[OPE-L] My Name is Weaver

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Thu Apr 13 2006 - 13:30:04 EDT

Mr. Weaver has quite a bit to say, including a bit about the
"culture of needs."  Did he get the story right?

In solidarity, Jerry



Mr. Weaver and Mr. Tailor on the Market

Told by Mr. Weaver

on the Basis of Karl Marx’s “Capital” Vol. I, Chapter 1,3

Narration collected and edited by Raymond Swing


Editors comment.

There are more reasons for bringing this excursus here. First my old
friend Mr. Weaver offered me to tell the chronicle of his life as a weaver
and merchant in old times. Surely, he was a very old man as he began
telling and therefore also a little talkative, perhaps a little too much.
But I decided in the most points to respect his way of expressing himself.
He told a story much similar to that of Karl Marx’s commodity analysis
from the first chapter of his Capital Vol. I – in fact, he somehow
identified himself to one of the persons in this famous and, at the same
time, ignored passage. This, I thought, could be of some interest, also as
a preparation for the next chapter XII of this book, which among other
things shall reflect over Marx’s capital theory as such. On the other
hand, he did this in a rather picturesque way, which very well in some
points also could be understood as an implicit critique of Marx’s own
account. Secondly it could perhaps give my sorely tried readers a much
needed pause to relax after so many pages formalistic arguments.

This Marxian passage is certainly a strange one. Many people – economical
specialists as well as philosophers – do not see its deeper sense at all.
Marx here attempted to describe the ‘inner’ structure of the market
relations; presumably he wanted, on the one hand, to define the concept of
value (in the form of exchange value); on the other hand, I think, he
wanted to determine the nature of money (as a specific form of a
commodity). However, sometimes it is unclear whether this analysis was
assumed to be a strictly formal one or Marx, at the same time, proposed to
describe the historical development of this market function. To the first
point we must say that he did not definitely succeed; he never finished
his formal analysis of money in the form of ‘real’ money, that is, money
in its coined  form, merely as amorphous gold or silver as the ‘general
equivalent commodity’. Therefore, the problem whether money is a commodity
or a sign – or something third? – never became an essential question; Marx
was satisfied on the basis of his ‘materialistic’ ideology to define money
as a special kind of commodity. Nevertheless, Mr. Weaver in his narration,
perhaps unknowingly, in fact ‘finishes’ the Marxian analysis by
implicating the coined money as a special ‘value form V’, not defined by
Marx himself. To the second point of uncertainty, indeed, we must state
that markets could also exist without any claimed ‘general equivalent
commodity’ (as, for instance, in ancient Greece). However, Mr. Weaver in
his narration in an interesting way enlightens essential points about the
nature of structural relationships – indeed of specific
historical-economical as well as of quite general interest – this
therefore being a main reason for bringing this admittedly somehow unusual
form of philosophical narration – also if especially concerned with the
strictly Marxian way of expression.

Therefore I thought it worth to bring this life story of Mr. Weaver with
only a slightly edition from my hand. It simply ‘subjectively’ pulls the
observer himself inside the structure he describes as its I. But we also
notice that Mr. Weaver at a certain point of his story had to introduce an
observer from the outside, that is, a foreigner exactly representing the
third-person stance commenting on Mr. Weaver’s own ‘feelings’ opposite to
Mr. Tailor, his Thou. This is really a very interesting point of his

So, telling his story shall be emphasised as an attempt to ‘come down’
from the heavenly perspective of the so-called sciences, from the ‘God’s
eye perspective’ to a more earth-near perspective where Is and Thous live
together commonly creating all ‘higher’ social activities. So this
narration attempts to give a personal report of the supposed experiences
of my friend Weaver – a historian would rather call it a quite
hypothetical one because it  covers a time span of at least four or five
thousands years! – by going to the market to exchange, respectively, sell
og buy goods. Exactly this first-person vantage point is lost in normal
‘objectivistic’ and ‘scientific’ third-person descriptions of events and
relations. So much to apologise these ‘unscientific’ notions. – But where
Mr. Weaver might have learned his logical symbols must stay an open


My name is Weaver. I am old now. My friend Raymond some time ago asked me
to tell the chronic of my life. He promised to help drawing it up. Well, I
shall try, concentrating on my experiences when going to the marker for
selling my linen and buying other goods for use at home. How just to

      Well, once, time was autumn, the weather growing colder, and my coat
was old. I needed a new one.

      I met my good old friend Mr. Tailor. Just as I, Weaver, wove linen
and other stuffs, so Mr. Tailor tailored cloths. He had just that
day a very fine coat to offer. I would like to have it.

      The only thing I had to offer him in return for the coat was some
linen. Because of making it myself I had plenty of it. And surely
Mr. Tailor would need linen for tailoring. The only problem was how
much he would afford in return for his coat. I had to ask him.

      In fact we didn’t need to talk much about these matters. Tailoring
coats was no subject for necessary talk at all. It was only a matter
of normal activity, of normal making, of using useful tings. It
would have had no sense to tell Mr. Tailor about wearing coats and
my special needs in this connection. Of course, at home I could talk
to my wife about such needs, but that had nothing to do with my
actual question about Mr. Tailor’s affordance. In this connection
there were not much to talk about and so it neither had sense at all
to use the little word “I”!

      Essential was only this one point: I knew what I wanted, a coat.
This was my purpose, my sole reason for the encounter. I didn’t tell
about my special needs because using coats in the winter was a mere
matter of course. It was enough to look at this single one, touch
it, notice its quality, etc., for imagining its use in the cold
season. Correspondingly Mr. Tailor touched my linen having his own
imaginations. He only had to make me understand how much linen he
wanted in return. So, in fact, was our custom in such matters for
many years.

      Sorry, pointing on my linen he clearly wanted 25 yards of it; I
would rather have proposed 15 yards. Nevertheless, we had to behave
friendly and neither he or I might eventually feel cheated. We had
to come to an agreement.

      What did this mean to us? He proposed 25 yards in return for the
coat; I shook my head. Then I proposed 15 yards and he shook his
head. If we let W means the feelings of me, Mr. Weaver, and T the
feelings of Mr. Tailor and further let ‘…> …’ mean ‘Your demand … is
too much in return for my…’, then we could state the situation in
the following more formal way:

        W(25 yards l) > T(1 c),  and

        T(1 c) > W(15 yards l)

      We had to continue bargaining in this way. Eventually, we came to
the a proposal of 20 yards linen in return for the coat. Now both of
us agreed. That is, now we agreed; neither he nor I felt cheated by
this exchange. It needed no verbal expression at all; bodily
signalling sufficed. So we found:

         W(20 yards l)  NOT GREATER THAN  T (1 c),  and

         T(1 c)  NOT GREATER THAN  W(20 yards l)

      Strange to say, besides us stood a third person. We did not know
him, he surely did not belong to our town at all. I propose he was a
stranger curious to observe how foreign people managed their lives.
He wondered what had happened between us and mumbled something what
I did not quite understand. I myself thought the situation quite
clear and so, I think, did Mr. Tailor. We had good understandings of
each other. First later, I think, I properly understood what the
stranger really had meant.

      His idea as I understand it today was that just as to me (as in 1a)
the 25 yards of linen was too much in regard to the coat so to him
the 15 yards of linen was too little. This meant that (1b) T(1 c) >
W(15 yards l) could also be expressed W(15 yards l) < T(1 c). This
seemed relatively clear. So he also changed the expression of our
agreement (2ab) into W(20 yards l) NOT GREATER THAN  T(1 c) and W(20
yards l)  NOT SMALLER THAN   T(1 c). That is, what he tried to tell
us was that we mutually assumed that the coat was ‘worth’ my 20
yards of linen and that my 20 yards of linen was ‘worth’ this coat.
This, of course, was simply our two statements about our feelings
insofar stating our agreement.

