Re: Money, mind and the ontological status of value

From: Costas Lapavitsas (Cl5@SOAS.AC.UK)
Date: Fri Jun 04 2004 - 07:59:31 EDT


I'm not quite clear about the point you are making, but I have never argued that money's uniqueness comes from one of its functions. On the contrary, the functions of money arise out of what money is. Key to the latter is a property that holds for all forms of money, namely monopoly over the ability to buy, or direct exchangeability. Marx's analysis of the forms of value can be interpreted as demonstration of how a commodity acquires this property. For this, it is necessary to specify the economics of the 'relative - equivalent' relationship in the simple form of value. 

Along lines established by the Uno school, I think that a defining aspect of the equivalent is its rudimentary ability to exchange directly with the relative. Money can then be shown to emerge as the direct exchangeability of the equivalent in the simple form becomes progressively monopolised by one commodity across the process of exchange. In my view, the analytical demonstration of this process, especially the passage from the expanded to the general and from the general to the money form, inevitably also relies on non-economic forces, including custom. In short, money is a product of commodity relations in exchange, but its emergence (perhaps the 'ideal genesis' that you refer to) also depends on non-economic forces. Endogeneity is not simply economic here.



-----Original Message-----
From: Rakesh Bhandari <rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU>
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 2004 07:46:13 -0700
Subject: Re: Money, mind and the ontological status of value

At 2:02 PM +0000 6/3/04, Costas Lapavitsas wrote:
>Not really, Andy, we don't have to know in advance what something is
>in order to know how it emerges. I agree with Mike on this one. On
>money and value, it is important to be clear on the question we are
>trying to answer. For me, the most difficult question is, given a
>commodity set, what makes a money commodity unique? This could be
>answered in many ways, I suppose, but I think that the key is
>money's property to buy all else, which creates a fundamental
>asymmetry with other commodities.

You can't say money's uniqueness is rather in its having come to
specialize in the function of expressing the value of all the other
commodities, as universal equivalent. And you can't say this because
money in its origin did not serve the function of measuring value,
though it did monopolize direct exchangeability (for money to have
served the function of measuring value, other conditions of
possibility had to be in place--I understand you to be arguing).  But
perhaps Marx is not interested in history or the analytics of money's
emergence per se but rather only in the logico-historical of how one
commodity did in fact come to specialize in said function. That is,
Marx's history only follows after, and is strictly delimited by, his
structural analysis of the functional specialization money achieves
in the bourgeois mode of production (if Godelier is right). This is
why his account is an ideal genesis of the money form rather than an
actual history and analysis of money's emergence and varied roles and
functions. It may also be why chartalist concerns do not impinge on
Marx's project of an "ideal genesis of the money form".  I return
again to this phrase because I think our understanding of Marx rides
on it. But I am well be wrong!
I look forward to reading your new book from Routledge.

Yours, rakesh

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