[OPE] peanut butter value-form theory

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Sat Apr 04 2009 - 08:10:20 EDT

In Marx's theory of capitalism, I think value is an attribute of the materialised products of social labour, including labour power. Hence Marx distinguishes between "real capital" (tangible physical assets which can produce profit) and "nominal" capital or some type (a financial claim or money capital).

I think "economic value" in Marx's refers to the modal quantity of social labour-time which materialized product normally represents, i.e. an average, normal product-cost in terms of social labour-time. But this quantity can only be expressed operationally only in relative terms, as a scalar or ratio (a relationship), since it relates different expenditures of labour time to each other, and the labour-times to units of output.

We can obviously also relate labourtime and output to units of money expressed in a currency standard, but "value" as such has nothing directly to do with the exchangeable value of products, or the property of exchangeability as such, in Marx's theory - very much contrary to value-form theory.

Hence, contrary to value-form theory, value and exchange value are for Marx sharply separated concepts. Makoto Itoh expresses this as follows: you have to distinguish between the "forms" and the "content" (substance) of value (Hegel makes a subtle difference between content and substance).

I think that for Marx, the value-scalars (value relations) exist completely independently of exchange value and prices, and that is also why you can analyse economic relations in the first instance without referring to price relations.

Why is the independent existence of value and its forms important for Marx?

Because Marx thinks the general dynamic of capitalist development has to be explained in terms of the mutual adjustment of values and the forms of exchange-value, in which prices must ultimately adjust to labour-values, and not the other way round. There are shifts in value-scalars and shifts in the trading-ratios of products, and these occur simultaneously but semi-autonomously of each other, yet within certain limits, since ultimately the price-level will reflect and conform to the value-scalar.

In Marxist theory, the non-correspondence of values and prices is a "technical problem of analysis", but in Marx's own theory, the non-correspondence of prices and values is precisely the secret explaining the movement of capitals and the dynamics of the capitalist system, i.e. what the growth-path and growth pattern will be.

The whole point is, that capitalists constantly aim to buy below value and sell above value (or sell a greater volume of output below "market value", i.e. below the ruling price level in Marx's sense) under the competitive condition that everybody else tries to do the same - and the whole of the production process is constantly being adjusted in line with this objective. But "selling above value or below value" would be a meaningless notion, if values and prices coincided, or are defined in terms of each other; it is precisely the discrepancies between them (value-price deviations) that are absolutely crucial for the capital accumulation process (i.e. the fact, that you can realise more value from selling a commodity than you bought it for).

This has rarely been understood in Marxist circles because it wasn't understood why Marx simply assumed price=value in Capital Vol. 1, and the Marxists were confused and distracted by the "transformation problem".

In value-form theory, of course, Marx's theory becomes a total nonsense (there are only forms of value but they are identical with the content of value), and all we are left with is an ostentatious Hegelian prattle about obscurantist definitional issues, with a veneer of radicality.


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Received on Sat Apr 4 08:12:26 2009

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