[OPE-L:5240] Re: Metal money

Chai-on Lee (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 22:48:14 -0700 (PDT)

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At 08:18 97-06-09 -0700, Ramos wrote:

>1. My problem with what we can call the "money-commodity approach" is
>that it reduces the complex category of MONEY to a common, commodity.
>Let us say, Marx's "gold" is conceived as something practically equal
>to sugar, linen or cotton. This is usual in the arithmetical or
>algebraical exercises coming from Tugan and Bort. "Money" is simple a
>numeraire, a scale to measure prices.


Yes, it needs to be a commodity so as to function as a sacle to measure
prices. Though the spring sacle measures the weight without equivalent
weights, it still has some reference to the real weight scale.

>2. In
>particular, money appears to be the NEGATION of commodity. When we
>say "GENERAL commodity", I think, we should understand that this
>GENERAL is the **negation** of the PARTICULAR commodities.


I agree that money is both a commodity and a non-commodity. It is a
commodity in the sense that it measires value and functions as the means of
payment, etc. But it cannot be a commodity when it functions as the means
of circulation. It is not used as the means of consumption nor that of

>Regarding this essentially social character of money I would want to
>emphasize a piece of the passage Jerry cites: "As long as the
>*social* character of labour appears as the *money-existence* of
>commodities, and thus a *thing* external to actual production, money
>crises ... are inevitable." Marx defines here money as "A *THING*
>EXTERNAL TO ACTUAL PRODUCTION", i.e. as a non-commodity. Of course,
>money can be also "produced thing" but this is not necessarily its


Yes, it is external to actual production when it functions as the MEANS of
But where is the phrase "external to production" from?

>4. Re Jerry's comment on my previous post I want to say:
>a) I dont think that Marx "gives up" gold as money in that text. The
>problem is what is the *conceptual meaning* of this "gold".

No, I think he should have done so. Money needs not be gold as a necessity.
Even paper money or the electronic money can well be a good commodity (not
a non-commodity).

>b) My original problem was that some issues in Marxian monetary
>theory which could appear as "modern problems" are already drafted in
>Vol. III.

Can you be more specific in detail about what are the modern issues?

>5. In more general terms, I think that the essential funcion
>performed by money in Marx's theory is that of representing social

Yes, I would call it "an autonomous existence of value". Usually, value
cannot exist without its container, the use-value. In money, the container
is apart from the use-value.

>Marx assumes the quantitative relation between both types of money to
>be constant, but this assumption is not a necessity of the theory.

I think the quantitative relation was not Marx's but from the Currency

>So, when I read the passage in Kuhne's book I didnt think that this
>was a "proof" that Marx was "giving up" gold.

Why "giving up"? He should have proved that the necessary evolution of gold
into paper money.

>Capitalism cannot "give up" some kind of "reserve money"; money
>cannot be reduced to a "symbol".

Money is not "symbol". It has a real value. A piece of electronic money has
cost little for the CB. For the Pubic, however, it should cost lots of
labor to acquire it because the E-money is not given free.

>The interesting point of the
>analysis (in the whole passage cited by Jerry) is precisely the
>analysis of the relation between the "reserve money" (also here
>assumed as "gold") and the "symbol money" (in that case = credit
>money) and how one of the functions of capitalist State is to
>maintain some kind of "convertibility" between both forms to
>represent social labor-time.

No, the two issues must be irrelevant to Marx.

In solidarity,


Looking forward to more discussions.