[OPE-L:1862] the money supply

Subject: [OPE-L:1862] the money supply
Date: Wed Dec 08 1999 - 08:16:50 EST

Jerry wrote:

If one is going to also claim that commodity money is an essential
characteristic of both Marx's theory and capitalism, ***then what happens
if and when gold no longer is the money commodity??? It seems to me
that one would then be backed-into the position of claiming that
a) Marx's [entire!] theory is out-dated and irrelevant!; and b) capitalism
has been transcended!!!

Julian comments:

Why either? Instead (c): "another commodity has become the money commodity".
Alternatively (c'): "several commodities are candidates to be the
replacement money commodity".

As far as my knowledge goes, both of these would be entirely within Marx's
own thinking.

Until recently, I might have ventured to suggest that the following response
to claims that money is being de-commodified would also be in line with
Marx's views -- namely,

(c'') gold's (apparent) demonetisation is the counterpart of the advent of
highly sophisticated commodity markets (including futures markets), which
provide a kind of virtual general equivalent.

But a recent post (since deleted, so I can't refer) reminded us that Marx
derided the view that two (material) general equivalents -- i.e. gold and
silver -- could co-exist for long.

So, if one accepts that Marx's view of capitalism requires that there be a
(single) general equivalent commodity, is there anything in Marx that
requires this to be a physical substance (bearing in mind that Marx clearly
accepted that commodities did not *have* to be physical substances -- think
of labour-power, if no other...)?

In the Grundrisse there is a section of many pages where Marx notes the many
technical circumstances that make gold most suitable to be the money
commodity -- but this discussion evidently implies that another commodity
might supplant gold, if its technical characteristics allowed it to fulfil
the role of general equivalent more conveniently.


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