Re: [OPE-L] Michael Schauerte

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Thu Apr 26 2007 - 09:03:08 EDT

Hi Michael, welcome to OPEL.  Thanks for your posts on Kuruma.  Two
comments below.

Quoting Michael Schauerte <yk3mk3@MY.EMAIL.NE.JP>:

> It is interesting, by the way, that most of the translations of the
> part of Sec. 3 in Capital where Marx discusses the detour, cannot
> help inserting the commodity owner. Granted, everyone knows that the
> commodity owners create this value equation based on their own
> desires, but for Kuruma once this equation has been set up we need to
> set aside the owners and examine the mechanism of value expression.
> For Uno, Marx was wrong to abstract that far. I think that if the
> commodity owner is not abstracted from, at the very least, the
> impression is created that there is no substance of value preceding
> the equation, and that value (really "price") emerges from the act of
> exchange itself.

1.  It is not clear to me why Kuruma calls Marx’s derivation of money
in Section 3 of Chapter 1 a "detour".  This is a straightforward
logical deduction from the basic labor theory of value already
developed in Sections 1 and 2.  In order for each commodity to be
exchanged as equivalents with all other commodities, the SNLT contained
in each commodity (the "magnitude of value") must be observable in some
objective and comparable form.  But quantities of SNLT are not directly
observable as such.  Therefore, the SNLT contained in each commodity
must be represented indirectly in terms of the quantity of the money
commodity that contains the same quantity of SNLT.

If what Kuruma means by "detour" is the indirect expression of SNLT as
money, then perhaps we have no disagreement.  But "detour" is a
misleading term.  The deduction of the necessity of money is in no way
a logical "detour".  Once money is derived in Part 1, it becomes the
basis for Marx’s theory of capital beginning in Part 2 – "the
transformation of money into capital".  The transformation of money
into capital is not possible unless money has been previously derived.

So what does Kuruma mean by "detour"?

2.  Commodity owners do not create the value equations in Marx’s
theory.  Marx’s logic in Chapter 1 – and throughout Capital – is based
on the *objective* characteristics of capitalism, not the subjective
evaluations of commodity owners (as in neoclassical economics).  The
main objective property of capitalism that Marx begins with in Chapter
1 is that products in capitalism are commodities (goods produced for
exchange), and that the general system of commodity exchange is regular
and mutually consistent – i.e. the system satisfies the property of
transitivity.  From this objective property of transivity, it follows
by the laws of mathematical logic that the relations among commodities
must be one of equality.

Continuing with this objective logic, the quantitative exchange-values
of commodities is determined by the objective property of SNLT, not by
the subjective evaluations of commodity owners.

So Marx does not somehow begin with the subjective evaluations of
commodity owners, and then puts these aside in order to derive money,
but rather begins with the objective properties of commodities, and
from these derives SNLT and money.


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