Kliman's paper

Adam Bandt bandt at cleo.murdoch.edu.au
Thu Mar 16 22:07:16 MST 1995

This message is forwarded from Andrew Kliman in response to comments from
me (Adam Bandt) about his paper on value (available at the marxism ftp

>Thanks for your very thoughtful comments on my paper.  I can't post this reply
>generally, since I'm not yet on the Marxism list.  I'd encourage you to do so
>if you can.
>My reply is also very preliminary--I'll need to study your comments more
>One key difference is evidently that I affirm and you deny the "objectivity" of
>value.  But you actually seem to object to the idea that value is physical,
>natural, or grounded in the physical/natural.  I also object to this.  I
>consider value to be specifically capitalist, social, non-material BUT also
>objective.  The objectivity is a historically specific and social one.  As
>Marx says about money as the universal incarnation of abstract human labor
>(in the fetishism of commodities section), this idea, which is absurd, is
>socially valid, and therefore objective, [only] for this determinate mode
>of production, commodity production [paraphrase--I don't have the text in
>front of me].  So for Marx, objective doesn't equal natural or physical.  We
>can have something made objective by being "socially valid."  This is exactly
>what I think is the case with value--it is objective because and only because
>we live real value relations (under capitalism), whatever we wish to CALL
>This leads to the other, related, difference:  you consider this all a
>mystification.  Of what?  Evidently of some physical, eternal, relations that
>don't take
>the value-form in other societies.  But I don't think the fetishism of
>commodities is mystification or something that "masks" real relations.
>Following the
>interpretation developed by Raya Dunayevskaya (see especially _Marxism &
>Freedom_, _Philosophy & Revolution_, and  _Rosa Luxemburg, Women's Liberation,
>and Marx's Philosophy of Revolution_), I think the appearances are bizarre
>because the (specifically capitalist) reality is perverted.  We live in a
>society in which "the process of production has mastery over man, instead of
>the opposite" so that the social relations of production do not appear as
>direct socia relations of people at work, but as "WHAT THEY ARE"--material
>relations between persons and social relations between things (quotes from
>fetishism section; capitals added).  Thus value relations, and therefore
>value, are not an illusion.  The latter expresses this subject/object
>inversion, which occurs in the process of production--"value, i.e. the past
>labour that dominates living labour" (Vol. III of Capital, p. 136, Vintage/
>Penguin ed.)--and which is "objective," not because it is something natural
>or eternal, but because it has a real existence in THIS society.
>Two other points:  (1)  I don't understand why you think I "take Marx's
>precise concept of abstract labour and strip it of its precision."  (2)  I do
>value refers to a subject/object relationship, not a subject/subject
>I don't think it has to do with relationships among workers, and as for
>relations between workers and capitalists, it does refer to them, I think, but
>considers the capitalists to be PERSONIFICATIONS of dead labor, capital.  So
>value is a subject/object relationship that APPEARS as a relation between
>Thanks again.  I'll give your comments more study soon.
>Andrew Kliman
>60 W. 76th St., #4E
>New York, NY 10023 USA
>(212) 580-0206 (home)

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