Re: Money, mind and the ontological status of value

From: Costas Lapavitsas (Cl5@SOAS.AC.UK)
Date: Fri Jun 04 2004 - 11:21:55 EDT

Hi Rakesh,

I think that we have different aims. I don't want to work out what Marx really 'does' in the first three chapters of Capital. It seems to me that he does many things, some of astonishing power, but not all mutually compatible. Also, a bit more clarity by Marx himself would have done no harm. What exactly prevented him, for instance, from stating unequivocally whether he is talking about capitalist exchange or about commodity exchange across history? Anyway, I have no interest at all in working out the 'right' way of interpreting Marx on either value or money. My concern is with the analytical process of money's emergence. Some sections of the first three chapters of Capital offer decisive insight on this issue. 

On the substantive point you raise, I see no problem with stating that money monopolises direct exchangeability through the same process that makes money the representative of value for all other commodities. Money is the universal equivalent because it can buy all others, which is the other side of the coin of representing value for all others. It seems to me that you can't have one without the other.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rakesh Bhandari <rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU>
Date: Fri, 4 Jun 2004 07:16:37 -0700
Subject: Re: Money, mind and the ontological status of value

At 11:59 AM +0000 6/4/04, Costas Lapavitsas wrote:
>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.

Yet it seems that in Capital part I Marx is attempting to give a
logico-historical account not of what money is or of its universal
property of direct exchangeability but of how one commodity (gold in
particular) came to specialize in the function of expressing the
value of all the other commodities, as universal equivalent.

That is, it seems to me that we may be differing about  of precisely
what it is that Marx is giving an account.

Also, wouldn't the direct exchangeability of money against all other
commodities derive from the form which it acquires as a result of it
having come to specialize in the expression of value of all other
commodities? That is, money then enjoys direct exchangeability
because it is the universal equivalent, because it is the commodity
which specializes in the function of expressing the value of all the
other commodities?

>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.

But it does not seem to be the only or even main aspect in which Marx
is most interested in the first part of Capital.

Again my reading may be incorrect!

Yours, Rakesh

>  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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Jun 07 2004 - 00:00:01 EDT