[OPE-L:726] Re: LTV an assumption?

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Wed, 13 Dec 1995 13:37:17 -0800

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Andrew here.

Gil suggests that Oslo, Avesta, and Kronstadt have nothing in common
simply because they lie close to the 60th parallel. He says this against
Marx's argument that commodities exchange as containers of a "third thing."

But of course these places do have something in common. The relevant
commonality to this example is that they all exist in space and,
in particular, on the near-spherical surface of the earth, which allows
them to be placed at a certain latitude and longitude. Try the same
parallel :-) with giraffes, Augustinian theology, and logarithms, and
you see that it wouldn't work.

If you think I'm straining things, Marx offers precisely this kind of
example several times, especially in his critique of Bailey in TSV III.

This does not of course tell us WHY commodities exchange--but Marx was NOT
trying to do so. He was trying to tell us AS WHAT they exchange. Bohm-
Bawerk was surely right that they wouldn't exchange unless they were
scarce, objects of utility, owned, etc. (Interestingly, Marx himself of
course says they must be objects of utility in order to exchange, esp.
in Ch. 2 of Capital.) But Bohm-Bawerk simply missed the point, because
he was so concentrated on "explaining" prices that he didn't see that
Marx was trying to investigate the nature of the COMMODITY, not
exchange or exchange-ratios.

Gil is not quite right that the literature has failed to answer Bohm's
criticism. I have done so in a recent paper, delivered at the EEA last
March and posted in the Marxism list archives. (If anyone is on that list
and can upload it into ope-l, please do!) It elaborates on this point, but
especially shows that the initial part of Ch. 1 of Capital is not concerned
to explain exchange or exchange-ratios, but rather the nature of the
commodity itself. (Oh yeah, the paper is called "Marx's Development of the
Concept of Intrinsic Value, 1859-1872".)

Andrew Kliman