      But we surely didn’t understand was that he thought his statement to
be about the two goods as such. First much later I saw what he had
meant. I shall try to express this a little more clearly. Mr. Tailor
and I had, in fact, made two subjective statements about the same
situation on the market; and further, in our view, they were both
‘true’ — and only ‘true’ — together; that is, we felt both satisfied
by the agreement (2ab) and insofar also understood the foreigner’s
assumptions. In common, and only in common, these expressions could
represent this single situation of personal agreement. Nothing else.
The essential point to him as a third person was, first, that they
together built the following conjunction:

(3)                                                   W(20 yards l) NOT
GREATER THAN  T(1 c)  Ù  W(20 yards l)  NOT SMALLER THAN  T(1 c);

second, that this expression about what both of us immediately felt now
was not concerned with ourselves and our own thoughts but rather with our
goods as such. This was, at least, what he had tried to tell us.

      This conjunction consisted of two opposite negations: to me the 20
yards linen were not too much and, at the same time, to Mr. Tailor
it was not too little. It was a strange conjunction about two
opposite feelings. Or was it – ? It was this strange uncertainty
that wondered both of us. But just because of this strange
conjunction of ‘feelings’, I, Mr. Weaver, and my adversary, Mr.
Tailor, could now — still tacitly — do something with our goods that
we had not could before: We could exchange them! I got the coat, he
got the linen. A quite new way of encountering each other had here
been created. How really explain it? But first the third person, the
foreigner, had tried through his curious statement about our
feelings to tell us that our goods thereby themselves were made
movable relative to each other.  And so both of us, in fact, learned
to view the situation here as if we ourselves were ‘foreigners’,
‘third persons’ making one single decision that satisfied both and
so made the exchange possible – and so there really was nothing more
to agree about! In fact, Mr. Tailor and I, I felt, were slowly
disappearing from the picture…

      So in this way slowly I assumed that Mr. Tailor’s coat was ‘worth’
my 20 yards of linen and vice versa. Besides expressing our double
satisfaction, that is, besides saying something about this otherwise
inexpressible relationship between our needs, I now accepted that
this ‘subjective’ double relation (3) also could be understood as a
more ‘objective’ expression of the relation between the two goods as
such. Symbolising this change by writing the things with capital
letters so that L means linen and C means coat we get:

(4)                                                             20 yards L

                      But what could this expression really mean? Mr.
Tailor and I here – taking a vantage point just like
the foreigner at that time – simply compared linen
and a coat ‘objectively’ as two “its” in the third
person – but in which real sense did I do that? That
is, relative to what? I really don’t know! However,
this expression seemed quite interesting to me.
Without trying to guess the mood and needs of any
other people I obviously could now have some
expectations about how much linen I had to offer
next time I needed a coat, for example, for my wife
or children, or some other goods. This, of course,
did not mean that bargaining was no longer needed in
such situations; but now I could do it without
necessarily speculate about the feelings of others.
Such empathic feelings could now be abstracted from.
From now on we could concentrate only on the goods
themselves in their ‘market’ relation and quietly
abstract from all other moments in the ‘environment’
of these ‘objective’ relationships.

Box 1         Value form I

 The simple, Isolated, or Accidental Form of Value

   x commodity A = y commodity B, or x commodity A is worth y commodity B.
(20 yards of linen = 1 coat, or: 20 yards of linen are worth 1 coal).

                                         (Marx 1990, Capital I, p. 139)

      What I here had experienced was just what the man Karl Marx many
years later called the Simple, Isolated, or Accidental Form of
Value, his value form I (cf. box 1). But, really, what Marx thereby
talked about was only about a form of market functioning which, in
some obvious way, already had been institutionalised. But this was
hardly the situation I experienced the first ‘simple’ encounter
about the coat. This functional institutionalisation developed only
gradually. First many years later, when needing things, we all went
to this special place called the market and we all had things in
plenty to give in return. However, if we had nothing to give in
return we really had nothing to do there at all. How then satisfy
our needs? We would then simply have to make all things ourselves
and help each other as we always had done – hope someone would give
us them as a gift or in the last instance, steel them. But this is
something quite different. Surely, we also did so now and then, but
I shall not at all tell about such things here.

      But note that just in the new way of talking about these things
themselves – also in their assumed ‘simple, isolated, or accidental’
form – the interpersonal moment of fourthness of the relational
structure of this situation (as well as all later market situations
too) this fourthness principle was transformed into something quite
different that we didn’t quite understand. This ‘objectified’ way of
expression represented something absolutely distinguished from
ourselves, our subjective feelings and needs, etc., that is,
abstracting all real ‘meanings’ of the things outside the market.
This was, in fact, the essential problem when in more recent years
we began talking about things as ‘use-values’. However, many would
surely praise just this special way of thinking and talking about
the things as especially ‘scientific’.

Box 2                Commodities

   Commodities come into the world in the form of use-values or material
goods, such as iron, linen, corn, etc. This is their plain, homely,
natural form. However, they are only commodities because they have a
dual nature, because they are at the same time objects of utility and
bearers of value. Therefore they only appear as commodities, or have
the form of commodities, in so far as they possess a double form, i.e.,
natural form and value form. (Marx 1990, Capital I, p. 138)

      The only real material change which had taken place was the two
goods changing  hands; nothing else had happened. Surely, neither
Mr. Tailor nor I were at that time interested in theoretical
speculations about market economy; we at that time didn’t know about
any such problems at all! We worked and made our mute transactions,
that was all; and we had learned without trouble to exchange our
surplus products. The subjective meaning of the whole matter was
still determined by our behavioural conditions of life quite outside
these exchange situations. And nevertheless, the foreigner had told
us about our own ‘feelings’ on the market place, which we ourselves
only tacitly would ‘have had’!

      Therefore, in this market situation vis-à-vis Mr. Tailor, the
primary problem to me was exclusively to guess how much he
personally needed linen. Of course, I was eager to show him its
quality; but I had no possibility to compel or force him to accept
my offer. In this way we both had our free will.

      In this way we certainly could call ourselves a ‘Two Component
System’ realising a situation of ‘Double Contingency’ generated
occasionally for this one encounter. And so we ‘mirrored’ the
actions of the other and ‘understood’ them. As we eventually left
the market, this ‘system’ again dissolved. Between Mr. Tailor and me
– besides an old friendship – there only had existed two estimated
goods being, so to say, the medium for our feelings in this
encounter. There was no debate in words; both of us knew our needs,
the goods of the adversaries, and it sufficed tacitly to refer to
them in accordance to our every day knowledge about them and their
use. Comparing the goods we primarily, in fact, only compered our
needs. Had it already been hard winter at that time I perhaps had
been forced to accept more linen in return because my needs then had
been more acute. In a quite formal sense we could therefore say that
we had stated nothing at all besides this mute relation between
personal needs and inclinations. Only the foreigner had here shown
us a new perspective.

      Nevertheless, Mr. Tailor’s had manifested his needs and interests,
and through the way he estimated my linen I had learned to accept
such needs of others and to estimate their strength. My own needs so
far had never been any problem to me. I was forced to assume that
Mr. Tailor  had needs for linen just in the same way as I had for
the coat. Such  feelings are strange things! The linen of mine,
suddenly, had got a quite new sense to me. I can feel my own needs,
I cannot feel the feelings of others. Or can I – ? I empathetically
understood him very well. By the behaviour of the other I emphasised
that linen altogether had a specific meaning to other people just as
it had to Mr. Tailor and whom it therefore also could refer to.

      It was quite specific things we went to exchange in this early
market time. First, we had to have our own goods in plenty.
Presumably we made all these things ourselves; but that meant that
we made them without personal interest in using them ourselves;  nor
we made them with any empathic interest in other people using them
(therefore the ontologically strange principle of fourthness); we
made them only for giving them in return to other goods from someone
we possibly didn’t know at all. We only had to estimate whether the
goods intended for exchange could be of some interest to other
people so that it had sense to make them at all. Surely, had my
linen not been able to satisfy a relatively commonly distributed
need I would not have been able to use in return for other things;
all goods carried to the market had to be of some general rather
than personal interest to others, that is, to be usefull things only
in the view of the others.

