(OPE-L) the economic cell-form and form-analysis

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Tue Mar 30 2004 - 18:19:25 EST

Once again, Hi Andy:

How would you (and others) answer the question posed by Hans in
his "Annotations" to _Capital_:

     "Why does Marx identify the 'commodity-form of the product
        of labour' with the 'value-form of the commodity'?"

And, while you're at it, how can one view the *value-form*
of the commodity as *itself* "organic"? (NB: the 'economic cell-form'
is identified with the *value-form* of the commodity).

My explanation is as follows:

1) the commodity is the most  'basic unit' of the 'complete body' (i.e.
capitalism) -- hence the analogy to cells.  The value-form of the
commodity can be 'identified' ('associated' might be a better word
here) with the commodity-form to the  extent that the form that
commodities take under capitalism is necessarily *linked* to the

2) the expressions commodity-form and value-form and cell-form
emphasizes that the importance of FORM-DETERMINATION
to the subject.  [NB: reference in the same paragraph in the "Preface
to the First Edition"  to a prior sentence: "The value-form, whose fully
developed shape is the money-form, is very simple and slight in
content.  Nevertheless, the human mind has sought in vain for more
than 2,000 years to get  to the bottom of it, while on the other hand
there has been at least an approximation to a successful ANALYSIS
OF FORMS which are much richer in content and more complex."
(emphasis added, JL). "The power of abstraction" must, from his
perspective, employ FORM-ANALYSIS.]

In solidarity, Jerry

> > But the analogy with a cell seems apt
> > enough. It has stages of development through time - to grasp the
> > system is to have some idea of the stages, and vice versa.
> Perhaps you are reading too much into this analogy?  An
> essential aspect of the 'cell', indeed the reason _why_ it
> develops through stages, is that it is composed of organic (and
> living) matter.  Yet, commodities themselves are
> not (necessarily) alive nor (necessarily) composed of organic
> matter.  Just about all analogies can be over-done: i.e. one has to
> ask where and when an analogy is relevant and where and when
> it can be misleading.
> (NB: I have already suggested an alternative reading in which
> the constitution and cycle ['stages'] of the commodity can
> be grasped conceptually.)

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Fri Apr 02 2004 - 00:00:02 EST