[OPE-L:2488] RE: commodity money in Marx's theory

Michael Williams (100417.2625@compuserve.com)
Thu, 6 Jun 1996 15:35:46 -0700

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In reply to me, Chai-on says:

(1) If, as you said, 'their [values'] only quantitative expression is as
systematic money prices', values are to be independent of money.
And the monetary expressions should be dependent on values.
But, in your case, both are mutually dependent. This is a problem
with you. A temperature is expressed in the height of mercury. This
does not imply that the temperature is dependent on the mercury.

Michael W.:
I do not see any external relation between independent entities here, but an
internal relation between elements of a whole. From one perspective we have
value, from a quantitative perspective, we see value quantitatively expressed as
price - which is all it is. It is misleading to call this mutual dependence -
value and price are the same thing seen from different standpoints.
(Bertil Ollman (1993) DIALECTICAL INVESTIGATIONS London: Routledge (especiall
ch. 2) is very good on the philosophy of internal relations).
Temperature is expressed in the height of mercury, because a change in
temperature (over a certain range, cet par) CAUSES the height of mercury to
change proportionately. Social causation is not bilateral, but systemic. Changes
in value do not cause changes in price, nor vice versa, nor is their bilateral
mutual causation. Nor, then is price some kind of instrument or yardstick for
expressing the size of value. IMO, value has no other systematic quantitative
existence in capitalism than as money price.
But I suspect you have naturalist (unity of science) leanings, so you are
unlikely to accept this methodological position?

Then Chai-On goes on (rather ill temperedly, IMHO):

(2) The reason is simple. But you never listen to what I say. [Oh yes I dooo!]
If money is not a commodity, then the exchange between money and a
product of labor is no more a commodity exchange but a primitive
accumulation. I said this four times directly to you. But you simply
ignored it. [Oh no I didn't!] Secondly, the non-commodity money cannot function
as the
means of debt-payment. I said this, too several times. But you say
I gave no reason.

Michael W:

Who, at the ripe old age of 54 is not used to being talked to like a naughty
child (watch your tone, Prof. Lee!), asks (as I have before) what either
proposition here can mean. My understanding of primitive accumulation is
concerned with accumulation of merchant capital, embedded in a process of
separating workers from means of production. Money mediates the entry of
commodites into generalised capitalist commodty production and exchange. The
exchange between a commodity and money is, of course, not an exchange of
commodities once money has developed beyond the commodity form. I do not see
what primitive accumulation has to do with it - you could perhaps pamper me a
little and try to explain your views, instead of getting irritated? What do you
eman by saying that when I buy a commodity with my credit card, I am engaging in
primitve accumulation?
As to non-commodity money not acting as a means of payment, I, it appears, am
not alone - on OPE-L or outside it - in not being persuaded of this. Pehaps you
would care to explain WHY you are? Or do you think that I should accept it
without question on your authority?
I suspect that you are concerned with the rationality of capitalism - I am
acutely aware of its irrationality - expressed here in expansion of value for
the sake of the expansion of value.

Now that I have returned your unpleasant tone in kind, perhaps we can continue
our discussion in a more comradely fashion? Of course if you do not wish to
consider views radically at odds with your own, that is your privilege - but
then get your tanks off my lawn!

Comradely greetings,

Michael W.