      In this sense we therefore can say that the goods on the market
always had a double function. For me the linen as my ‘tool’ gave me
the possibility to get another thing; this was the sense of saying
that the linen had ‘value’ for me. So in my own perspective this
good had ‘value-form’. At  the same time, surely, you could say that
it also embodied the trouble I had had by making it; but this
trouble was really of no interest for people needing linen at home –
only, now they escaped making it themselves. On the other hand, they
now had similar troubles, I think, by making their own goods for the

      However, to Mr. Tailor the linen satisfied a certain need; to him –
not to me – it had ‘use-value’. To me the coat was only a useful
thing – but, nevertheless, after meeting the foreigner by the
exchange with Mr. Tailor I in my imagination could also see that
this coat had ‘use-value’ to me and so we came to the agreement
about the (in this case quantitative) exchange relation now viewed
as an ‘objective’ relation. On the one hand, therefore,  to me the
coat represented, or ‘had’, a use-value, on the other hand, it was
just the useful thing I got in return for my ‘valuable’ linen –
which now was spent for ever. So we could say that under the
condition of our agreement the use-value of the coat expressed, or
‘mirrored’, the value of my linen – just as, in the same sense, Mr.
Tailor would have said that my linen by being ‘worth’ his coat
‘mirrored’ the use-value of my linen to him. However, the strange
feeling by this wording came from this double essence of being
‘worth’ and having ‘use-value’. My linen was lost for ever, and my
new coat simply was a good and useful thing. As long as we stood in
the market place I had imagined its ‘use-value’, now at home I
appreciated its usefulness.

Box 3            The equivalent form

   By means of the value relation, therefore, the natural form of
commodities B becomes the value-form of commodity A, in other words the
physical body of commodity B becomes a mirror for the value of
commodity A. Commodity A, then, in entering into a relation with
commodity B as an object of value [Wertkörper], as a materialization of
human labour, makes the use-value B into the material through which its
own value is expressed. The value of commodity A, thus expressed in its
use-value of commodity B, has the form of relative value. (Marx 1990,
Capital I, p.144)

      This isolated mutual mirroring relation between the two goods as
such meant, that Mr. Tailor and I, before the actual exchange, saw
our situation in an ‘objective’ way as a somehow ‘frozen’ situation
of exchange possibility, that is, in the sense of a somehow
confirmed but not yet realized agreement, that is, not yet really
decided in action. Exactly in this situation the coat opposite to my
linen had achieved its ‘equivalence form’. As Marx noted so many
years later (cf. Marx 1990, p. 148-51), I also had noted the three
peculiarities of this situation. The use-value of the coat was
transformed into the mere mirroring appearances of its opposite, the
‘being worth’ a definite piece of my linen, or, as we now say, of
its ‘value’ – this, however, meaning nothing else than its actual
and general possibility of being spent in exchange for some foreign
good having use-value to me.

      A second peculiarity was that this practical (‘concrete’) but merely
imagined use-value of the coat mirrored the ‘abstract’ work of
making something for exchange. In the case of Mr. Tailor I was lucky
to find him just needing linen of my quality.

      Finally, I now had to acknowledge that my own work making linen,
this very creation of the fourthness principle to me — at least as a
possibility — had some essential meaning to all other people on the
market, not only to Mr. Tailor; it was as if I, so to say, now made
linen for the whole community – or, at least, simply for ‘mirroring’
their own market goods.

      In fact, all our thoughts about this market and how it really
functioned grew from now on more and more in the direction of such
‘objective’ relationships viewed as ‘frozen’ agreement situations.
This was more and more often seen as the ‘real’ point of the actual
market situation. Of course, the different goods could always be
needed by someone; but only under these market conditions the goods
generally had ‘use-value’ to all their interested non-possessors and
‘value’ (explicitly, exchange-value) for their uninterested
possessors; never they had both value and use-value to the same
person. These moments — structurally being specific properties of
the goods on the market — were inseparable in relation to the single
good on the market but, at the same time, mutually exclusive to
different people.

      These specific relationships on the market got first their special
‘sense’ by their ‘thawing out’. As long as being ‘frozen’ they
neither embodied feelings, needs, interests, troubles, faculties or
actions outside the market. With their double determination the
goods on the market were the commodities. On the other hand, the
whole market structure had certainly ‘meaning’ to the social life
outside the market for all people were really involved in this
market function. So long being a commodity this ‘meaning’, so to
say, was non-local. When these relations had been ‘thawed out’, for
example, in the moment I ‘bought’ the coat, this coat and this linen
stopped being commodities. Both changed their ‘form’ into useful
things on two distinct localities and would (in principle) never be
brought to the market again for further exchange. After being sold
the ‘meaning’ of the commodities now referred to their usual
functions in everyday life where they belonged – as such having
neither ‘value’ nor ‘use-value’, and a good without value and
use-value is no commodity at all. We could really talk about buying
and selling as a ‘commodity collapse’.

      In this light our commodities could be viewed as absolutely
ephemeral entities – just as, as someone later told me that Niklas
Luhmann once had said, that such a “social system [was] based on
instability”, but this then necessarily counteracted by its
‘autopoietic’ processes (Luhmann 1995, p. 118) This counteraction
was a moment of that institutionalisation of the market that I
already mentioned (this, however, clearly contradicting its claimed
character of first being “simple, isolated, and accidental”!). But
all in all, this general function, in fact, drew the structure of
the market forward into its value form II.

However, after the meaningful actions with coat and linen and, in the
course of time, with many other goods in reward for linen my attention
concerning the feelings of others relative to linen gradually changed; it
grow into a rather general attention towards the specific meaning of this
good to others. My whole ‘world’ thereby increased from containing the
unproblematic relation between me and different things to encompass also
the relations of these Thous to my linen. In fact, without the possibility
of saying “Thou” understanding the “Thou” as the familiar adversary of “I”
it had no sense at all to say this “I”! And this new structure of the
world was in the last instance alone based on encounters mediated by some

      But also this ‘objective’ “it” was, first, the coat in its special
relationship to a single “Thou”, Mr. Tailor. In some way the
‘objectifying’ and ‘generalising’ “it” that the foreign third person
had learned us to be the basis of the expressions (3-4) above for
both coat and linen surely obscured the difference between these
goods. The coat was my correct and true object of the situation, my
linen (Raymond once called it my ‘alloject’) embodied the moment of
fourthness. Only this gave the whole situation as a market scene its
special meaning.

      But fact was that the market of these days soon developed into a
place where many people came with a lot of different goods for
exchange. This was just the point; the structural dissolution of the
market was counteracted by the steady supply of  new goods offered
as commodities. Of course, the newly arrived people had to me only
personally interest in so far I needed their goods, for example,
tea, coffee, corn, iron, etc., things I could not make myself – and
especially, insofar their owners were interested in linen. I really
hoped so – but could never be sure. Really, my interests in the
market grow as time went.

Box 4                       Value form II

            The Total or Expanded Form of Value

   z commodity A = u commodity B or = v commodity C or = w commodity D or
= x commodity E or = etc.

   (20 yards of linen = 1 coat, or = 10 lb. tea, or = 40 lb. coffee, or =
1 quarter of corn, or = 2 ounces of gold, or = ½ ton of iron, or =
etc.)   (Marx 1990, Capital I, p. 154-5)

      So, going to the market with my linen I was now confronted with a
lot of other commodities. The market itself had expanded. As in the
case of the coat, I still had to bargain with my adversaries and,
when coming to an agreement, exchange could be realized. My linen
could now be exchanged with all other kinds of goods offered there;
its exchangeability expanded to the totality of market commodities.

      On the market you were never alone. First, the whole sense of the
market behaviour was that I (first-person to me) meat Mr. Tailor as
my thou (second-person to me) in the hope of receiving the object,
the coat as my it (third-person to me) on the condition of
agreement. The fourth moment alone in this situation, the structural
fourthness moment to me, my own linen (truly in this strict
ontological sense being no ‘it’ at all!) made the whole situation a
market scene. The new was the many Thous between which, and
especially their commodities, I now had to ‘navigate’ to select the
right objective its to me for buying them on the most favourable
conditions relative to my linen. In this complex ‘navigation’ the
uniting and sense-giving principle of fourthness, this ‘non-it’, was
that which structurally defined, even, so to say, embodied my own
‘navigating’ awareness, my ‘dealer’s qualia’ – this concept, of
course, mentioned in the common sense third-person way of talking
but really being quite indefinable. Here talking about ‘navigation’
Raymond told me that he already had quoted a lot of passages from
Rodney Cotterill so I think this can suffice (cf., for example,
Cotterill 1998, pp. 357 and 429).

