The Absent Cause and Marxʼs Value Form

  • Uroš Kranjc School of Economics and Business, University of Ljubljana
Keywords: Karl Marx, Structural Marxism, New Reading of Marx, Jacques Rancière, Hans Georg Backhaus, money, time, value-form, subjectivity


Marx’s analysis of value-form remains a pertinent critique of contemporary capitalist mode of production. The question “why this content assumes that form” persists even more so in the 21st century, perpetuating the question of value fetish in our societies – just think of the credit valuations in times before the Great Recession, the surge in fetishized and commodified personalities of social media or the rise of cryptocurrencies. The article introduces an inquiry into the relations between “Structural Marxism” of Louis Althusser, in particular it focuses on Jacques Rancière’s contribution to Lire le Capital and treats it as a forerunner to another current, the project of “New reading of Marx” (“Neue Marx Lektüre”), initiated by Adorno’s students, Hans Georg Backhaus, Helmut Reichelt and Alfred Schmidt. It reintroduces the concepts of “structural causality” and “absent cause” as a specific algebraic property in the structure of social exchange intertwined with the topological adherence of surplus-object- moments of money commodity in the “dialectic of the value-form”. The unity of concrete and abstract labour is posited as an absent cause in a structure, which is called “subtractive structure”, echoing Alain Badiou›s operation of subtraction. The article puts forward the following thesis: A structure of Two implies a Third. It tracks both objects, the labour and money commodity, alongside the two totalities – production and exchange – and relates them to this principle. By thinking together these two different logical schemas, the article advances the contemporary economic question of intertemporal analysis in the process of subjectivation.


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How to Cite
Kranjc U. The Absent Cause and Marxʼs Value Form. FV [Internet]. 2019Dec.31 [cited 2021Oct.27];40(3). Available from:
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