RE: [OPE] Reply to the thinker

Date: Fri Mar 13 2009 - 10:23:43 EDT


You are entitled to your perspectives, but I think you mischaracterize VFT on a
# of points.

> 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)

The idea that value is actualized/realized in exchange does not, as you know,
have its intellectual origin in contemporary vf theorists. You seem to be asserting
that they vacate a role for production in the creation of value, but this is not the

> 7) use-value is an historically invariant category, a transhistorical category

Don't you recall Michael W arguing something different?

> 8) anti-capitalist struggle means struggle against the value-form, a struggle against
> the commodification (commercialization, the commercial measure) of everything

This is not a claim that they make explicitly, as far as I can remember.

> 9) the contradiction between wage earners and capitalists is nothing other than a
> conflict between different commodity owners.

This is a claim that they don't make. It is, rather, a _class_ conflict.
You also might recall that at least one VF theorist (Michael W) has claimed
that labor power is _not_ a commodity.

> 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,

I don't know where you got that from, but I think it is wrong from the standpoint of
intellectual history.

> In other words, Marx's theory was still serviceable as a sort of middleclass leftwing protest
> against rampant commercialization and commercial dehumanization.

That's the sort of mischaracterization - which can _not_ be supported with evidence -
that undermines discussion.

> 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.

Which of these "critics of Marx" have VF theorists been "over-impressed" with? You have not
shown this to be the case through a tracing of the history of the literature.

> 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.

Which theories? Hegelian ones?

> 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.

I think this confuses the form of presentation with the form of analysis. It's pretty clear, for
instance, from the "Bibliography" of _Value-Form and the State_ that the authors reviewed the available
literature, including relevant statistics and 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.

There you go again. For someone who likes to talk about statistical and historical evidence,
where is the evidence for the above?

Dave Z: is that the way it is in Sweden? Do the VF theorists drive around in SUVs, have
designer kitchens, and drink cafe-latte? And even if some of them did, so what? To me
that sounds like liberal guilt-tripping - who cares whether they like cafe-late, cafe con
leche, capuchino, or instant coffee? (I'd be willing to bet that their lifestyles and
consumer preferences are quite varied.)

> It says that there is nothing progressive about commerce and trade,
They don't make that claim, as far as I can recall.

> and that we workers should feel guilty about our consumption,

Not only don't they make that suggestion, but it is ironic that you made this claim right
after making a claim which could be read as wanting them to feel guilty for their
alleged consumption.

> completely at odds with Marx's own idea that capitalism contains both progress and regress -

They don't, as far as I can recall, challenge that perspective.

> value-form theory just feeds into the austerity offensive by the rich against the poor.

There you go _again_! (Dave Z: you don't accept this claim, do you?)

(> 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".

Who wrote "interesting phenomenological idea in choosing how to relate to others"?
I bet it wasn't a VF theorist.

"All you are saying is give Marx a chance", you wrote lyrically. But, Jurriaan, Marx has
already had his chance. Living theory is for the living. If all we can say to workers is
'read _Capital_ / give Marx a chance!", then we might as well turn out the lights
for the party would truly be over for socialist intellectuals.
In solidarity, Jerry
ope mailing list
Received on Fri Mar 13 10:26:59 2009

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