chaion lee (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Wed, 29 Nov 1995 01:05:16 -0800

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Hi comrades,
It has been long time since I posted last time.

To begin with Fred Mosely [OPE-L:569]&[ope-l:516]

1. Fred told "LTV is the assumption upon which the rest of Marx's theory
is based". But I think this position of his is of an relativism. If LTV is a
mere assumption, any alternative assumption, eg. the subjective value
theory, too may claim to be equally true with the same right. Which one
is to be taken simply would rest on your taste and interest.

2. Fred said "Part 1 of Capital I is a necessary logical preliminary to the
analysis of capital and surplus-value". It is true. But you said in [OPE
516] "Marx assumed from the very beginning of Capital the totality of
capitalism". This statement is contradictory to the above one. Assuming
the totality of capitalism, did Marx develop the LVT and then analyze the
capitalism on the assumption of the LVT? Is this in a circle?
The same applies to the abstract labour. If we explain the concepts of
value and abstract labour on the premise of Capitalism and/or in terms of
money, we cannot but be in a circle. Otherwise, we should have to
explain the capital and money before explaining the value and abstract
labour. But that is impossible as we all know. I of course agree with
you that abstract labour can only be a real existence in the **capitalist
commodity production**. But the reasoning and the explanation is different
for me. As I said earlier in [ope-l: ?], the concepts of money, capital, etc.
are incubated **in latent, undeveloped forms** (thus incapable of serving
as the premise) within the very primitive category of "the commodity".
The logical sequence from the commodity to money, capital, etc. resembles
the biological, embryology, ontogeny, etc. In the analysis of an egg,
butterfly is of no use for a premise. But, in the egg, a butterfly is
incubated. The path and the direction of the development of the egg
towards the butterfly is predetermined by the incubated butterfly of the
egg. Is "capital" incubated in the commodity? Yes, of course. The
development of the contradiction between value and use-value contained in
the commodity entails the exchange of commodities. And, by the
exchange, the intrinsic contradiction between value and use-value is
externalized into the one between value itself (an equivalent form) and
use-value itself (a relative value-form). The commodity is thereby
differentiated into money and ordinary commodity (embryology). The
metamorphosis of money and commodity resembles the existence of a
larva. Money hoardings (a chrysalis) turn out to act as capitals
(butterflies). "The totality of the relations that make up the commodity"
(M. Perelman, ope-l: 531) is, in fact, nothing but the contradiction between
value and use-value inherent in the commodity. Its development exhibits,
in the end, the whole capitalism. So, the capitalism, we say, is incubated
in the commodity. How to obtain such a starting-point, the totality
incubated in any particular concretum, is called "analytical method" in
Hegelian terms and yet in our terms, "Marx's method of abstraction",
which I explained in detail as a process of deriving "abstract labour" from
the analysis of the commodity in the second chapter of my Phd thesis

3. Fred said, in ope-l 506, "Marx's logical method was to pick **one
aspect of this totality** as the starting point of his analysis of capitalism.
He picked **the most abstract, universal aspect** of capitalism, the fact
that its products are commodities". He identified the "one aspect of
totality" with "the universal aspect of capitalism". But one aspect of
totality is not universal but partial and one-sided by definition. It is not
the abstract either. The starting point, the commodity, must be rather a
concretum than the abstract.
What I mean by the abstract is different from others'. Most Marxists
conceive it as a way of purification or simplification in modellings. I
dissent from this. IMO, it implies the logical anteriority of concepts and
categories rather than simplifying purification. This, I think, agrees with
Marx's explanation of it in Grundrisse Introduction. Abstract labour is
more abstract than value, value is more abstract than money, money is
more abstract than capital. But Marx derived the abstract labour category
from the analysis of the commodity, and not vise versa. Does this mean
the commodity is logically anterior to the abstract labour? Not at all. I
emphasize a distinction between the analytical method that proceeds from
the concrete to the abstract and the synthetic method that does from the
abstract to the concrete, which I explained in [ope-l:?].


Chai-on Lee.