Re: [OPE-L] Value and Exploitation

From: Ian Hunt (ian.hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU)
Date: Fri Oct 21 2005 - 22:07:58 EDT

Dear Jerry,
It depends on what the accusation is: if the accusation is that value
is separated from capitalist exploitation in the workplace, then
"trans-historical" (or multi-system accounts of value) need not stand
accused just because they cannot say that wherever there is value
production, there is capitalist exploitation (or even some form of
exploitation through appropriation of surplus value, if there are
systems of value production in which no exploitation occurs).
For they can say that a necessary condition of capitalist
exploitation is the transfer of surplus value created in the process
of production and they can say that the appropriate measure of
capitalist exploitation is the rate of surplus value. Perhaps that is
enough for Paul B.
This defence of accounts of value which do not treat it as
exclusively a relation of capitalism is not support for the charge of
"oddness", which I think can be answered by saying that it accords
with the notion that capitalists who fail to sell their product do in
fact fail to exploit their workers, no matter how hard they tried to
do so (the complaint seems analogous to complaining that feedback to
students oddly has no connection with reading student essays once you
claim that reading essays  counts as part of a process of providing
feedback to students only if the assessment is eventually handed over
to them)

>Paul B 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 existent 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'.
>I replied to Paul's post earlier today.  However, I want to note now
>that the claim that Paul B has made  about those who "separate the
>concept of value from that of exploitation in the workplace" -- while
>_not_ having merit in regard to those (including value-form theorists)
>  who claim that value is actualized in exchange  -- *does* have merit
>ironically for those who believe that value exists wherever there is
>'commodity' production.
>Consider the case of  commodities produced by producer
>cooperatives in which there is worker ownership and control.
>Clearly, the products produced by these cooperatives are
>produced in order to be sold.  They also typically have a use-
>value and an exchange value.  They thus represent value from
>the perspective of those who believe that a particular social and
>class relationship (that between wage-labour and capital) is not
>required for the constitution of value.  Yet, there is clearly no
>exploitation which necessarily arises in the case of the producer
>cooperative.  Hence, the link between value and exploitation
>is broken and the concept of value can exist without exploitation
>in the workplace.   Paul's charge is thus misdirected:  rather
>than being directed against value-form theorists and others who
>emphasize the role of exchange, it should instead be directed
>at those who have a trans-historical conception of value.
>In solidarity, Jerry

Associate Professor Ian Hunt,
Dept  of Philosophy, School of Humanities,
Director, Centre for Applied Philosophy,
Flinders University of SA,
Humanities Building,
Bedford Park, SA, 5042,
Ph: (08) 8201 2054 Fax: (08) 8201 2784

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