      Of course, I could not buy all these many commodities myself with my
piece of linen. So again I had to estimate my possibilities
visualising the ‘frozen’ market situation in principle expressing
the total sum of already made (or possibly to be made) agreements.
That is, I visualised for ‘navigating’ my real possibilities but
without yet realising any of them. This I meant when talking about
the market as a structure in which I ‘navigated’ as the subjective
agent equipped with my conscious awareness relative to my fourthness
principle – which, however, at that time did not in any way foster
further ideas about this market and its way of functioning.

      It was also difficult really to imagine this ‘frozen’ but very
complex situation. My linen had become too many ‘mirror’ pictures!
It was foreign to me; and it was difficult to imagine the whole
corresponding totality of others, their feelings and needs. I saw
the foreign commodities, recognised their possible relations to my
own linen, heard the bargaining around me, and tried to infer about
the whole social situation. This, in a very abstract way,
characterised to me the whole sense of the value form II of the
actual fourthness principle, of my linen.

But yeah! Some strange thoughts came to me on this extended market – and,
I am sure, all others had the same ideas. But, of course, this I don’t
know for certain, we never talked about such things.

      How many needs there are in the world, how many needs to refer to on
the market! I not only experienced the whole culture of meaningful
needs and interests; the market changed this ‘culture of needs’ into
one whole – it itself quite undifferentiated – ‘culture of
scarcity’, this ‘culture’ being represented by the totality of
things and goods now being merely ’allojects’ relative to me. Long
time the only thing of interest to me, Weaver, was the totality of
people actually needing linen. This is also why I called myself a
weaver. Otherwise it could have sufficed to make linen for myself,
my family, my local friends and other people in the neighbourhood as
I always had done. We had always helped each other, of course,
without because of this necessarily demanding things in return.

      But suddenly being aware of the whole ‘culture of needs’ negating
itself into a ‘culture of scarcity’ I now became aware of my own
activity for contradicting this negativity in my own function as a
‘professional’ weaver. To weave my linen in this way was something
quite new to me — even when the work as such was exactly as it
always had been. I felt myself caught by this expanded market. What
I before had felt as the third peculiarity of the market function
had now been manifest to me. I was aware of working for a – as I
hoped – steadily linen wanting assembly of people in principle being
the whole totality of the market visitors. Their commodities offered
on the market, on the other hand, represented in this ‘frozen’ form
the totality of allojective value equivalents to my linen. Even
more; this expanded market likewise represented to me a whole
‘culture of abundance’ in which I only had to decide what to bay –
never mind who I especially loved to encounter. I only had to
choose, to ‘navigate’, without any further referents but my own
limited linen – let alone any ‘inner’ debates between some ‘self’
and the ‘I’; such sophisticated ideas were, at that time, still
quite unknown to us.

      All this changed my weaving from being a local and individual work
into a social one, its non-locality of meaning determined by the
market itself. This work as such was now the very basis of this
fourthness principle to me and took therefore the form of ‘abstract’
labour for the sake of the totality of the others – on the footing
of all other forms of work making the same change for their

      I now saw myself not only as the possible seller, but also – as a
precondition for this – as a ‘worker’ like all others. This gave us
all a strange feeling – and, I am sure, all experienced it in the
same way. Why was it so? What had we done for the market to change
in this way? In fact, we had done nothing! Without premeditating it
simply expanded through more exchange. It, so to say, only happened
behind our backs. I had become a ‘weaver’; Mr. Tailor had become a
‘tailor’. We simply all were now integrated into this bigger,
over-individual, that is, ‘social’ structure with divided labour and
some kind of an ‘economy’. Surely, a funny thing! Al simply emerged
out of our everyday lives without at once being aware of the
transformation. We all found it good when we ‘worked’ more than we
ever had done before. Only afterwards we slowly realised what had
happened to all of us – and someone said too late!

Box 5            Value form III

        (c) The General Form of Value

1 coat      )

10 lb. of tea          )

40 lb. of coffee      )

1 quarter of corn   )    =  20 yards of linen

 2 ounces of gold   )

½ ton of iron         )

x commodity A etc.)

                                 (Marx 1990, Capital I, p.157)

      My linen in the perspective in which I saw it now essentially
changed its function and to me became the ‘general equivalent
commodity’ for all other commodities in their totality. In the
terminology of Marx it thereby had achieved its general form of
value, its form III. This meant that not only was linen my means for
buying other commodities; it now also – through its availability in
principle to all other sellers – ‘mirrored’ all their
‘value’-commodities. So I ‘valued’ all other commodities in yards of
my own linen! That is, in a certain way this one commodity embodying
the fourthness principle to me now represented something common to
al other commodities on our market. That was the strange – and
disquieting – matter of fact: my own ‘subjective’ awareness and
activity projected itself out on the distributed totality of foreign
people and their commodities, thereby creating a whole world to me
of ‘allo-objects’.

      So, in a certain sense I created my own world where exactly linen
represented the specific non-locality principle of the market as a
whole. But this was – and still is – a personal problem to me: how
far am I myself dependent of this market function, on the supply of
commodities and so on others steady need for just linen – and how
far can I myself decide my actions in this world of ‘my own’? I
can’t say. I simply worked and worked. What to do for really
securing my and my family’s life, the life of my friends etc., if
the situation changed? How then to ’navigate’? It was really to me
as if a higher force was at stake here forcing all of us to work
without really knowing why. Somebody, already for a long time,
talked about some powerful ‘God’ somewhere in the sky. I don’t know…

On the other hand, in our daily lives except for this nothing decisive had
changed. It was only when thinking about the market that everything was
changed. I felt myself split into a double person the one side of me
living as always at home being a common man with family and friends, the
other side of me thinking as a professional weaver making lot of linen for
unknown people. So I myself changed my ‘form’ from being a single common
individual into a generalised ‘social’ individual.

      This also meant to me, that my linen  and my personal troubles by
making it – this, in the eyes of the others of the market society,
in fact, ’valueless’ general equivalent commodity – insofar came
into the whole market’s awareness referring to my own awareness,
resources and the energy spent by weaving linen. In part it was
really valued through the spent time, which, however, were never
measured as such at that time; but of course, the available time to
work set some limits for the quantity of linen to be changed for
other goods. But, on the other hand, all these things were the
market function exactly as immaterial as the needs satisfied after
acquisition of the goods, all such ‘subjective’ moments belonging to
the market’s environment, the ‘life sphere’. Surely, these things
gave in every respect the market function its genuine ‘meaning’ but
never belonged in any way to the market itself, was not
‘represented’ to us and therefore, at that time, quite unknown.

      Not only I felt myself split by this market function. Seen from my
own point of view my linen was split too. It had always had two
opposite functions. If using it in return for all the other goods it
had, of course, value to me (value form II). Viewing it as other’s
common reference commodity (as their general equivalent, value form
III) it had no sense at all to talk about value. Of course, as a
weaver it would be meaningless to me to go to the market for getting
linen (at least of the same quality as my own). The real curiosity
was that the linen thereby as a ‘concretum’ to me materialised a
self-referential role through the relational conjunction of being
outwardly oriented as a form II commodity and, at the same time,
being a backwards oriented one of the form III.

      Was my linen then a real commodity at all? Practically on the
market, Yes; to me ‘logically’ No. But this curious ‘exclusion’ of
the personal fourthness moment to me, in fact, affected all other
people on the market in exactly the same way. So, all could rather
confidently behave as if nothing had happened!

However, gradually many new ways of thinking developed on the background
of this new value form III market.

