Re: [OPE] Dialectics for the New Century

From: paul bullock (
Date: Wed Apr 09 2008 - 05:06:05 EDT


This dodges the point.
: you say    "a staple of barley or a silver equivalent --- *an equivalence 
established by the state*. And the
money of account was primarily used for taxes."  Thereby introducing either 
(a) an arbitrary or no explanation of the 'value' of the money used
OR (b) an evasion of the fact that silver was used preceisely for the 
reasons that Marx explained: GIVEN that trade existed between towns , albeit 
on the edge of and between the different political units.
Once money had begun to penetrate your 'command' societies, then certainly 
the rulers could demand taxes in the form of money as well as a direct 
proportion of  surplus products. Taxation was indeed the primary form of 
surplus appropriation in these societies, in the form ogf products, money 
and of course directly by the use of labour. But none of what you say 
undermines Marx's arguments, indeed his enthusiasm for studying feudal 
society back to early Ottoman property relations never lead him to repudiate 
his fundamental discovery. All I see here is the usual 'fetishism' of the 



----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Zachariah" <>
To: "Outline on Political Economy mailing list" <>
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2008 10:31 PM
Subject: Re: [OPE] Dialectics for the New Century

> on 2008-04-08 14:04 paul bullock wrote:
>> I know of no evidence that money was issued by any state in the absence 
>> of some form of commodity exchange.
> Hi Paul B,
> Note that this is not what is at stake. The issue is the origin of money: 
> whether money emerged from commodity production or the pre-capitalist 
> state. The former case belongs to the 'commodity theories of money', in 
> which a specific commodity --- gold or some precious metal --- emerged as 
> a 'universal equivalent' or numeraire.
> The evidence for the state theories of money is gathered quite recently. 
> Paul C has given some references, previously so I'd urge you to check the 
> details there. (See for instance Wray 2004, 
> At present I can only 
> reiterate some of it from the top of my head:
> The first money-calculating societies were agrarian command economies of 
> the ancient Near East. Payment could be in a staple of barley or a silver 
> equivalent --- *an equivalence established by the state*. And the money of 
> account was primarily used for taxes.
> Whatever unit that the state could demand taxes in would suffice and once 
> the tax credits were transferable among its subjects, money was 
> established. The physical properties of the money used or whether it was a 
> commodity or not, did not matter as long as it could not be forged.
> Issue worthless pieces of metal to your royal entourage and soldiers. Then 
> demand that all of the subjects in your kingdom shall return such metal 
> pieces to you or else they will be punished. Where will the subjects get 
> these pieces? By exchanging the fruits of their labour with the agents 
> that happened to hold them --- and the agents included the state itself 
> which had issued the pieces in the first place! This provided a new way to 
> appropriate labour from the population.
> This becomes clear when one considers the introduction of money in African 
> colonies. See Forstater's "Taxation: a Secret Of Colonial Capitalist 
> (So-Called) Primitive Accumulation", 
> //Dave Z
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