[Marxism] Marx/Hegel

Rakesh Bhandari 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.
For example:


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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