Re: (OPE-L) the specific social relations [of production] associated with value

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Fri Jun 04 2004 - 11:55:10 EDT

--On Friday, June 04, 2004 10:39 AM -0400 Howard Engelskirchen
<howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM> wrote:
> You write: "Indeed, above you seem quite prepared to use "social relation
> of production" to include exchange transactions among independent
> commodity producers (C-M-C, e.g., peasants)."
> That's a fair question ... it seems legitimate to infer a particular
> social form of production from the fact that exchangers take things to
> market.  This is the force of the first paragraph of Capital, Chapter 2
> -- commodities don't go to market on their own.  So when they come to
> market, they reflect particular relations of production.  Value can be
> one of those relations.

  Sorry, Howard, but again you seem to be presuming the conclusion, for you
say that exchangers come to the market reflective of "particular relations
of production.  Value can be one of those relations".

  As to everything below, you don't deal with class.  Jerry and I (and
Costas) are saying that value is reflective of class relations of
production.  When I had written 'social relation of production', I was not
thinking C-M-C type exchanges.  I was thinking of social relation of
production as based upon the class relations.  You don't exclude this but
apparently you don't believe that a class relation is a/the *fundamental*
constitutent of value (I don't think Petty or Ricardo thought so either).

  Given the above, I don't see that your citations below move the
discussion forward.  I cannot escape the feeling that you are sure
(somehow) that 'value' existed in ancient Greece when you think about
exchange transaction.  I'm powerless to prevent that assurance of yours,
but it also feels to this reader like theology.  However, I have your paper
"Value and contract formation" and am prepared to rethink this reaction of

  Maybe I cannot avoid thinking Althusser is correct:  There is a
difference between the real object and the theoretical object.  'Value' is
a real object for you, but not for me (who cannot see, feel, smell, to
taste 'value').  (Note also that Althusser argued that Marx himself had
lacuna in his own thought.  Similarly, when I ask if anyone has studied
whether social relations of production in Marx consistently refer to class
relations, I am prepared for some inconsistencies.)

  'Value' is an abstraction, a theoretical abstraction.

Paul Z.

> Does Marx talk about value as a social relation of production?  Well, what
> about this from the analysis of Bailey in TSV III at 147:
> "Bailey is a fetishist in that he conceives value, though not as a
> property of the individual object (considered in isolation), but as a
> relation of objects to one another, while it is only a representation in
> objects, an objective expression, of a relation between men, a social
> relation, the relationship of men to their reciprocal productive
> activity."
> The same idea is presented also, of course, in the opening paragraphs of
> the section of Capital, Chapter I, on commodity fetishism where Marx
> explains how mutual relations of producers are presented as relations of
> objects.
> Essentially, you have to ask yourself, if value is a social relation, a
> relationship of persons to their productive activity, what is it?  It
> seems a pretty widespread view right now that unless value is value able
> to perpetuate itself and increase itself in exchange, then it doesn't
> exist. But value which increases itself is capital.  At least we have to
> ask the question whether Marx might not have used these two different
> words to refer to two distinct social relationships.  That's a fair
> question.  If we test the possibility of difference, what would value as
> a social relationship be?
> I offered a definition in the next to last paragraph of my post from June
> 2 on the existence of value in the ancient world where I reviewed Marx's
> summary of the stages of his analysis in Notes on Wagner.  The definition
> is in the 4th stage.  I can send you an unpublished paper, if you like,
> where this is developed at greater length.
> Finally, notice also p. 163 of TSV III distinguishing the measure of value
> and the cause of value.  "The cause of value transforms use value into
> value.  The external measure of value already presupposes the existence of
> value."  Of course if our reasoning starts by asserting the axiom that
> value didn't exist in the ancient world, then this sentence presents no
> problems. Otherwise, the existence of coin from the 7th century BC
> suggests that we already presuppose the existence of value.
> Marx goes on, "The cause of value is the substance of value and hence also
> its immanent measure."
> Now I take it "substance" here is susceptible of both of the two meanings
> suggested in my June 2 post -- "substance" offered as a programmatic
> definition and "substance" offered as an explanatory definition.  As a
> programmatic definition substance is labor in the sense that activity
> resides in the result.  As an explanatory definition substance is the
> social form of labor.  This goes back to the quote from one of my first
> responses to you at Notebook II, 266:  "labor structured in such a way
> that the product was not a direct use value for the labourer. . . ."  To
> this must be added the separate or independent character of production.
> These are the two elements of the defintion offered in the June 2 post.
> The distinction between an explanatory and programmatic definition of
> course is not explicit in Marx -- it is adopted from contemporary
> scientific realism's explanation of two forms of definition common to
> scientific practice.

RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY,  Paul Zarembka, editor, Elsevier Science

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