File spoon-archives/bhaskar.archive/bhaskar_2003/bhaskar.0312, message 220

Subject: Re: Re[2]: BHA: Re: Money, money, money, monnnney
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 09:28:30 -0500

Hi Gunter,

Thanks for the post.  I'm in substantial agreement with it.  I agree with
all of your six points, but could be convinced by someone that in some other
complicated way the world of commodities measures value and gold does not
have the preeminence it once had.  But this is detail.  Some real process
involving commodities as bearers of value must remain as the measure of

I agree also with your quantification discussion.  We only know the value of
something after the fact by its sale in the market.  The qualification here
is that given a particular disposition of the agents of production with
respect to the means of production we know that the products of labor must
overall *be* values.

As for the mediations, this is a bit of a red herring, I think.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "GŁnter Minnerup" <>
To: "Howard Engelskirchen" <bhaskar-AT-lists.village.Virginia.EDU>
Sent: Monday, December 15, 2003 5:22 PM
Subject: Re[2]: BHA: Re: Money, money, money, monnnney

> Dear Howard,
> I'm happy to join the growing band of repentant sinners :-)
> But seriously, I've just re-read our exchange and get the impression that
we're both the "victims" of the medium of email which has a tendency to
exaggerate apparent differences. In substance, I think, we're pretty much
agreed and there's no point in harping on about ambiguous formulations,
typos, and largely, it seems, imagined "deviations". So let me be more
constructive and attempt to formulate what I think we agree on.
> 1. The (exchange) value of commodities is determined by the socially
necessary labour that's gone into them.
> 2. The means of *expressing* that value is in terms of a universal
equivalent, which could be just about anything in theory but, after
experimentation with everything from cows to silver, has settled on gold.
> 3. In day-to-day transactions, however, there has been a tendency to use
not gold but a paper currency as the universal equivalent. Such paper
currency was initially produced by private institutions (hence the term
"bank note") but increasingly by the state or state-controlled private
> 4. There is a difference between such "fiduciary currencies" and actual
gold: the former only work as long as their link with gold is credible.
> 5. The increasing role of the state has exerted pressures on it to tackle
its solvency problems by issuing inflationary currency and thereby
undermining what used to be the "gold standard".
> 6. But 5) hasn't changed the fact that gold remains the ultimate measure
of value.
> Do we have traction? The only thing I have difficulties with is the
"quantification" issue, which in my view arises from the fact that in the
capitalist mode of production everything is, so to speak, "post festum":
whether or not labour expended on a commodity is socially necessary or not
is only established by whether it sells, and at what price. So all the
quantitative aspects of the chain, including the expression of relative
commodity values in terms of gold, are in terms of price not value. Hence,
while you're right to insist that in the final analysis the price of my cup
of coffee is linked to a measurement of socially necessary labour time, that
link is mediated through all kinds of market conditions and distortions and
therefore not precisely quantifiable. Sure, prices fluctuate around values
but the relationship between both is not transparent. In CR terms, prices
are "empirical" not "real".
> This has again become longer than intended, sorry.
> Regards,
> GŁnter
> -- 
> GŁnter Minnerup
> School of History
> University of New South Wales
> Sydney NSW 2052
> Tel. (+61 2) 9385 3668 (work)
> Tel. (+61 2) 9398 3646 (home)
>      --- from list ---

     --- from list ---


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