augmentation, culminating today
in a digital ontology of the world (only that which is representable as binary code

Furthermore, time itself becomes an abstract phenomenon expressible in number. What
counts for capital as the abstract movement of striving to augment value is
augmentation in a given quantifiable time period dt. Improvements in productivity
and shortening of the turnover time are the same from this perspective. Both
enhance value-augmentation in the monetary dimension.

If capitalism is the historical opening of world as the gathering of opportunities
for gain, then one has to think carefully about the status of the category of
opportunity. Opportunity is a kind of potential, a possibility offered by a
situation, which may or may not be fulfilled. Such opportunities are the
orientation points for human projects, for the way people lead their lives. Such
_dynamis_ has priority over _energeia_ or _entelecheia_, i.e. over the actuality of
what has been achieved. The opportunity for gain is _dynamis_ as incentive for
human action. In the social realm, the opportunity for gain is subject to the
essential contingency of social relations of exchange in the broadest sense.

This contrasts against technical know-how which is knowing foresight of how an end
is to be brought up with reasonable certainty. A machine can be engineered with
precision allowing predictable results, but there can be no engineering of value,
not even in an efficiently organized, streamlined capitalist production process
tailored to maximizing profit. For human existence, potential, possibility,
opportunity play the leading role in providing the orientation for practical,
social life, not the actuality of what has already been achieved. This is because
the temporal dimension of future is primary for human existence. This could be the
secret of capitalism's historical success -- that it is the gathering of
opportunities for gain and thus provides incentive and motivates human beings (not
just capitalists). (By contrast, as Paul C put it recently, the socialist project
of a planned economy resembles a permanent war economy.)

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-  artefact text and translation _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_- made by art  _-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_
http://www.webcom.com/artefact/ _-_-_-_-artefact@webcom.com _-_
_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_ Dr Michael Eldred -_-_-

> > Christopher Arthur <cjarthur@waitrose.com> schrieb  Wed, 27 Nov 2002 17:01:08
> >+0000:
> >
> >> Re: Michael's [OPE-L:8065]
> >> AB> I would very be interested to see how you would theorise the
> >> > magnitudes of wages and profits etc. My view is that this requires
> >> > the LTV.
> >>
> >> ME "The first step is to learn to see that the measure of abstract use or
> >> abstract labour as it is practically brought about by universal commodity
> >> exchange is not time, but money itself, which mediates commodity exchange.
> >> That is, the measure itself is brought about by the abstract social
> >> relation."
> >>
> >> Hi Michael!
> >>
> >> Surely you must know the basic truth of capitalist society "Time is Money"!
> >> Why? Because your M in simple circulation has the form of measure but no
> >> real determinate immanent dimension. But we know that what circulates are
> >> capitalistically produced goods. How would competing capitals measure their
> >> Cs? M is no good, because K is interested only in delta M, but moreover not
> >> that alone but the fact that between M and Mprime is an interval during
> >> which K is tied up. So Capitals must be compensated for their toil and
> >> trouble i.e. the time for which they are tied up wrestling with matter.
> >> Money IS time. Or more precisely value is crystalised time, the Dasein of
> >> its Becoming, or essentially 'that which has become', which must bear
> >> regular proportions to the time of their becoming for capital to persist
> >> with them.
> >>
> >> Chris
> >>
> >> PS I will comment on substance when I have more time (!)
> >>
> >> 17 Bristol Road, Brighton, BN2 1AP, England
> >
> >Hi there Chris, nice to hear from you again,
> >
> >Okay, you say that the "basic truth of capitalist society "Time is Money"!",
> >capitalist society being economically sociated through the movement of value,
> >i.e. the movement of money. This _movement_ takes place in time, and the
> >success or otherwise of capital's movement is its augmentation: dM/dt.
> >Maximization of dM/dt (no matter whether over the short or long run, but
> >preferably long) is the abstract, simple striving of capital. In the world of
> >business and finance, this is said thus: It's the bottom line that counts (at
> >the end of a quarter, a year, in the long run).
> >
> >I presume that the value you are referring to as crystallized time is the
> >dM --
> >but I don't see any time in there. Rather, the time is in the quotient,
> >delta-t
> >(dt). dM is simply the difference M' (Mprime) minus M (the principal advanced,
> >ventured, risk, employed). M' comes from the sale of the product C', i.e. from
> >the valuation of C' on the market in which its value is recognized and
> >appreciated by willing purchasers (either consumers or other capitalist
> >companies) in paying for C'. No time in there either.
> >
> >In the production process P itself time affects dM/dt through productivity,
> >i.e. how much product is produced in unit time. Ceteris paribus, the more
> >produced in unit time, the better for capital augmentation, for this will
> >augment proceeds (the top line).
> >
> >The shortening of turnover time (production phase plus circulation phase) also
> >enhances capital augmentation ceteris paribus, but this too amounts to
> >diminishing delta-t (dt) and thus increasing dM/dt.
> >
> >Ceteris paribus is important here mainly to say: As long as purchase and
> >selling prices stay constant (which they don't of course -- but that doesn't
> >matter so much if competing capitals are in the same situation).
> >
> >(The false semblance of SNLT causally determining the magnitude of value
> >arises
> >through the connection between increasing productivity, thus lowering
> >costs and
> >increasing output, and increased supply depressing selling prices. But
> >there is
> >a whole multitude of such ad hoc explanatory connections for
> >understanding, all
> >valid within their own scope, and each playing over the abyss of value
> >formation. For instance, a company can invest in brand-building to enhance
> >consumer desire for a given product, thus establishing a value-premium for the
> >branded product -- Coca Cola being the most famous and successful example.
> >Value out of the nothingness of human beings' desirous relation to things.)
> >
> >So I'd rather say: the movement of money as capital _squeezes_ (existential,
> >lived, human) time, the squeezing being the striving to minimize delta-t. For,
> >as you point out, capital also has to engage with things and humans. (And
> >humans have their own motives for engaging with capital -- as entrepreneurs,
> >managers, wage-earners, investors, lenders, land-owners.)
> >
> >This phenomenon of squeezing requires some further explication: Just as the
> >practice of commodity exchange institutes the value dimension as a
> >quantitative, monetary social dimension, the movement of value as capital is a
> >movement within quantified time, delta-t (dt). The practice of capitalist
> >production, too, M -- C (P) -- M+dM, is a quantified movement in quantified,
> >measurable time t.
> >
> >But quantified, mathematically amenable time is not originary time, i.e. the
> >three-dimensional existential timespace within which human being has a future,
> >its present and its what-has-been. Existential timespace comes under the sway
> >of quantified, linear time t through the movement of value as capital. Not
> >only
> >are human powers (labour power, entrepreuneurial skill, etc.) quantified under
> >the money-form, but human existential time is also subjected to the imperative
> >of minimizing delta-t (dt). This could be called a squeezing of existential
> >time by quantified time in the mathematically expressible principle/imperative
> >of capital, viz.: maximize dM/dt..
> >
> >Michael

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