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I should have added that with the specification of abstract labor Marx then
claims to have discovered the dazzling power of the money fetish, that it
is, though absurd, itself the incarnation of abstract human labor to which
Marx had already ascribed a phantom objectivity: "If I state that coats or
boots stand in a relation to linen because the latter is the universal
incarnation of abstract human labor, the absurdity of the statement is self
evident." Capital I, p. 169 Vintage.
Marx is not trying to explain the evolution (logical or historical) of the
equivalent form into a universal one and the natural selection of the
commodity best fitted to serve as it.
It's not the "incompleteness" of linen, much less its self contradiction,
which then led to a further development in logic and history of the
universal equivalent form. Marx is using linen hoping to show that the
absurdity and category mistake (or fetishism) implicit in our use of money
*in an already fully developed capitalism*, as Fred has rightly argued, can
thereby be revealed to us.
"Nevertheless, when the producers of coats and boots bring these
commodities into a relation with linen, or with gold or silver (and this
makes no difference here), as the universal equivalent, the relation
between their own private the colelctive labor of society appears to them
in exactly this absurd form."
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