[OPE-L:2391] Re: commodity money in Marx's theory

riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Tue, 28 May 1996 09:38:18 -0700

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At 7:28 28-05-1996 -0700, Fred Moseley wrote:
>Riccardo wrote (in part) in (2369):
>>At 22:54 26-05-1996 -0700, Fred Moseley wrote:
>>>I would appreciate any thoughts Chai-on or others might have about this
>>>question (including especially Riccardo, who I think has stated in several
>>>posts that he thinks that money must be a commodity in Marx's theory, but
>>>has not yet explained why, so far as I can tell).
>>What I tried to state is a complex set of propositions, the following:
>>(i) in Marx's original labour theory of value, money was deduced as a
>>commodity at the beginning of capital, when Marx analyses (general)
>>exchange as such. Eventually, value is labour because it is the amount of
>>labour producing the money who 'buys' the commodity.
>But this still does not seem to explain HOW money was deduced as a
>commodity, or WHY money must be a commodity. What is the reasoning that led
>to this conclusion?

May I for the moment invite you to give a look at the first half of my
paper with Realfonzo at the Boston EEA meeting this year? In that paper, in
the first part we argued that Marx's deduction of money in vol. I was
leading to commodity money, in the second part we argued that the outlook
in vol. III is definitely more contradictory.

In a nutshell, the argument is that when abstract labour is deduced merely
from exchange, it is deduced at the level of *dead* labour. Abstract labour
is the dead labour in a commodity, which acquires its sociality only in the
exchange with money, with the social labour producing the money commodity.
I doubt that in the process which Marx seems to propose, that goes from
value to labour, we would be allowed to refer value to labour if money
would not be a commodity. Afterwards, this money commodity plays a crucial
role. It is the money commodity which permits to Marx to have the value of
money prior than the value of labour power, and the value of labour power
prior than production, though the *real* wage is fixed only after

But I think that we can, and must, dispense with money commodity if we
recognize the full force of the fact that the commodity is capitalistically
produced, and that abstract labour is also, and first of all, the *living*
labour of the wage worker.

If that does not suffice, I'll seriously start thinking to write a paper on
it. But production takes time, and my production takes still more time.
Without taking into account the difficulty to work *and* read all these
OPE-L stuff 8-)


Riccardo Bellofiore e-mail: bellofio@cisi.unito.it
Department of Economics Tel: (39) -35- 277505 (direct)
University of Bergamo (39) -35- 277501 (dept.)
Piazza Rosate, 2 (39) -11- 5819619 (home)
I-24129 Bergamo Fax: (39) -35- 249975