Kliman on Value

Adam Bandt bandt at cleo.murdoch.edu.au
Fri Mar 10 12:43:24 MST 1995

In response to Rakesh, yes it is important to recognise that Kliman does
not defend Ricardo's absolute value. However, my major point is that whilst
Kliman  treats value as 'relational', its ultimate source is for him a
subject-object relationship, namely worker-commodity. Somehow, labour
invests a commodity with this thing called value, and it resides there
waiting to be discovered. I'd suggest that this subject-object relationship
(as Kliman himself describes it in the quote you reproduced) is in part a
distorted representation of subject-subject relationships.

When people confront the world, that world does not exist outside of social
relationships. The object - in this case the commodity - is only
understandable as already partly constitued by social relations. This
object's 'value' relies on the existence of abstract labour, itself a
historically contingent way of structuring relations between people. Thus
the residual 'value' is not something that the worker puts there
(subject-object) but is a product of the relations of production and is
intelligible only by relying on an explanation about the ways people relate
to people under capitalism (and hence how 'commodities' are produced).

When critiquing naturalism, I believe that we must go further and specify
exactly what we mean about value being relational as, as I have suggested,
relational can mean a variety of things.

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