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Production vs. Realisation in Marx's Theory of Value: A Reply to Kincaid

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Abstract

In a review of our work, Kincaid suggests that we are 'productivist', reducing interpretation of Marx and capitalism to production at the expense of the relatively independent role that can be played by the value-form in general and by the money-form in particular. In response, we argue that he distorts interpretation of our work through this prism of production versus exchange, unduly emphasises the independence of exchange to the point of underconsumptionism, and simplistically collapses the mediation between production and exchange in the restructuring that accompanies the accumulation of capital.

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... It is therefore a legitimate diff erence about methodology, leading Kincaid to regret that [w]hat is questionable . . . is the gap which separates such empirical material from the underlying value argument. In this book [Fine and Saad-Filho, 2004], as elsewhere in much of the current value-theory literature, there are a number of crucial disconnections between abstract theory and concrete commentary '. 43 But, as already indicated in our earlier response, our own inclination is to examine the restructuring of capital as a whole in its historical context, and without presumption that exchange-rate and other movements are somehow directly to be derived from relatively abstract production-categories (in contrast to Kincaid's own 'productivist' straitjacket interpretation of our work that does appear to have been abandoned in his rejoinder). Th e whole structure of international and domestic fi nance is built upon the circulation of capital as a whole, across a range of functions and assets, and across states, in which an increasing array of fi nancial markets are insulated from direct attachment to production. ...
... Kincaid 2008, p. 186, n. 12. 42. Respectively, the tendency for profi t to equalise across sectors with diff ering or changing productivity (rather than equilibrium-pricing for unchanged technology), and contradictions between the law as such and counteracting tendencies (rather than empirical predictions of falling profi t rates); see Fine 1983, Fine and Saad-Filho 2004, chs. 9-10 and Saad-Filho 2002. ...
Article
Our final instalment in the debate with Jim Kincaid argues that his value-analysis suffers from weaknesses associated with both Ricardian and Rubinesque (mis-)interpretations of Marx. These approaches are methodologically flawed, because value-theory does not draw upon externally imposed theories or standards of logic or evidence to check the conceptual or empirical validity of its approach to the understanding of capitalism. Rather, Marxian value-theory involves reconstructing in thought the class-based production-processes underpinning capitalism through to their more complex and concrete consequences in the broader economic and social structures, agencies and processes, through which they are formed, albeit with definite effects of their own. Examination of the methodological shortcomings in Kincaid's analysis is followed by specific rebuttals of his claims about the (qualitative and quantitative) determination of value and price, the circulation of capital, the role of competition, fixed capital, productive labour and the leverage of value-theory in informing empirical studies.
... Economic value has been discussed in a theoretical sense, referring to varied economic systems. This paper does not offer the space to explore this here, but other scholars have discussed these issues in depth; for example, Marxist value theory (Fine, 2003;Fine & Saad-Filho, 2008;Roberts, 2011), capitalist value theory (Gidwani, 2013) or capitalistic market-oriented thinking. Shiva has, for example, criticized the dominance of an economic system which reduces the society to the economy and the economy to the market: 'Economic systems influence culture and social values. ...
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Our starting point in this conceptual paper is the assumption that place-based approaches can contribute to the sustainable development of communities and regions. In order to enhance sustainable development, adaptations to vulnerabilities and unsustainability require a more place-based approach, using local resources, people’s capacities and the distinctiveness of places for sustainable development. Our aim is to understand how processes of sustainable place-shaping are influenced by human values, rooted in culture. Culture is constructed and plays a mediating role between people and their environment, influencing people’s intentions, way of life, sense of place, practices, norms and rules. In its variety, culture is one of the sources as well as an outcome of distinctiveness between places. Transformation to sustainability is not only driven by practices and political structures, but also by beliefs, values, worldviews and paradigms that influence attitudes and actions. The paper shows how values have been interpreted in different ways in various bodies of literature, as abstract principles and in an instrumental way. Values are not self-standing concepts but are intertwined, context-determined, culturally varied and connected to how we see our self and how we perceive our environment. It is argued that development and engagement of participants’ values can build co-creative capacity in place-based development aimed at sustainability. A distinction is made between an economic, intentional and symbolic approach. A value-oriented approach can provide a more in-depth insight into what people appreciate, feel responsible for and are willing to commit to in the context of their place.
