Re: [OPE-L] Michael Schauerte

From: Pen-L Fred Moseley (fmoseley@MTHOLYOKE.EDU)
Date: Sat Apr 28 2007 - 11:18:28 EDT

Quoting Michael Schauerte <mikeschauerte@GMAIL.COM>:

> Hi Fred,
> I think that Kuruma is using the term "detour" not to describe the
> derivation of money, but the mechanism of the expression of value, and it is
> a translation of the German Umweg. The emphasis is on the indirect nature of
> this expression, where a commodity cannot express its own value using its
> own bodily form (use-value), but can do so by equating another commodity to
> itself and using that commodity's use-value as the material to express its
> own value. I think in the Penguin edition of Capital, the translator used
> the expression "this is a roundabout way of saying" in the part describing
> this mediated way that value is expressed, which seems a complete
> mistranslation to me. Perhaps "detour" is misleading too, if it suggests
> something that there might be a more direct way, because like you said the
> magnitudes of value must be observable in some objective and comparable
> form, and the only way for this to happen is through the mechanism of
> value-expression I just outlined, as value is not something we can see if we
> hold a commodity up to the light.

If "detour" means  "indirect expression of the value of commodities in
the use-value of another commodity", then that would be OK.  But I
think "indirect expression" is better than "detour".  Even "roundabout"
is better than "detour".  "Detour" suggests something temporary and

> But I don't fully understand what you mean by the "derivation of money" as a
> logical deduction from the first two sections. First, I don't understand how
> the term "derivation" is being used, and second my understanding is that
> Marx sets the task in Sec. 3 of unraveling the "riddle of money" (or of the
> money-form) by tracing his way back from the money- or price-form to the
> simple form of value, where he observes that mechanism of value-expression
> and uncovers the reason that the commodity in the equivalent form has a
> magical sort of power by virtue of being posited in that form, so that its
> bodily form seems by nature to have the power of direct exchangeability.

The main conclusion of the first two sections is that the substance of
value is abstract labor (AL) and the magnitude of value is socially
necessary labor-time (SNLT).  This conclusion is then a premise for the
derivation of money in Section 3 (and the rest of Capital).  AL and
SNLT are presumed as objective properties of commodities (although
unobservable), and the question in Section 3 becomes:  how are these
presumed properties of commodities expressed in some observable and
comparable form?  The answer to this question is money.  Money is the
“necessary form of appearance” of AL and SNLT.  That is what I mean by
“the derivation of money is a logical deduction from the first two

Michael, do you see what I mean?

> I should note, as it might be related, that Kuruma was opposed to reading
> Sec. 3 or Chapter 1 as a whole as either a historical unfolding or a purely
> logical unfolding of categories, and instead sought to identify the
> particular tasks that Marx sets and solves (e.g. the unraveling of the
> riddle of the money form).

I would put it differently – Marx’s particular task is Section 3 is to
explain how the presumed properties of commodities of AL and SNLT are
expressed in an observable, comparable form of appearance?  The answer
to this question also explains the riddle of money.


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