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

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Sat Jun 05 2004 - 14:27:17 EDT

Paul Z,
Have to check Althusser's Reading Capital but thought he argued that
surplus value was real, not a theoretical object. Doesn't he object
to Sombartian/Crocean idea of surplus value as gedankenbild, a useful
thought object which allows us to think capitalist reality in terms
of deviations from it (of course if that is all value and surplus
value are, then it's impossible that capitalism production could
actually founder on a shortage thereof). Doesn't Althusser even
express criticism of Engels' understanding as expressed in a letter
to Schmidt? Not remembering exactly where in the text he says this.
Interested in your thoughts.

At 9:04 AM -0400 6/5/04, Paul Zarembka wrote:
>--On Friday, June 04, 2004 2:32 PM -0400 Howard Engelskirchen
><howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM> wrote:
>>  Yes, I think we have identified two fundamental differences: first, you
>>  think value is a theoretical object but not a real one and I do think it
>>  is a real object.  Obviously this makes all the difference.  A theoretical
>>  object does not cause things.  We have to explain changes in nature and
>>  society on the basis of real objects.
>   Is the corpus of Marx's work a theory or reality?  Are mode of
>production, labor power, constant capital, variable capital, surplus
>value, production of absolute surplus value, production of relative
>surplus value, etc., real objects or theoretical objects?  Marx explicitly
>refers to his "definition of constant capital" (Vol. I, p. 202, Lawrence &
>Wishart ed.), which sounds theoretical to me.  Also, Marx had simply
>referred to 'labor' in earlier work before he introduced 'labor power',
>which seems like his producing a concept.
>   If you reply that most or all of these are theoretical objects, then why
>would 'value' be any different?  Are certain of these concepts real
>objects while others are theoretical objects?
>>  ... You have asserted the non-existence of value in the ancient world, and
>>  questioned my argument. Still, you haven't said why value only exists
>>  under capitalism.
>   Correct.  I'm probing to understand what is that 'value' is.  I haven't
>arrived at this important issue.
>Paul Z.
>RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY,  Paul Zarembka, editor, Elsevier Science

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