Re: Money and Mind

From: Costas Lapavitsas (cl5@SOAS.AC.UK)
Date: Thu Jun 03 2004 - 15:50:59 EDT

I think that we are getting a little carried away with the analogy between
money and language, so here is a direct quote from Marx (Grundrisse, 162-3):

"To compare money with language is no less erroneous. Language does not
transform ideas, so that the peculiarity of ideas is dissolved and their
social character runs alongside them as a separate entity, like prices
alongside commodities. Ideas do not exist separately from language. Ideas
do not have first to be translated out of their mother tongue into a
foreign language in order to circulate, in order to become exchangeable,
offer a somewhat better analogy; but the analogy lies not in language, but
in the foreignness of language."

The point here is that money represents an essential aspect of the
commodity, but it does so as 'another', as something different from the
commodity whose aspect is represented. Language does not operate in this
way. It is a common anthropological fallacy to imagine money as language,
or as an ideal symbolical system. Codere springs to mind.

For my purposes, the represented aspect of the commodity is exchange value,
as Marx makes crystal clear in the same section of the Grundrisse. There is
absolutely no need for abstract labour in this context. More to the point,
however, as a commodity's exchange value comes to be represented by
another,  the commodity that is doing the representing is simultaneously
able to exchange directly with the commodity that is being represented. I
think that this property of direct exchangeability (i.e, the other side of
the coin of value representation) is the source of 'moneyness'. The process
of its monopolisation by a single commodity through the 'relative -
equivalent' dialectic is also the process of money's spontaneous emergence.


At 09:26 03/06/2004 -0700, you wrote:
>Hi Andy
> > To try an analogy: 'explaining' the emergence of money whilst
> abstracting from the
> > existence and substance of value is like 'explaining' the emergence of
> language
> > whilst abstracting from the fact that it achieves reference, that it
> has a semantic as
> > well as syntactic side.
>That is very well put and I think not an analogy.

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Sat Jun 05 2004 - 00:00:01 EDT