[OPE-L:1976] value-form theories

C. J. Arthur (cjarthur@pavilion.co.uk)
Thu, 23 Dec 1999 23:38:48 +0000

Jerry writes (1957)

>Re Chris's [OPE-L:1956]:
>> A very interesting point: but I agree with Andy, not Jerry. The crucial
>> passage is C1 pp.152-3 where Marx says it was wrong to counterpose
>> use/exchange v., it should have been use-value v. value.
>I take Marx's point to be that the relation *behind* EV is value. Thus, he
>refers to EV as the "form of manifestation" of value.
>At issue is not so much what EV means, but what value itself refers to.
>When Marx refers to *socially-necessary* labor in his understanding of
>what constitutes value he has put forward a category in which UV is
>presumed. Thus, in *deriving* the category of value, he must look "beyond"
>or "behind" EV (the form of appearance of V). Yet, the category of value
>represents a category that can only be seen as a dialectical unity of the
>categories of UV and EV in which a commodity has UV, V, and its V is
>expressed as quantity through the value-form.
>> Exchange
>> value is the form in which the abstract opposition of UV and V is brought
>> into a dialectical interchnge of these determinations.
>If that were the case, then he would have derived EV from the more
>"abstract" categories of UV and V. But, instead he derived V only after a
>consideration of the opposition between UV and the value-form. And it is
>one of Marx's major criticisms of Ricardo that he was not able to see
>behind EV to understand value and, thereby, R identified EV with V.
>There may be a dispute among value-form theorists here. E.g. see Tony
>Smith _The Logic of Marx's Capital: Replies to Hegelian Criticisms_
>(Albany, SUNY Press, 1990), pp. 71-72. There, Tony refers to a
>"dialectical unity of use-value and exchange-value" (not a unity of UV
>and V) and notes that "Socially necessary labor is that which has
>produced commodities for which there is consumer demand".
>Thus (I am speaking now) UV and EV exists as moments in the realization
>of V.
>Do you disagree with Tony's presentation?
Yes. I do not think he clearly distinguishes value and exchange value.
I think the quotations adduced by myself, Steve, and Mike show you are
wrong about Marx. But you may be right about the topic itself. (by the way
the topic was supposed to be about the opposition of EV and UV but you end
up unifying them!)
Let me begin by interpreting Marx. His strategy of exposition I have argued
elsewhere involves two starting points. The analytical starting point is
the commodity form, this is analysed into UV and EV and then EV further
analysed into V. The synthetic starting point is the presuppposition that
this V must develop itself into a wealth of structures and laws. This is
the dialectical part.
Now in sec.1 although you rightly say he starts with a mess of EV, he
believes this is not really opposed to UV because this opposition is not
one posited in the object itself. EV in section 1 is purely relative, and
might well be the result of the intersection of prefernce scedules and
nothing to do with the object itelf. (UV he always uses to refer to the
natural properties of the object of course, not 'satisfaction'.) At the end
of the section he beleives he has found a value substance *in* the object.
Thus the contradiction *in* the object is between V and UV, albeit V must
appear, and does so as an EV set as a relation between two UVs. This
derivation he sets out in sec.3.
Now my view is this. The problem is I do not think Marx has a good ground
for value in sec. 1 and 2. Moreover in my view the 'grounding' movment does
not go *into* the object (not at first anyway) but happens through a
further development of the value form itself. So that with money value is
posited in the object, and with capital posited in its production, only
then does labour become relevant and has to be taken as form-detrmined as
Now I argue towards your position as follows. To begin with V and UV are
absolutely opposed. I am tempted to call them real extremes which can never
be harmoniously reconcild in a 'third'. But the development traces
capital's attempt to bring them into relation. The development has a double
- on the one hand a dialectic of the separation of V from UV and positing
of it as a power in its own right (this goes up to the general formula for
capital) albeit always reliant on UVs as bearers. On the other hand there
follows the conquering of the UV sphere by V, form-determining production,
creating new needs etc. (See Sekine on this.)
Now this 'conquering' is always aporetic, for one might just as well say
that V is absolutely dependent upon UV e.g. there would be no SV without
workers being able to produce more than they need, a material fact.
So it seems to me Marx was wrong to dismiss EV as mere appearance form of a
selfstanding V; of course *within* the system we can take it this way; but
when we are discussing the founding *of* the system it seems to me
plausible to argue that V is the outcome of the VF acting so as to posit
it, and the UV sphere providing the material to ground it. If that is what
you meant in your conclusion I agree.
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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