Subject: [OPE-L:1875] Re: money commodity
From: Gerald Levy (glevy@PRATT.EDU)
Date: Thu Dec 09 1999 - 08:30:32 EST
Julian wrote in [OPE-L:1862]:
> So, if one accepts that Marx's view of capitalism requires that there
> be a (single) general equivalent commodity, is there anything in Marx
> that requires this to be a physical substance (bearing in mind that
> Marx clearly accepted that commodities did not *have* to be physical
> substances -- think of labour-power, if no other...)?
A *service* can be a commodity since it can have value (if it also has
use-value and exchange-value). Thus, the substance of a service can
be abstract labour and its magnitude can be SNLT.
In what sense can paper currency or credit-money be considered to be a
commodity? It's true that paper currency is printed, and in that sense it
is a product of human labor and a "physical substance", but its *value*
does not correspond to the [SN] labor time required to print it. Rather,
it's ability to function as money as dependent on its social acceptance
as a *symbol* of value that is issued by the state. When there is a money
commodity, then the *use-value* of paper currency is its ability to
represent a certain quantum of the money commodity. If there isn't a
money commodity, then its use-value is its ability to serve as a medium
of exchange, etc.
Julian then clarified his position somewhat in [OPE-L:1865]:
> Presumably non-physical commodities might not be very good candidates
> for means of hoarding.
As noted above, paper currency *is* physical (even if it is not a
commodity in the precise sense of the term). And paper currency *can be*
hoarded (and often is in the case of dollars). The problem with hoarding
paper currency, though, is that its rate of exchange against other forms
of currency is subject, in part, to the decisions of the state.
As for hoarding, it should be remember that *many* commodities other than
money as such can be hoarded. A common example might be diamonds or other
precious stones. What is important re hoarding is more the dynamic of
*speculation* rather that the question of the functions of money. Indeed,
one can conceptualize hoarding without any necessary role for commodity
In solidarity, Jerry
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