value

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Tue Sep 13 09:46:14 MDT 1994


Concerning the reasons that Steve presents to quote Marx as he does:

If torturing Marx's quotations until breaking them down to confess what the
torturer wants to have them saying is a current practice among some
renowned Marxist, shame on them!. Rather, let's make our 'ferule critique'
fall on them, so as to discover the social necessity they actually
personify and realize by resorting to such a nasty procedure. But this is
not the point here.

Of course, it is sometimes necessary for the sake of brevity, and even of
clarity, to omit a part of the quoted original (or even to change its order
or to introduce some grammatical links), provided this is properly
indicated. And the latent risk that "other readers may regard [the omitted
parts] as crucial in the original" could arise (In any case, this risk
shows the feebleness of arguing by appealing to a string of quotations
instead of producing one's own developments). But these aren't the point
here, either.

The point is that, as I have shown in my previous message just by restoring
Marx's original text where Steve places the suspension points in his by now
famous quotation

>"The only use-value, i.e. usefulness, which can stand opposite capital
>as such is that which increases, multiplies and hence preserves it as
>capital... the opposite of capital cannot itself be a particular
>commodity, for as such it would form no opposition to capital, since
>the substance of capital is itself use-value; it is not this commodity
>or that commodity, but all commodities." [Grundrisse, p. 271.]

the second part has no relationship with the first one, but with the
omitted part

"...
       In the second place. Capital is money, by definition, but money that
does not any longer exists under its simple form of gold and silver,nor
even as money in opposition to circulation, but under the form of all
substances: commodities. Therefore, thus far, capital does not contradict
use-value, but, beyond money, it only exists in use-values. These
substances that belong to it are now, therefore, perishable, they would not
even have exchange value at all if they have no use-value; as use-values
they lose their value, they dissolve themselves through merely natural
physicochemical processes if they are not really used, or they completely
disappear if they are really used. From this point of view ..."

This isn't a matter of interpreting one part or the other of the text to be
crucial. It's a matter of following the rules of elementary syntax: which
is the grammatical subject of each sentence?

Anyone willing to allow the suspension points to run over a full stop, some
complete sentences, and, most significant, over the beginning of the
closing sentence that states that what follows corresponds to 'this point
of view', when precisely a 'point of view' specifically opposed in the
original text to the one that opens the quotation has been presented in the
immediately preceding but equally omitted sentence, can turn other person's
texts into a complete contradiction and nonsense. Which text could keep any
meaning at all after being manipulated in such a way? If we were to follow
such a procedure, it wouldn't be very difficult to present Steve himself
stating that his uv-ev dialectics is the true foundation of ... the LTV!
Now, of course, who wouldn't stop to think that he/she has introduced this
contradiction into the original text just by chopping it, before accusing
Steve of a flagrant contradiction and claiming that the conclusion based
upon the chopped quotation is what Steve has actually discovered but then
abandoned? Which social necessity does Steve personifies when he
uncritically goes the other way round?

Mediations do matter. It isn't enough with declaring that the dialectics of
uv-ev shows that all use-values in which capital is materialized produce
surplus-value. And having as its only support a conveniently cut out
quotation from Marx doesn't say much on its favor, either.

Concerning my question

>>b- Use-value is what determines a real form as a means for the human social
>>metabolism process. So it inherits in the materiality of the real form in
>>question. Being value, and its specific form surplus-value, nothing but
>>pure social relations (that is, the social coordination of human life), how
>>could the materiality of the means of production acquire the capacity to
>>produce social relations or to become itself a social relation?

Steve writes

>Re (b), you say I think that "value, and its specific form surplus-value,
>[are] nothing but pure social relations". If this is what you believe
>(I had to insert the "are" to make the extract grammatical, but it may
>also have changed your meaning) then I disagree. Value is a social
>relation, but if the economics of Marx are to mean anything, it is also
>the source of profit, which is material as well as social. The uv/ev
>analysis gives an excellent explanation of the material side of this
>process as well as the social: it is something which emerges under
>capitalism; and it explains the material and social forces behind the
>reproduction and evolution of the system.

