[OPE-L:1907] value-form theories

Subject: [OPE-L:1907] value-form theories
From: C. J. Arthur (cjarthur@pavilion.co.uk)
Date: Sun Dec 12 1999 - 11:13:46 EST

Fred [1889] says:
>P.S. I like Andy's further question: why MUST value appear?
>> One question is why *must* essence gain form? Murray
>> himself admits he has ëno closing argumentsí for this
>> view of necessity. He does ask rhetorically, ëhow else
>> would we have gotten to know the essence?í But the
>> basic answer is surely that value can only have an
>> effect if it gains form. Value dominates through price.
>> Murray goes as far as to say that value exists only as
>> the tethering of price. The logic of my argument is to
>> modify Murrayís statement considerably: value *gains
>> existence* only *through* its tethering of price.
>> [1785]
>I think that is a very good question. I think I agree with Andy's answer
>("value can only have an effect if it gains form), but I think it is too
>vague. I would say: abstract labor must appear as price, because that is
>the only way in which abstract labor can be regulated through price.
>There is no other means of regulating social labor in a capitalist
>commodity economy. The necessity arises, not from some general
>philosophical imperative, but from the economic necessity of regulating
>social labor. Abstract labor must appear as prices in order to be
>regulated through prices.
Why must value appear is indeed a good question. There ar e two answers.
1) A general philosophical doctrine conerning the inseparability of essence
and appearance. The second part of hegel's logic is entirely devoted to
deconstructing this opposition.
2) In this specific instance value must appear because it is itself posited
by the appearances in the first place. It is very important to the
structure of marx's argument that he does not begin with value but with
exchange value. Moreover this is not merely an expositional convenience,
nor an epistemological necessity, it is an ontological necessity that
exchange posits value only when the value form constituted in exchange
sinks into production so as to shape a content for itself. The value form
introjects value, so to speak, and then grounds it in (abstract) labour.
3.)In a previous post I asked *why* the law of value obtains. As far as I
can see the only alternative to value form theory would be a Smithian
argument of the kind Marx exasperatedly advances in his letter to
Kugelmann, namely that the necessity of a social distribution of labour
makes itself felt even when production is divided, because through exchange
price reflects this necessity.
Even if this works for SCP (which I doubt) it is superseded when we have
capitalism because now it is capital's drive for valorisation that is the
central fact. Admittedly some sort of distibution of labour is still
required but now this is not achieved by some posited motive in the
labourers to economise on toil and trouble but must flow from capital's
form of reproduction. So labour is now value-formed as much as value
In sum these Why? questions must be answered by a study of capital and its
formative activity.
Chris A

P. S. Please note that I have a new Email address,
but the old one will also run until next summer. (To be doubly sure load both!)

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