[OPE-L:2942] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: (5 end) Partial Reply toFred's on Althusser, concluding with CLASS STRUGGLE

From: riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Date: Sat Apr 29 2000 - 06:18:32 EDT

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At 21:47 +0100 24-04-2000, Claus Germer wrote:

>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.

I agree with most of your post, except when you say that I'm wrong ...
Indeed, I understand that *as a Marxian* I have to explain money,
commodity, etc. before capital, but I guess that when I arrive at capital,
and finance, I have to recognize that in the starting point money was
already not a commodity (if you've read my papers, you should see that I'm
trying to do just that, simply without commodity money). If, as Fred says
and I agree, generalized exchange at the beginning of Capital is
capitalist generalized exchange, this should at least raise some doubts.
BTW, *as a Marxian* I can recognize that authors which immediately starts
with finance, capitalist production, capitalist classes, etc., may give a
very accurate picture of the capitalist process, though an incomplete (and
if you like the adjective, a bourgeouis) one.
>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.

If you look at Wicksell, or at Schumpeter, or at Keynes's Treatise on
Money, you see that the State is not introduced at the begining of the
argument. [Keynes is the less clear of the three]
>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,

it's in print, though

>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.

This I do not understand. I believe that generalized exchange is capitalist
exchange. It's true that we don't know this at the beginning of Capital.
But when we know that, shouldn'twe ask if something in the initial
deduction must be rethought?

>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 am saying exactly the opposite. Since generalized exchange is capitalist
exchange, the more concrete picture of this generalized exchange still
permits a *theory* of commodity money? My answer would be: no.
>I hope to have been able to better clarify my understanding, and look
>forward for a continuation of this debate.

Thank you for your post, very clear and enlightening.


        Riccardo Bellofiore
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