Re: on money substance and abstract labor

From: Paul C (clyder@GN.APC.ORG)
Date: Fri Jun 04 2004 - 17:40:43 EDT

Rakesh Bhandari wrote:

>> The problem is that an "ideal genesis" can be totally arbitrary: the
>> way one thinks (on some basis or other) that money "ought to have
>> emerged".
> Marx implicitly begins with the recognition that in a system of
> general commodity exchange and production one commodity had come to
> specialize in the function of expressing the value of all the other
> commodities, as universal equivalent. I think Marx is interested in
> the history of money insofar as he can lay out the "practical
> conditions that made both necessary and possible the the
> specialization of a certain category of commodity" in this function
> of universal equivalent (Godelier). Marx is not interested in the
> different forms of money that are encountered in human socities and
> how they emerged but rather only in this specific logico historical
> analysis of money as a universal equivalent. That this is a narrower
> project than a history of money Marx indicates by calling his account
> an "ideal genesis" of money. For this project Marx need not write an
> account account of the emergence of money is actually consistent with
> all what we now know of the history of money.
> I think a lot hangs on the distinction between an ideal genesis and
> an history and a lot hangs on exactly what about money Marx is trying
> to explain in logico-historical terms.

What is 'logico-historical' terms?
The problem with an ideal genesis is that it tells you more about your
theory than it tells you about what happened.  One can have an arbitrary
number of theories from which one can construct ideal histories that
purport to explain the present - on what basis does one then choose
between them?

Aesthetic beauty?

How does one tell which theory is right?

Of course there can be no presentation of the history that is not itself an
interpretation based on a theory, but the weight of evidence seems to me
tilted against the commodity theory of money. I find the arguments of Wray
and Ingham on this score to be convincing, and to fit in with what I have
read from other sources - besides having their own interior logic.


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