Saturday, 15 April 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 40

[8.] Charles Ganilh [Mercantilist Conception of Exchange and Exchange-Value. Inclusion of All Paid Labour in the Concept of Productive Labour] 

Ganilh defines wealth as “an accumulation of surplus labour”. Had he said, “... the labour which is superfluous for keeping the labourer alive as a labourer, the definition would be correct.” (p 204)

In other words, had he said that it was the accumulation of capital, it would be correct, at least in relation to bourgeois wealth. Ganilh's concept of value is that of the Mercantilists. In his criticism of this view, however, Marx also illustrates what is wrong with those later “Marxist” conceptions of value, and The Law of Value, which claim that it only exists under commodity production and exchange, or worse still, only under capitalism.

In this regard, Ganilh claims that value only exists because of exchange.

“Because labour without exchange creates no bourgeois wealth. “wealth comes exclusively from trade” (l.c., p. 84). Or, as he says later: “Exchange or trade alone gives value to things” (l.c., p. 98). On this “principle of the identity of values and wealth … rests the doctrine of the fruitfulness of general labour” (l.c., p. 93).” (p 204)

The only way in which Ganilh is in advance of the Mercantilists, Marx says, is in his use of the term “general labour”. In other words, abstract labour. As Marx says,

“The labour of individuals, or rather its product, must take the form of general labour. Only so is it exchange-value, money.” (p 204)

It is only as general or abstract labour that the labour required for the production of commodities can be compared and measured. It is only in the shape of a universal commodity, a commodity that can act as an equivalent for the value of every other commodity that this general labour can assume physical form, so as to perform this comparison.

Ganilh comes back to the Mercantilist view that value is money, but now not as gold and silver, but as the commodity itself. As Marx set out earlier, every commodity is money, in the sense that every commodity has value, because it represents a definite quantity of general/abstract labour-time. But, Ganilh, like those later Marxists, confuses value and exchange value. Every commodity is money, because it has value, and can, therefore, act as the equivalent form of value of other commodities. However, the equivalent form of value is not, thereby, a measurement of value, but only of exchange value.

It does not measure the value of product A, but only the relative value of A compared to B,C,D,E and so on. But B,C,D,E etc. will each have their own value! Money is not then a measure of value, but only of exchange value.

“The product is value as the form of existence, as the incarnation of general labour, but not as “the value of general labour”, which would be equivalent to the value of value.” (p 204)

Back To Part 39

Forward To Part 41

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