Re: [OPE] Reply to critics (Levy)

From: paul bullock <>
Date: Sun Oct 03 2010 - 15:35:44 EDT


A commodity is not a commodity if it is not sold, and the value in it is not
realised as money. The whole business has to been viewed as a total process,
although in the analysis (which is not the concrete reality) one may and
must assess the parts. Without exchange there can be no value, and without
exploitation there can be no surplus value. If you think that there can be
value without exchange then of course we will soon be hearing that value
exists in communist societies where the market has been done away with.

Paul Bullock

-----Original Message-----
From: []
On Behalf Of Jurriaan Bendien
Sent: 03 October 2010 13:19
To: Outline on Political Economy mailing list
Subject: [OPE] Reply to critics (Levy)


I do not argue at all that "Marx begins his presentation with the commodity
not because he wanted to make the discussion about "the commodity", such as
engaged in habitually by political economists, much more entertaining and

I also do not say anything like that, if you care to read it. The question I

raised is, whether Marx himself is to blame for why his text has often been
so badly misinterpreted, because of the way he wrote it. I then briefly
trace out some of the motivations he said or implied he had, to write it in
the way that he did.

You, Jerry, argued persistently for many years that economic value cannot
exist without exchange, and that value is created and realised through
trade. That was the basis of your "value-form theory", and it is very
similar to the bourgeois theory informing national accounting system. In
fact you repeat that argument again, more or less, when you argue "If there
is no exchange-value for a commodity then the commodity can not have
use-value either and it can not therefore have value (or even become an
actual commodity)."

The problem is that you just state a schematic tautology which you make true

by metaphysical definition; by the same token I could argue that the
commodity does have a recognized use-value, but nobody has a use for it
right now.

I used to manage a bookshop in the early 1980s before going overseas and
there were quite a few leftwing books I had in the store which failed to
sell within one year, which I believed to be a bad business. I could
therefore conclude that those books had no exchange-value and therefore had
no use-value, and therefore had no value. But I would not get very far as a
bookseller with that sort of idea, and in the end I did sell them. For
example, I can carry a gun in my pocket and I don't use it, but everybody
knows what it is worth, and what I can use my gun for.

The difference between you and Marx is just that for Marx, value pre-exists
(and exists independently of) its forms, because value as social labour
realized in its product is created through production, and not in exchange.
Your theory is essentially not a "labour theory of product-value", but a
"labour theory of the exchange of products".


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