The Law of Value, Capitalist Spirits and Financialized Bonds

[This is the abstract to the second and forthcoming essay in the series on financial bonds.

In this case the focus is on arguments around ‘the law of value’ and ‘spiritual capital’ in neoconservative policy.  An extract from the first essay, that one co-authored with DB, can be found here.]

Abstract

For some time, a number of theorists from divergent perspectives have insisted either that the concept of surplus value is far too metaphysical to be admitted into any serious analysis of economic processes or—put as a chronological and paradigmatic proposition—that since the decline of the centrality of the factory to production, that the ‘law of value’ should no longer be considered in relation to a given quantity of labour time.

As Negri put it: “The limit of Marx’s consideration consists in the fact of reducing the form of value to an objective measure.” In what follows, and by way of a discussion of the concept of “spiritual capital” and its association with emerging financial instrument such as those of Social Benefit Bonds, I argue that such approaches understate key aspects of the question of value, even as they nevertheless underline significant problems with conventional approaches to value found in both classical political economy and Marx’s critique of it. I illustrate why value refers specifically to the foundational aspects and future-projection of capitalist forms and, in so doing, contend that the question of value’s indices never turned on the magnitude of labour time but, instead, on the available mechanisms through which to measure volatility (or risk as it edges toward uncertainty) with respect to the twinned questions of origin and futurity.

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