[OPE-L:4972] Re: ideal vs real value

Chai-on Lee (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Sun, 11 May 1997 22:51:15 -0700 (PDT)

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>> Chai-on:
>> The production and exchange do refer to the use-value, not the value
>> itself.
>This is a bit of a puzzle for me:
>1. As I understand Marx, (commodity) production has the dual aspects of
>both value-production and use-value production.
>2. Exchange then verifies use-value, and constitutes the specific labour
>expended in production as the substance of value - abstract, etc. labour.


My statement in the above was not clear, I admit. To revise it, I should
say, the separation between production and exchange has nothing to do with
value since value is only in the unity of production and exchange as it is
a social substance. In terms of production, yes, value can be produced or
created. But, in terms of exchange, value is not the thing that is
exchanged. If I exchange a product with money, I did not exchange the value
but I simply changed the form of value from a commodity form into money
form. The value is still in my hands. It did not change hands.

>> When a
>> commodity is exchanged for another, the value is still in the same hands,
>This is a bit unclear. I give you my packet of potato chips in ('equal')
>exchange for your chocolate bar. The use-values have certainly changed
>hands. But these use-values are inseparable moments of the commodities,
>that have thus also changed hands. And each of these commodities was
>created by specific labours, that, by the act of systemic exchange, have
>been constituted as value, manifest in the equal exchange values (expressed
>as prices) of each commodity.


The value changed from the form of your potato chips into that of chocolate
bar. The value changing its form did not change hands. A social substance
is not a thing to be exchanged.
Just as the social relation cannot be exchanged for each other.

>>Value thus can be CREATED only in production, of course its
>> quantity may change in exchanges. In exchange, however, it cannot
>> but only can decrease or be destroyed.
>I do not see any justification for the 'thus' here. As to the question of
>the 'change' of value in the act of systemic exchange, you do indeed state
>the consensus view (between, eg, you and Jerry). I agree that no new labour
>is incorporated in either commodity by the act of exchange. But I still
>maintain that it is only in the act of systemic exchange (that necessarily
>refers to REproduction) that value is quantitatively determined. The basic
>ground for this argument is that specific labours as such are
>incommensurable: they are differentiated in terms of their 'skill' both
>with respect to the kinds of use-values they produce (or contribute to the
>production of) and in terms of their productivity. The 'reduction' of
>skilled to 'simple' labour - and so the constitution of abstract labour, is
>repeatedly achieved (and modified) by the systemic commensuration of the
>commodities that these labours produce, grounded in the more or less
>ubiquitous system of input and output markets.


I agree that specific labours as such are incommensurable. They are only in
the context of abstract labor. Yet, the abstract labor is valid only in the
context of the unity of Pr and Ex. In your case, however, the abstract
labour is valid only in the exchange in separation from the production. If
you replace the word, Exchange with Reproduction, then I would say OK. But
in your argument, the exchange is in separation from Production.


they are differentiated in terms of their 'skill' both with respect to the
kinds of use-values they produce (or contribute to the
production of) and in terms of their productivity.


No, the skill characteristics do not refer to the category of concrete
labor. If they do, they cannot be reduced to qualitatively equal and
quantitatively different labors. The skills are in the transition from
concrete labors to homogeneous labors. Once labors are seen as versatile,
the concrete labors can be seen as the external diversities of abstract
labor, and then the different skills and complexities as different levels
of training, education, experience, etc.


>I may have misread your analogy here. But I am still not happy with
>use-value as a 'container' of value. The commodity - the necessary
>contradictory unity of value and use value - is rather the *bearer* of


Marx used the words, 'container', 'bearer' and 'recepticle',
interchangeably. The three words are of the same connotation, I think.

>OK, let's come back to this. But for now I would suggest that the
>distinction between the content and producer of value is that between
>abstract labour and specific labour (since value can only be produced as
>the value of a commodity). Does this get us back into the discussion of a
>pre-exchange measurement of value with a stop-watch?


