Friday, 24 September 2010

Verso debates

As already noted by IT, Verso have a new website. I'd be interested to follow the reponses to this debate:

Against his friend and comrade Alain Badiou, Slavoj Zizek has been arguing strongly for the need for a return to Marx's critique of political economy—as borne out by his engagement with value theory and Moishe Postone's work in Living in the End Times. But what are we to make of Zizek's own understanding of value theory, when he claims that, strictly speaking from a Marxist perpective, Chavez's Venezuela is “exploiting” the US through oil rents?

5 comments:

Jasper Bernes said...

I don't think Zizek has a very good grasp of value theory -- unless his understanding of it has changed substantially since his endorsement of the deeply-flawed (at least from a value standpoint) Karatani book. Indeed, since Karatani's claim is that surplus value is essentially the result of an arbitraging of geographical differences in markets, then one can see this persistence in the claim about Venezuela. It may be that Venezuela obtains a monopoly price for oil, but since oil is traded in dollars, this will most likely be cancelled by the seigniorage effect of the dollar, and the fact that Venezuela has to hold reserves in dollars -- thus undervaluing the bolivar and overvaluing the dollar. I would suspect that it actually works out worse for V, and that more surplus value is being pumped from rather than to V. Add to this its dependence on foreign imports -- due to the lower level of productivity for manufactured goods -- and you get a clearer picture in value terms. . .

Benjamin said...

many thanks Jasper, you should post this to the Verso site and you have a better grasp of value theory than I... Do you know of a good book / article that takes a value-form approach and deals with debates re the labour theory of value? I'm having to reply to people using Nitzan and Bichler's critique of LTV, and would like a suitably devastating reply...

Jasper Bernes said...

Hello Ben --

I can't really think of a good, systematic account, since it kind of depends on whether you're interested in the overarching logic or the kinds of empirical manifestations. Postone's book and the Saad-Filho book are good on this, respectively, I guess. Harvey is also really good at explaining and justifying value. . .

Historical Materialism had a series of running debates between Arthur, Finelli, Kincaid and others, that got at a lot of the issues. You must have read that?

Benjamin said...

I've read various of the HM pieces, although (whispers) i don't have a subscription. It might be my inability to work from memory but I'd be interested in quick marxist answers to the problem of 'units' of labour, ie how abstract labour produces value, to answer Nitzan and Bichler. Second mention of Saad-Filho, so may try that and of course I should read the Harvey

rosswolfe said...

I knew that Zizek mentioned liking Postone's work before, but I had no idea he was calling for a return to a critique of political economy via Postonian value theory. I took Postone's year-long class on Capital at Chicago last year. He's brilliant.