[OPE-L:1677] Re: value-form theories and the Uno-school?

Subject: [OPE-L:1677] Re: value-form theories and the Uno-school?
From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Mon Nov 15 1999 - 07:13:36 EST

Re [OPE-L:1672]:

Hi Nicky.

I asked you this question, in large part, because I don't think there has
been a lot of discussion between value-form theorists and the Uno-school.
Indeed, both schools might claim, with a lot of justification, that their
perspectives have not been systematically evaluated and critiqued by other
Marxists. Thus, I thought that a cross-discussion between the 2 might be
both beneficial and revealing.

I think that the difference in interpretation between value-form theory
and the Uno-school *begins*, in terms of the order of presentation of
Marx's _Capital_ with the very _first sentence of Volume 1, Chapter 1_.
I.e. Geert/Mike W/Chris/Tony (correct me if I'm wrong, guys) believe that
the subject matter of _Capital_ from the very beginning is *capitalism*.
In this interpretation they are not alone (e.g. Fred would agree with
them on that point). On the other hand, the Uno-school has viewed Ch. 1
differently. This can be seen in the following short extract from one of
Makoto's books:

         "Although Marx titles the first volume of _Capital_ "The
          Process of Production of Capital", he does not immediately
          investigate the substantial content of a capitalist mode of
          production. In the first two Parts of the volume, beginning
          with the analysis of the commodity as the elementary form, he
          elucidates the systematic relations between commodities, money
          and capital as the development of the forms of value. Both
          historically and spatially these forms appear as basic
          components of commodity production in general in much wider
          periods and the places than capitalist production ....
            Then, subsequently at the beginning of the third Part of the
          volume, where the investigation of the inner mechanism of
          capitalist production begins, ...." (_The Basic Theory of
          Capitalism: The Forms and Substance of the Capitalist
          Economy_, p. 73)
Another difference in interpretation concerns, as you suggest, the
relationship between money and value. I think this is an important
difference for both theories.

It is true, as you say, that both theories have been accused of
"neglecting the quantitative issues in Marx's value theory". I don't know
if "neglecting" is the most appropriate word to use in either case. To
begin with, I don't think that the Uno-school has ever denied the
importance of a rigorous explanation of the quantitative side of value. In
the case of some value-form theorists (e.g. Geert/Mike W), their theory
concerning the relationship of money and value suggests that the issues
involved in debates over quantitative determination are misplaced. I'm not
clear myself whether this perspective is shared by other value-form
theorists like Tony and Chris.

In solidarity, Jerry

> To elaborate slightly, the question posed by 'value-form' thoerists is
> really one about the ontology of abstract labour, as different people
> understand it. Once again generalising, value-form theorists take their
> point of departure from the first chapter of 'Capital', where Marx
> describes value as the 'social substance' of commensurate, privately
> produced commodities. Also value arises only as the result of a specific,
> historically contingent process of abstracting from different types of
> labour through commodity exchange. As the characteristic form that social
> labour takes in capitalist society, value has a 'ghostly objectivity': it
> is a reflection of an undifferentiated expenditure of labour power from
> which all 'sensuous qualities are extinguished'. <snip>

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