[OPE-L:4843] Re: value: primary, secondary; latent, possessed?

From: Gerald_A_Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@email.msn.com)
Date: Wed Feb 07 2001 - 07:16:26 EST

In [OPE-L:4842] Rakesh asked:

> Does the necessity of  money somehow derive from it
> alone allowing
> all commodities to be measured in terms of a ratio scale (rather than
> a nominal, ordinal or interval scale)?

Money is not (in some general, ahistorical sense) necessary. Rather, the
money-form is necessarily tied to the value-form and value in a system of
generalized capitalist production and distribution. In other words, money is
a necessary aspect of the value relationship in the capitalist mode of

> Is there some reason (thinking
> here of Marx's famous letter to Feuerbach) why in a private exchange
> economy commodities have to be measured in terms of a common
> (hypostatized?) divisible property so that we can infer numerical
> proportions among the representations of  commodities that, say, one
> magnitude is twice or three or x times another?

Of course, money serves a number of functions in a capitalist economy.  A
measure of value is one of those "functions" (perhaps a misleading word to
use in this context).  Yet, the reason money must *necessarily* appear in a
generalized system of capitalist production is because of the centrality of
the commodity to that system.
I.e. commodities are necessarily bought and sold -- they are bought and sold
on markets. Thus,  the very appearance of commodities, as distinct from
simple products of human labor, requires the money-form.

> Does money alone allow for commodities to be measured in terms of a
> ratio scale; must commodities be measured in terms of such a scale if
> the proportioning of social labor is to be achieved in a private
> exchange economy?

I think I answered (or at least asserted an answer)  above.

There was a time not so long ago when the perspective that money didn't
really matter was prevalent among Marxists. That perspective suggested that
monetary forces were in  in some sense distinct, and of lesser importance,
from the "real" underlying forces in a capitalist economy. This
interpretation was often grounded in a distinctly anti-Hegelian
understanding of the distinction between appearance and reality.

Such an understanding was commonplace through much of the 1970's ... and
still has a lot of supporters today. But, the pendulum has swung the other
way and in more recent years there has been a renewed interest in monetary
theory (and practices) among Marxists. This is something we should all be
aware of since most of the most prominent writers in that field are here on

Now I have a question: what were the most significant forces that led to
this change in understanding and emphasis?  E.g. was the worldwide
inflationary period the major stimulus?; did particular books or articles
(e.g. by Suzanne?) lead to a change in interpretation and emphasis?; did the
publication of  newly translated works by Marx contribute to this change?;
was it part of the rejection of  "diamat" (Soviet) philosophy?, etc.

In solidarity, Jerry

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