[OPE-L:4722] [ALEJANDRO R] Re: use-value of money

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Thu, 10 Apr 1997 16:32:28 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

> Alejandro:
> > > > I agree: Money doesnt have a use-value and then cannot be a
> > > commodity. This means that all interpretations in which Marxs
> > > money is presented as a "commodity" are misleading. For example,
> > > these system of equations in which one can use "cotton", "grain" or
> > > "gold" as "money" are neglecting important aspects of Marxs monetary
> > > theory.
> > > Money is a "general object" which main function is to represent and
> > > to conserve, in a autonomous form, abstract social labor-time.
> Paul C.:
> > what then was the sheckle? it was a measure of barley, but also, during
> > at least the second babylonian empire it served as the universal
> equivalent
> > and
> > unit of account.
> Alejandro can, of course, speak for himself. However, that one universal
> equivalent unit of account, the sheckle, was a measure Barley, a useful
> object, in the second babylonian empire says absolutely nothing about
> whether Capitalist Money must necessarily (for systemic reproduction) be
> manifest in a Commodity.
> Even if there were a systematic exchange ratio between barley and the
> sheckle in the second babylonian empire, I guess it is no longer the same
> as in modern Israel?
> Michael

Alejandro comments:

Of course, I agree with Michael W. The matter is **capitalist money**
not money in pre-capitalists societies. Initially Romans had "cows"
as money ("capita"--> "capital"), and then the "aes grave", a given
amount of copper, etc. etc. Etruscan and Greeks coined beautiful
silver money and indeed their weight (and 0f silver) was essential.
I think this tells us that indeed "money-commodity" (or "commodity-
money") existed under **non-capitalists** conditions but insofar as
capitalism really expands, money becomes a "functional determination"
and is no longer a "commodity". Therefore its "physical properties",
such as its weight, are irrelevant in the function as money. It
doesnt have use-value.

Let us suppose Marx's Victorian England with its "gold standard" and
the vault of the Bank of England plenty of gold bullion. What was the
*use-value* of that money? What was the "human wants" satisfied by
that gold? If that gold didnt have use-value, then it wasnt a
"commodity". Money was --even in its form of gold-- a "general
object" which function was (is) to represent and to conserve in an
autonomous form the labor time objectified in commodities, i.e. their

Alejandro R.