As mediations do matter, I will briefly present once again the core of the
determinations at stake. Use-value is the quality of a given quantity of a
real form to become a means for the human social metabolism process. Among
private independent producers, material production becomes at the same time
the production of the general social relation. Use-values become the
material support of the general social relation, so keeping their
materiality untouched become socially determined as commodities. Value is
the historically specific social determination of commodities. Value is
qualitatively determined as, i.e., has as its substance, the socially
necessary abstract human labor materialized in the commodities that appears
as their capacity to relate among themselves in exchange, thus indirectly
socially relating their producers. Value is quantitatively determined as
the amount of its substance each commodity embodies, i.e., exchange-value.

>From being use-values the direct object of the production socially
regulated through their determination as values, the specification of a
commodity as money makes exchange-value itself the direct object of social
production. On this basis, the capacity to labor as an independent
producer, which means, the capacity to produce value (that is, to
materialize abstract human labor), which thus far isn't a means for human
life but a  moment in human metabolism process itself, acquires an
use-value to someone that is not his/her natural possessor: the use-value
of a certain quantity of labor-power to produce more value than that
materialized in it. Thus, labor-power becomes a commodity. The direct
object of social production isn't any longer just the production of value,
but the production of more value than that which opens each production
process; that is, the self-valorization of value, capitalist production.

Surplus-value is then the historically specific social relation into which
the exchange-value of a quantity of any use-value produced in the
labor-time that exceeds from the abstract labor represented as the
exchange-value materialized in the mass of use-values that conform the
means of living of the labor-power (thus determining a certain amount of
labor-power's exchange value) develops.

Through this social relation, surplus-value, the capitalist appropriates
the corresponding share in the total social production. Still, the
valorization of each individual capital is only a proportional part of the
total social valorization process, that is, of the general regulation of
present-day human life, where only a quantitative difference in that which
has the quality of being an exchange-value matters. Individual capitals
produce different proportions of surplus-value in a given time according to
their organic composition and the turnover-rate of their variable part. So
the specific social relation surplus-value develops into its concrete form
of the profit of industrial capitals, that is, the general social relation
through which all individual capitals appropriate an equal proportion of
surplus-value.

Once showed the complete general determination of use-value and value in
present-day society, the former remains just as what it is, a material form
(of course historically determined to be an use-value), lacking any
capacity to change into a social relation itself. Nor exchange-value has
ceased to be a purely social relation, turning into some sort of use-value:
as such purely social relation it has determined a material form,
labor-power, as an use value. From the fact that the general social
relation is embodied in the material forms of social production, this
relation appears to commodity producers as an attribute inherent in the
material form of their products. What Marx named the fetishism of
commodities.

Now, Steve should explain us exactly at which point in this development of
commodities, does use-value transform itself, from being the material
support of the concrete forms of the general social relation in capitalist
society (value), into a social relation itself (profit).

Concerning my question

>>a- Value is the specific historical way through which the society of the
>>private independent producers allocates its total capacity to labor under
>>its specific concrete forms. The development of commodities into capital is
>>nothing but a specific form of this allocation, where all human potencies
>>are alienated into capital's potencies. If the abstract labor materialized
>>in the commodities wasn't the whole substance of their value (that is, of
>>their capacity to relate among themselves in exchange, thus relating their
>>producers), or if it has ceased to be such under capitalism, which is the
>>general regulation of present-day social metabolism process and, rather,
>>what real value, real commodity form (not their theoretical
>>representations) are about?

Steve writes

>Re (a) Juan, perhaps part of your post was lost in the email (it happens
>to my posts sometimes), but I simply can't find a question here--unless you
>are asking "what is real value"? Please re-post the question.

After hearing Steve's assertion that "profit, ... is material as well as
social," it isn't surprising that he can't find a question where I asked
for "which is the general regulation of present-day social metabolism
process ...?" When value is considered in its direct relationship with its
simplest specific determination, and not as an abstract concept, (that is,
when it's considered from Marx's dialectical perspective, in which
'economics' results from reproducing the real social production relations
through thought, and not from the inverted perspective, where all real
necessity has come down to "if the economics of Marx are to mean
anything"), it immediately appears as what it is: the social relation
through which present-day society regulates its metabolism process by
allocating its total capacity to perform productive labor, to produce, and
its total capacity to consume, into their concrete individual forms. Profit
is a concrete form this process of allocation takes when it specifically
develops itself as the process of capital self-valorization. If profit was
a material form and not a pure social relation, if it carried in itself the
least trace of use-value, how could this material form be a form of
allocating concrete social production and consumption?

My two questions remain effective and still unanswered.

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar



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