Re: [OPE-L] Smith and Marx on the materialisation of labour [was 'basics v. non-basics']

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu Sep 29 2005 - 14:19:32 EDT

> I'd steer clear of analysing this sentence too closely. There is too
> much going on at once, for one thing the complex relation between value
> and exchange value is entirely glossed here - as Marx is wont to do even
> in the first edition of Capital itself.

Hi Andy:

Too much going on at once, you say?  I don't think that the passage in
question is all that hard to understand.  It is certainly no more
confusing or ambiguous than many passages on value in _Capital_ and
elsewhere which have been cited to support a "labor embodied"
interpretation.  Of course, you can disagree with the drift of the
sentence.  You could even argue that it is not representative of
Marx's thought on this question and could no doubt cite passages which
suggest another interpretation.  But, "too much going on at once"?
I don't think so.

It seems to me that the following could be cited as textual evidence
in support of a value-form theory (VFT) interpretation of Marx.  Is
that why you don't like it?

In solidarity, Jerry

>           "The materialisation, etc., of labour is however not to be
>            taken in such a Scottish sense as Adam Smith conceives it.
>            When we speak of the commodity as a materialisation of
>            labour -- in the sense of its exchange-value -- this
>            itself is only an imaginary, that is to say, a purely
>            social mode of existence of the commodity which has
>            nothing to do with its corporeal reality;
>            it is conceived as a definite quantity of social labour or
>            of money."  (Progress ed. -- Emile Burns translation -- p.
>            171).

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