[OPE-L:1950] Re: Re: value-form theories

Fred B. Moseley (fmoseley@mtholyoke.edu)
Sun, 19 Dec 1999 09:50:38 -0500 (EST)

I agree with almost everything Andy said in his recent post (1938) in
reply to Chris and myself. I also find the similarity of views
"heartening". A few comments below:

On Fri, 17 Dec 1999, Andrew Brown wrote:

> Value is not a substance. Rather, *abstract labour* is
> a (peculiar and social) substance; the substance of value.
> Value is *congealed* abstract labour. An analogy: H2O is the
> substance of ice (ice is crystallised H2O); analogously,
> abstract labour is the substance of value (value is crystallised
> abstract labour).

I agree.

> When replying to Fred you argued that the fact that money is
> the 'form' of value would indicate that value is itself a
> substance. Not so, I argue. Rather, the fact that the substance
> of value is abstract labour (so 'ghostly') means that value
> requires an appearance form, which turns out to be money.
> Value must express itself in its own opposite, viz., use value.

I agree. This is what I have been arguing.

> Fred,
> I'm not clear how abstract labour can be an entity *entirely*
> separate from money if, as we agree, it is necessarily related
> to money. I do not see that your quantitative formular requires
> such complete separation.

By a "separate entity", I mean that abstract labor is DEFINED
INDEPENDENTLY of money prices. In other words, abstract labor
is defined in units of labor-hours, not in units of money-prices
(R-W's "abstract labor" is defined in units of money-prices). The
equation P = mL does require that L be defined independently of P,
if L is to determine P. If L is defined in units of P, then L cannot
explain P.

> As for the question as to why value must appear as price then
> (1) Why should a general philosophical imperative and an
> economic necessity be mutually exclusive? In this case I
> would like to argue that they are different ways of looking at
> the same necessity....but this all needs more thought.

You are right, these two are not mutually exclusive. I just meant that
not ONLY a philosophical imperative; that would be too abstract. In a
way, one could view the economic imperative as a sort of empirical proof
or manifestation of the philosophical imperative. The general
philosophical imperative "essence must appear" is supported by the
economic imperative that abstract labor must appear as prices in order to
be regulated through prices.

> To repeat a point (all too general / vague) I made earlier:
> philosophy, as the study transhistorical issues, lies at the
> bottom of value theory since a crucial aspect of that theory is
> the theory of social labour or labour as a transhistorical
> notion. In the light of Ilyenkov's philosophy, culminating, as it
> does, in the notion of Labour, I find Marx's assertion
> regarding what 'every child knows' about social labour
> entirely convincing - indeed quite obvious - as a justification
> of Marx's presentation of the law of value.

I don't know Ilyenkov's philosophy, but I have been intrigued by what I
have heard about him from you and from others. His book is on my stack of
books to read (which is unfortunately getting quite high). Clearly he is
a major thinker on the subject of Marx's method and should be studied

> Many thanks to all concerned for the fascinating discussion.

And thanks to you too.


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