[OPE-L:2422] commodity money in Marx's theory

Costas Lapavitsas (CL5@soas.ac.uk)
Thu, 30 May 1996 02:57:12 -0700

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Chai-on Lee [OPE-L 2416] wrote :

> I cannot imagine what you mean by "the real process of destruction
> of capital values" in the above. Could you explain it somewhat detail?

We know that money prices cannot be an accurate reflection of
embodied labour coefficients insofar as capitals have to earn the
average rate of profit. As far as total output is concerned,
furthermore, though at one level of abstraction total value and
surplus-value (transformed) must be equal respectively to total
price and profit, it seems to me that at a lower level of abstraction
this need not hold. For instance, assuming 'pure' conditions of
competition and no state intervention, the price level moves
cyclically, not necessarily accurately reflecting the expansion and
contraction of total value produced. If there is a commodity money in
the system an anchor exists for such fluctuations but it operates
through the overexpansion of capital and its subsequent destruction.
The rush for gold in the classical crises, and the attendant collapse
of commodity and asset prices, can be seen as a concrete mechanism
for anchoring the price level to the values of commodities and money.
In this case, the significance of money's possession of value for
the expression of value as price is not immediately apparent but
emerges after several mediations.