Re: [OPE] Value form theory 101

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Thu Dec 11 2008 - 11:19:09 EST

2008/12/11 GERALD LEVY <>

> In any event, their commentaries make
> it clear that one of the biggest divides among Marxian value theorists
> is over the question of whether categories such as surplus value and
> abstract labor are trans-historical in the sense that they apply towards
> pre-capitalist modes of production (and, by inference, towards post-
> capitalist modes of production) OR whether they are specific social forms
> associated with capitalism.

I have never suggested that 'surplus-value' is a historically invariant
concept, and I don't think Paul C has said so either. My position is that
'social labour', 'net product' and by extension 'surplus labour' are
trans-historical concepts, while 'surplus-value' is the historically
specific form in which surplus labour is extracted under purely capitalist
relations of production. That is to say, I accept the basic premises of a
materialist conception of history.

I wouldn't dismiss the possibility out-of-hand
> of finding some 'common ground' about abstract labor, but I don't
> think it's very likely. VFT, for instance (in all its variations?),
> rejects
> a 'labor embodied' perspective on value. How would this divide be overcome?

I genuinely believe that some common ground can be found if one's starting
point is historical materialism. At the very least all can accept that any
society has a finite amount of labour available during a given period and
that goods and services require different amounts of society's labour to
produce them. So, one has already the concept of 'labour-content'.

Then the question arises whether this theoretical construction has any
causal effects in real economies.

(I do agree with your point that the style of Jurriaan's post is not the
best. But this is often the case when people start focusing on "what Marx
said" rather whether the actual theory is scientifically sound or not.)
//Dave Z

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Received on Thu Dec 11 11:21:09 2008

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