Re: [OPE-L] Michael Schauerte

From: Christopher Arthur (arthurcj@WAITROSE.COM)
Date: Fri Apr 27 2007 - 01:50:48 EDT

I too would like to know about the 'detour'. (is this term supposed to 
be in Marx?) I suspect this is an inadequate way of expressing the 
concept of 'mediation'.
The commodity cannot express its value immediately, ie in its own 
'body', so it expresses value through the mediation of another 
commodity-body it sets up as expressing its essence as value.

Note however the dialectical reversal: when all commodities have chosen 
a money commodity as the unique bearer of their essence as values it 
becomes posited as value-for-itself independent of any particular value 
expression. So a new commodity now expresses itself as a value only by 
comparing itself with money and saying I share that essence.

It is very important indeed to separate this discussion from commodity 
owners. Uno goes hopelessly astray when he conflates the 'active' role 
of the C in relative form with the activity of a commodity owner 
proposing an exchange. He therewith, says Uno, 'assumes the position of 
the  relative'. But he does not; he is trying to treat his own 
commodity as means of purchase, ie he 'assumes the position' of the 
equivalent, assuring the other owner that he is offering the value 
But again note the reversal with money. Then the agent can offer his C 
for sale, claiming it is worth that price, knowing that possession of 
the universal equivalent will allow him to get everything he wants.
My papers on this are
‘Money and the Form of Value’ in The Constitution of Capital  (pp. 
35-62) eds  R. Bellofiore and N. Taylor, Palgrave, Basingstoke, 2004
  and (against Uno) 'Money and exchange' in Capital & Class 90 Autumn 
2006 (7-35)

Chris A

On 26 Apr 2007, at 14:03, Pen-L Fred Moseley wrote:

> Hi Michael, welcome to OPEL.  Thanks for your posts on Kuruma.  Two
> comments below.
> Quoting Michael Schauerte <yk3mk3@MY.EMAIL.NE.JP>:
>> It is interesting, by the way, that most of the translations of the
>> part of Sec. 3 in Capital where Marx discusses the detour, cannot
>> help inserting the commodity owner. Granted, everyone knows that the
>> commodity owners create this value equation based on their own
>> desires, but for Kuruma once this equation has been set up we need to
>> set aside the owners and examine the mechanism of value expression.
>> For Uno, Marx was wrong to abstract that far. I think that if the
>> commodity owner is not abstracted from, at the very least, the
>> impression is created that there is no substance of value preceding
>> the equation, and that value (really "price") emerges from the act of
>> exchange itself.
> 1.  It is not clear to me why Kuruma calls Marx’s derivation of money
> in Section 3 of Chapter 1 a "detour".  This is a straightforward
> logical deduction from the basic labor theory of value already
> developed in Sections 1 and 2.  In order for each commodity to be
> exchanged as equivalents with all other commodities, the SNLT contained
> in each commodity (the "magnitude of value") must be observable in some
> objective and comparable form.  But quantities of SNLT are not directly
> observable as such.  Therefore, the SNLT contained in each commodity
> must be represented indirectly in terms of the quantity of the money
> commodity that contains the same quantity of SNLT.
> If what Kuruma means by "detour" is the indirect expression of SNLT as
> money, then perhaps we have no disagreement.  But "detour" is a
> misleading term.  The deduction of the necessity of money is in no way
> a logical "detour".  Once money is derived in Part 1, it becomes the
> basis for Marx’s theory of capital beginning in Part 2 – "the
> transformation of money into capital".  The transformation of money
> into capital is not possible unless money has been previously derived.
> So what does Kuruma mean by "detour"?
> 2.  Commodity owners do not create the value equations in Marx’s
> theory.  Marx’s logic in Chapter 1 – and throughout Capital – is based
> on the *objective* characteristics of capitalism, not the subjective
> evaluations of commodity owners (as in neoclassical economics).  The
> main objective property of capitalism that Marx begins with in Chapter
> 1 is that products in capitalism are commodities (goods produced for
> exchange), and that the general system of commodity exchange is regular
> and mutually consistent – i.e. the system satisfies the property of
> transitivity.  From this objective property of transivity, it follows
> by the laws of mathematical logic that the relations among commodities
> must be one of equality.
> Continuing with this objective logic, the quantitative exchange-values
> of commodities is determined by the objective property of SNLT, not by
> the subjective evaluations of commodity owners.
> So Marx does not somehow begin with the subjective evaluations of
> commodity owners, and then puts these aside in order to derive money,
> but rather begins with the objective properties of commodities, and
> from these derives SNLT and money.
> Comradely,
> Fred
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