[OPE-L:4998] Re: ideal vs real value

Michael Williams (mwilliam@compuserve.com)
Tue, 13 May 1997 15:44:08 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

> > 1) what is a commodity and, therefore, when can or does a product
> > become a commodity?=20
> >
> Chai-on: a commodity is anything that is exchanged for money. Well,
> morality, fame, PhD degree etc. although they might be exchanged for
> y,
> are not commodities but quasi-commodities because they belong to invalid
> exchanges. Proper commodities (=3Dnonquasi commodities) must be the
> commodities even before actual exchanges. Only in direct exchanges (=3D a
> non-commodity exchange), the exchanged articles become commodities only
> through the act of exchange (Vol I, p 181, Penguin edition). By contrast,
> however, in commodity exchanges, the articles are commodities even before
> the exchange. This is the difference between direct exchange and
> y
> exchange !!!

Michael W.

This is, of course, something that divides the various viewpoints that have
emerged in this string. For me (and for my interpretation of Marx) key
categories for grasping capitalism, such as Commodity, are to be grasped as
the intersection of their relations within that system. Thus, exchange for
Money is but one moment of Commodity. Others are its production in a
capitalist labour process by the incorporation of labour, with a view to
being sold, in a system in which capitalist Commodity circulation is
ubiquitous, for a price that covers its costs of production and the going
rate of profit, existing as the contradictory unity of Value and Use-value,
etc. Non-capitalist commodities are then, of course, potentially embryonic
forms of Commodity. Thus whilst a product is a putative Commodity before
exchange, only successful exchange confirms this latent character of the
product. This view sits best, I think with Bertil Ollman's 'philosophy of
internal relations' approach to dialectics, but is compatible with Tony
Smith, Chris Arthur and other Hegelian interpreters of Marx. It would, I
guess not entirely satisfy Ted M (where are you Ted?!) who has taxed me
with a claim that Hegel himself distanced himself from reliance on
'systemic' conceptualisation. But you cannot please everyone.

Dr Michael Williams
"Books are Weapons"

Department of Economics Home:
School of Social Sciences 26 Glenwood Avenue
De Montfort University Southampton
Hammerwood Gate SO16 3QA
Kents Hill
Milton Keynes
tel:+1908 834876 tel/fax: +1703 768641
fax:+1908 834979
email: mwilliam@torres.mk.dmu.ac.uk mwilliam@compuserve.com