Re: on money

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Tue May 25 2004 - 14:35:02 EDT

>--- Rakesh Bhandari <rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
>>  >--- Rakesh Bhandari <rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU> wrote:
>>  >>  >Because the product is not produced as an
>>  immediate
>>  >>  object of
>>  >>  >consumption for the producers, but only as a
>>  bearer
>>  >>  of value, as a
>>  >>  >claim, so to speak, to a certain quantity of
>>  all
>>  >>  materialised social
>>  >>  >labour, all products as values are compelled to
>>  >>  assume a form of
>>  >>  >existence distinct from their existence as use
>>  >>  values. And it is
>>  >>  >this development of the labour embodied in them
>>  as
>>  >>  social labour, it
>>  >>  >is the development of their value, which
>>  determines
>>  >>  the formation of
>>  >>  >money, the necessity for commodities to
>>  represent
>>  >>  themselves in
>>  >>  >respect of one another as money--which means
>>  merely
>>  >>  as independent
>>  >>  >forms of existence of exchange value--and they
>>  can
>>  >>  only do this by
>>  >>  >setting apart one commodity from the mass of
>>  >>  commodities, and all of
>>  >>  >them measuring their values in the use value of
>>  >>  this excluded
>>  >>  >commodity, thereby directly transforming the
>>  labour
>>  >>  embodied in this
>>  >>  >exclusive commodity into general, social
>>  labour.
>>  >>  >
>>  >>  >TSV III, p.144-145
>>  >____________________
>>  >The meaning of this passage is not very clear but
>>  if
>>  >it is saying, which it apparently is saying,  that
>>  the
>>  >value of any commodity is determined by first
>>  >determining how much of money commodity it
>>  exchanges
>>  >with and then multiplying that number with the
>>  >concrete labor time embodied in the money
>>  commodity,
>>  >then it is theoretically simply wrong.
>>  No it is trying to explain why commodities have to
>>  make that
>>  dangerous leap (salto mortale, the Latin Marx uses
>>  in Capital I, I
>>  think) into money and why money comes to have
>>  peculiar properties,
>>  e.g. monopoly over direct exchangeability, and what
>>  must have been
>>  assumed about money to have those properties.
>Rakesh, commodities are not dogs that take leaps, let
>alone "dangerous" ones. It is your mind that is taking
>dangerous leaps most of the times.


Let's leave my mind out of it--your comment (or attempt at general
character assassination) is superfluous and reflects that you have
some underlying emotional problems with which you struggle (you have
my sympathies). You are free of course to critique what I actually
say as vigorously as you wish, but do note that you hardly commented
on what I did write in my first post on money. It was at the least
thought provoking in that I lifted some dense formulations from Marx,
Colletti and Wolff and reworked them here and there.   You only
offered your (mis-)interpretation of what Marx was actually saying.

   Under capitalism production does not ensure the distribution and
use of products. Distribution results from exchange; only through
exchange does one partake in distribution of social wealth. Exchange
is against money; money represents, incarnates or instantiates a
claim on general, social labor, and it is for this reason that money
is the object of production. There is no way to barter one's product
for what one needs; one needs for that object to metamorphize into
general, social and abstract wealth, i.e. money There is no guarantee
that a product can be exchanged against money; that is why Marx
refers to it as a life and death leap which commodities must
accomplish. Perhaps the language is poetic but it captures both the
uncertainty and trans-substantiation characteristic of capitalist
exchange. Given the uncertainty and need for claims on general wealth
money is (unsuprisingly) often (and can be) hoarded once it is
gotten; it would make no sense to hoard  a numeraire or pant after a
numeraire in a time of crisis. Money creates the possibility of a
general crisis, as Marx points in the first part of Capital; a
numeraire does not.  None of this is captured in neo Ricardian
thought. The uncertainty of monetary validation also impels producers
to innovate and accumulate continously, so any formalism which is
inherently static, i.e. sets outputs and inputs equal so as to reduce
the number of equations,  will seem to have missed its object--as
Schumpeter noted, a stationary capitalism is a contradiction in terms.

From within what appears an arid formalism it seems impossible to
introduce money and dynamics. Which is why I suggest to you that for
any thinker not socialized in the equilibrium economics of counting
equations and unknowns, the Sraffian model will hold very little
interest; it seems to have enitrely missed its putative object. And
in fact very people are interested in the Sraffian formalism.  Which
may lead you to a long list of insults. But that is the fact of the

It's too bad that Giusanni is no longer here to engage you. He's much
more interested in the immanent criticism of Sraffa, e.g. sensitivity
of results to choice of a numeraire.

>  By the way, why
>these have to be so dangerous? What kind of danger you
>think these commodities are in?

See above. Do you really not understand why Marx uses the phrase that
he does? Again it's fine to dismiss his ideas as confused, but why
not make some effort to understand what he is saying?

>>  And value never results from adding up concrete
>>  labors.
>Then please tell us how do values of commodities turn
>out to be x,y,z, hours of labor? Please give me a
>straight answer to such a simple question, and not
>some kind of "dangerous leap of faith" or some such

The use of the word trash is doubly inappropriate as I did not
intimate any kind of Kierkargardiaan meaning and such language
evinces a break down in the ethics of debate.

I shall answer your questions, but I was responding to your use of the
concept "concrete" labor time. presumably you meant to distinguish
this from abstract labor time. So what is the difference that you
have in mind? How are you using the words abstract and concrete? You
did not define terms.

>>  >  Unless money
>>  >commodity is something like silver littered on a
>>  >beach, which can be simply picked up by bare hands,
>>  >all money commodities are produced goods requiring
>>  all
>>  >kinds of constant capital items. Thus to determine
>>  how
>>  >much of labor time is embodied in a money commodity
>>  >one has to be able to first figure out how much of
>>  >labor time is embodied in those constant capital
>>  >items, and that cannot be done unless you add
>>  various
>>  >concrete labors.
>>  Adding concrete labor labors never yields value.
>Then please tell us what "yields" numerical measure of
>value of any commodity?

socially necessary ABSTRACT labor time.

>>  >  Thus the statement above gets into
>>  >vicious circle.
>>  But it's not what this statement is about.
>Then what this statement is about? Cheers, ajit siha

I actually gave an interpretation in my very first post. You didn't
have much to say about it. What do you think Marx meant by the
peculiarities of the equivalent value form? He suggests three or four
depending on the edition of Capital. I was often using his own

Yours, Rakesh

>  >
>>  Yours, Rakesh
>>  >Cheers, ajit sinha
>>  >
>>  >
>>  >
>>  >
>>  >
>>  >
>>  >__________________________________
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