[OPE-L:2191] Re: Chapter 5 and before

akliman@acl.nyit.edu (akliman@acl.nyit.edu)
Mon, 13 May 1996 17:37:36 -0700

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A reply to Michael W's 2189.

It seems I have understood him. Good. I wasn't sure I had.

Michael was not "redundant" in using the word "only." I just noted its
repeated use in order to underscore that he was reducing valuation to
only a system of market exchanges.

He now asks why i think that reduction is incorrect.

Again, I don't think it is because abstract labor exists independently
of prices or systematic, repeated market exchanges. I don't think it
does. Same goes for value. If that was all "value form" or "abstract
labor" theorists were suggesting, I would count myself among them, and
I think Marx held this view too.

The issue is one of TEMPORALITY (sorry, but that's the way I see it).
Commodities exist, are commodities, before they are sold. They have
a price before they enter the market. Under capitalism, they do not
first become commodities in the market, because they are already
produced as commodities earlier. The labor that produces them has a
dual character already in the production process, because its major
purpose is not to produce things (which it also does), but to produce
values. Production is continually restructured to better achieve this
purpose. (And so on--I don't have time to produce the whole argument
right now).

The way commodities not (yet) sold are priced has nothing to do with
expectations. They are priced according to the prices that similar
commodities are now selling for (there may be exceptions to this that
I'm not aware of). The bourgeoisie is very aware of the difference
between an increase in value and the realization of that gain through
sale in the market (e.g., accrual vs. realization of capital gains on
securities); why shouldn't theory recognize this as well?

Of course, by this account, the value (or price) of a commodity can
change between the time it becomes a commodity (is produced) and the
time it is sold. This does not mean that its value arises through
the exchange process, nor does it mean there was something only
"potential" or "expected" about its previous value (price).

So my disagreement is not at all "ontological"--I do not think there
is some ontological entity "value" existing logically or ontologically
prior to some other entities, "price" and "market," and determining
them in a way that they don't determine it. The disagreement is that
I think production of value is *temporally prior*, comes before,
the sale of the commodity in the market.

BTW, this notion is absolutely crucial, of foremost importance, to
the temporal single-system interpretation of Marx's value theory.
Once one moves away from the postulate of stationary prices, output
prices must be determined by something other than physical data
(physical data, or even physical data and input prices, do not
suffice to determine output prices). Following Marx, the TSS interpretation
says that the rate of profit (which closes the system) is determined
in production, prior to the sale of commodities in the market.

Andrew Kliman