... More recently, I have been engaged in at least three different debates with each, as already explained, based upon much common ground, including commitment to value theory as opposed to disputing its validity and/or relevance. The debate with Jim Kincaid has run, possibly more than run, its course, Kincaid (2007Kincaid ( , 2008Kincaid ( and 2009 ), Fine and Filho (2003Filho ( , 2008Filho ( and 2009) and Saad-Filho (2002). The debate with Mike Lebowitz has been abbreviated, even brought to an abrupt halt, with his response to me, 3 Lebowitz (2003Lebowitz ( , 2006Lebowitz ( and 2009) and Fine (2008). ...
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Fred Moseley’s interpretation of Marx’s Capital (focusing on the transformation of values into prices of production) is taken as a critical point of departure, especially for its treatment as an analysis of equilibrium. Instead, through extensive reference to previous work, a dynamic interpretation is offered of the transformation, locating it in relation to abstraction in Marx’s political economy (and its antipathy to equilibrium) and to Marx’s theory of the dynamics of capital accumulation as presented throughout the three Volumes of Capital.
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This paper addresses two important, conspicuous topics for the understanding of contemporary capitalism: the world market and the knowledge economy. By locating these within Marx’s value theory, its authors take issue with other interpretations that explicitly reject or misinterpret Marx’s value theory in light of these themes. More generally, these exercises point to the need for value theory and the fact that it should and can move beyond its traditional terrain, collaborating with other strands of critical thought in understanding developments within contemporary society.
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In theorizing the dynamics of social processes, dialectical thinking informs Marx's historical materialist inquiries and both – dialectics and historical materialist principles – inform his political–economic analysis. In conceptualizing empirical observations during this work, Marx (1973b, p. 101) assumes that the “concrete is concrete because it is the concentration of many determinations, hence unity of the diverse” and that “With the varying degree of development of productive power, social conditions and the laws governing them vary too” (Marx, 1992, p. 28). This methodological tack strives for the flexibility needed for analyzing patterns in long-term social development (the structure of history) as well as the logic of specific systems in their totality and flux (the history of structures).
Book
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Introduction 1. Materialist Dialects 1.1 Real Abstractions and Mental Generalisations 1.2 Marx, Hegal and 'New Dialects' 1.3 Conclusion 2. Interpretations of Marx's Value Theory 2.1 Embodied Labour Approaches 2.1.1 Traditional Marxism 2.1.2 Sraffian Analyses 2.2 Values from Theories 2.2.1 The Rubin Tradition 2.2.2 The 'New Interpretation' 2.3 Conclusion 3. Value and Capital 3.1 Division of Labour, Exploitation and Value 3.2 Capital 3.3 Conclusion 4. Wages and Exploitation 4.1 Wage Labour and Exploitation 4.2 Value of Labour Power 4.3 Conclusion 5. Values, Prices and Exploitation 5.1 Normalisation of Labour 5.1.1 Labour Intensity and Complexity, Education and Training 5.1.2 Mechanisation, Deskilling and Capitalist Control 5.2 Synchronisation of Labour 5.2.1 Value Transfers 5.2.2 Technical Change, Value and Crisis 5.3 Homogenisation of Labour 5.4 Conclusion 6. Composition of Capital 6.1 Understanding the Composition of Capital 6.2 Production and the Composition of Capital 6.3 Capital Accumulation 6.4 Conclusion 7. Transformation of Values into Prices of Production 7.1 Surplus Value, Profit, and the Composition of Capital 7.2 From Values to Prices of Production 7.3 The Transformation of Input Values 7.4 Conclusion 8. Money, Credit and Inflation 8.1 Labour and Money 8.2 Money and Prices of Production 8.3 Credit, Money and Inflation 8.4 Conclusion Conclusion References
Article
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This article assess two important recent books on Marx's political economy and argues that, despite many virtues, there are some crucial limitations in their approach to Marx's political economy. Ben Fine's and Alfredo Saad-Filho's Marx's 'Capital' and The Value of Marx by Saad-Filho place too much explanatory weight on the composition of capital, giving too little attention to Marx's analysis of money, and to the processes of circulation and realisation.