No. The content of value is not abstract labor but homogeneous labor. The
producer of value is abstract labor. Specific labor is the producer of
use-value. If you say money is the representation of homogeneous labor,
then I agree. But, if you say, money is the representation of abstract
labor, I disagree.


>My ontological commitment is to value as a form, not a substance. This form
>can exist as the exchange value of a commodity, or it has a near-autonomous
>existence as Money (in that the content of the Money object is systemically
>contingent). Something has value to the extent that it is valued, Labour
>under capitalism is socially valued in accordance with the social valuation
>of the commodity it produces, grounded in market price

Then in your position, even a virgin uncultivated land, since it is valued
in exchange, can be seen as having a value. I disagree with this position.
Only labor products have values, in my position.

>It would. But what I say is that value is form. The dominance of form (the
>circulation of value) over content (the allocation of labour to the
>production of socially useful objects) is paradoxical.

If the above is rephrased as follows, I would say, OK. "The dominance of
value-form (the
commodity production) over the content of the value form (the allocation of
labour to the
>production of socially useful objects) is superficial.

>But, in the bourgeois epoch, useful objects can
>appear (except marginally and accidently) in no other form than the

Why not? The value form can takes, however, a chocolate form, a book form,
a paper form, money form, etc. various value forms.

>why is Commodity not a form of value?

Yes, it is. But a form of value is the commodity that is exchanged with the
value in question. Not the bearer of the value is the value-form.

>I would rather say (see above) that since use-value can only exist as a
>moment of Commodity, it is commodities that are exchanged.
No. I do not think so. Use-value exists not as a moment but as the physical
property of commodity. Yes. it is commodities that are exchanged. But is
not values that are exchanged.

>I fear I do not make myself clear. I do not insist on a separation between
>production and exchange. On the contrary, I insist on the constitutive
>circulation of value through production and exchange.

Value does not circulate because it is a social Substance. Money can
circulate, commodities can circulate. But value is attached to a social
relation and increases and decreases on the same spot.

>It would help me if you could explain why you seem to insist on a
>separation between the two poles of Commodity, value and use-value?

I insists the separation between value and use-value because the value can
change its form thru exchanging the use-values. Thus, they separate from
each other in the exchange. In the exchange, value does not change hands.
So, I insists on the separation between the two if we are discussing the
exchange process.

>It seems clear to me, from the arguments indicated in this post, that
>abstract labour as the substance of value is constituted only in the unity
>of production and exchange.

Yes, of course. When we say, "commodity production", the commodity
production is already premised on the unity of production and exchange by
the very definition of the commodity. So, I can say, the value is produced
and is determined in the process of commodity production.

>>If you
>> insist the abstract labor is actualized in the form of money, then the
>> of value would come to be the creator of value.
>I do not see how the consequent follows from the antecedent. Perhaps you
>could elaborate a little? My position is that the creator of value can only
>be human labour, exercised in a labour process embedded in capitalist
>relations of production and exchange.

Value is not present prior to exchange according to you. It is actualized
in the exchange. So, I presumed the money in the exchange created the value
form. If human labor created the value, why is it not determined in the
production? Moreover, in your position, it is impossible to distinguish
between productive and unproductive labors.

>the value-form is indeed tendentially an 'empty form'. This is the
>conceptualisation of the alienated and fetishised nature of the
>specifically capitalist mode of allocation of creative human powers to the
>production and distribution of useful objects. There exists, IMO, no
>'Archimedean point' external to the bourgeois epoch from which we can grasp
>its nature.

I wonder how could the empty form is created by "human labor". You said in
the other para above that the creater of value is humna labor and now you
say the value form is empty. I cannot see no consistency here.

>Where else are we to find empirical quantitative expressions of values?

The answer is from the value form. The problem is you do not admit the
existence of value but the form of value. If you say the value form is
empty, why bother with the expression of value? Why bother with the
expression of nothing?

In solidarity,