value (reposting 1)

Juan Inigo jinigo at inscri.org.ar
Sat Sep 17 22:39:46 MDT 1994


My last message to the list didn't come back through it. Maybe there was
some problem due to its length. So I'm reposting it in two parts. Sorry if
you had already received it.

Steve Keen writes:

>Dear Juan,
>
>I resent any implication that I have made my case by
>selective quotation, especially since you have not read
>my
>lished work on this subject.

In the first place, it wasn't me who brought Steve's theory to the list,
but Steve himself. He did it by claiming Marx's logical incoherence, and he
didn't present here any other concrete support for it than the questioned
quotation. In each of my replies, I presented in the briefest way I was
able to, the development of each of the determinations that appear in
Steve's statements. And I have objected the way Steve quotes Marx by
analyzing both the content and the grammatical form of the original text.
How has Steve answered my critics? In the same way he does here. He doesn't
consider the concrete points I make, showing exactly at which step of my
developments I'm mistaken (for instance, where is my syntactical analysis
of Marx's questioned text mistaken?), but he resorts to an ambiguous
statement ("I resent any implication ..."). Instead of presenting to the
list the positive concrete arguments upon which he sustains his thesis, he
goes on claiming we can only really answer him if we read his papers. Are
those concrete arguments so complex, or are we so obtuse, that they are
impossible to be, not say completely presented, but just summarized through
an e-mail message?

It would be very easy for any of the members of the list to proclaim
through it the strength of his/her thesis, and how these thesis show that
Marx was self-incoherent and went wrong in his discoveries if she/he
pleases to, just to allege that the list is not the proper place where
he/she can sustain her/his claims, when the replies arrive. As I see it,
the Internet is a very powerful weapon we can seize in our struggle to
produce the society of the freely, thus consciously, associated
individuals. In this sense, and to state it at once, organizing our
collective conscious action is what scientific discussion through the
Internet is about. Let's not spoil Internet's potentiality by degrading it
to a place where only statements founded elsewhere fit.

>If you really wish to
>challenge me--rather than simply rile me-- ...

Is this what scientific discussion means for Steve? It sounds more close to
the way kids, and some grownups(?) too, defy each other here: que, sos
macho vos, che? Please. Steve! Maybe I will hurt your omnipotence, but I
didn't come to the field of science as a necessary concrete form of
political revolutionary action because I discovered you existed. Turning a
political discussion into a matter of personal challenging or riling each
other, is just a resource to take out of sight the social determinations
each one personifies. But it doesn't necessarily work.

>As for whether "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", I would have
>to say that it WAS a past practice ...

Really? Maybe it depends on what you call a "renowned Marxist"

>As for your arguments concerning the origin of surplus
>value, you present a "proof" of the LTV which incorporates the
>term use-value, but which I would argue is utterly different
>to the method in which Marx attempted to prove the LTV.

I haven't presented any "proof" of the LTV at all. What I've done was to
develop in the briefest way I could, the most simple determinations of the
general social relation in present-day society, which is the same that Marx
has done at length and for the first time in history. Steve demands from us
to read his complete papers to acquire the right to discuss his procedures,
but he feels completely free to judge what the rest of us do. It happens
that what I say doesn't fit into his schemes, according to which I can only
be presenting a LTV or an uv-ev dialectics. Could Steve present us just a
single quotation from Marx where he himself names any part of his
reproduction in thought of the specificity of present-day society a LTV? I
repeat, a quotation from Marx, not Steve's or anybody else's interpretation
about what Marx says with other words. Could Steve present us a single
quotation from Marx where he strictly says in his own words that his
procedure is to follow an uv-ev dialectics? Again, a direct quotation from
Marx, not somebody else's interpretation.

>As best as I can interpret your argument--and I find your
>manner of expression excessively convoluted--you appear to
>bring in the unique characteristics of labor-power as an integral
>part of your proof. In the above, I argue, Marx grounds the
>source of surplus value in the attributes which labor-power
>shares with other commodities, not those which set it apart:
>"in this transaction he
>acts in accordance with the 'eternal laws' of the exchange of
>commodities. The seller of labour-power, like the seller of any
>other commodity, realises its exchange-value, and parts with its
>use-value."

Mediations, mediations! Steve wants to stop in circulation, where the
attributes of the commodity labor-power are exactly the same as those of
any other commodity, as Marx shows. But Marx doesn't stop in circulation.
He follows the buyer and the seller of this apparently ordinary commodity
right into the production process. And it is here where he finds the secret
of that apparently ordinary transaction unveiled: the specific use-value
for which labor-power was bought, is its capacity to be the source of
value; and "_a source not only of value, but of more value than it has
itself. ..." (emphasized in the original)

Circulation is a very improper place where to stay at, provided one is
interested in discovering what is really going on in capital accumulation
process, so as to change it through conscious action:

"       The consumption of labour-power is at one and the same time the
production of commodities and of surplus-value. The consumption of
labour-power is completed, as in the case of every other commodity, outside
the limits of the market or of the sphere of circulation. Accompanied by
Mr. Moneybags and by the possessor of labour-power, we therefore take leave
for a time of this noisy sphere, where everything takes place on the
surface and in view of all men, and follow them both into the hidden abode
of production, ... Here we shall see, not only how capital produces, but
how capital is produced. We shall at last force the secret of profit
making.
        This sphere we are deserting, within the sale and purchase of
labour-power goes on, is in fact a very Eden of the innate rights of man.
There alone rule Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham. ...
        On leaving this sphere of simple circulation or of exchange of
commodities, which furnishes the "Free-trader Vulgaris" with his views and
ideas, and with the standard by which he judges a society based on capital
and wages, we think we can perceive a change in the physiognomy of our
dramatic personae. ..." (Capital I, Progress Publishers, pp. 175/6)

Let's look on Steve's "argument" again:

>... I argue, Marx grounds the
>source of surplus value in the attributes which labor-power
>shares with other commodities, not those which set it apart

Sure, and the Pope grounds the source of religion in materialism, as
anybody can show after taking some lessons on how to quote his homilies
with Steve! A crudely cut out quotation here (Grundrisse), an isolated
sentence that says nothing to support Steve's conceptions and which is
immersed in a context that clearly says the opposite of what Steve says,
there (Capital); a positive development in Steve's own words, nowhere.

(continues in part 2)

Juan Inigo
jinigo at inscri.org.ar



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