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This article proposes a reading of value theory firmly entrenched in the historicist framework of political Marxism; one which gives precedence to social relations and historical development over abstract logic and formal models. It argues that Marx's theory of value can be read as elucidating how social norms are being unwittingly created under capitalism by contrast with precapitalist societies. The article is divided into two sections. The first examines the two main ways in which value is considered within Marxism and highlights the problems that can emerge when taking into account the issue of the specificity of capitalism. The second section offers an alternative formulation of value theory grounded in the notion of alienation. This leads to the conclusion that the idea that value is shaped by labour refers to a political fact about decisions concerning the organisation of the labour process, rather than an economic fact about the expenditure of labour in the process of production. Value reflects the class struggles over the labour process and the norms that govern social life, rather than an embodied quantity of socially necessary labour-time expended within the labour process.
On Alfredo Saad-Filho's Th e Value of Marx and Ben Fine's and Alfredo Saad-Filho's Marx's "Capital
  • Santos Dos
dos Santos, Paolo 2007, 'On Alfredo Saad-Filho's Th e Value of Marx and Ben Fine's and Alfredo Saad-Filho's Marx's "Capital" ', Historical Materialism, 15, 2: 218-32.
but see also analyses in early issues of the Bulletin of the Conference of Socialist Economists
  • Harris Fine
Fine and Harris 1985; but see also analyses in early issues of the Bulletin of the Conference of Socialist Economists.
Makoto and Costas Lapavitsas 1999, Political Economy of Money and Finance
  • Itoh
Itoh, Makoto and Costas Lapavitsas 1999, Political Economy of Money and Finance. London: Macmillan.
Th eories of Surplus Value: Part III
  • Karl Marx
Marx, Karl 1991, Th eories of Surplus Value: Part III, in Marx and Engels, Collected Works, Volume 33, Moscow: Progress Publishers.
Essays on Marx's Th eory of Value
  • Isaak I Rubin
Rubin, Isaak I. 1975, Essays on Marx's Th eory of Value, Montreal: Black Rose Books.
Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie: Eine Einführung, 2nd Aufl age
  • Michael Heinrich
Heinrich, Michael 2004, Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie: Eine Einführung, 2nd Aufl age, Stuttgart: Schmetterling Velag.
On the Falling Rate of Profi t', in Marx and Modern Economic Analysis, Volume II: Th e Future of Capitalism and the History of Th ought
  • Ben Fine
Fine, Ben 1982, Th eories of the Capitalist Economy, London: Edward Arnold. —— 1991, 'On the Falling Rate of Profi t', in Marx and Modern Economic Analysis, Volume II: Th e Future of Capitalism and the History of Th ought, edited by G.A. Caravale, Aldershot: Edward Elgar. —— 2006, 'Debating the " New " Imperialism', Historical Materialism, 14, 4: 133–56. —— 2007, 'Financialisation, Poverty, and Marxist Political Economy', paper presented to the Poverty and Capital Conference, 2–4 July 2007, University of Manchester.
  • John Weeks
Weeks, John 1981, Capital and Exploitation, London: Edward Arnold.
On the Falling Rate of Profi t', in Marx and Modern Economic Analysis
  • Fine
Fine, Ben 1982, Th eories of the Capitalist Economy, London: Edward Arnold. --1991, 'On the Falling Rate of Profi t', in Marx and Modern Economic Analysis, Volume II: Th e Future of Capitalism and the History of Th ought, edited by G.A. Caravale, Aldershot: Edward Elgar. --2006, 'Debating the "New" Imperialism', Historical Materialism, 14, 4: 133-56. --2007, 'Financialisation, Poverty, and Marxist Political Economy', paper presented to the Poverty and Capital Conference, 2-4 July 2007, University of Manchester.
  • Ben Fine
  • Laurence Harris
Fine, Ben and Laurence Harris 1976, 'Controversial Issues in Marxist Economics', Socialist Register, 13: 141-178. --1979, Rereading 'Capital', London: Macmillan.
  • Makoto Itoh
  • Costas Lapavitsas
Itoh, Makoto and Costas Lapavitsas 1999, Political Economy of Money and Finance. London: Macmillan.