[OPE-L:4862] Re: determination of real wages

Thu, 24 Apr 1997 07:30:18 -0700 (PDT)

[ show plain text ]

> I wrote my Ph.D on Marxs theory of value without considering a
> theory of money, and I think i did okay.

Im still wondering how is it possible. The fact that you "wrote a
Ph.D" is no a criterion of authority for me.

The "theory of money" is "intrisic" to Marx's theory of value as
anyone who reads Capital I, Ch. 1 can see. "Value" has as double
nature: it has a "substance" (socially necessary labor-time) and a
"form" (money). Value-substance must be represented through money.
Money is the representation of labor-time. The core of his theory is
precisely the analysis of the process of visible representation (by
means of money) of "human labor in the abstract". Abstract labor is a
"phantom-like objectivity" which must appear as an social object,
as a form, namely money. We cannot sever this relationship.

Why do you think that 1/2 of Ch. 1 is devoted to the form of value
and, in particular to explain the **necessity** of money in a
commodity producing society?

Value has a twofold measure:

"money as a measure of value is the necessary form of appearence
of the measure of value which is immanent in commodities, namely
labour-time." (Capital I, p. 188, Penguin)

Precisely one of the key points of Marx critique of Ricardo's theory
of value is his neglection of the form of value.

Let us read, for example in Ch. 1:

It is one of the chief failings of classical political economy,
that it has never suceeded, by means of its analysis of
commodities, and in particular of their value, in discovering
the form of value which in fact turns value into exchange
value. **Even its best representatives, Adam Smith and Ricardo,
treat the form of value as something of indifference, something
external to the nature of the commodity itself.** Penguin, p. 174
(emphasis added)

So "the form of value" is not "something external", something that we
can put aside in the analysis of commodity.

(Id suggest to re-read the whole passage.)

A more precise criticism to Ricardo:

Ricardo starts out from the determination of the relative
value... of commodities by "the quantity of labour"... The
character of this "labour" is not further examined. If two
commodities are equivalents... then it is obvious that
regarded as exchange values, their *substance* must be the
same. Their substance is labour. That is why they are
But **Ricardo does not examine** the form --the peculiar
characteristic of labour that creates exchange value or
manifests itself in exchange values-- the **nature** of
this labour.
Hence he does not grasp the connection of **this labour**
with **money** or that it must assume the form of **money**.
Hence he completely fails to grasp the connection between the
determination of the exchange value of the commodity by
labour-time and the fact that the development of commodities
necessarily leads to the formation of money. (Theories, II, p.

So, there is "connection" between abstract labor and money which
Ricardo "does not grasp".

These are KEY statements of Marx's theory of value which
precisely establish a clear difference between his theory and, e.g.

In these passages (as in many others) it is clear that "money"
is a fundamental, intrinsic aspect of his theory of value. There is
no a "theory of money" as an "external field", separated from the
analysis of value, as it is presented in orthodox economics (or in
neoricardian approaches).

If you "wrote a Ph.D on Marxs theory of value without considering a
theory of money" I imagine you have some comments on the above
passages. I presume that in your comments you have an explanaition
about the meaning of these texts.

So, my question still stands: How can one understand Marx's theory
of value "without considering a theory of money"?

> Why dont you explain your position so that
> we can see how sound is what you "think", if it goes beyond "what
> Duncan says above".

I am not interested to "go beyond what Duncan says" but in
understanding Marx's theory.

(I imagine that you --who are involved in the rules of capitalist
academic competition-- MUST "go beyond" other people, i.e. MUST "be
original" in order to preserve your job. That is not my case and you
should not apply the rules you are suffering to other people.)

I have already explained my position many times on this list.
Regarding your initial statement I think that the idea that one can
separate a "theory of money" from Marx's theory of value is simply a
misunderstanding of the most elemental principles he presents in his

If you want to know some "positive products" of my interpretation you
can read a couple of recent papers I wrote:

"The monetary expression of labor: An interpretation of the relation
between value-substance and value-form", presented in the third
Miniconference of the IWGVT, 1996.

"Labor, money, labor-saving innovation and the falling rate of
profit", presented in the forth Miniconference of the IWGVT, 1997.

Both papers are in Alan Freeman's "electronic site" but I dont have
the address. Of course, if you are interested I would be very happy
to send you hard copies (if you give me your mail address). Perhaps if
you read them you will understand what David L. calls my "agenda".
This is what I am doing reading your paper published in RIPE.

Alejandro R.