Re: [OPE] question re published letters Engels

From: howard engelskirchen <>
Date: Sun May 10 2009 - 17:17:42 EDT

Hi Paul,

Okay for your usage on 'value form'. This makes it equivalent to value's
manifestation in exchange, e.g. Tauschwert.

But the social relation of value underlying this is a composite of activity
and form -- the reciprocal relation of commodity producers with respect to
the expenditure of their labors. Underlying that in turn is the social
relation that provokes attention to value and this also is a composite of
activity and form: the labor that produces commodities, ie products as
bearers of value, is structured as a relation of independent producers
producing for private exchange.

I agree you still need to calculate labor expenditure, this is clear, but
can you just take over the category of socially necessary labor time and
give it naked application? Socially necessary labor time as we know it is
determined by the production of surplus value, relative and absolute, and by
competition among autonomous producers. What labor will count as
productive? The whole question -- the theoretical point -- is developing a
"theoretical space" that allows us to rethink what counts as productive and
necessary in function of the transformation underway. "Naked" I think is
traditional political economy's notion -- there are no 'naked' social
relations; they are always socially specific. We need a theory clothed with
concepts of what is being measured as socially necessary.


howard engelskirchen

----- Original Message -----
From: "Paul Cockshott" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2009 2:34 PM
Subject: RE: [OPE] question re published letters Engels


   "Only the products of mutually
independent acts of labour, performed in isolation, can confront each other
as commodities." This social relation underlies value and the commodity

paul writes
Sure, if you have a planned allocation of labour and no private producers
no longer have commodity production, but if Marx's scheme in the critique
of the Gotha program is write you still have to calculate in terms of
labour and use quantities of embodied labour in the distribution of the

That is, what Engels is saying is that before people produced independently
and after they produce independently, the value form will simply not be a
relevant category for conducting a social and economic calculation.

What is the value form?

It is the way that embodied labour is represented in the use value of
another commodity in an exchange. If the socially nessessary labour time
is made evident as an explicit number of hours, this is naked value, value
no longer hiding behind a form.

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