Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Andrew Brown (A.Brown@LUBS.LEEDS.AC.UK)
Date: Sat Oct 15 2005 - 10:32:23 EDT

Hi Rakesh,


No doubt I haven’t expressed myself clearly enough, for I seem not to have made clear the distinction between system-wide and individual perspectives. This is the key distinction - if it is not made clear and so overlooked then indeed we have just 'old territory'.


You wrote:


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


First take a system-wide perspective. From this perspective, we are considering 'the commodity' as representative of the typical form of the product of labour across capitalism. We are effectively considering millions or billions of commodities, not just one. From this point of view then value essence ('contained in' the relative form of value) is not yet 'actual' because it is necessary for a large proportion of commodities continually to be actually exchanged for money across the system in order for money to retain its social validity and therefore for the value of diverse commodities to continue to be socially recognised and hence for value to exist at all. Capitalist society would quickly collapse if exchange through prices did not regularly occur on a large scale.


But now take an individual perspective. To be precise, the perspective of any one individual commodity produced in a capitalist society. Any one individual commodity may or may not be exchanged for money but this has no (or a negligible) effect on the existence of capitalism and hence of the existence of value as such. Assuming, therefore, the continued existence of the system, then the value 'in' any one individual commodity (assuming it is produced by SNL, i.e. it is not a fictitious commodity of any kind) is actual, this commodity is an actual form of value. What must be realised (actualised) at the individual level is the existence of the *power* that the commodity potentially possesses and confers to the owner, in virtue of being a value, viz. purchasing power. Purchasing power is actually possessed by the commodity owner only through sale (transformation into money). 


Turning to your further remarks. Clearly, I take a different line to TSS. Your account of Roberts is interesting. I think the system-wide perspective / individual perspective distinction is adequate to address this account. 

I did in fact use this distinction in a previous exchange with you regarding slavery. You seemed unimpressed by it then - I fear you will remain so!


Many thanks



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