Re: measurement of abstract labor

From: Howard Engelskirchen (howarde@TWCNY.RR.COM)
Date: Wed Jul 14 2004 - 09:34:20 EDT

Hi Clyde,

That you find tension and contradiction in my suggestions opens the
possibility that there is dialectical hope for them.

Here is my response to the problem you pose as I understand it:

Suppose you have something I want -- say cases of wine.  If stable and
appropriate relations of force are presupposed, I can give you a promise,
which is not a commodity, in exchange for the wine.  If a stable and
appropriate relation of force does not exist you will insist on real value
and ignore my offer to exchange a promise for wine.

Force is an emergent necessity of generalized commodity production -- unless
you have the former you don't get the latter.  But it is commodity
production that generates force as an emergent social relation, not the
other way around.

The fact that force makes it possible to substitute a promise for commodity
value doesn't mean the exchange of embodied value is no longer a
presupposition of the exchange.  (If A gave B a horse in exchange for B
giving me a cow in exchange for me giving A a flute lesson -- we're speaking
hypothetically here -- you wouldn't say there was no longer an exchange of
commodity for commodity because B gave A a piece of paper in exchange for
the horse, would you?)

Take force away, which in particular conjunctures can happen, and you will
see the necessity of commodity money again exposed.  Or provide the occasion
for the exercise of force and you see that the presupposition of the
relationship is an exchange of real values -- as Marx says about money as
means of payment generally:  if the promisor doesn't pay, the sheriff will
come and sell his goods.  Tat is, real values exchange after all.

Why didn't Marx say instead -- you see, money as means of payment shows that
non-commodity money is perfectly compatible with capitalism?  Instead he
shows that non-commodity mechanisms work as long as they are supported by
relations of force.


----- Original Message -----
From: <clyder@GN.APC.ORG>
Sent: Monday, July 12, 2004 6:13 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE-L] measurement of abstract labor

> Howard, you say "Where the social relation that
> generates the product as a commodity exists, then the product of labor is
> constituted by value, and value, which is not presented empirically like
> texture or other physical qualities, must find a vehicle for its
> It finds its means of expression in the body of another commodity and this
> process in turn generates the money commodity.  I don't know any way to
> supercede or transcend this process other than by transforming the
> generative social structure responsible for the existence of products as
> values in the first place (the transition to socialism)."
> But you later recognise that :
> "symbols such as inconvertible paper can stand in for money if the
> tools of the state ensure their efficacy and a roughly stable relation to
> the set of value relations requiring expression is maintained."
> This essentially contradicts your first formulation since it recognises
> the obvious - that non-commodity money is perfectly compatible with
> capitalism.
> There seems to be a tension in your thought here!
> ----------------------------------------------------------------
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