[OPE-L:1850] value-form, commodity money and empirical work

Subject: [OPE-L:1850] value-form, commodity money and empirical work
From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Tue Dec 07 1999 - 06:56:39 EST

In previous posts, including [OPE-L:1836], Fred has suggested that
value-form theory (including Reuten & Williams) does not provide a
quantitative theory of the magnitude of surplus-value. Indeed, Fred has
suggested that VF theory is NOT CAPABLE of providing such a theory.

Relatedly, Julian noted in the form of a question ion [OPE-L:1779] what he
saw as an apparent irony: " ... [VF] doesn't appear to include any
significant body of empirical enquiry into (changes in) the amount of this
quantity (i.e. value, JL) while (many of) those who do do empirical work
seem to be openly suspicious of VF?"

Thus it seems that the capacity of VF to be "operationalized" in
Marxian empirical work seems to be part of what some see as what is at
issue in this debate.

Thus, the capacity of a theory to calculate the magnitude of value and
surplus value is an important consideration to Fred (and to many others,
I think).

Then yesterday in [OPE-L:1848], Claus wrote:

> Claus: I'm sorry but I would remind you that the problem of how the
> labor content of the commodities can possibly be measured by a form of
> money that is not a commodity remains to be answered, as long as one
> conceives of prices as expressing the contents of social labor in the
> commodities. I would still like to know how you handle this problem.

I sense a certain irony here. I.e. critics of VF have been very
"suspicious" of VF and note that VF is not able to accurately
"operationalize" Marx's theory; now, Claus seems to be suggesting that
empirical studies which attempt to measure the labor content of
commodities (and, by inference, the magnitude of surplus-value) can not
operationalize Marx's theory *unless* there is commodity money.

Yet, all of the critics of VF who have conducted Marxian empirical studies
have *not* incorporated an explicit role for commodity money in their
research. Thus, Claus's comment - directed towards Paul C - could be made
against all of the rest of those on this list (and elsewhere) who have
conducted Marxian empirical research using value categories.

It would seem to me, therefore, that answering Claus's claim should be
important to a lot of those on this list.

In solidarity, Jerry

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