[OPE] value-form theory redux

From: Jurriaan Bendien <adsl675281@telfort.nl>
Date: Tue Mar 17 2009 - 20:04:06 EDT


I think about value in a completely different way, not a Marxist ideological way, but a scientific and rational-philosophical way. So I look at Marx and ask "under what conditions would it make sense, in its own terms"? I'm among very few people to publish a coherent story specifically about the "law of value" on the internet (it's a sort of prologue to a more serious scientific story I am trying to find time to write up).

Likewise, I think about the categories of political economy in a completely different way, because I regard them as historical categories, subject to change and development, in other words I look at these categories in a dialectical way. I therefore do not agree with value-form theorists that political economy is a philosophical pursuit where you drone on endlessly about the true definition of abstract labour, value, the commodity, and so on. A VFT theorist will declare things like "value exists only in capitalist society" and for me that is total gibberish, absolute imbecile idiocy.

So yes, the category of "becoming" is completely integrated in my approach, to the extent that everything has an origin, a development, a heyday, a decline, and a disappearance, i.e. everything is ultimately affected by temporality and really the only real difference is in the pace at which different things change. Some things are constants for us because for practical purposes they are constant, but usually the constancy is in truth only a conceptualised or idealized constancy.

But I do not use the word "becoming" so often, since you might just get double trouble of the wrong sort, or they send babies at you.

I don't use the category of "hope" much, because after all the harassment I had in my life, I don't have any hope anymore, I will never achieve what I wanted to achieve, but, I can still achieve other things I suppose, and enjoy life while I can. I am both ultra cynical about people, and very optimistic about people, I am a sort of cynical optimist. But not in Gramsci's sense of "optimism of will, pessimism of intellect" because I regard that sort of expression as conservative leftist nonsense.

The only LTV that makes much sense to me is similar to what people like Ian Wright, Paul Cockshott, Dave Zacheriah, and Anwar Shaikh propose, except that each of these thinkers makes some conceptual mistakes in the argument, in my opinion. I plan to write that up some time.

In VFT, human beings are depicted as social beings in that they need each other, and therefore associate, but in Marx's LTV, human beings are social beings in the first instance because without that social bond they would be "dead as a doornail".

VFT theory is very concerned with the forms in which people are associated, but Marx's theory emphasizes the physical necessity which governs that association, a necessity which becomes very apparent, for example, when human cooperation suddenly disappears.

VFT theory is based on the explicit rejection of the LTV as an explanation of the capitalist mode of production, but as I have argued before, I think that rejection is based on false conceptualizations and very poor mathematical insight. I am not a great mathematician myself, I have to study more to find better mathematical expressions, but I am sufficiently numerate and trained in measurement issues to understand that argument.

One of my hobbies is social archeology and political anthropology and in those sciences it is especially crystal clear how interpretations of human affairs are strongly influenced by the ideologies and concerns which dominate the era. In pomo theory, they talk in a waffly way about "discourses" but that is usually just a way of talking with a pretense of profundity about certain popular intellectual concerns, without any real clue about how those concerns originated or where they came from. But anyhow, in each new era and social milieu, you also get a different "reading" of Marx, and VFT is just such a reading. But it is a reading which I think basically guts Marx of all the propositions which are distinctive of his approach and important to it, and retreats to a conservative Hegelian philosophy instead.


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Received on Tue Mar 17 20:08:16 2009

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