Re: [OPE-L] Capital in General

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Fri Oct 21 2005 - 11:20:07 EDT

At 8:31 AM -0400 10/21/05, Jerry Levy wrote:
>  > What is
>>  striking about the 'value is only value' after 'sale', school (apart from
>>  clearly reflecting a shop keeper mentality) is that it seems to separate
>>  the concept of value from that of exploitation in the workplace. Really
>>  quite striking! Value as capital is wealth extorted from an imprisoned
>>  class, and to regard the value relation as non existant before the
>>   individual sale or sales - ie not to assume ( like our friends the astute
>>  accountants must do)  that the 'business ' is 'ongoing' at any point of
>>  appraisal - seems to me to be quite, let us say, 'odd'.
>Paul B:
>It is your reasoning above which I find to be quite odd.  To say that
>value is actualized in exchange can not in any conceivable way be
>taken as a denial of  class exploitation.  To begin with, let us remember
>that the actual presence of exploitation of the working class requires
>exchange, i.e. the sale of the commodity labour-power,  _before_
>that exploitation commences.   Indeed, it is a precondition for

Of course this has the form of an assertion, not an argument ). If
working class is defined as that class which sells for a wage labour
power that is exploited, it is a tautology. Also note that Marx's
idealization requires him to assume the worker appears only "as the
independent worker, a man who is thus legally qualified to act for
himself, who enters into a contract with the capitalist as a seller
of a commodity." Capital I, Penguin, p. 411. At the same Marx cannot
tell the actual history of the production of absolute surplus value
without including the exploitation of children and slaves (on slaves,
p. 377, 414). As a historian, not a theorist of pure capitalism, Marx
himself underlines that exploitation has not always depended on
contract and exchange of wages for labor power sold as a commodity.
What seems to be true however is that Marx thinks that the successful
struggle of the the working class (especially for a shorter working
day) depends on the available proletariat being solely composed of
independent workers as defined above, i.e. on the abolition of child
and slave labour. The working class must thus struggle to impose the
form of exchange/contract as a precondition for the struggle for its
emancipation. Marx thus may have his own version of Maine's From
Status to Contract.


>To say that value is actualized in exchange is not a
>separation of the concept of value from exploitation:  rather, it is
>a _linking_ of value to use-value and the value-form.
>In solidarity, Jerry

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