chapter  11
19 Pages

The spectral ontology of value

WithChristopher J. Arthur

The historical specificity of capitalism is that an 'onto-logical inversion' occurs whereby (exchange) 'value', immediately just the negation of use value, gains self-presence, real 'Being', albeit that of an empty 'Presence'. Thus value emerges from the void as a 'spectre' that haunts the 'real world' of capitalist commodity production. Capitalism is marked by the subjection of the material process of production and circulation to the ghostly objectivity of value. At the level of the production of real being, use value undergoes a determinate transformation from raw material to goods, mediated by labour. The chapter provides a synthesis of dialectical critical realist themes with (Hegelian inspired) Marxian value-form theory. The value form, following its development to the general formula of capital, gives itself reality through sinking into production and making products the incarnation of value. Value posits itself as a quantity of negating activity fixed as what is posited.