[OPE-L:278] money capital/structure and dynamics

James Devine (JDevine@lmumail.lmu.edu)
Tue, 17 Oct 1995 13:10:43 -0700

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What role does money capital and interest play in Marx's and
Marxian political economy? I think it's easiest to understand if
one starts with a clear notion of Marx's views of structure and

As I read CAPITAL, Marx starts with the structure of capitalism,
a synchronic snap-shot of capital in general (most of chs. 3-24 &
33 of K1); here is where value theory is first developed. It is
then applied when he starts talking about dynamics (chs. 24-32 of
K1). K2 and K3 also start with structure and work to dynamics.
Individual chapters of all three volumes can also be seen to
follow the structure --> dynamics progression, with the dynamics
leading to changes in the structure.

This mode of presentation follows the nature of capital: its
nature is to revolutionize the world, including the world it
created. (I would point to the battle of competition and class
antagonism as the main elements in capitalism's structure that
lead to dynamics, but that's another issue.)

Now how does money capital fit in? Start with the structural
level. Contrary to neoclassical theories such as that of Roemer,
the loaning of money capital by itself creates no value or
surplus-value. The surplus-product has to be produced by
wage-labor subsumed by industrial capital. That surplus can then
be redistributed to the owners of money capital who have lent it
to the industrial capitalists. On this level, interest represents
a simple deduction from surplus-value and a barrier to capitalist

But when we turn to dynamics, money-capital can play a different
role. An individual capitalist can accumulate beyond what is
possible based on his or her own profits by using borrowed money.
So money-capital can lead to the expansion of industrial capital
thus and a greater production of surplus-value (though it still has
to be produced by subsumed wage-labor; it does not arise
magically). The accumulation of debt, however, can also block
accumulation (as it seems to have done in 1992 in the US).

in ope-l solidarity,

Jim Devine jdevine@lmumail.lmu.edu
Econ. Dept., Loyola Marymount Univ., Los Angeles, CA 90045-2699 USA
310/338-2948 (daytime, during workweek); FAX: 310/338-1950
"Segui il tuo corso, e lascia dir le genti." (Go your own way
and let people talk.) -- K. Marx, paraphrasing Dante A.