Re: [OPE] Chartalist theory of money

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Sat Jun 13 2009 - 13:46:05 EDT

Jurriaan Bendien wrote:
> My argument has been that money is a necessary product of the growing
> sophistication of commodity-trade, that develops out of an
> increasingly complex division of labour.

I would not really object to this general statement. Perhaps we are
talking past each other here.

There are two points implied from the chartalist theory:

(a) A rejection of the theory that money is an outgrowth of a commodity
that acts as a means of exchange (i.e. any variation of metallism),
which has seriously mystified money. Rather, the alternative theory
suggests that one must understand it as a 'token', a technology to
manage relations of credit and debt. It is this property that is invariant.

(b) Establishing the equivalent universally is unlikely to arise from
consensus among traders or bankers but rather the 'universality' arose
from the state's ability to impose a tax debt. For that reason I agree
with your description below:
> I think Randy Wray and Matthew Forstater would happily agree, that
> some varieties of money predate state control over the issue of
> currency. But they are likely to argue that the state gradually
> established a "monetary regime" on a scale which makes the preceding
> trading processes look rather pitiful by comparison.
However, it does not follow that the state could directly control the
circulation process, only a appropriate a part of the surplus product.
Given (a) and (b) above I don't really see that it conflicts with what
you say later:

> The problem is that the argument about state-money is much more
> complex. It was certainly possible for the ancient and medieval states
> to issue currency, without however being able to have control over the
> circulation process. Moreover, the very phenomenon that there is only
> "one state-issued currency" in circulation within the country, is
> actually the exception, and not the rule, in the history of
> capitalism. Most of the time, several currencies have circulated side
> by side, i.e. local currencies were used plus currencies also used in
> adjoining regions..

As for the rest of your post it goes far beyond what concerns me in this
thread: a historical-materialist theory about the origin and nature of

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Sat Jun 13 13:51:23 2009

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