                      First, not only (as in value form II) I mirrored the
value of my own linen in exemplars all the other
commodities on the market; but by way all these
opposite commodities mirroring themselves in pieces
of my linen made me to think about them in a new
way. In the case of possible exchange agreements
above I had formulated the shorthand expression (4)
20 yards L NOT GREATER THAN  C  Ù  20 yards L  NOT
SMALLER THAN  1 C. From the viewpoint of Mr. Tailor,
of course, we could have expressed the mirroring of
his coat - and in principle of quantities of all
other commodities – in pieces of my linen. In its
relation to the coat we correspondingly could now

(5)                                                     1 C NOT GREATER
THAN 20 yards L  Ù  1 C  NOT SMALLER THAN  20 yards L.

      But in return for my 20 yards of linen I could, for instance, also
have got 10 lb. of tea, or 40 lb. of coffee, etc. (form II). So we
analogue to (5) also had:

(6)                                      10 lb. tea NOT GREATER THAN 20
yards L  Ù  10 lb. tea  NOT SMALLER THAN  20 yards L,

                                           40 lb.coffee NOT GREATER THAN
20 yards L  Ù  40 lb.coffee


      In our system-theoretical way of thinking we had assumed all these
exchange relations to be valid under the condition of the above
mentioned ‘frozen’ market situation. These different possibilities
would to me have been equivalent, would have made no difference for
my existence as a weaver — but surely in my daily life of using
these things. This was the problem of choice.

      Second. The formal change of my linen into the self-referring
general equivalent commodity had further consequences for how to
view and, eventually, describe what happened on the market. We now
talked about commodities having ‘value’, for example, being ‘worth’
a certain length of linen. However, we had no understanding of what
such a ‘value’ or being ‘worth’ really meant except just expressing
this exchange possibility. Nevertheless, we now used the term in
everyday language – just as old Augustin when talking about time!
Also we could have said: When not asked about value, we all knew
what it is, but asked about it we didn’t!

      But also this curious situation came in the course of time to a
change. If we infer that insofar two things in all essential aspects
can be expressed, or described, in the exactly same way, then these
things must be the same, so we also inferred: Two commodities having
the same ‘value’ relative to (that is, represented or mirrored by)
the same equivalent commodity had to be mutually equi-valent, that
is, had the same ‘value’.

      But: how to ‘find’ that ‘value’? We couldn’t. We couldn’t find it by
looking in the inner of any commodity, we couldn’t experience it in
any way. “Not an atom of matter enters into the objectivity of
commodities as value; is this it is the direct opposite of the
coarsely sensuous objectivity of commodities as physical objects”
(Capital I, Marx 1990, p. 138) as Marx once wrote.

      This strange value essence was merely the result of being produced
for market exchange under the condition of possible exchange
agreements. Only under this (‘subjective’) condition we were allowed
to make such ‘objective’ inferences about our commodities having
‘value’ (in the sense of exchange value). When taken out of this
hypothetical market situation they were simply useful things — or
unable to be sold, in fact, nothing but waste.

       Let us look at this strange concept of ‘value’ and see how we, at
that time, became aware of it. If two commodities having the same
‘value’ relative to a common equivalent commodity were equivalent,
that is, really had the same ‘value’, then, in fact, we no longer
had to talk about my linen at all when talking about the values of
other commodities such as coats, tea, coffee, corn, etc. We only
had to assume that the linen – on this ‘frozen’ market – could have
been given in exchange for certain quantities of all other
commodities; but this would then only have been a hypothetical
question on the condition of my own existence as a weaver. On the
contrary, I – and all others with me, that is, we – could now
really speak about foreign commodities in the ‘objective’ way. We
could express ‘objectivity’, first, by generating the following
equivalence relation:

(7)          If                          10 lb. tea NOT GREATER THAN 20
yards L  Ù  10 lb. tea  NOT SMALLER THAN  20 yards L,

               and if                   40 lb. coffee NOT GREATER THAN 20
yards L  Ù  40 lb. coffee  NOT SMALLER THAN  20 yards L,

               then not only         10 lb. tea NOT GREATER THAN 40 lb.
coffee  Ù  10 lb. tea  NOT SMALLER THAN  40 lb. coffee,

               but also:


      A German fellow which I meat at that time, if I am right his name
was Ruben, curiously called this deduction a ‘Setzung’. I did not
quite understand what he meant. But it was clear to me that we now
thought – or perhaps better: felt – that there had to be something
common to coats, tea, coffee, corn, etc., or something ‘in’ these
different things as long as they stayed on the market. This common
‘essence’ could, for example, simply be that they all were produced
just like I had produced my linen and so been carried to the market
for sale; or simply that each one commodity represented “in its
reality the ensemble of the social relations” in which it partakes
in our hypothetical ‘frozen’ market situation (as this Marx later
expressed it in his 6th Thesis about Feuerbach, this, however,
related to a hypothetical human ‘essence’). This new concept of
‘value’ as a specific property or ‘essence’ being intimately
associated to the commodities, or contained ‘in’ them – just as the
colour red is connected to tomatoes, weights to stones or lengths to
sticks, etc. – made it possible to us, further to objectify the way
of discussing the assumed agreement relations on the market (of
course, in the third person). We already mentioned the initial
steps: From implicitly comparing needs, we compared commodities;
from comparing commodities we had been aware of this special
property of a objectified, so to say, substantialised
‘value’-essence. This development, therefore, shall be mentioned as
our third point at issue. Certainly, it should not be the last one
in our strange development as market visitors!

      Still under the strong condition that I could keep my position as a
weaver and as such be generally accepted on the market – just as
others kept theirs – it was possible, instead of talking about
equivalence relations between commodities, now, fourth,  also to
talk about simple value identities (above indicated by […]) I
learned after all to argue in this way: If 10 lb. tea NOT GREATER
THAN 40 lb. coffee Ù 10 lb. tea  NOT SMALLER THAN  40 lb. coffee,
then these commodities not only stand in equivalence relation to
each other 10 lb. tea º 40 lb. coffee but that they also in this
concrete relation had, or even contained, ‘something’ in common.
This essential ‘something’ that we registered in our common
awareness was just this concept of quantifiable ‘value’.

      ‘Value’ – really a curious word! Normally when talking about ‘value’
I always think about something good and nice; here it rather means
everything and nothing – merely as an absolutely empty word!

      Well. Call this strange value V. Instead of comparing the value of
my linen in this way (value form II): VL = VT, or VL = VC, or VL =
VI, or VL = … for the values of tea, coffee, iron, etc. I could now
write the opposite equations (value form III): VT = VL, and VC = VL,
and VI = VL, etc. That is, instead of saying VL = VT Ú VC Ú VI Ú …
we now had VL = VT Ù VC Ù VI Ù …

      Therefore, the quantity of the referred to value of some tea is the
same as – or identical to – that of a certain quantity of coffee,
etc. So – still as a weaver – I propose the following definition of
value identity. But corresponding definitions, of course, would be
equally possible for tailors, drivers, etc. If (relative to
commodity A, in the test case my linen as common reference
commodity) the value of a commodity M is NOT GREATER THAN and at the
same time  NOT SMALLER THAN  the value of another commodity N, then
the value of N = the value of M. Call this value of commodity M, VM,
etc., then we have the implication:

(8)                                                  A[VM NOT GREATER THAN

      Immoderately I shall call this way of argument a ‘dialectical’
definition of the concept of equality or identity. In a nontrivial
way, namely, it is the conjugation of two negations of opposite
character – ‘concretely’ – connected in the single concept of
‘value’. Just this is, as my friend and editor says, the core point
of the dialectical way of defining their identity.

      Fifth. Every person on the market saw her or his own commodity as
the common reference commodity. However, this was in the long rum
unsatisfying. Soon we therefore experienced a new development
personally happened to us and again, of course, without being really
aware about it from the beginning.

