Kliman/value

jones/bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Tue Sep 19 16:29:30 MDT 1995


I was reading through Chapter IV of Volume II of Capital ("The Three
Forumulas of the Circuit) as the sun was coming up.

 And it was as clear as day to me how very critical Andrew Kliman's
meticulous analysis (which is on-line) of value, the form of value,
exchange value, absolute and intrinsic value is. As important is Andrew's
discussion of Marx's criticism of Samuel Bailey.  Andrew does underline the
importance of  his analysis of value: upon that basis he criticizes the
neo-Ricardians and defends the law of the tendency for the rate of profit
to fall.

What may seem scholastic at the beginning of Marx's Capital, viz., the
distinction between value and the forms of value, turns out to be the
*sole* foundation for an analysis of capital as a "movement, a
circuit-describing process going through various stages, which itself
comprises three forms of the circuit describing process."  Marx argues that
"capital can only be understood as motion, not a thing at rest."

 Marx and Andrew demonstrate, contra Bailey, that if value is understood as
a relation between commodities--that is, if the form of value is conflated
with value itself--it becomes impossible to understand (as Marx puts it)
that "value functions as capital-value or capital only in so far as it
remains identical with itself and is compared with itself in the different
phases of its circut, which are not at all 'contemporary' but succeed one
another." If value is only a relation between contemporary commodities,
then the comparison of commodities between different periods become
impossible.

And, if value is nothing but exchange value, it also becomes impossible to
understand the explosions and catastrophes inherent in value-as-process:
"This succession of the metamorpheses of capital in process includes
continuous comparison of the change in the magnitude of value of the
capital brought about in the circuit of the original value." In the
preceding paragraph, Marx indicates the social implications of this
process.

A similar argument is made (rather brilliantly also) in Alan Freeman's
Summer 1995 capital and class piece.  The true importance of Kliman's
interevention is to show just how important Marx's distinction between
value and forms of value is.

I think that the importance of Kliman's work on this topic cannot be
exaggerated. The paper is  exciting both for the solid foundation it lays
for the scientific study of the explosive and catastrophic nature of the
capitalist system and for its demonstration of the utter genius of what is
often dismissed as Marx's metaphysicism or scholaticism, i.e., his analysis
of the forms of value.  Didn't Meek say that this section of Capital could
be bypassed? I encourage everyone to read Kliman's paper for seeing what an
egregrious error this would be.

All quotes from the Progress edition of vol II, pp108-110.

Rakesh



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