Re: Money, mind and the ontological status of value

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Wed Jun 23 2004 - 17:26:25 EDT

Before today's message, Howard said on 06/12/04:

>That value did not exist in the ancient world was one starting point of
>this thread.   While presenting the general concept of capital Marx argues
>that the worker must find him or herself without value, ie not a slave. He
>writes,  "As a slave, the worker has exchange value, a value.  . . .  So
>long as the worker as such has exchange value, industrial capital as such
>cannot exist."  (289).

>Now since exchange value is a form of manifestation of value and since
>slaves existed in the ancient world, value existed in the ancient world.

>What failure is there in the premises or inferences of that argument?
>What are the alternate interpretations that falsify it's conclusion?

  Howard, I've received your email earlier today.  Realizing that I'm going on a family vacation for 2+ weeks beginning Friday, I'm not sure I can deal with a long comment.  However, ...

  In answer to #4, you are correct that I haven't explained 'value' and thus shown when it is a relevant concept.  I am working on that in a separate paper and simply don't have my thoughts completed, if I ever will.  I tend to be sympathetic, however, to Costas' comments as he has been presenting them on this list.  I also agree with Ajit's 1990 R.P.E. comment: the "concept of *value* in the discourse of *Capital* refers to its object, the *capitalist mode of production*, and does not take shape without the introduction of the capital-wage labor relation, an element ... that is explicity absent" from the beginning discussion of simple commodity production.  (Your references to dictionaries in #4 are outside my current knowledge base.)

  I think #5 is where your current presentation most clearly begins.  You cite yourself on 6/16: actually your point was made on 6/12 as above.  I've reread it.  It's short enough to be able to be digested easily enough.  You quote from a parenthetical expression in the *Grundrisse*, then offer one syllogistic sentence purporting to conclude that 'value' existed in the ancient world, and ask Costas what's the problem.

  The structure of the argument clearly depends upon the Marx quote.  Whether anyone contests that quote or not (and it can be contested: for one thing, it is a mere parethentical expression a notebook he didn't publish), is it not the case that you are relying on the authority of Marx?  Try taking away the first paragraph above, what's left of substance?

  I don't mind your commenting in #2 that I got an "idee fixe" earlier.  I feel I only came to that in sensing your undertaking a repeated presumption of a conclusion, in different ways.

  Above, are you not using Marx's sentence to buttress the presumption, thus relying on 'authority'?  This eventually moved us into that issue and I should note, regarding the 'authority' I felt you falling back upon, it is to Marx, marxism, or the science of society by Marx, not to you yourself (not your person); perhaps certain phrasings of mine were not clear enough.

  I do not mean to imply one cannot quote Marx, one way or another.  Yet, one of my own basic conclusions already arrived at for my separate paper is that Marx's own ideas about 'value' change.  Thus, there is a somewhat slippery source if one would think quoting Marx anchors a solution to a problem.

  Paul Z.

Vol.21-Neoliberalism in Crisis, Accumulation, and Rosa Luxemburg's Legacy
RESEARCH IN POLITICAL ECONOMY, Zarembka/Soederberg, eds, Elsevier Science

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