Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 81

For Bailey, value is exchange value, and so is always then expressed in relative terms of the price of A expressed in B. And Bailey also notes that this might also be the expression of this relative value of A expressed in C or D etc. Yet, if value is only ever relative, and manifest in these bilateral exchanges, then there is no reason why, for example, if A = 2B, and A = 4C, 1B would necessarily equal 2C. Yet, of course, that is the case, and when a money commodity arises, it is precisely this proportional relation which becomes manifest. 

It can only be the case that 1A = 2B, and that then 1B equals 2C, if the thing that equates them, that determines their proportional relation is common to them all, as an independent third term. Once again, we are returned to the conclusion that value must exist independently from and previous to exchange-value. So, Bailey says, 

““… we may speak of it as money-value, corn-value, cloth-value, according to the commodity with which it is compared; and hence there are a thousand different kinds of value, as many kinds of value as there are commodities in existence, and all are equally real and equally nominal” (op. cit., p.39).” (p 147) 

And Marx responds, 

“Here we have it. Value equals price. There is no difference between them. And there is no “intrinsic” difference between money price and any other expression of price, although it is the money price and not the cloth price, etc., which expresses the nominal value, the general value of the commodity.” (p 147) 

In terms of a money price, if a metre of linen exchanges for €1, and a litre of wine exchanges for €2, this is no coincidence, but only a reflection of the fact that 1 litre of wine exchanges for 2 metres of linen, and that relation is due to the fact that a litre of wine represents twice as much social labour-time as 1 metre of linen. The value of the wine and of the linen is something completely independent of their exchange value, and exchange relation to each other, and is indeed the basis of and prior to that relation. 

“This relation of the commodity, with the price of which we are concerned, is expressed in a thousand different “relations in exchange” to all the different commodities and yet always expresses the same relation. Thus this relation, which remains the same, is distinct from its thousand different expressions, or value is different from price, and the prices are only expressions of value: money price is its general expression, other prices are particular expressions.” (p 147) 

Bailey is guilty of commodity fetishism because he conceives of value “not as a property of the individual object (considered in isolation), but as a relation of objects to one another, while it is only a representation in objects, an objective expression, of a relation between men, a social relation, the relationship of men to their reciprocal productive activity.” (p 147) 

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