RE: [OPE] How to read Capital

From: Paul Cockshott (
Date: Thu Apr 03 2008 - 07:59:48 EDT

Marx uses more philosphical language true, but the idea that one particular
commodity is set aside as a numeraire is common to much of economics.

What this theory fails to account for is why money is issued by the state.

Paul Cockshott
Dept of Computing Science
University of Glasgow
+44 141 330 1629

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Sent: Thu 4/3/2008 11:35 AM
Subject: Re: [OPE] How to read Capital


(Bear also in mind how  he explains the genesis of money as form of social 

Paul C
Marx's explanation of money as a generalisation arising out of barter is really 
pretty conventional in economics, as I understand it Menger gives the same explanation. 
If one contrasts it with actual existing money then there are problems, and these problems, I think, 
illustrate the difficulties with applying a dialectical deductive approach. Real existing 
monies are all issued by the state, but since the state can not be deduced from the commodity, 
Marx can not allow the state a causitive role in money. This then renders contemporary money, 
or Chinese Imperial money unintelligible. We end up with Newtonian rationalism and 
eurocentric prejudice being disguised as dialectical development.


"The difficulty in forming a concept of the money form, consists in
clearly comprehending the universal equivalent form, and as a necessary
corollary, the general form of value, form C. The latter is deducible from form B, the expanded form of value, the essential component element of which, we saw, is form A, 20 yards of linen = 1 coat or x commodity A = y commodity B. The simple commodity form is therefore the germ of the money form."


As you see Marx goes here much further than traditional explanation of money. Its genesis is already entailed in the contradictory nature of a simple commodity.

"The universal equivalent form is a form of value in general. It can,
therefore, be assumed by any commodity. On the other hand, if a
commodity be found to have assumed the universal equivalent form (form C),
this is only because and in so far as it has been excluded from the
rest of all other commodities as their equivalent, and that by their
own act. And from the moment that this exclusion becomes finally
restricted to one particular commodity, from that moment only, the
general form of relative value of the world of commodities obtains real
consistence and general social validity."

Quotes are all from the first chapter of volume 1.



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