[OPE-L:3819] Re: Re: Re: m in Marx's theory

From: clyder (wpc@dcs.gla.ac.uk)
Date: Thu Sep 14 2000 - 06:26:43 EDT

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----- Original Message -----
From: Michael Perelman <michael@ecst.csuchico.edu>
To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2000 6:25 AM
Subject: [OPE-L:3809] Re: Re: m in Marx's theory
Michael wrote

> Duncan, are you saying that Marx agreed with the chartalist view on money?
> "Duncan K. Foley" wrote:
> >
> > 1) It doesn't seem plausible that the market price of gold is
> > currently regulating the values of national currencies. (I think
> > Claus and Suzanne are not convinced of this.)
> >
> > 2) The form of money in contemporary capitalist economies is state
> > credit, the debt of the state. (I think Chai-on has some doubts about
> > this.)
> >
Paul Replies
Duncans position looks like inverse chartalism to me. The chartalist
position is not
that money is the debt of the state. It is that indebtedness of economic
agents to the
state is the prior condition. Money is the means of redeeming this debt, it
is not
itself debt.

The public power is the original appropriator of surplus, and obligation to
pay taxes
pre-exists both commodity production and capitalism. It is the willingness
of the state
to allow commution of tax obligations that gives rise to the currency of
I have an obligation to perform a certain amount of labour for the state, I
can either
volunteer for the army or enroll in the civil service and provide this
labour directly,
or I can provide it symbolically by returning to the state some of the money
issued to those who performned the labour directly.

Money is a technology for keeping track of the credit with which economic
stand with respect to the state and a means by which they can cancel their
to the state.

> > 3) This suggests that money is basically valued as the debt of the
> > state, which, in Marxist terms, is a "fictitious capital", the
> > capitalized value of that part of tax revenues devoted to paying
> > interest on the state debt. (The hard part here is to recognize that
> > currency and reserves, though they seem not to pay interest, actually
> > do pay interest in the form of their convenience, privacy, and
> > liquidity services. If, for example, the U.S. Treasury issued small
> > denomination interest-bearing debt ($20 treasury bills instead of
> > $10000 T-bills) the Fed could not circulate $20 Fed notes.)

I think this is an inversion, it arises through the attempt to present what
is a pre-capitalist economic relation through the spectacles of capitalist
economic categories.

> >
> > 4) This further suggests that the determinants of the value of money
> > in contemporary capitalism lie in the speculative valuation of the
> > government debt on asset markets. (Everybody I've tried this on has
> > doubts about this idea.) It requires one to believe that, for
> > example, workers, in bargaining over the money wage, are implicitly
> > valuing the state debt as well as their own labor-power.

This speculative valuation can only affect the relative values of different
currencies. Abstract from multiple currencies and in that case with what
would governement debt be speculated in. Speculation on government bonds
alters the price of the bonds, relative to other commodites, but the prices
of the bonds and the prices of other commodites are still denominated in
money, so this will not affect the value of money relative to other

Paul Cockshott

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