[OPE-L:6443] Re: [OPE] What is prior? Response to Paul C

Alan Freeman (a.freeman@greenwich.ac.uk)
Thu, 09 Apr 1998 01:38:03 -0500

My last post crossed Allin's; I received Allin's after sending it.

I take Allin's point and agree that the monetary measure of a good which
one finds marked on it in a shop does not equal the monetary measure of its
value, as this arises from production. Also, if I understand Paul's concept
of value correctly, the value of goods as this arises from production
cannot have a monetary measure, since he conceives of value as having the
dimensionality of labour time, and price as having the dimensionality of

Though I obviously don't share this viewpoint, I don't have any quarrel
with it, since I don't think Paul or Allin make any claim that this is
Marx's theory (Marx states: "Money as a measure of value is the necessary
form of appearance of the measure of value which is immanent in
namely labour-time: Volume I:188).

We simply have two different points of view, because we have two different
ontologies. This is perfectly reasonable. I would only object if either
Paul or Allin claimed that no other theory is possible.

That said, the language used requires clarification.

First, goods which are in a shop and offered for sale clearly 'have a
monetary measure prior to sale' so that my original statement of Paul's
position, in the form it is expressed, is in contradiction with this
observable fact. Goods in a shop do indeed have a money price, and they
haven't been sold.

I think that what Paul holds is that this monetary measure does not
directly express the labour-time in the goods. I think I should have
phrased it thus: "Goods do not have a monetary measure prior to being
*offered* for sale."

The difference thus centres on the fact that I claim that, nevertheless,
the labour-time in the goods can and does have a monetary expression;
this monetary expression is moreover calculable, and therefore
determinate and known. That was the core of my answer to Paul's
original [Mon 6 April] question, where he asked:

> I take it Alan, that by this you mean the magnitude of value in terms
> of hours of labour. You clearly do not mean magnitude of exchange value
> because by specifying total value you are abstracting from exchange
> between its component parts.

My point is that, by virtue of being produced as commodities, the goods
receive exchange-value from the labour-process itself. Therefore, I do not
think one can conceive of capitalist production 'abstract from exchange'.
It is production for the purpose of exchange; the production of
commodities. To conceive of it as production in abstraction from exchange
is for me like trying to conceive of birth abstracting from life.

I think that in Paul's concept of value, this idea is inconceivable: if I
have understood his point of view correctly, production is a process that
takes place independent of exchange, and therefore can embody only
labour-time in the commodities. The monetary expression of this labour-time
for him arises only when the goods actually enter circulation, that is,
when the price ticket is placed on them.

However Allin's statement as phrased is in contradiction with this view.
Allin does suggest that the labour-time in the goods has a monetary
expression when the goods emerge from production. He writes:

> The price marked on
> an item in a store need bear no relation to the monetary
> 'translation' of its value as determined in production (which is
> what Alan was talking about).

Thus, the value determined in production does indeed have a monetary
translation, though this is not in general equal to the money price placed
on the goods when they are offered for sale.

Thus, Allin's provides the best possible answer that I can give to Paul.

What I mean by the magnitude of value is precisely "the monetary
translation of its value as determined in production".

Perhaps I should leave Paul and Allin to argue this one out between them,