[OPE] value-form theory redux

From: GERALD LEVY <gerald_a_levy@msn.com>
Date: Fri Mar 13 2009 - 14:36:12 EDT

Dave Z:

As an experiment, I'm going to strip Jurriaan's post of what you call 'rants'.
That means that (2) - (4) of what the 'anti-valueform' theorists argue,
according to JB, can be ignored. That, of course, leaves only (1), i.e.
that "all these 9 claims" [of VFT, according to JB, JL] are subtantially false."
These are listed below.

I have already explained that 1) isn't really accurate as a summary of
what VFT claims, that there is division among different VF theorists on 7),
and that 8) and 9) are mischaracterizations and can't be supported by a
reading of what VF theorists have actually written. In addition, we can
dispense with 4) because, like 7), there is division among VF theorists
about that topic: for instance, see Michael W's writings on labor power
in which he holds it is not as commodity.

That leaves 2) to 6) minus 4).

So that leaves us, more or less, where we started, with the following:
that VFT and labor-embodied perspectives differ in relation to:
a. the relation of money, value, and abstract labor;
b. what constitutes the necessary and sufficient conditions for value;
c) whether or not value, surplus value, and abstract labor are
trans-historical categories or categories specific to capitalism.

a) - c), in turn, depend on how you define these categories and
your understanding of methodology. Jurriaan has emphasized looking
at the empirics and history regarding these disputes - that is a
methodological claim. Value-form theorists would claim, I think,
that other perspectives are insufficiently dialectical and fail to
grasp the meaning of abstraction. Thus, they might say that they
do _not_ claim 4) - except as an assumption appropriate for a
particular 'level of abstraction'. From that perspective, the
assumption could be ammended/modified at a more concrete level of
abstraction or, depending on its contingency, studied and explained
through conjunctural analysis. So, there you have it: ultimately,
it boils down to different methodological perspectives. For one
'side', this debate is in great part about different perspectives on
pre- and post-capitalist capitalist modes of production. The focus
of the other perspective (VFT) is squarely on capitalism. A problem,
I think, for both sides is how they (mis-) represent the political
implications and failings of the other side. Clearly, there are political
concerns on both sides but whether they grasp the political
implications, or non-implications, of the 'other' is very problematic.

I don't know where we can go with this, do you?

In solidarity, Jerry

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._______________________________________________
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Received on Fri Mar 13 14:38:58 2009

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