The structure of Sekine: The Dialectic of Capital [Sekine, 1986]
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Of course I'm not defending Bailey’s approach of a purely relative value.
Mentioning the "essence", you correctly address the core of the question. Labor as substance can only be introduced
in the The Doctrine of Production (The Essence of Capital), where people produce, not already
in the The Doctrine of Circulation (The Being of Capital), where people exchange.
This is what Sekine means when referring to Chapter 4:
Structure of [Sekine, 1986] (and [Sekine, 1997]):
Chapters 1, 2, 3: The Doctrine of Circulation (The Being of Capital)
Chapters 4, 5, 6: The Doctrine of Production (The Essence of Capital)
Chapters 7, 8, 9: The Doctrine of Distribution (The Notion of Capital)
Socially necessary labour constitutes the substance of value,
but this result can only be established in the production sphere,
much later than in Marx's original Capital.
Already in 1964 Uno mentioned “the premature and unnecessary reference to the labour theory
of value in the early part of Capital” [Uno, 1980, p. xxiv, emphasis as in the original].
From this perspective, Bailey’s notion of relative value has relative truth, since it holds
at least for Chapters 1, 2, 3 (the surface: the circulation sphere), but is overcame with
the transition to the The Doctrine of Production (Chapter 4).
For references, please see: http://doi.org/10.4444/100.110