      The linen materialising the fourthness principle to me and coats to
Mr. Tailor, etc. — and in this function materialising essential
moments of our awarenesses of the whole market situation – through
new light also on my own personal awareness, or ‘consciousness’,
about the whole market situation. The problem was, in fact, a double
one. On the one hand, it concerned commodities, on the other, it
concerned the conscious awareness of all people on the market. Just
as a commodity as such cannot, at the same time, and to the same
person, have both value and use-value, so it was also assumed that
(in form III) my linen to me couldn’t be a real commodity at all.
There inevitably stuck a contradiction to this fourthness thing. And
quite analogously there stuck some contradiction to ourselves as
subjects. As weavers, tailors and so on, that is, as social
individuals, we were all excluded from our simple old-fashioned home
life as ‘common humans’.

      At first linen as the non-commodity to me was – just to me –
excluded from the real market, coats to Mr. Tailor, coffee and tea
to others; but how then really compare the commodities around us? We
never discussed this ‘logic’ problem seriously; however, one day we
found that it had solved itself! I shall tell you what had happened;
but what, at the same time, happened to our awareness was more
difficult to explain – in fact, it was really inexpressible!

I was clearly aware of my own ‘navigating’ on the market. I, the subject,
was seeking my object, an it, just the commodity I needed for my life at
home, and so I experienced the relationship to some Thous. This was all
contained in the definition of the value form II. Emphasising my linen in
the value form III, on the other hand, it was no object. It was a part of
me, my property, a value thing – but no ‘it’ (no third-person but rather a
piece of my fourthness principle), a moment of my awareness by
‘navigation’. I experienced myself as an ‘I’, an active ‘navigator’; at
the same time, relative to others I experienced myself as a ‘me’ – but,
however, a ‘me’ cannot act! Correspondingly, to others my linen was an
‘it’, to me, at the same time, it was a ‘non-it’. To others it was
‘material’, to me it was excluded from the material market world – no
matter, whether I saw the linen as a ‘thing’ or not. Was it then rather a
mere ‘idea’?

      The same was the case relative to my awareness. As long as it
referred to a material need – seeking coats, tea, coffee, or iron,
everyone could ’understand’ it. But to myself, relative to my linen,
it simply was; as such it was not immediately to ‘understand’ –
however, neither a ‘problem’ to think about. That came first much
later! It just was the experience of all my actual needs,
activities, memories, etc., to me, to my Self. Insofar also this
awareness in itself was excluded from the world of my material
references. This was the real contradiction when thinking about it,
as awareness as such, as ‘consciousness’. Again, this definition
surely in a dialectical way constituted a self-referential
conjunction between two moments, the subjective (the ‘I’) and the
‘me’ of the simpler communication situation) – these, on the one
hand, conditioning each other because of their dependence here on
the same general value form (form III) but, on the other hand, also
mutually excluding each other while experienced under opposite
perspectives; that is, distinguishable, but inseparable.

      That, I thought, must also be the reason why we cannot experience
the consciousness of others; the immediate empathic understanding
has already long time ago lost its terrain. Now we only can infer
about awareness on the basis of experiencing our own awareness.
Seeing others behave as we would have done ourselves, we unavoidably
also must assume others to be conscious. If not it would be
absolutely impossible to ‘navigate’ at all among them!

Box 6                   Recognising others
   In a certain sense, a man is in the same situation as a commodity. As
he neither enters into the world in possession of a mirror, nor as a
Fichtean philosopher who can say ‘I am I’, a man first sees and
recognizes himself in another man. Peter only relates to himself as a
man through his relation to another man, Paul, in whom he recognizes
his likeness. With this, however, Paul also becomes from head to toe,
in his physical form as Paul, the form of appearance of the species man
for Peter. (Marx 1990, p. 144, note 19)

So, eventually, we must state that consciousness is both material in the
sense of referring to outwards needs, activities, etc. and, at the same
time, inwardly characterised as a passive and non-material existence form,
this, so to say, comprising the double determination as an I and a me,
that is, as a Self. In this indivisible conjunction it is just immaterial.
Nevertheless, in this analogue form III existence we in no way experienced
any form of ‘dialogue’ between these awareness aspects. As a Self, really,
— just as my linen in no real sense, only ‘logically’, was excluded from
the market – also my consciousness as such was ‘logically’ excluded from
the outer world. Materially the formal contradiction of my good was
unmarked; no open conflict referred to such a contradiction. So neither
the contradiction of my Self was marked; no open conflict was referred to
in an inner dialogue. All that had first later to come!

The way we until now had gone relative to the commodities was consequently
that of ‘objectification’. But in the last step we not only objectified
the commodities; without thinking about it we all began to see ourselves
in a somehow more objectified way. This development had already started
long time ago. The general reference commodity A referred to a general
professionalism on which our market society now was based. We not only saw
weavers, tailors, carpenters etc. around us, the commodity A now referred,
so to say, to the generalised professionalism as such, and so also to a
generalised awareness about what happened outside the market. We all
tacitly accepted not only to practice as professionals, we simply lived as
an integrated part of this general market culture of professionalism.

      I shall now try to explain what further happened to us all on this
basis and primarily what happened on the basis of the identity
deduction (8) above. This deduction made it possible for us to
choose a certain commodity of common interest – or rather
non-interest! – as our preferred general reference commodity for
exchange comparison. So, let us repeat and further develop the

(9a)                                    A[VL  NOT GREATER THAN  VM  Ù VL

(9b)                                    A[VN NOT GREATER THAN VM  Ù VN

Box 7      Value form IV

   (d) The Monetary Form of Value

20 yard of linen      )

1 coat                                  )

 10 lb. of tea          )

40 lb. of coffee       )   = 2 ounces of gold

1 quarter of corn    )

½ ton of iron         )

x commodity A       )

                                (Marx 1990, Capital I, p. 162)

      Instead of one of the ‘common’ commodities A let us now choose the
commodity M as reference commodity, for example, a precious metal.
Then this special commodity would play the traditional role as
general equivalent and we have:

(10)                                     M[VL NOT GREATER THAN VN  Ù VL

      We now found ourselves comparing the values of our commodities with
this special commodity M, which from now on functioned like that
what we later called ‘money’. This commodity M had the ‘value form
IV’. For this function of comparison we normally used gold or
(perhaps more often) silver. This special commodity took up the
position as the linen to me, of coats to Mr. Tailor, of iron to the
miners, and so on. But opposite to all these commodities this one
was really accepted as general equivalent commodity. However, just
as linen to me in principle was excluded form the market in my own
view, so gold and silver had now to all of us to been excluded – and
even in a far more serious way. Before there were no sensual
difference between excluded and non-excluded commodities. Just this
was the case now. The precious metal clearly differed from, even
contrasted to, all other commodities on the market. No one could
after this in any meaningful way ask about the value of gold or
silver — and we laughed when someone asked such questions. (But
really, we didn’t exactly know why!)

      But also this happened behind our backs. Nevertheless, the fact was
very satisfying and so we all tacitly accepted it. We now had a
special good, which never was viewed as a normal commodity at all
but which as the new core good of the market could always be used
for expressing the values of the normal commodities. (Yet, we heard
about other people using commodities such as oxen or grain for
expressing values, but that was no business of ours.)

      It was a great fortune to have this money commodity in plenty — but
only few of us succeeded in that. Having money we could without
trouble buy all other commodities. All professionals now wanted gold
or silver just as I did, and so everything became much easier.
However, to get money you needed to work for having something to
sell, or to render others with services of some kinds (so working
itself in its abstract generality became a profession!). Or you had
to go to the moneylenders… It was fine to have money, but not always
fine to get money! From now on gold and silver as our core reference
commodity also became our core problem. What we needed, and what we
necessarily had to do, all was in the last instance determined by
this single thing.

      So gold or silver eventually became our sole and general interest.
Through this metal our common, socially defined fourthness principle
had assumed a material and shining form of existence. Further, from
now on all real needs referred to by the market commodities and
their ‘use-values’ had only secondary meanings. The money commodity
referred abstractly as such to the whole totality of human needs;
and so, on the other hand, it also abstractly referred to the
totality of work done no matter its qualitative differences.

