bhandari at berkeley.edu
Tue Sep 8 18:40:19 MDT 2009
To be sure, Marx coquettes with Hegel in his analysis of the value form
as a unity of opposities, but Marx explains himself well enough that
further study of Hegel's logic would shed no light at all on what he is
saying. Just read Marx. Carefully.
Commodities are a unity of use value and exchange value. A commodity as
a value unites the two as the exchange value for the owner and use value
for the purchaser (David Harvey puts it well), but the value form
externalizes the contradiction immanent in every commodity--it is both a
use value and exchange value, but it can't be both at the same time--by
making commodities use values alone and reserving for money a monopoly
on exchange value or exchangeability (other commodities are no longer
immediately exchangeable against the array of other commodities as in
the expanded value form).
Marx is not playing dialectical games here. He is trying to understand
precisely the position of money in the circulation of commodities (and
he loosely borrows the Hegelian idea of a unity of opposites in his
analysis of the value form).
Upon inspection, money turns out not simply to be a device to overcome
the double coincidence of wants. In virtue of the role it acquires by
its position as the equivalent, it may make sense to hoard it, that is
to sell without any immediate intention to buy. Money after all is alone
the materialization of the social abstract labor time of which all
commodities exchange as expressions.
The payoff here is the critique of Say's Law and Marx beats Keynes and
economics to the punch by more than 70 years.
Marx did not feel at home in the positivist world of Comte and the
atomistic world of JS Mill. So yes he was drawn to Hegel, and he
announces that, I think, so his audience will not be surprised by his
speaking of unities of opposities, real contradictions, the creativity
of negative forces, dialectical inversions, quantitative to qualitative
changes and of epochal historical differences.
But one only read Marx to understand what he means by these ideas and
concepts. Marx cleans them of Hegelian baggage.
Marx stands on his own.
Look forward to disagreement.
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