[OPE-L:2893] Re: Re: Re: Re: (5 end) Partial Reply toFred's on Althusser, concluding with CLASS STRUGGLE

From: Claus Germer (cmgermer@sociais.ufpr.br)
Date: Mon Apr 24 2000 - 16:47:47 EDT

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In [OPE-L:2872] Riccardo wrote:
> I have a paper with Realfonzo where we say that Marx's theory of bank
> lending is compatible with the good non-commodity theory of money. So, I
> agree with part of your statement. But Marx seems to say that in the last
> instance money still remains a commodity. I deny that, if production has
> be financed, it can be financed by a commodity money (it is a logical
> argument, not an historical one! let's start from t=0; how is financed
> production of the money commodity?).

Thank you Riccardo for your reply to my post. Although I don't agree with
your interpretation of money, you present strong arguments in this post and
in the one you directed to Fred, and I'll try to better clarify the way I
understand the logic of Marx's theory of money, and if possible to locate
the points of disagreement with your view.

Your are correct in saying that for Marx money remains a commodity all the
way. This is so because of the chain of his reasoning, where money is the
outcome of the process of exchange which doesn't change in nature when
capital dominates the process of production. Capital is so to speak a
second stage of value as an independent category, money being the first
stage. More generally the commodity as such would be the first stage (as
particular form of value), money the second and capital the third.

This may help to suggest that there is a flaw in your following argument,
which is: you assume that capitalism as a whole exists, including the
banking system, and then you ask how can the production of the money
commodity be financed if it has to be financed with previously existing
money commodity, which would be a circular reasoning. You are right to the
extent that the phenomenon to be explained cannot be a part of the
explanation. In this sense however your reasoning includes another
difficulty of the same sort: since finance is money capital, the financing
of capitalist production implies that you explain capital with previously
existing capital. Perhaps there is where the introduction of state money
seems to act as the element external to capital that explains the latter,
but it would do it as a result of a mistaken reasoning. In Marx's system
too capital is explained as the outcome of previously existing elements
external to capital itself. The key in this case is that capital is
self-expanding value, which means that it is first necessary to explain
value, and Marx explains value as the expression of human labor in the
commodity producing economy, which can be demonstrated with abstraction of
capital. But labor in itself doesn't explain the *expansion* of value. In
order to explain the latter one needs to introduce an additional element in
the commodity producing economy, which is the conversion of labor force
itself into a commodity.

Our debate however is restricted to the way value manages to exist as an
object independent of the commodities in which it is contained side by side
with their use values when both are produced by labor. Marx's method
requires to explain the actual categories and the concepts that express
them as an outcome of the process itself, without the introduction of
elements external to the latter. In this sense the problem of the
expression of value has to be solved by the sole consideration of the
commodities being exchanged, where the producers are merely the supports of
the relations among commodities, in the sense that the ideas they produce
reflect aspects of the process of exchange in which they are envolved. Thus
the concept of money can only arise as the conceptual expression of a real
object produced in the evolution of the exchanges of commodities. If this
is not taken account of, external factors may be used as a way of rescuing
the argument, which IMO is the case of the introduction of the state and of
state money into the argument.

However, in my paper in the Bergamo
> proceedings I show that most of Marx's statements may be accepted in the
> good non-commodity theory of money.

Unfortunately I haven't read your paper, but it seems to me that what you
say does not contradict the relevance of Marx's theory of money, as long as
we are talking about the phenomena arising out of the credit system, where
you can say, f.i., like the post-Keynesians do, that 'money' is created
when a bank grants a loan and is destructed when the latter is payed. If
one replaces 'credit money' for 'money', as in Marx, it is clear that we
are speaking of a sphere of events more concrete that the one where money
appears and is relevant, which is the simple exchange of commodities,
irrespective of the character of the producing unit. Thus, it is possible
to analyse the more concrete sphere without reference to money itself, but
this barely means that the more abstract sphere is abstracted for
analyticial reasons, and not that it doesn't exist. However, as frequently
occurs, it is possible to argue that the latter doesn't exist at all, which
is what, IMO, the state money theory does.

I hope to have been able to better clarify my understanding, and look
forward for a continuation of this debate.

Claus Germer
Departamento de Economia
Universidade Federal do Paraná
Rua Dr. Faivre, 405 - 3º andar
80060-140 Curitiba - Paraná

Tel: (041) 360-5214 - Ufpr
       (041) 254-3415 Res.

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