RE: [OPE] Value form theory 101

Date: Sun Dec 14 2008 - 08:55:30 EST

> I am sorry, I am not sure what you are going on about. The central idea of "value form theory" is that
> value and abstract labor are constituted by capitalist exchange, and do not exist in any other way
> independently from it.
> This is irrefutably a quite different idea from Marx's own idea, as I've demonstrated numerous times;
Hi Jurriaan:
<sigh> What I am going on about is the tendency to analyze every question with reference to
its (alleged) fidelity to Marx.
Since you have repeatedly mentioned the work of Reuten-Williams (R-W), you should know that
*on some questions* they very explicitly are critical of Marx's conception and advance other
perspectives. So, when you say that a perspective is "irrefutably a quite different idea from
Marx's" you fail to tackle the issues they pose.
Furthermore, *their conception of value and abstract labor can not not be understood simply as
definitions in isolation from the rest of their perspective*. Indeed, they make this point repeatedly
in the "Preface", in "Method and introduction", and other places in their presentation. In the
"Preface", they write that one of the central aims of the book is "to theorize the interconnection in
capitalist society of the economy, the state, and economic policy" and they are critical of other
perspectives (including in the fields of public choice theory) which "keep separate in thought
processes that are interconnected" (p. xix) While they consider the perspectives of Marx (and many
other social theorists), this is mostly presented in the form of footnotes (and, in addition, the size
of the print in the notes is smaller than the size used in the main body of the work). So, although
critique is certainly an aspect of their project, R-W's work is not focused on hermeneutics. Rather,
the focus is on the real subject matter (capitalism). So, when you aim your arrows at them
indicating what your interpretation of Marx is, you miss the mark entirely.
> The main thing I have noticed in your comments about this, across ten years or more, is that you
> habitually mix up the forms and substance (content) of value, and by implication mix up relations
> of production with relations of exchange.
The social relations of production under capitalism *include* relations of production and relations of
exchange. They are inter-connected and can't be isolated from each other if one wants to theorize
the class relations and tendencies of capitalism. What happens on markets is an expression of
(one-side) of these relations of production.
I think it is a very big mistake analytically to draw too sharp of a line between relations of
production and relations of exchange. Indeed, I will go so far as to claim that if one were to
do this then it would render impossible an understanding of capitalism, its social relations,
its developmental tendencies, and its inherent contradictions.
> This is not a purely scholastic issue,
On that point, at least, we agree.
In solidarity, Jerry

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Received on Sun Dec 14 09:03:40 2008

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