is value labour?

From: rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU
Date: Sat May 10 2003 - 20:00:14 EDT

Hans writes:

 Now Howard makes an
additional important distinction in his posting: that
between the real and the actual.  Things can be real but not
actual.  A good example for something that is real but now
actual is the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.  Even
if the rate of profit actually rises, the underlying laws
increasing the organic compostion of capital are still valid
and are exerting a persistent long-run downward pressure on
the rate of profit, even if this downward pressure is
swamped by various short-run "counteracting influences."

Philosophers such as Nietzsche, Bergson and Deleuze have
attempted to replace the couplet of possibility/reality with
virtuality/actuality. While a possibility may or may not become real,
a virtual tendency is completely real though all the properties
which it entails are not actual. The underlying tendency towards a
rising OCC and countertendency towards a rising SV  are not mere
possibilities in the course of accumulation; they are, as Hans
says, real and dynamic tendencies, real however as virtualities;
perhaps the virtual tendencies are as real as  the deep currents
that push whatever stretch of the stream to the surface which
allows one to identify it.  Yet not quite sure at all what to make of
the attempts to introduce  virtuality into traditional ontology; not
sure whether the concept of virtuality helps in any way to clarify
Marx's sense of the actual reality of his laws of tendency.

Hans writes:

The value which a private producer produces comes into being
and is real from the moment of production.  But it is not
yet "actual" as far as society is concerned.  It is not yet
useful for society, nobody in society may even know that it
exists.  It only exists as a potential, as a capacity, and
as a need of the producer who did not produce for him or
herself but must enter now the market.  This value becomes
actual only at the moment when the product is exchanged or
sold.  Marx calls the sale the "realization" of the value, a
more precise term would be "actualization" of the value.


I think Marx attempted to replace the distinction between primary
and secondary qualities with the one between possessed and
latent. I suggested some analogies to quantum mechanics.

Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2001 00:40:12 -0800
From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari <rakeshb@Stanford.EDU>
Subject: [OPE-L:4825] value: primary, secondary; latent,
possessed? (was eigenvalues)

Just to reiterate: I am not trying to bring quantum mechanics into
value theory. The point here is a general philosophical one (here I
draw from a helpful discussion by Grometstein, The Roots of
Things: Topics in Quantum Mechanics). The question here is
about the nature of the attributes of objects or qualities in general;
the specific question is what kind of attribute is value.

Until the impact of relativity theory and quantum mechanics, it was
tenable to categorize attributes as primary and secondary (so
thought Anaxagoras, Galileo, Descartes, Locke); the former was
supposed to be a feature which an object possesses independent
of an observer. Classic examples were supposed to be mass,
position or size. Primary qualities, that is, were thought to be
resident within their object; inalienable from it and make up  their
essence. An observer simply measured or read a primary quality,
but the quality is in no sense dependent upon the observer.

Secondary qualities arise from the interaction between the object
and an observer. Taste and color are typical of this type.

Now that distinction has broken down since with relativity theory:
mass for example does vary with the relative speed of the object
and observer.

If every quality is secondary, then the distinction between primary
and secondary is simply uninformative.

But in *Physics and Philosophy* (as I cited in my second post on
money) Heisenberg tried to replace the old distinction of primary
and secondary attributes with the idea that qualities of an object
are either essential or potential; possessed or latent.

With the uncertainty principle latent qualities manifest themselves
as clearly present only upon measurement; that is, position and
momentum appear as latent qualities....

Now this conceputal innovation is helpful in understanding  Marx
for whom value is a kind of latent quality of commodities which
manifests itself as clearly present only upon  successful monetary
ex-change or "collapse" onto the money price "vector" (of course
not everything which has assumed the commodity form and sold
for a price possess the quality of value, but no commodity which
has not sold for a price is a--or possesses--value)...

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