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Within a national market, the money commodity internalizes exchange relations initially as a sort of facilitator of exchange. It has a specific value, tied to the socially necessary labor time needed to produce it, and this value is superimposed upon the value of other commodities, which are each also evaluated according to the socially necessary labor time inherent in their production. But there is a doubling in the exchange value of money: money becomes reified — its real value, created through actual social relations of production, is forgotten or overlooked and it becomes objectified — through its use as evaluator of commodities and it takes on an exchange value distinct from that tied to its production. Counterfeit money is not interested in counterfeiting money so much as the doubled exchange-value that springs forth in money’s reification; and perhaps the faith-money that lies at the core of the US economy, the gold-standard having been dropped, draws its stability on the kernel of its reification. At any rate, the State, as it seeks a stable market and field for business, is seemingly interested in keeping the money-form stable, as this is the precondition for the total stability of the national economy.

(We’ll have to return to ‘the State’ and its supposed seeking; see how such a thing as a State is actually constitute by variegated interests and forces striving with each other.)

Harvey notes that considering the need for an equilibrium in the money-commodity points us to further things:

This immediately focuses our attention upon certain additional functions of money — as a store of value and as  means of payment. Bothe depend on the capacity of money to operate as an independent form of social power which in turn derives from the fact that money is the social expression of value itself. ‘The individual,’ Marx suggests, ‘consequently carries his social power, as well as his bond to society, in his pocket’. This social power is aleinable without restriction of conditions’, and it can become there the ‘private power of private persons’. Greed for that social power leads to appropriation, stealing, hoarding, accumulation — all become possible…

If the use of money as a store of value or as means of payment provides the only way to keep the two forms of exchange value that money internalizes in line with each other, then this requires that the social power of money be used in a certain way. 12-13

In a certain way and according to certain ‘rational’ principles: when production is down, circulating money must decrease; when production is up, circulating money must increase; debt and credit bring about institutionalized forms of dealing with payment. All of this becomes a social necessity arising out of the circulation of commodities itself; money as capital follows as another necessity from circulation.

But what happens when there are multiple money currencies? One can then not just speak of single markets acting in isolation, each stabilized by their own logics; nor can one understand each individual money outside of the total market-system. And the respective elite within each market will want their money-commodity to be stable. Etc. Social powers as money then vie with other social powers as money, or other transmarket commodities.

And at this point I lose my anchor.

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Continuing the Discussion

  1. […] But money itself serves to obscure the real social relations that make exchange possible, as it is the very embodiment of the contradictions inherent in exchange. It does this by making it look as if the objects […]

  2. […] is an inherent obscurity to this, though. I noted it before (it’s been about a year since I read stuff in this vein, my my how the time flies!), […]