[OPE-L:1958] value-form theories

C. J. Arthur (cjarthur@pavilion.co.uk)
Sun, 19 Dec 1999 20:49:30 +0000

In reply to Andy's 1938
>Many thanks for the illuminating clarification. It is heartening
>to see that your view is not so far from mine except in respect
>of the notion of substance of value. You spotted a crucial
>error in my defense of this notion. I Should like to correct the
>error. The upshot will be - hopefully - that the critique you put
>forward of the notion of substance of value (and R&Ws 'value-
>form' critique of the notion, eg. as a 'Ricardian hangover')
>does not apply. Given this, and your own clarification, then we
>could explore and develop where our true differences lie. (For
>example, the notion of 'pure transcendental form' without
>substance is absent from my view because it seems
>nonesensical to me).

1. What did you think of my explanation in 1909?

>You quoted me:
>'But value is quite clearly not any old substance. Rather, it is a
>very peculiar (perverse) social substance. This notion of a
>*peculiar* and *social* substance is a notion that Marx was
>the first to articulate'.
>And then you pointed out:
>'You cannot say both AL is 'stuff' of value and value is itself a
>'stuff' (of what?) Either 1) you must decide which is to be
>substance 2) you must change the sense of substance so as
>to allow value to be a substance in one sense but not in
>Whoops! I should have said that *abstract labour* is a
>peculiar social substance but in fact said, at this point, that
>*value* is a peculiar social substance. This was a mistake.
>Sorry. 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).
>My mistake arose, I think, because of the peculiarity of value
>and its substance. On my view, abstract labour does not exist
>in its fluid state except as an aspect of concrete labour. This
>is unlike H2O, whose fluid state is water. This is my
>difference with Elson 1979 which I do not have time to
>discuss now, except to say that I am influenced by your work
>on labour as a concrete universal. (Your article dated 1979 if
>my memory is not faulty). So it is only in its *congealed* state -
> as value - that abstract labour asserts itself as a peculiar
>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.
2. But if value is the appearance of AL then it should already be present
like your ice. Why is there an extra step? Why have we got to relate 3
Incidentaly Rubin ch.12 is very good on the triplicity, first of all
carefully distinguishing value from exchange value and then abstract labour
from value. However I still do not think he solves the problem of their


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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