Subject: [OPE-L:1830] Re: Re: : value-form theories
From: Fred B. Moseley (email@example.com)
Date: Sat Dec 04 1999 - 14:32:45 EST
This is a response to Chris' reply to my earlier post on the value-form
interpretation of Marx's theory. Chris, thanks very much for your helpful
post and to other participants in this very intersting discussion.
On Sun, 28 Nov 1999, C. J. Arthur wrote:
> THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE WORDS "SUBSTANCE OF VALUE" ARE VERY UNCLEAR AND
> SUSCEPTIBLE OF MULTIPLE INTERPRETATION. (oops sorry) Just three
> a) traditional metaphysical view in which substance contrasts with accidents
> b) Hegel's contrast between subject and substance - although in the
> "Absolute" substance becomes subject.
> c) a metaphor standing for some other relation - if so what?
> It seems to me that you tend towards the third in your gloss:--
Yes, I guess my interpretation would fit under your c). And the relation
which I have in mind is one of CAUSE AND EFFECT. As I explained in my
last post, what I understand by abstract labor as the substance of value
is that abstract labor is the cause or the determinant of prices.
> >What I mean by abstract labor as the "substance of value" is the
> >(1) abstract labor as specific magnitudes is assumed to exist
> >independently of prices (otherwise, it could not determine prices without
> >circular reasoning).
> >(2) abstract labor determines in part the aggregate price of commodities
> >according to the following equation:
> > P = mL
> >where P is the aggregate price of commodities for the economy as a whole,
> >L is the aggregate amount of abstract labor in the economy as a whole, and
> >m is the "money-value added per hour of abstract labor".
> But all this is about external correlation between independent variables.
> Compare: the atmospheric pressure is independent of, and detrminant of, the
> height of the mercury. No one in their right mind would call the former the
> substance of the latter. So if we take Marx seriously there must be some
> more internal connection. If so what?
Yes, you are right. The internal connection, according to Marx's theory
is that prices are the NECESSARY forms of appearance of abstract labor.
It is not just that abstract labor determines prices, but also that, since
there is no other means of regulating commodity-producing labor, abstract
labor MUST OF NECESSITY be expressed in terms of prices. Necessity is the
internal connection between abstract labor and prices that Marx derived in
Section 3 of Chapter 1.
Skipping over a bit, Chris continues:
> This puts my in mind of the metamorphoses of commodities which should
> really have been called the metamorphoses of value and then later the
> metamorphoses of capital. On this account *value is itself a substance*
> that appears now as commodity, now as money, and - possibly - now as a
> material matabolism.
> But if value is a substance then we cannot have labour as the substance
> *of* value. You cannot have a substance of a substance.
I argue that, according to Marx, value has THREE ASPECTS:
the SUBSTANCE of value is abstract labor
the MAGNITUDE of value is socially necessary labor time
and the FORM OF APPEARANCE of value is money or prices
Value is not any one of these aspects, but all three together. Marx used
precisely these terms in his tiles to Sections 1 and 3 of Chapter 1 and in
the texts of these sections (and throughout the rest of Capital).
This seems to be close to what you say a little later: that "substance
is an INNER MOMENT of the value form TOTALITY." (emphasis added)
I would say that value is indeed a totality of the three aspects listed
above, and that abstract labor is the "inner moment" (the substance) of
this totality and money is the "outer moment" (the form of appearance) of
But then you go on to say that "the value substance is money."
I don't understand that at all. It seems to be clearly contrary to Marx.
Would you please explain? If this somehow follows from Hegel's logic,
then I would say that this part of Hegel's logic does not apply to Marx's
Then (skipping over a couple of paragraphs for now) Chris concludes:
> Quantitatively this gives the same formula as Fred's but now it is
> understood as a formula which the value form so to speak imposes on the
> richness of the concrete.
Would you please explain more precisely what this means - "the value form
... imposes on the richness of the concrete" - in terms of determination,
or in terms of cause and effect? If we agree on the same equation (P = mL),
in which direction does the causation run? Does abstract labor determine
prices, or vice versa?
Thanks again very much for this stimulating discussion.
This archive was generated by hypermail 2a24 : Sun Dec 12 1999 - 15:45:02 EST