Re: general, particular Holzkamp, Engeström

From: Oudeyis (
Date: Thu Oct 14 2004 - 02:36:56 PDT

There are definate problems in transferring concepts developed by Marx to criticise Political Economy into social psychology. Ilyenkov manages to do this at least in part by analyzing the formulations of Political Economy as ideologies of relations of production rather than as models for social analysis. By first, showing how Marx's critique of Political Economy uncovers the special societal relations of production characteristic of Capitalist economy and then, discussing the roles of the Ideas of Political Economy in the individual's participation in these relations, Ilyenkov provides something of a social psychology of Capitalist society. What I'm trying to say is that the relations between social psychological issues of Capitalist society and the critique of Political Economy are to be found in the metatheory underlying the conceptualisations in Capital rather than in the special ideas developed by Marx to criticise the system.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Steve Gabosch
  Sent: Thursday, October 14, 2004 10:49 AM
  Subject: Re: general, particular Holzkamp, Engeström

  Hi Michael,

  Thank you for the quotes from Marx.

  I think I understand part of the problem we are having. It seems to me we are getting into a little trouble with some word-meaning issues. For example, Marx used the term "value" in Capital to specifically mean exchange value, not use-value. He always says "use-value" when he means use-value, and "value" when he means exchange value. Bruce is using the term value in the way Marx did.

  I find it less confusing in this kind of discussion to use the full terms use-value and exchange-value - and not just the unmodified term "value."

  Similarly, the use of the term "exchange" seems to be getting a little confusing. I suggest, when the term "exchange" is intended to mean commodity exchange, to say the full phrase "commodity exchange."

  I also find it handy to use the phrase "activity system" when the Leont'evist concept of "activity" is meant.

  Just some suggestions.

  Michael Glassman is right, when everyday words are adopted as technical terms, there is going to be trouble. Nevertheless, everyday terms do keep getting used this way in the academic world, and indeed, this creates havoc from time to time. Finding a way to phrase these terms so the intended meaning is clear seems to help - some!

  ~ Steve

  At 03:12 PM 10/13/2004 -0700, you wrote:

    This is true only for use-less things, which by definition involves useless work...
            Even when there is no capitalism, not exchange, useful work/labor produces value, use-value. Whether it also produces (exchange) value depends on the situation, Marx gives examples, the independent family where things are produced to be used but are not exchanged, old Indian communities where the same relations hold.
            If you take Damasio's work, everything we do is to create higher emotional valence--which is a form of value created by work.

    On 13-Oct-04, at 3:03 PM, Bruce Robinson wrote:

      Marx emphatically does not say that all labour produces value. Firstly, labour only takes the form of value under capitalism or more precisely commodity production. Secondly, if I go out and dig my garden, I perform an act of labour (transform nature) without exchange and it is not measured in value terms. It has use value to me and no one else (except perhaps my neighbours who are fed up with looking at weeds but that is hardly a pre-condition;)). To say Marx is 'not interested in this' (which is true because he is talking about commodities) is not the point.
      In the second quote, Marx is obviously talking about exchange where the commodity has to have use value for the buyer - i.e. an other. This is not necessarily true for labour in general, which he defines at the start of Ch.7 as 'Labour is, in the first place, a process in which both man and Nature participate, and in which man of his own accord starts, regulates, and controls the material re-actions between himself and Nature.' (from the Penguin translation is better).
      I'm not sure where your quotes come from as I don't know which English edition (and i only have three!). Perhaps you could give the whole paragraph or context in English and German.

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