[OPE-L:5240] Re: Metal money

Chai-on Lee (conlee@chonnam.chonnam.ac.kr)
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 22:48:14 -0700 (PDT)

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At 08:18 97-06-09 -0700, Ramos wrote:

>1. My problem with what we can call the "money-commodity approach" is
>that it reduces the complex category of MONEY to a common, commodity.
>Let us say, Marx's "gold" is conceived as something practically equal
>to sugar, linen or cotton. This is usual in the arithmetical or
>algebraical exercises coming from Tugan and Bort. "Money" is simple a
>numeraire, a scale to measure prices.

Chai-on:

Yes, it needs to be a commodity so as to function as a sacle to measure
prices. Though the spring sacle measures the weight without equivalent
weights, it still has some reference to the real weight scale.

>2. In
>particular, money appears to be the NEGATION of commodity. When we
>say "GENERAL commodity", I think, we should understand that this
>GENERAL is the **negation** of the PARTICULAR commodities.

Chai-on:

I agree that money is both a commodity and a non-commodity. It is a
commodity in the sense that it measires value and functions as the means of
payment, etc. But it cannot be a commodity when it functions as the means
of circulation. It is not used as the means of consumption nor that of
production.

>3.
>Regarding this essentially social character of money I would want to
>emphasize a piece of the passage Jerry cites: "As long as the
>*social* character of labour appears as the *money-existence* of
>commodities, and thus a *thing* external to actual production, money
>crises ... are inevitable." Marx defines here money as "A *THING*
>EXTERNAL TO ACTUAL PRODUCTION", i.e. as a non-commodity. Of course,
>money can be also "produced thing" but this is not necessarily its
>concept.
>

Chai-on:

Yes, it is external to actual production when it functions as the MEANS of
EXCHANGE.
But where is the phrase "external to production" from?

>4. Re Jerry's comment on my previous post I want to say:
>a) I dont think that Marx "gives up" gold as money in that text. The
>problem is what is the *conceptual meaning* of this "gold".

Chai-on:
No, I think he should have done so. Money needs not be gold as a necessity.
Even paper money or the electronic money can well be a good commodity (not
a non-commodity).

>b) My original problem was that some issues in Marxian monetary
>theory which could appear as "modern problems" are already drafted in
>Vol. III.

Chai-on:
Can you be more specific in detail about what are the modern issues?

>5. In more general terms, I think that the essential funcion
>performed by money in Marx's theory is that of representing social
>labor-time.

Chai-on:
Yes, I would call it "an autonomous existence of value". Usually, value
cannot exist without its container, the use-value. In money, the container
is apart from the use-value.

>Marx assumes the quantitative relation between both types of money to
>be constant, but this assumption is not a necessity of the theory.

Chai-on:
I think the quantitative relation was not Marx's but from the Currency
school.

>So, when I read the passage in Kuhne's book I didnt think that this
>was a "proof" that Marx was "giving up" gold.

Chai-on:
Why "giving up"? He should have proved that the necessary evolution of gold
into paper money.

>Capitalism cannot "give up" some kind of "reserve money"; money
>cannot be reduced to a "symbol".

Chai-on:
Money is not "symbol". It has a real value. A piece of electronic money has
cost little for the CB. For the Pubic, however, it should cost lots of
labor to acquire it because the E-money is not given free.

>The interesting point of the
>analysis (in the whole passage cited by Jerry) is precisely the
>analysis of the relation between the "reserve money" (also here
>assumed as "gold") and the "symbol money" (in that case = credit
>money) and how one of the functions of capitalist State is to
>maintain some kind of "convertibility" between both forms to
>represent social labor-time.

Chai-on:
No, the two issues must be irrelevant to Marx.

In solidarity,

Chai-on

Looking forward to more discussions.