Re: [OPE-L] Question

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Wed Apr 11 2007 - 06:35:56 EDT

>There is also a very strong appologetic import to identifying current monetary
>demand with 'social necessity'.
>Paul Cockshott
But there is a kind of social necessity which monetary demand does have...

Theories of surplus value , part III, disintegration of Ricardian school
(Engels' letter to Kautsky, Sep. 20, 1884)

{In order that the commodities may be measured 
according to the quantity of labor embodied in 
them-and the measure of the quantity of labor is 
time-the different kinds of labor contained in 
the different commodities must be reduced to 
uniform, simple labor, average labor, ordinary, 
unskilled labor.  Only then can the amount of 
labor embodied in them be measured according to a 
common measure, according to time.  The labor 
must be qualitatively equal so that its 
differences become merely quantitative, merely 
differences of magnitude.  This reduction to 
simple, average labor is not, however, the only 
determinant of the quality of this labor to which 
as a unity the values of the commodities are 
reduced.  That the quantity of labor embodied in 
a commodity is the quantity socially necessary 
for its production-the labor-time being thus 
necessary labor-time-is a definition which 
concerns only the magnitude of value.  But the 
labor which constitutes the substance of value is 
not only uniform, simple, average labor; it is 
the labor of a private individual represented in 
a definite product. However, the product as value 
must be the embodiment of social labor and, as 
such, be directly convertible from one use-value 
into all others. (The particular use-value in 
which labor is directly represented is irrelevant 
so that it can be converted from one form into 
another.)@Thus the labor of individuals has to 
be directly represented as its opposite, social 
labor; this transformed labor is, as its 
immediate opposite, abstract, general labor, 
which is therefore represented in a general 
equivalent, only by its alienation does 
individual labor manifest itself as its opposite. 
The commodity, however, must have this general 
expression before it is alienated. This necessity 
to express individual labor as general labor is 
equivalent to the necessity of expressing a 
commodity as money. The commodity receives this 
expression insofar as the money serves as a 
measure and expresses the value of the commodity 
in its price. It is only through sale, through 
its real transformation into money, that the 
commodity acquires its adequate expression as 
exchange-value. The first transformation is 
merely a theoretical process, the second is a 
real one.
Thus, in considering the existence of the 
commodity as money, it is not only necessary to 
emphasize that in money commodities acquire a 
definite measure of their value-since all 
commodities express their value in the use-value 
of the same commodity-but that they all become 
manifestations of social, abstract, general 
labor; and as such they all possess the same 
form, they all appear as the direct incarnation 
of social labor and as such they all act as 
social labor, that is to say, they can be 
directly exchanged for all other commodities in 
proportion to the size of their value; whereas in 
the hands of the people whose commodities have 
been transformed into money, they exist not as 
exchange-value in the form of a particular 
use-value, but as use-value (gold, for example) 
which merely represents exchange-value. A 
commodity may be sold either below or above its 
value. This is purely a matter of the magnitude 
of its value. But whenever a commodity is sold, 
transformed into money, its exchange-value 
acquires an independent existence, separate from 
its use-value. The commodity now exists only as a 
certain quantity of social labor-time, and it 
proves that it is such by being directly 
exchangeable for any commodity whatsoever and 
convertible (in proportion to its magnitude) into 
any use-value whatsoever. This point must not be 
overlooked in relation to money any more than the 
formal transformation undergone by the labor a 
commodity contains as its element of value. But 
an examination of money-of that absolute 
exchangeability which the commodity possesses as 
money, of its absolute effectiveness as 
exchange-value which has nothing to do with the 
magnitude of value-shows that it is not 
quantitatively, but qualitatively determined and 
that as a result of the very process through 
which the commodity itself passes, its 
exchange-value becomes independent, and is really 
represented as a separate aspect alongside its 
use-value as it is already nominally in its price.
This shows, therefore, that the "verbal observer" 
understands as little of the value and the nature 
of money as Bailey, since both regard the 
independent existence of value as a scholastic 
invention of economists. This independent 
existence becomes even more evident in capital, 
which, in one of its aspects, can be called value 
in process-and since value only exists 
independently in money, it can accordingly be 
called money in process, as it goes through a 
series of processes in which it preserves itself, 
departs from itself, and returns to itself 
increased in volume. It goes without saying that 
the paradox of reality is also reflected in 
paradoxes of speech which are at variance with 
common sense and with what vulgarians mean and 
believe they are talking of. The contradictions 
which arise from the fact that on the basis of 
commodity production the labor of the individual 
presents itself as general social labor, and the 
relations of people as relations between things 
and as things-these contradictions are innate in 
the subject-matter, not in its verbal 
Ricardo often gives the impression, and sometimes 
indeed writes, as if the quantity of labor is the 
solution to the false, or falsely conceived 
problem of an "invariable measure of value" in 
the same way as corn, money, wages, etc., were 
previously considered and advanced as panaceas of 
this kind, In Ricardo's work this false 
impression arises because for him the decisive 
task is the definition of the magnitude of value. 
Because of this he does not understand the 
specific form in which labor is an element of 
value, and fails in particular to grasp that the 
labor of the individual must present itself as 
abstract general labor and, in this form, as 
social labor. Therefore he has not understood 
that the development of money is connected with 
the nature of value and with the determination of 
this value by labor-time.
Bailey's book has rendered a good service insofar 
as the objections he raises help to clear up the 
confusion between "measure of value" expressed in 
money as a commodity along with other 
commodities, and the immanent measure and 
substance of value. But if he had analyzed money 
as a "measure of value", not only as a 
quantitative measure but as a qualitative 
transformation of commodities, he would have 
arrived at a correct analysis of value. Instead 
of this, he contents himself with a mere 
superficial consideration of the external 
"measure of value"-which already presupposes 
value-and remains rooted in a purely frivolous 
approach to the question.

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