[OPE-L:2392] Re: commodity money in Marx's theory

riccardo bellofiore (bellofio@cisi.unito.it)
Tue, 28 May 1996 09:38:26 -0700

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To Chai-on Lee:

As for (i), you said

>In the above, a purchasing power itself is seen as value. Even a mere
>threat of roberry or a fraud can then be a value in the name of
>exchange. How could you distinguish the two cases?

I was simply referring to Marx argument at the beginning of Capital as I
read it, according to which the abstract labour embodied in the commodity
find its external representation in the social labour producing the money

As for (ii):

>IMO, "valorization" means in its literal sense, what was previously a
>non-value becomes a value. The "valorization" of capital in that
>context is therefore to be seen as that a use-value transforms itself
>into a value. The use-value of labor-power consists in the ability to
>create more value than its own value. When a labor-power actually
>produced a value more than its own magnitude, the use-value is
>>So, the value of labour power must be given as an amount of labour
>hours before the valorization process regardless of whether money
>is a commodity or not.

>From my point of view, we agree on this point.

As for (iii):
>It has nothing to do with the fact that money is a commodity to know the
>surplus value is a surplus labor.

The divergence here is the same than for (i)
As for (iv)

>I cannot understand here why money is to be a pure symbol on account
>of the capitalist exchange.

Bcause if money is a commodity, its production must be financed, and so on
back in an infinte regress>
>(vii) my position is that restating the labour theory of value within a
>credit theory of money allows us: (a) to see money (as capital) at the
>beginning of the circuit as command over (wage) labour time; (b) to see in
>production a pre-commensuration of labour which permit us
>to add workers' labour time before final exchange; (iii) to maintain the
>'core' of Marxian theory, exploitation as a process going on in
>production before the determination of prices; (d) to rescue the gist of
>Marx's transformation problem as the logical priority of 'values' over
>'prices'. Here there is a change on Marx's basic categories
>(money, value, etc.) which is nevertheless done in view of Marx's
>most important insights.
>Those from (a) to (d) are also possible even with the commodity money.
>Those cannot be the advantage of the non-commodity money

I think there is here a redefinition of (a) and (b) relative to Marx. (a)
must be sign money, according to (iv). (b) is not anymore, as in most
value-form approaches, linked to labour through the value-money nexus at
the end of the circuit, but through the money capital as command over
worker time at the beginning of the circuit. The homogeneity of labour
comes through its being subjected to capital through initial finance. In
this way, though this prevalidatio and precommensuration must be eventually
validated in final exchange, they are nevertheless already there in

as to (viii)
>The substance of value, which is said to be the creator of value,
>should exist IMO before the value is created. This is by definition. If
> "A is created by B", "B must have existed prior to A". Otherwise, how can
>the B create the A? My mother gave a birth to me only when she
> existed well before I was born. In like manner, the abstract labor
>must exist before the value is created by abstract labor.
>If the value is in the unity of production and exchange, by the same
>token, the substance of value (the abstract labor) must exist at the
>latest and in the least prior to exchange.
>Because of the organism of social production, value is in the organic unity
>of production and exchange. Nevertheless, value's
>mode of existence is differentiated into two forms, potential (latent)
>form and real form, not because the abstract labor exists in the
>exchange alone but because the receptacle of value (value cannot
>exist without its container) must pass through the two distinct
>phases of production and exchange discretely. So, one form is
>called a latent form and the other a realised form. The value that
>failed to be realised must have been a non-value before it failed.
>Only non-values can be realised as a non-value. A latent value, if it
>fails to be realised, can only be destroyed.

I am symphatetic to your account, but cannot go now into details.

This reply is written in haste, not to leave your post unanswered. As I
wrote, I am working on the issue, and if your are interested I can send you
a paper in a few weeks. There some (though not all) of your questions have
some answer - not necessarily, may be, a good answer for you.


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