Re: [OPE] peanut butter value-form theory

From: Paula <>
Date: Sun Apr 05 2009 - 22:12:05 EDT

> If a commodity "embodies" value, or "contains"
> labor - including "crystallized" or "congealed" labor, then I'd like
> someone to show me that "substance".

Hold one cracker in one hand, and in the other small amounts of flour,
water, salt, etc. The physical difference between the two is the labor
embodied in the cracker.

> Perhaps this is the genesis of your belief about whether services which
> take the commodity form can represent value? Clearly, an activity itself,
> like hairdressing, can not "embody" abstract labor - in the _literal_
> sense.
> So, maybe it's a question of you taking a literal expression and applying
> it too literally ...? (Here I'm thinking out loud.)

Taking physical embodiment seriously produces interesting results. One of
them is that service capitalism does not relate to the object world in the
same way industrial capitalism does - it relates to it as a collection of
use-values, not values.

>> Exchange is just a devise to let useful items be delivered on the right
>> time and to the right persons. We can imagine an economy delivering
>> useful items without exchange, as Cottrell & Cockshott have done. That's
>> why I don't know why Paula thinks that exchange in itself has the
>> property of conceding value. <<

We can imagine delivery without exchange (and exchange without delivery)
because these are different and separate functions. The distinction
(mentioned here by Jurriaan) between form and content is helpful here. Value
is the form, abstract labor is the content. But a content only appears in a
particular form under particular conditions - eg H2O (substance) may appear,
depending on temperature, as ice (form). Exchange is therefore the condition
under which abstract labor appears as value.

Just like ice can melt away, so can the value of a cracker disappear (when
transported to the dump, or sitting in your cupboard).

>>computers are much cheaper in real terms than they were 20 or 10 years ago
>>... because their relative scarcity have decreased <<

Alejandro, relative scarcity can't explain the amount of value. Suppose that
for each Ferrari car one toy model of the same car was also made, and that
demand for both was equal. The relative scarcity of the two items would be
the same, but their value would not.


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Received on Sun Apr 5 22:17:16 2009

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