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Value in Marx

The Persistence of Value in a More-Than-Capitalist World

George Henderson

Publication Year: 2013

Long prone to dogmatic disagreement, the question of value in Marx’s thought—what value is, the purpose it serves, its application to real-world capitalism—requires renewal if Marx’s work is to remain vibrant. In Value in Marx, George Henderson offers a lucid rereading of Marx that strips value of its turgid theoretical reduction and reframes it as an investigation into the tensions between social relations and forms as they are rather than as what they could otherwise become.

Drawing on Marx’s Capital and Grundrisse, Henderson shows how these volumes do not harbor a single theory of value that equates value to capital. Instead, these books experimentally compose and recompose value for a world that is more than capitalist. At stake is how Marx conceives of human freedom, of balanced social arrangements, and of control over the things people produce. Henderson finds that the limits on social becoming, including the tendency toward alienated existence, haunt Marx even as he looks beyond the critique of capital to an emancipated society to come.

Can these limits be confronted in a creative, even joyful, way? Can they become aspects of what we desire, rather than being silenced and denied? As long as we persist in interpreting value broadly, following it as an active and not a shut-down, predetermined feature of Marx’s texts, Henderson ultimately views Marx as responding positively to these challenges and employing value as a powerful tool of the political imaginary.

Published by: University of Minnesota Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

If ever a book was privileged by good friendship and conversation, this is it. My deep appreciation goes to Bruce Braun and Vinay Gidwani, intrepid supporters and faithful challengers many years in and out, and to Tracey Deutsch and Karen Ho, stalwart comrades and fellow conveners of the generative Markets in Time research collaborative ...

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Introduction: Did Marx Have a Theory of Value?

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pp. ix-xxvi

The theory of value, readers of Karl Marx know, occupies a prominent place in his writings and his politics. This is so because it is capitalism to which value seems most attached: capitalism taking Marx’s world by storm, value being the predominant lever for the study of political economy in his day. ...

Part I

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Chapter 1: The Value–Capital Couplet and How to Break It

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pp. 3-34

How odd that value, the great compass by which nearly everything in Marx’s political economy can be found—commodity, capital, labor, etc., etc., etc.—eludes easy use. No sooner does the needle point north to capitalism as the treacherous land ahead than north moves; the needle spins and points to other lands—utopian socialism, associated production, ...

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Chapter 2: The Politics of Capitalist “Totality” in a More-Than-Capitalist World

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pp. 35-56

The argument that value, properly understood, presupposes capital and all the forms Marx elaborates for it in the chapters and volumes of Capital beyond those I have considered so far is sometimes deployed to emphasize that when Marx analyzes simple circulation (C . . . M . . . C), he does not mean that such a social form actually exists ...

Part II

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Chapter 3: The End of Value (As We Know It)

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pp. 59-88

The third volume of Capital, like the second, assembled for publication by Engels after Marx’s death, is a mammoth tome designed to explore further the themes of the preceding volumes and perhaps to begin the task of integrating them—in flawed and confusing fashion, many have argued. ...

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Chapter 4: From Necessity to Freedom and Back Again: Abjected Labor, Tainted Value

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pp. 89-108

No. But also, yes! Sort of. Repeatedly, Marx shows that value is a problem that eludes capital’s apparatuses. In showing us that capital is a failed attempt to give determinate shape and form to value, he shows that value, in an alternate reckoning, lies elsewhere, in a world that remains to be made. ...

Part III

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Chapter 5: The Value Hypothesis: Three Scenes for a Political Imaginary of Value

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pp. 111-148

Marx places the important tenets in Kugelmann’s hand. Value and capital do not exhaust each other and are not coterminous. Value, while appearing differently in different modes of production (including the ironic failure to appear and yet have itself rescued by natural necessity), is a domain of thought and critique applicable to no single sort of mode of production. ...


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pp. 149-160


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pp. 161-168


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pp. 169-171

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About the author

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p. 199-199

George Henderson is associate professor of geography at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of California and the Fictions of Capital and coeditor of Geographic Thought: A Praxis Perspective.

E-ISBN-13: 9781452939681
E-ISBN-10: 1452939683
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816680962

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2013