[OPE-L:5189] RE: ideal vs real value

Michael Williams (mwilliam@compuserve.com)
Thu, 5 Jun 1997 15:48:41 -0700 (PDT)

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Andrew K wrote
> I think that the view that labor becomes abstract in the market has its
> in a perspective in which production relations, technological relations,
> regarded as neutral and transhistorical, so that the historical
specificity of
> capitalism lies in the mode of distribution and/or market institutions.

Michael W
This is not the value-form view. In no other mode of production do
production relations entail the dual process of production of use-value
and creation of value

> Capitalism is then just like every other society, at least every other
> exploitative society, once one penetrates the mystified appearances and
> discloses the bedrock material reality behind it.

Michael W
Again, not for (my) value-form approach. The notion of essence of the
bourgeois epoch is systemic not some 'underlying structure'.

> Thus, for instance, the
> work that workers actually do is considered as unproblematic,
> *concrete* labor only, so that the abstraction of labor becomes a mere
> of appearance* of an *invariant* essence.

Michael W
Again, not for v-f. Labour (under capitalism) creates value as the driving
moment of the production of commodities. Commodity production is thus
value-form dominated. We stress, for example, that that use-value is
precisely *not* some transhistorical essence, but is rather a distorted and
alienated form of appearance of human usefulness (just as Labour is a
distored and alienated form of appearance of human creativity). Part of the
problem here is that for Andrew 'essence' seems to be equated with
'significance', whilst 'form' is in some sense less so (as in 'mere' form).

>This is just one instance, then, of
> a theme that pervades the Marxism of the 2d and 3d Internationals, which
> appreciated the significance of the real subsumption of labor under
> the inversion of subject and object that occurs in the course of the
> production process itself.

Michael W
In the v-f account this inversion is reproduced by the dominance of
capitalist commodity production by value-form association. Value is a
moment of Commodity, and Commodites are necessarily produced with a view to
exchange. Thus a one-sided account of Value as being created in production,
without the mediation of commodity circulation seems inadequate.

> But just as the commodity is not just a use-value that also *appears* as
> value, but is itself a contradictory unity of these opposites, so too,
> labor that produces commodities is not just concrete labor that also
> as abstract labor. Rather, it itself has, as Marx says, a dual
character. It
> is a contradictory unity of the labor that produces use-values, concrete
> labor, and the labor that produces value, abstract labor.

Michael W
Very nicely put - but none of this counts against the notion that abstract
labour is reproduced in the Circulation of Commodities through production
and exchange. Capitalist Commodity producing labour has this dual character
just *because* it is embedded in a production process that is embedded in
Commodity circulation.

You do go on, Andrew ... ! I'll come back to the rest later.
Dr Michael Williams
"Books are Weapons"

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