[OPE-L] salto mortale

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Fri Mar 02 2007 - 10:17:58 EST

> Paul:
> >> Prices are 'a' in the sense of one possible, of the necessary
> >> modes of expression of value.
> Jerry:
> > That's a  non-sequitur.  If  prices are a _necessary_ mode of
> > expression of value then the value of commodities _necessarily_
> > comes to be expressed through price.
> Allin:
> Then why not say prices are _the_ necessary mode of expression of
> value?  The 'a' seems to imply that values need to be expressed
> somehow, and prices are one way of doing so, depending on the
> social context.

Hi Allin:

If prices were just  "one way of" expressing value "depending on the
social context" then they wouldn't be a  NECESSARY mode of
expression of value.

They are a NECESSARY mode of expression of value because the
commodity necessary entails an array of  SPECIFIC social relations which
include (amongst other things)  the market and money.

The metamorphosis of commodities REQUIRES the existence of
money as can be seen by even the formula C - M - C.  That first
metamorphosis, C - M,  is a  NECESSARY rite of passage for
commodities -- a "leap" : "the commodity's "salto mortale" [Vol. 1,
Ch. 3, section 2 (a)]. (NB: the money commodity is assumed in this
 metamorphosis and hence money both stands opposed to commodity
and *is* at the same time a commodity, i.e. it represents a
metamorphosis from one form of commodity to another.)

> Which is what I believe.
> There are various levels here:

Levels?   At the moment, we're talking only about the
level of the commodity-form: i.e. those characteristics and relations which
are necessarily associated with the commodity.  1-4 below do not
constitute different levels: they are all to be understood (at least
*initially*)  on the same level.

> 1. The labour times required to produce things
> 2. "Value" (or "labour value")
> 3. Exchange value
> 4. Price


The actualization of  value  NECESSARILY requires USE-VALUE.
Without use-value, then no exchange value and no money, no
value, no commodity.  One has to see the characteristics of the
commodity as not merely distinct but inter-related in the sense that
they are all constitutive of the commodity.  Without use-value, the
attempted "leap" (salto mortale: deadly jump, full somersault, dangerous
or crucial undertaking -- from _Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary_ )
falls short and value (which was presumed by the owner of the product)
is crushed on the rocks below and decomposes.  Mixing metaphors,
use-value is required before the value fetus can be born and welcomed into
the world as a fully-formed "living" commodity:  the existence of use-value,
rather than only its presumption, is required to socially validate the
labour time
expended in production as socially necessary.

In solidarity, Jerry

> Paul and I tend to favour a terminology in which 1 and 2 are just
> equivalent: "value" means the labour time required.  Then the
> question is: how does value "manifest itself"?  In a
> commodity-producing society, where the products are private
> property, this will be via exchange value; and in a money-using
> society exchange value will in turn be represented by price.
> In a planned economy, however, value does not require an
> "indirect" representation; it can be calculated based on knowledge
> of the direct labour coefficients and the input-output relations.

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