      It was just because of its practical uselessness – but also its
beauty – that the precious metals could assume this abstract and
general meaning. So its aesthetic qualities – and especially its
suitability to satisfy all form of vanity – it always had practical
sense to operate with these metals. It always was in a premium. No
one really needed these metals in their daily lives, no one really
needed it at all. You really needed it only for the market

      We now demonstrated in gold (or silver) how much worth our own
commodities were, or how much we had to pay for the others’s. We had
won a practical concept of general value reference, its metallic
material further aliquotly divisible, so that we simply could use
its weight for quantitative determinations. But nevertheless, in
everyday commerce commenting on values we still in the last instance
didn’t know what value really was.

Eventually also this problem were solved through the curious last step –
and, of course, again behind our backs! The only thing I with certainty,
in retrospect, can say about it is that what happened had vast
consequences to all of us, again changing our whole life and way of
thinking, even of talking, in a radical way.

      In fact, everything had functioned quite fine until now; so
personally we did not need any new change. On the other hand, we
were not at all asked. Someone had generated some special stamped
tokens out of the gold (or electron, later also of silver) and
introduced these things, ‘coins’, as the only really universal form
of money. Someone said the stamp used for coining was a sort of
guarantee for the quality of the metal. Such a guarantee was surely
needed; but at least coining had functions besides this.

      Who first got the idea about the coinage I don’t know. Certainly,
the idea did not came from one of us professionals on our own
market; it rather came from far away. But its effect was deep and
again a double one. Personally, I suppose the idea came from the
king or someone like him, who wanted to demonstrate or claim special
relationships to its users.

      The first essential effect of this coinage was that we now directly
could measure the value of our commodities. This was a quite fine
thing. Until that day we could compare or exchange our commodities
in turn of certain quantities of these metals. Now we needed no
longer to weigh them; we only had to count the coins. That was quite

      So these precious metals developed into specific rules for all
future value measurements. The value of my 20 yards of linen or Mr.
Tailor’s coats was now simply so and so many coins. Nevertheless, it
is not quite correct to say that the coins functioned as our general
equivalent commodity. Were such ones commodities at all? This is
again the old question. Coins, as all other forms of general
equivalents really had no ‘value’ – and, of course, not any
use-value either. Let me try to explain: Call the coined money,
these icons of the unity of the market relations, M. So with the
transformation of M into M we first have to transform the expression
(10) above. We thereby get:

(11)                                                  M[VL NOT GREATER

      The subscription M has here a quite special meaning. On the
condition of the general equivalent form of linen above we made the
special ‘Setzung’ (7), as the German fellow called it. Coinage in
itself makes no principal change in the argument so we can repeat
this ‘Setzung’ under the new condition, that is, under the special
aspect of M being the actual and common core moment on the market
(as general equivalent).

      Of course, linen, the commodity L, and the commoditxy N (say tea,
coffee, corn, iron, etc.) are physically different. L ¹ N. But to
say about their values VL = VN  is something quite different. In the
case of (10) we stated M[VL = VN]; this identity was inferred
(‘gesetzt’) relative to our metallic commodity M. But as M changed
into M it itself immediately – self-referring – told us what it is.
This M made, ‘setzte’, L and N identical modulo M — this ‘Setzung’
being valid only in this sole respect (which, on the other hand,
achieved the quite general form of rather royal universality). No
one before really knew what this common reference moment was, nor
meant; now we all could know it (or, at least, we believed to know
it!). The standard unit itself told us: The aspect, under which
identity were ‘gesetzt’ with these coins, is value. A meter rule
measures things under the aspect of length, weights under the aspect
of gravity, etc. And now we all could read out of the coins
themselves, that they measured the commodities under this aspect of
value. So ‘value’ in our eyes – and represented in just this shining
way – had assumed the character of a new dimension of the world to
be used by our conscious ‘navigation’ in this special market domain.
Even more. By the coins representing or simply presenting ‘value’
their very ‘meaning’ became to refer to the universality of life in
this money-using society, that is, to the whole kingdom. These
icons, then, pretended to materialise the absolute itself in a world
of relativity. Or, expressed in other words, just as linen in its
value form III created my own world in which it in a specific way to
me represented the non-locality principle of the market as a whole,
so we now could say that the coined money – let us call its form the
‘value form V’ – to all of us as embodying the very social
fourthness principle represented this market in the form of a
general non-locality principle.

      This was not the only curiosity in connection with the creation of
this M. It was stamped in such a way, that the name of the coins
just became the name of the standard unit – or parts of this
standard unit – of value itself. So we only had to count what
directly was to read on the coins. On this basis we might further
develop statement (11). The new value ‘dimension’ had found its
numerical medium of reference. We now simply say, that linen, coat,
and so on was worth so and so much, or so and so many coins of money
M, their value then being expressed as nM, where n was the number
coins M we had to pay or could get in return for a special
commodity. So if, under the aspect of M, really VL = VN  is valid,
then we under these conditions of comers simply got accustomed of

(12)                                                                 M[VL
= VN] / nM.

      Let us look a little more closely at this expression, which from now
on determined our whole consciousness and way of thinking. Out of
the one money term M there suddenly had grown two terms; the value
form V had materialised in the two-fold form, where M represented
the generally assumed standard unit of the dimension ‘value’, the
(rational) number n the measure itself represented by M. In this
numerical determination value itself was prepared for arithmetical

      A value statement in a format consisting of only a concrete number
determines the price of the commodity in case to the whole society.
This determined the fourthness principle of general non-locality as
encompassed by this money. In the form of nM, on the one hand, this
price had got its metallic, in itself rather senseless form, that
is, only having meaning on this market place; on the other hand, by
agreement, and now numerically expressed it had been indicated and
could now be mediated as such. This really was the very first case
where explicitly linguistic communication was shown necessary for

our transactions. That is, these demanded our thoughts now to be
explicitly expressed in explicitly verbal form, not merely in the way of
empathic signings. Could we call this the first specific case of
intellectual development? I am sure, foreign observers would have said
that we, the people on the market, first now had grown ‘conscious’ at all!

      In this way money itself developed into a curious thing we never
quite succeeded to understand. On the one hand, it was – or had some
time ago – really been a metallic commodity, though of a somehow
special kind deprived of everyday use; as specific money material it
lost its role as commodity and so also lost its ‘value’ – except
when we tried to buy on foreign markets or from the mines. On the
other hand, the coinage gave these pieces of metal their strange
iconic and self-referential form; they themselves even tell us what
the are, or better, what they mean. In one sense they really are
commodities, insofar they explicitly tell us that they have value
and how much. In another sense they are just not commodities but
‘merely’ money, telling us their meaning – in stead of their being
–, that is, how much value they represent. In this sense, of course,
you could reasonably call them signs in some generalised sense,
their material existence thereby being unimportant.

      Which of these explanations can be the correct one? It is difficult
to say. The clever Marx once told us, that money is a special
commodity; but at the same time he also told us, that the equivalent
form as such opposite to the relative value form had no value
itself, its body being only the mirror picture of the value form. In
that sense it is the licensed way of expressing value in the form of
price – mind you, as long as we really accept this function of the
market defining currency! Its function as common currency has always
been a matter of ‘subjectivity’, of trust, of willingness to accept.
If this is no longer the case it immediately has lost its money
function and falls back in its role as a possible commodity like
others (possibly of form IV). So I think Marx in some sense is right
in both these propositions. But what then? What is money?

      In retrospect, at least, I can say that this gold and silver was
very expensive when brought from the mines; at that moment it was
not yet excluded from the special market transactions as money. This
happened first afterwards by its actual use as the general money
commodity, respectively through its coinage. Secondly, its function
as in itself valueless value representation made it possible to
cheat, later on even to use paper instead of the expensive gold. It
represented value only because of itself – self-referentially –
telling that it did! Most often people tacitly accepted this. When
they did not, or could not, we got crises and the market broke down.
Then, of cause, the precious metal again became the most valuable
commodity for its owners.

