Re: (OPE-L) Re: is value labour?

From: Cyrus Bina (binac@MRS.UMN.EDU)
Date: Wed May 07 2003 - 14:26:04 EDT

On value, right on, Jerry.

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: gerald_a_levy 
  Sent: Wednesday, May 07, 2003 7:22 AM
  Subject: (OPE-L) Re: is value labour?

  Paul C wrote on May 06:

   > I would say that value is labour, and that value becomes 
  > manifest in commodity producing societies in the form of 
  > exchange value. 

  To begin with,  value isn't labour because labour is an activity
  which creates value.  Terminology such as "objectified labour"
  and labour in "crystalline" form seems to me to be fundamentally
  confused.  One should differentiate between the products of 
  labour and the activity of labour.   Perhaps Marx was influenced 
  by references in the sciences to petrified trees, fossils, 
  crystalization,  etc.  -- if so it was a poor application of concepts 
  from the natural sciences to the subject of political economy. Also, 
  for the same reason, I think that the proposition that commodities 
  are "containers" of value is misleading -- commodities _represent_ 
  value rather than "contain"  value.

  Additionally, I think the proposition that value is labour 
  is mistaken because it fails to differentiate among the_ forms_ that
  labour can take: only labour of a quite specific form (socially-
  necessary-labor) can _create_ value.  

  Further, if value is labour, then what is 'not-value'?

  > If one believes that there is a unity of the process of
  > capitalist production and circulation then value is something
  > specific to the nature of the commodity-form
  > Why? this is a non-sequitur. How can ones belief about some 
  > particularity of the capitalist mode of production - the unity of 
  > production and circulation ( whatever that  means ), lead to 
  > conclusions about other modes of production - namely that value 
  > is absent from them. 
  > One might as well say that because I believe that all 
  > capitalist economies use coin , coins do not 
  > exist in non-capitalist economies. 

  I explained what I meant in the following two sentences from my
  previous post -- one indeed begins "In other words".

  My point did not fundamentally concern whether there is or is
  not value in non-capitalist modes of production -- rather I was
  trying to explain how the issue isn't "whether one thinks that
  value is essentially something specific to exchange", but
  rather how value in bourgeois society requires the presence
  of specific processes of production and circulation and that 
  an analysis of the subject matter reveals the necessary 
  and systematic connections between these processes.  
  If we are committed ontologically to drawing out these 
  connections then we see that value is "something specific"
  to the nature of the commodity produced in bourgeois society
  and hence we can observe that value _is_ something specific 
  to a particular _form_ of  (capitalist) production _and_ 
  circulation (and hence exchange). 

  In solidarity, Jerry

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