Re: on money

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Tue Jun 01 2004 - 23:47:27 EDT

Howard Engelskirchen <howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM> said, on 06/01/04:

>... So let me turn to the helpful quote
>from Notebook VII copied in your post below (Grundrisse 776, v. 29 159).

>In the passage Marx refers to value as abstract in two ways -- on the one
>hand, as a real entity in the world value 'appears' abstract because it is
>non-empirical; on the other hand, as a category of economic science it is
>conceptually abstract in the ordinary sense.  We want to distinguish the
>theoretical concept from the historical foundations to which it refers.
>It took modern economic science to generate the scientific concept of
>value and that concept does not appear in antiquity.  But the social
>relation of value did.  Not only was there pearl swallowing, but the
>discussion of Aristotle in the section on Equivalent Form in Chapter 1 of
>Capital seems pretty decisive.


I rather anticipated this direction of argumentation, but paused to be sure we are on the same page.  Given that we are, let move a step more:

*Poverty of Philosophy* argues that economic categories correspond to the social base, arise from the social relations of production, and are not a-historical as bourgeois economists would wish.  The social relations of production in slavery are different from capitalism.  You are saying that ex poste (viewed in hindsight) we can apply the concept of value for exchange transactions in ancient Greece, no matter that Aristotle himself was limited by living in a slave mode of production, because we have now experienced the rise of capitalism.  Can you reconcile your position with *Poverty of Philosophy*?

I noted that you did not react to my note suggesting using value for M-C-M', but not for C-M-C.  I was making the point that C-M-C is the concept relevant, by and large, for ancient Greek transactions.

To be frank, I still do not understand 'value' fully.  In my classes I sometimes made it analogous to the theory of gravitation pull (you cannot see, feel, smell, or touch gravitation pull but it has proven extremely useful).  And, a la Althusser, I could understand gravitation pull as a produced concept.  Why not value as a produced concept.  But I think this is far away from what you are arguing and perhaps is not consistent with Marx's own formulations on value.  Marx seems to be arguing that the very fact that commodities exchange with a certain regularity suggests a 'third' something behind commodiities, namely, value.  Maybe.  But is this a physical property? or a produced concept?  If it is a physical property, why would it 'disappear' if the use-value is consumed, not exchanged?

Maybe I'm just offering my own ignorance on a platter.

Paul Z.

Vol.21-Neoliberalism in Crisis, Accumulation, and Rosa Luxemburg's Legacy
RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY, Zarembka/Soederberg, eds, Elsevier Science

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