Re: [OPE] Reply to critics

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Fri Oct 01 2010 - 18:50:32 EDT

  On 2010-10-02 00:15, Paula wrote:
> As I recall Marx uses the term 'value', not 'labor-value'. And the
> substance of value is definitely physical, it's abstract labor. As a
> value, a commodity is an objectification,
> crystallization or congealment of this labor. But this can't
> possibly be the case with services, because services aren't objects
> (though of course they have a physical existence, like everything else
> in the universe).

Firstly, while this object-based theory of value could be used for some
purposes I think it will break apart once you look closer at the
dichotomy 'object' vs. 'service'. E.g. is a heart surgery an 'object' or
a 'service'? Is it reproducible? Can it be exchanged for money?

Secondly, from the standpoint of the history of economic thought, I
think you would have a hard time arguing that this view is equivalent to
that of Marx. Could you give some textual evidence of this? I think one
can find several passages that suggest the contrary. (As I've argued in
the past I suspect your reading of Capital vol. 1 has mistakenly taken
his description of the fetish character of the commodity form as
definitional of its underlying social properties.)

> More generally, it's wrong to counterpose 'social' to 'physical' as if
> these were mutually exclusive categories. Quite the contrary, in
> economic life they determine each other. Take the simple commodity as
> an example of an object that is simultaneously social and physical.
While I agree with the content of the above I still think your
formulation risks reproducing the same dualist notion by suggesting that
'they determine each other'. I think rather, as a materialist, that what
we take to be 'social' properties are just more complex 'physical'
properties in that they involve relations of agents. But 'social'
properties arise among systems of interacting agents in biology as well
as robotics. Hence I would say that 'social' is an instance of 'physical'.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Fri Oct 1 18:51:58 2010

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