      In this sense it differs from other material rules as, for instance,
a common meter rule. This is ‘objective’ in a sense not quite valid
to money, even if subjective determining equivalencies or identities
by measure decisions is analogue to that on the market: When we must
assume that the stick A is not-longer and not-shorter than the stick
B, then they are of equal length. And the meter rule tells us that
the stick is so and so long, that is, on the one hand, ‘long’ just
as sticks are, and, on the other hand, that it has the length which
its notches and labels tell us. So also the meter rule itself to us
is a double ting. It is length and it has that indicated measures as
observed from the vantage point of the third person. But value for
me came out of the relation to Mr. Tailor; only secondarily the
value as a special concept developed as an ‘objective’ moment
(‘outside’ me) on the developed market (form III). Nevertheless,
also there values always, in the last instance, depends on mutual

      So, in short. A meter rule is long, thereby measuring length – but
in this function nevertheless excluded from the world of wood and
timber (a cabinet-maker would never make a table out of meter
rules!). Money is not (or at least needs not to be) valuable. There
is a sensual empirical opposition, a material conflict, between
being commodities and being coined money. Value was always
exclusively defined in the actual context of real market
transactions, the special meanings of which lie outside the market
itself. In all other contexts it would loose form and function, the
market would stop functioning, the goods loos their values, or work
again take on its primary function of simply making useful things.

      However – so Mr. Weaver continued but unmistakably with some
uncertainty in his voice – this double existence form of money made
us try to give money a dialectical definition (presumably also valid
for the money commodity M). The form of coined money M manifests in
itself the difference between a commodity being excluded form the
market (being recognised as mere commodity material), that is, as a
nonuse-value; and, at the same time, being generally accepted as the
equivalent commodity, that is, as a nonvalue. As the specific
unification of this difference it represents the conjunction of
these opposite negative propositions, so that we can define the
money M as a ‘concretum’ by writing

(13)                                                  M  =def. Nonvalue Ù

      So we could have defined our subject by way of the generative
conjunction of these two negations being intimately connected in
this definition of M. This would in the terminology of Marx have
defined a value-form V, but certainly, he never explicitly defined
that value form.

      However, in this sense we could really say that also the commodity,
the commodity as such on the market, has the commodity-form C. Two
money-forms, M and C, simply exchange hand on the market. In this
sense of non-value you simply express what has been, what is used,
all the no-longer being. The non-use-value, or rather the
non-utility, is the not-being, all the not-yet utility. So money as
well as commodities as such, rather than as real things, could
therefore be expressed by

(XI.14a)                                            C  =def. Non-value Ù

and both in the sense of their forms could – in another rather temporal
sense of the terms – be defined by

(XI.14b)                                           M- and C-form  =def.

thereby, in fact, on this basis of identity opening up for a wide spectrum
of unforeseeable possibilities.

      The using of coined money also had consequences for our own
conscious awareness. We now ‘navigated’ merely by thinking about
numbers. So the outer material opposition between commodities and
money was mirrored inside our heads. We now were merely thinking our
thoughts just representing the possible market ‘navigations’ and so
themselves seen in the same third-person perspective as the
commodities and so made comparable, etc. as such. These opposites of
our awareness between thought numbers (prices, etc.) and tings
(commodities) were quite analogue to the nonvalue and the
nonuse-value of the money definition. So we also could begin
speculating about: What is consciousness? And: What is its
ontological basis? We could only define this ‘Self’ as the
contradicting unity of a first-person I and the above mentioned
‘allo-allojective’ me.

      We soon observed that between these opposites there could exist
severe conflicts. These conflicts – now being conscious to all of
us! – could eventually be fought out in every day thinking. So we
realised our ‘navigation’ in peace, quietly, off-line, showing no
one what we wanted, which needs we had, respectively veil our
fortune, etc. And so we learned cheating. Really, it was awful!

      In this sense we soon learned that consciousness was analogue to
money. Money is only valid as money in this inherently contradicting
unity. And so consciousness too. What were an ’I’’ without this
experience, or knowledge, about environmental entities presented or
represented to ‘me’ in my awareness? And what were these
‘allojective’ representations worth to ‘me’ without the subjective
‘I’ as the ‘navigating’ agent? To dissolve this intentional unity
would be like to the dissolution of the market itself, that is, the
reduction of the developed possibilities into such simple forms of
preconscious behaviour analogue to the value forms I through III, or

      However, this did not pose any curious Cartesian questions to us
about the cogito and other such strange ideas. Any open and
reflected contradiction between the ‘I’ and a ‘me’ was, at that
time, absolutely unthinkable. On the contrary. This
‘allo-allojective’ me-representation could only be viewed as the
representation of the whole market environment to which ‘I’ as the
agent was related by ‘navigation’ against some ‘it’ as my chosen
object. So, to us this ‘I-me’ conjunction referred to the
‘organism-environment’ conjunction in real economical life –
realising its specific ‘life potential’, as my dear editor once
said; that is, it self-referentially defined all single subjects
experiencing themselves opposed to, or in conflict with, but, at the
same time, also always united with this real world.

      How conflict? Well, we were, in fact, accustomed to view and analyse
the market in its ‘frozen’ state defining its relational structure
in the form of some state, as I told you. We thought of our market
as structurally defined by its system of prices, money distribution,
etc. – and in this thought structure we grew quite clever
calculating the best way of transacting. But, really, the market
were never in this way absolutely ‘frozen’, it always changed, was
in steady fluctuation. So our navigational calculations, thoughts,
and plans, were much too often disappointed. The thought of the
market in ‘frozen’ state but the real market in steady flux; what we
thought of was never exactly experienced — and what was experienced
often contradicted what we had anticipated. So we always acted in
unavoidable uncertainty. It was not easy to make both ends meet!

      But without looking ahead for troubles to come let us state another
effect of the coins as the valid currency on the market. This was
that we at once could compare the market relations on our own market
to the relations on many other markets in our kingdom where we,
before that time, had not been able to make easy business. This made
it also possible to us to get new suppliers and new buyers. That was
certainly not our own idea. I think, it was the idea of our ‘king’.
Presumably he wanted to connect the different parts of his country,
construct it as a greater unity using the coinage for this task. He
therefore often coined the money with his own portrait so that we
should not doubt that he alone materialised the centre of this
greater domain so that we should all do business on his conditions.
And so we can speculate about possible political and other meanings
of these new money icons that now followed us every day and so
changed our lives.

- o -

This was a long story to tell and I am tired of talking. Surely, my
children say I am old-fashioned. They all tell stories about new
developments, of quite new ways of living. They talk about great factories
and about money that they now call ‘capital’. I really don’t know what to
say about it.

      However, in some sense all of this seems quite familiar to me. So
often we experienced what someone called ‘augmentation’, just
self-reference and self-confirmation that all so often happened to
us on the market. And always things came about without real knowing
about it before long time after. We were never asked! So I don’t
know what to think about all the new things my sons tell about as,
for instance, this fateful ‘capital’, partly as merchants capital,
partly, later on, industrial capital with great machines and
thousands of workers. I always worked. First to get linen for
exchange, then to get money. And the workers say they only get money
for doing working without exactly knowing what they really make.

      But really, I don’t see that the central matters have changed very
much since I was young. But perhaps the sons are right. Money
‘objectively’ always got new still more generalising functions, and
when my sons talk about the great factories where they work today,
it really seems to me as if the social needs and work in the sense
of capitalised labour had assumed new forms of abstractness – and
they also talk about ‘trade unions’ and ‘class struggle’ against
their new masters and factory-owners, the so-called ‘capitalists’.

                      I can’t say. In my time we had no ‘capitalists’, we
had most often our own workshops and made our work
there, independently, on our own account. So, you
see, I am growing old. Presumably the younger
generations have experienced in excess of all I
myself have experienced and here told about. Isn’t
it so? Is it not just so that way life itself
develops? I think so. And so, I think, I rather have
to stop my chronic here. Thank you for your
attention and your help for editing it.


Cotterill, Rodney (1998): Enchated Looms. Conscious Networks in Brain and
Computers. Cambridge University Press.

Luhmann, Niklas (1995): Scial Systems. Transl. by John Bednarz, Jr. with
Dirk Baecker. Staford University Press, Stanford, Califormia.

Marx, Karl (1990): Capital, Vol. I, tansl. by Ben Fowkes, Penguin Books.

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