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Unibg International

d) Patrick Murray (Creighton University, Omaha, USA)
The Development of Marx's Value-Form Theory in the Grundrisse: Reflections on Backhaus

Amid the flurry of proposals for bank reform in the face of the present financial crisis, I plan to reexamine Marx's criticisms of the banking reforms proposed by the Proudhonist Alfred Darimon, which were intended to ward off financial crises. Prodded by the first world economic crisis, which started in autumn of 1857, Marx began the Grundrisse with a critique of Darimon. Marx discovered the root of economic crisis in the value-form, that is, in the necessity for value to appear as money. This necessity meant that the difference between value and price is not a nominal one, which confutes Say's Law, discloses the role of supply and demand in Marx's value theory, makes a pipe dream of the "labor money" or "time chit" proposals of the Proudhonists, and opens the door to crises. Crises come with the commodity form. In exposing the inner connection between value and money, Marx moves beyond classical political economy. The Grundrisse critique of Darimon brings out a fundamental feature of his later analysis of the value-form, namely, the polarity of the value-form: the commodity form (the relative value-form) and the money form (the equivalent value-form) are opposed yet inseparable. In assessing the place of the Grundrisse in the development of Marx's account of the value-form, I will look for anticipations of the three characteristic features of the equivalent form that Marx identifies in Capital 1. This will involve comparisons with Marx's earlier attempts to grasp the value-form, notably in The Poverty of Philosophy and The German Ideology.

Certain recent currents in Marxian theory and the interpretation of Marx have been labeled "the new dialectics" and "value-form theory". A seminal text emphasizing dialectics and the value-form is Han-Georg Backhaus?s 1969 essay "On the Dialectics of the Value-Form" ("Zur Dialektik der Wertform"). Backhaus points out that Marx wrote four versions of the analysis of the value-form: in the first chapter of the Critique, in the first chapter of the first edition of Capital 1, in an appendix to that first edition, and in the first chapter of the second edition. It is likely that a version preceded these in the "Original Version" (Urtext) of the Critique; unfortunately, that part of the manuscript is not extant. That version, which may or may not have differed significantly from the Critique itself, was based on relevant sections of the Grundrisse. The paper will explore how Marx's probings of the value-form in the Grundrisse laid the basis for his treatments of the value-form in the Critique and Capital, leading to a reassessment of Backhaus's essay.