Re: Money, mind and the ontological status of value

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Fri Jun 04 2004 - 15:36:07 EDT

At 3:21 PM +0000 6/4/04, Costas Lapavitsas wrote:
>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

I think the causal order matters very much to Marx's argument, in
particular  to his critique of Proudhon, Darimon (Alfredo will
hopefully comment). In defetishizing money, Marx argues that money
has the power of direct exchangeability only because a system of
generalized commodity production and exchange demands a commodity be
selected in which all others express their value (we can trace this
process of selection from simple to general to universal value form,
which is both a logical and historical process; tracing the process
in this way Marx calls an ideal genesis of the money form). That then
gives money the fetishistic power of direct exchangeability. Money
does not have the power outside the system of generalized commodity
exchange which could not have fully developed  without one commodity
having had come to specialize in the function of expressing the value
of all others. Commodity production creates the money fetish; the
fetish object of money does not create commodity production. Hence,
it is utopian to attempt to abolish money (or even interest) without
abolishing generalized commodity production. Marx's argument or so
called monetary theory can be understood in dual terms: a critique of
monetary cranks and a demonstration of the dialectical inversion
money can undergo from facilitator of production to fetter.

>  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.

Yours, Rakesh

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