[OPE-L:5271] Re: Metal money

Claus M. Germer (cmgermer@
Mon, 16 Jun 1997 14:48:57 -0700 (PDT)

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I'm sorry for the late answer to some points of my [OPE-L:5181], raised by posts since then. I was out of town since June 6 and only returned today.

In [OPE-L:5204] ALejandro R. wrote:

>It seems to me that Claus's points of view are excessively focused in
>Marx's monetary theory at the level of analysis presented in Vol 1,
>Ch. 3 and some passages of Grundrisse.


On the contrary, it is my opinion that Marx's theory of money in capitalism cannot be understood adequately unless one takes into account not only Vol 1 Ch. 3 and the Grundrisse, but also Vol 3. This is indeed the point I tried to make in may EEA-97 paper. In addition, I dont believe it to be usefull to base one's judgement about Marx's theory of money on isolated passages of one or other of his writings. My intent has been to understand the logic of his theory. In summary, in my view Marx's theory of money in capitalism requires that one takes into consideration three sections of his writings: the theories of money, of the transformation of money into capital, and of credit money. It seems clear to me that, in Marx's presentation, the concept of credit money does not coincide with that of money. The concept of money is a part of the theory of credit money. The concept of credit money must be built with consideration not only to Marx's theory of money, but also to his theories!
of the transformation of money into capital and of the development of the credit system. It is in no way a simple matter of taking money and credit money as alternative terms.

Alejandro R.:

>For example, in #5181, Claus wrote:

>"Theoretically, in Marxs system, the standard of prices must
>express a given amount of the money-commodity. However, in todays
>economy it apparently doesnt do it."

Alejandro R.:

>This is true for the presentation Marx does in Vol 1, Ch. 3 but --
>as we see in the above passage of Vol. 3-- even in Marx's times there
>were tendencies and realities ("...the domestic market does not need
>any metal even now...") that in Claus's terms appear, perhaps, only
>as belonging to "todays economy". Marx seems to be describing in
>those passages a domestic monetary system purely based on credit
>money (the "national banks") which in Vol I, Ch. 3 is clearly
>abstracted. In other words, Im not sure that we can reduce "Marx's
>system" to the scenario described in Vol. I.


Of course we can't! The passage quoted by Alejandro R. above - fully transcribed by Jerry in [OPE-L:5223] - does not mean that *money* (meaning commodity-money) is intirely replaced by credit-money, in the sense that money *becomes* credit money. As I already pointed out, it is necessary to distinguish two groups of functions of money: the functions of measure of value and standard of money on the one hand, and the functions of means of circulation and of payment, or circulation fucntions, on the other. Marx has demonstrated that the two later ones may be replaced either by symbols of value (in the case of means of circulation) or of credit-money (in the case of means of circulation and of payment). But nowhere did he suggest that symbols of value or credit money could replace the basic function of money as measure of value, hence of standard of money. I would repeat what I stated in [OPE-L:4867]:

>The problem however is: how can the function of measure of value be
>performed by something that is not a commodity? I dont refer to a
>statistical ex post measure which equates the sum-total of the
>money-value of the net produtct with the sum-total of the work-time
>performed, I refer to the way in which money-values of commodities are
>determined in the market, before we can use them to calculate a
>statistical figure.

In my view only an affirmative answer to this question, with a consistent theoretical grounding, could open the way for the consideration of a concept of money as a non-material thing, replacing Marx's concept of money as a commodity.