[Marxism] William Cockshott
mdriscollrj at charter.net
Sat Feb 16 17:52:46 MST 2013
William Cockshott wrote
> but in the book I am reviewing Heinrich only presents one quote to
support > his interpretation that monetary demand is a condition of
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."
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
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."
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
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.
Heinrich sets out two objections (on page 42) to Marx's LTV on grounds
that it does not (to him) explain 1) the value placed on a plot of
virgin soil or 2) the value of a work of art not being (to him)
accountable in terms of labor time expended. I am surprised. Obviously,
virgin soil, as opposed to a piece of barren desert, has value because
of the contemplated working up of that fecund soil by human labor, and
the socially necessary labor time involved, in order to produce salable
commodities on it. And the work of art has value because of a whole
complex of esthetic judgments and preferences which are part of the
immense social structure which grows from and is in dynamic reciprocal
relationship with the prevailing mode of production, in some ways
trans-historically. And we don't ignore how works of art have entered
into the capitalist valuation because of their contemplated value in
enhancing capital accumulation as commodities; in a somewhat analogous
relationship to the assigned value of products of financial speculation.
None of that vitiates the seminal grounding and therefore the vital
importance of labor as the basic, all-important, ultimate determinant of
value in the capitalist mode of production.
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