Re: (OPE-L) recent references on 'problem' of money commodity?

From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Nov 30 2004 - 11:37:12 EST

 Paul C  - the red is Paul B 

        One almost does not know where to start with this teleology. 
        What is the status of this 'need' which is taken to govern the
labour content of gold?
        The 'need' of the capitalist to extort the maximum surplus
labour from any amount of fresh labour added, is characterisic of all
capitalist the case of the money commodity the total
value added is  vital since this presents the gold owner with the
capacity to exchange it with more products, and so 'enrich' themselves
with more use values.
         "the need to compress as much human labour as possible into
each ounce"
        Since when have 'needs' been casually effective for science?(
Well this question might 
        take us back to the question of 'social science'  versus
'natural science', 
        are you proposing that there is no difference?) 
        Yes in this respect I am. The great thing about Marx and Darwin
        scientists is that in their epistemological break with
pre-existing ideologies
        they dispense with teleological and subjective causes. These are
        replaced with objective causes - what Marx called Laws of
        This was a direct appeal to the mode of causality of physics.
        The high labour content required to produce gold does not stem
from any
        kind of need but from its high atomic weight, this means that
relatively little
        of it is produced in supernova. These supernova occurring more
than 4 billion years
        ago were hardly influenced by any supposed needs of the
capitalist system.
        But this contradicts your point below that more technology
could/would be applied 
        and so, (I assume that is the aim), gold could be extracted more
easily, more cheaply.
        Why would the 'manager', I guess you mean the owners, want to
        an ounce of gold for fewer other goods?
            Applying equally modern mining technology to copper and gold
will never bring
        the price of gold down to that of copper. The solar system
abundance of copper
        is about 2000 times as great as that of gold, so copper mines
will always
        yield a higher output to the same amount of  labour assuming
equally modern
        mining technology.
        Then we hear that gold is not in competition with any other
commodity for
        its role as money. Gold here becomes a social subject engaging
in competition.
        (???? Your second sentence stands in direct contradiction to the
         I clearly said NOT, and you repeated the word... it does not
today compete in practice,
         although other metals have had to be displaced in the history
of the money commodity. 
        Why would the value of gold be brought down intentionally by its
        This is simply the same contradiction between individual
capitalists and
        capitalists in an industry as a whole. The same argument could
be brought
        forward against cotton yarn production - why would a master
spinner want to
        cheapen yarn. We know the answer to this.
        The value of all other products is reduced because the business
man tries to compete 
        better for the market. Gold producers have always struggled to
form a global 
        monopoly of gold supply to prevent such a disaster for them )
        Competition may occur between capitalist firms to secure larger
shares of 
        a market, it does not occur between chemical elements.
        ( Dear Paul C, blustering accusations of 'teleology' cannot
conceal the fact that you are here
         simply being silly! one might as well say that since margerine
contains chemical elements
         no competition occurs between its producers))
         Now given that multiple firms are engaged in gold production
they have the same incentive
        as any other to reduce their labour costs.
        ( Any other gold producer, or any other non money commodity
        What I am saying is that gold is no different from any other
        Prices are brought down by competition between producers within
        industry rather than by competition between distinct products.
        products don't compete it is the firms that compete 
        Indeed even a monopoly producer of gold would have an incentive
        reduce labour input to production. The manager of a gold mine
        not say - never mind about cost cutting and reducing employment 
        since 'gold is not in competition with silver'.No he will try
and reduce 
        the number of workers employed to do a task just like the
        of a copper mine, or a tin mine would.
        Why this comparison? Tin is regarded as a laughable and
unacceptable substitute for gold as money, 
        and copper has at best served as small , light weight , change.
We are talking 
        about THE money commodity, against which all other commodities
must measure up, 
        compare themselves, whatever the practical inventiveness of
bankers and 
        governments to overcome its many inconveniences on a daily
        The point is that gold is a mined metal like copper and tin. Its
        is determined in exactly the same way - by the labour required
        produce it. The fact that gold was once used for high
        coin and copper for low denomination is of no particular
        in looking at the process of technical advance in the mining
        The high value of gold relative to copper is simply a product of
        comparative abundances.
        should I debase the currency by clipping hours from its
production!! You don't
        seem to understand the differentia specifica  of the golden
commodity. The 
        gold mining  capitalist will  extend the working day, intensify
labour and pay
        as little as possible in wages.  His cost cutting is indeed
enthusiastically carried 
        out as long as it is the life force of the worker that is
reduced, absorbed recklessly into the product, 
        but Mr Oppenheimer and his gang  will  not willingly to dilute
the labour content of the product itself.  
        Paul C
        In that case are you arguing that gold production
internationally is currently
        and has long been governed by a cartel analogous to that of de
Beers for diamonds?
        I have never seen such an allegation before. Do you have
historical evidence for this?
        You seem to be implying that gold mines will refrain from
employing any technology
        that increases the amount of gold that they can produce with a
given amount of
        labour. Do you have any evidence to back this up?
        Are there books detailing the refusal of gold mining companies
to use modern
        mining machinery?

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