Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Fri Oct 14 2005 - 11:53:51 EDT

Some old territory.

>(2) From the point of view of any *single individual* or any single
>*individual commodity* within the capitalist system then value essence
>can and does exist prior to the commodity being exchanged for money.
>(Hence value can be destroyed through realisation problems)

you mean potential or anticipated value destroyed? Or actual value destroyed?

>One caveat is that the word 'exist' is not particularly precise, or is
>being overstretched here.

Aren't there kinds of existence?

>  The 'existence' of the value of an individual
>commodity (in point 2 above) is not like the 'existence' of material
>things. It is an 'existence' acquired only by mediation, only by gaining
>appearance form at the system-wide level (in accordance with point 1

So it is only exists in the value form. It seems that this is what you
are implying but cannot admit to because it would bring you to close to
value form theory and Chris Arthur's work in particular?

>Note that (1) says value essence does not exist prior to value form; (2)
>says value essence does exist prior to value form.
>Both are correct!

How can that be? Wouldn't it better to revise 2 as suggested above?

There are a couple of objections to understanding Marx as having granted
equal and autonomous existence to value accounts and price accounts.

TSS, Moseley, Wolff/Roberts/Callari have objected because they believe
that the value transferred from the means of production is determined
not by the value of the used up means of production but the value of
the money needed to purchase the used up constant capital.

But Allin long ago explained that this would make impossible Marx's idea
of double divergence, and I looked up the quote in TSV on which they
were all relying and showed that in the very next paragraph Marx
again introduces the problem of double divergence. Fred openly
admitted that his interpretation runs against Marx on this point and
flatly said Marx was wrong here.

But Roberts also had another idea--that as value exists only in its
effects it has no autonomous existence. We cannot thus speak of a
value account as temporally prior to the price account; and thus
transformed into one. All we have are prices, and value or more
specifically the organization of social labor time in terms of
relation to dead and living labor is thus retroduced as a mechanism
for explaining secular changes over time. For all practical purposes
we are inferring from prices changes changes in social labor
relations; if anything then we have to do an inverse transformation
from prices to values.

The whole transformation exercise is silly because the real unknowns
are obviously not the more or less observable average rate of profit
and prices of production as equilibrium prices in which the rate of
profit would be equalized (but not equilibrium in the sense of
stationary prices); the unknowns in a fetishistic economy, that is
the thing we come to know post facto, are related to our social labor
relations, to value relations. And we only know these in terms of
their existence which is in their effects.

Since they have no existence outside of that there is no reason to
speak of two separate really existing things--value and price


>Distinguishing system-wide vs. individual perspectives gets us out of
>what would otherwise be a flat contradiction. It is this distinction
>that I have failed to make in previous conversations with you about this
>topic. (I have just written a paper on this distinction, as it happens,
>though in a different context to value theory)
>Many thanks,
>-----Original Message-----
>From: OPE-L [mailto:OPE-L@SUS.CSUCHICO.EDU] On Behalf Of Rakesh Bhandari
>Sent: 14 October 2005 11:05
>Subject: Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General
>On Fri, 14 Oct 2005 09:00:15 +0100
>   Andrew Brown <A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK> wrote:
>>  Michael,
>>  I think there is a general point here. But will have to work towards
>it via discussing
>>  You wrote
>>          I'm not certain about the significance
>>  you attribute to 'appearance form' vs form.
>>  I reply: in the first four chs we find that M (universal equivalent)
>is *appearance* form of
>>value because it is socially validated as reflecting the value of C
>(the relative form of value).
>>C, on the other hand, is a form of value, but not an *appearance* form
>of value because all that
>>*appears* are its material properties, not its value.
>Andrew, I don't the C is in itself a form of value while M is in itself
>an appearance form of
>To use the language of quantum mechanics, Value is itself the system--
>the thing being measured and the measurement being
>made--rather than being an independent description of the thing being
>measured or the thing measuring. Value, in short, may not exist as an
>independent unobservable thing or simply as the relative form
>of value that can then be transformed into price. Value only exists
>at the level of the system.
>Value in the relative and general forms are not two substances defined
>respective principal attributes but rather movements without
>locatable discontinuity where the other is always involved. There is
>no cleavage between an unobservable value (relative form of value) and
>visible price
>(appearance form of value).
>I think we are close to saying the same thing but I would not afford the
>same reality
>to value in just the relative form as I think you are.
>Is this a difference?

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