[Marxism] Heinrich

William Cockshott William.Cockshott at glasgow.ac.uk
Sat Feb 16 13:45:29 MST 2013

> but in the book I am reviewing Heinrich only presents one quote to support > his interpretation that monetary demand is a condition of social necessity.
This is simply untrue. Heinrich's determination of abstract labor is the basis for his argument of Marx's value theory as a monetary theory of value (a term originating in Backhaus' work).

Here are the quotations that you ignore:

1)[neither coat nor linen] "is in and of itself value-objectivity, they are this only insofar as that this objectivity is commonly held by them. Outside of their relationship with each other -- the relationship in which they are equalized -- neither coat nor linen possess value-objectivity or objectivity as congelations of human labor per se." (MEGA 2.6:30)


2)"a product of labor, considered in isolation, is not value, nor is it a commodity. It only becomes value in its unity with another product of labor." (MEGA, 2.6:31)

3)"It is only by being exchanged that the products of labour acquire a socially uniform objectivity as values, which is distinct from their sensuously varied objectivity as articles of utility" (Capital Vol. I:166)

And, a sentence that is included in the official French edition of Capital (the last edition personally supervised by Marx during his lifetime), but not in any of the English translations or in the MEW German edition:

4)"The reduction of various concrete private acts of labor to this abstraction of equal human labor is only carried out through exchange, which in fact equates products of different acts of labor with each other."

(MEGA II.6:41)
Novus, these are obvious and uncontroversiial points Marx is making here that in no way support Heinrich's interpretation of abstract labour.

1) Clearly unless a coat is exchanged against money or another commodity it is not acting as a commodity, and does not have an exchange value but that does not mean that it is not the product of human labour in general, labour that is part of the social division of labour.
2) Same applies here - there is no commodity without commodity exchange.
3) Again unless things are exchanged they have no exchange value, but this does not support Heinrich's claims about abstract labour.
4) Yes, in a commodity producing society the only routine operational procedure by which the labour content of goods is measured is via exchange, but that does not preclude having an independent measurement of the labour content - provided you have adequate statistical observational data.

If you can not independently measure labour content you dont have a scientific theory of value, you are just saying price is price is price - isn't the market marvellous.

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