Re: [OPE] Reply to the thinker

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Fri Mar 13 2009 - 09:46:04 EDT

Thanks for keeping this last post concise and the redundant rant at a
minimum, and therefore more readable.

I can only say that this is more or less my impression of the motivations
underlie the arguments of the advocates of "value-form" theory in Sweden.
Moreover, they seem to be inspired by some sort of post-modernist idea that
different historical epochs are completely incommensurable.

//Dave Z

2009/3/13 Jurriaan Bendien <>

> I am an office worker too who has to write in his free time, Michael, and
> I will keep the content brief: according to "value-form theorists",
> 1) economic value arises out of the exchange process, and would not exist
> otherwise (this actually conforms closely to official national accounting
> theory)
> This foundational idea is associated in value form theory with a number of
> other claims, among other things:
> 2) If goods were allocated in a way different from trading them
> (commercially), then economic value does not exist
> 3) abstract labor exists, only because money (a universal equivalent)
> exists
> 4) things are traded as commodities, only if all inputs and outputs of
> production are commodities
> 5) value is a category of capitalist society, specific to it, and does not
> exist in any other kind of society
> 6) exchange value and money price are the same thing, or, (according to
> some) the value-form and exchange-value are completely diffferent things
> 7) use-value is an historically invariant category, a transhistorical
> category
> 8) anti-capitalist struggle means struggle against the value-form, a
> struggle against the commodification (commercialization, the commercial
> measure) of everything
> 9) the contradiction between wage earners and capitalists is nothing other
> than a conflict between different commodity owners.
> Value-form theory originally arose, because the "Marxists" thought that,
> even although they were defeated by the followers of Bohm Bawerk,
> Bortciewicz, Sraffa, Hayek etc. in quantitative theory, Marx's theory still
> had a qualitative relevance, a "dialectical" relevance through its
> phenomenology of value. In other words, Marx's theory was still serviceable
> as a sort of middleclass leftwing protest against rampant commercialization
> and commercial dehumanization.
> The anti-valueform theorists argue among other things that:
> (1) all these 9 claims are substantially false.
> Anti-valueform theorists base themselves on Marx's own idea that products
> have value, because they were created by social labor, and that this value
> exists and can vary in magnitude, quite regardless of all the innumerable
> ways in which value can be expressed relatively in exchange processes.
> (2) the value-form theorists are over-impressed by the economic critics of
> Marx, causing them to abandon Marx's theory unnecessarily.
> Among other things that is, because they usually read Marx through the
> prism of other theories which are really alien to Marx's own theory. Their
> retreat into the safety of a satisfying "qualitative philosophical
> categorisation of value" is the result of a lack of basic mathematical and
> statistical insight into the empiria, and basic insight into economic
> history.
> (3) the middeclass leftist protest by SUV-driving,
> designer-kitchen cafe-latte "value-form theorists" against commodification,
> creates a false picture serving a partisan interest.
> It says that there is nothing progressive about commerce and trade, and
> that we workers should feel guilty about our consumption, completely at odds
> with Marx's own idea that capitalism contains both progress and regress
> - value-form theory just feeds into the austerity offensive by the rich
> against the poor.
> (4) the determination of value by labour, which appears in bourgeois
> ideology as the determination of labour by value, is according to the
> anti-valueform theorists not simply a "interesting phenomenological idea
> in choosing how to relate to others" but a powerful, inexorable social
> force, since it involves a social bond without which human beings are in
> fact "dead as a doornail".
> Jurriaan
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Received on Fri Mar 13 09:49:21 2009

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