Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Oct 19 2005 - 19:09:28 EDT

At 10:24 AM -0700 10/19/05, Ian Wright wrote:
>  > Not really because I am arguing that value is not an intrinsic
>>  property of commodities. To say that it is intrinsic to or inherent in
>>  or dispositional of commodities in themselves, i.e.
>>  outside the system of the relative and equivalent form relation,  is
>>  simply commodity fetishism.
>Yes, I agree, so my analogy with a brittle glass was a bit unhelpful.
>A useful object has dispositional exchange-value only because it is
>part of a system of generalised commodity production. But even if not
>exchanged, it has dispositional exchange-value.

But dispositional ev is then only potential ev.

>>  I have argued however that it makes
>>  sense to speak of abstract labor at least theoretically outside
>>  of the value form social relation. For example the very argument
>>  that abstract labor did not have practical validity in say a caste
>>  society is already to assume homogeneous social labor for we
>>  are looking at the barriers to its reallocation in the face of
>>natural challenges
>>  or social changes.
>Yes I also agree with you on this point, because I think that
>"abstract labour" is a real mechanism, its dispositional powers more
>fully realised in capitalism, but surely not wholly realised. I do not
>think that abstract labour is purely a socially constructed category,
>peculiar to capitalism.

Yes the qualifications with which I agree--"more fully", "not wholly"--indicate
not a solution but a problem for us. Marx of course thinks that
practical achievement of abstract labor is both demanded and
frustrated by capitalist production. I think Andrew Collier has a
very nice discussion of this in his recent book on Marx.
As I suggested in our previous discussion, the practical achievement
of abstract labor requires both subjective and institutional changes.
Yet it remains true that any society has its disposal a pool of
social labor of which we may speak at least theoretically in terms of
its abstract parts. It's not magical money that makes social labor
more or less homogeneous, more or less practically abstract. It's the
generalization of commodity production  that engenders and frustrates


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