I'd like a moneyless system, but see a couple flaws that need fixing

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darren p
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Feb 11 2012 20:57
jura wrote:
Well, that depends on what you mean by money, as you poynted out smile.

From that comment I'm guessing you've seen through my cunning disguise. Have we met before?

Sorry haven't contributed more to this discussion but studying and other commitments have taken control. Interesting topic though.

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Feb 11 2012 21:31

Darren, no, I've only heard about you from comrades in Prague who have met you (I think) and hold you dear.

Angelus Novus
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Feb 11 2012 23:29

Hmm, I dunno, I think I'm going to finally make time to read Dieter Wolf.

Jura seems to be arguing that commodities need to express socially necessary labor time in a money commodity.

But I read and interpret that passage as: money is the necessary means of expressing socially necessary labor time.

This might seem like I'm just playing around with boldface in a cutesy way to point out a nuanced difference of emphasis.

What I'm trying to get at is this: I always viewed that chapter as Marx arguing -- contra Proudhon and others -- that commodity production necessarily entails money as a means of expressing value.

Jura, on the other hand, seems to regard the main point of the passage as Marx trying to reveal that, essentially, money is another commodity.

Now, I think that is part of what Marx is trying to say (the "Geldrätsel"), but I still think that the main point of Marx's argument is that socially necessary labor time isn't something tangible measured with a stop-clock, but rather something that requires money. And if this is indeed the main intent behind the chapter, I don't see why that necessarily entails a money commodity, once paper money has taken off to the point where it fulfills all the essential functions of money.

BTW, Gegenstandpunkt publishes a pretty good little booklet on money where they argue against the "money commodity", I'll try to translate the relevant passage and post it up here (First I'll make sure Ruthless Criticism hasn't translated it already, I don't want to duplicate efforts).

alb
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Feb 12 2012 08:11
Angelus Novus wrote:
but I still think that the main point of Marx's argument is that socially necessary labor time isn't something tangible measured with a stop-clock, but rather something that requires money. And if this is indeed the main intent behind the chapter, I don't see why that necessarily entails a money commodity, once paper money has taken off to the point where it fulfills all the essential functions of money.

That's what I wanted to say in answer to this from Noa:

Noa Rodman wrote:
The point is, as Bellofiore puts it, that money must represent value in its natural form; the amount of (directly social) labour. It has value even before entering circulation.

I could see that there was something odd about it but couldn't quite place my finger on it:. Now I can.

What struck me as odd was the use of "natural form" in relation to "value" since I thought Marx explained that value was a social relation of production which didn't have any tangible form and which only expressed itself in circulation, as "exchange-value", ie via the operation of market forces.

Also, this could suggest that "value" can exist outside circulation and therefore still in a socialist society as a unit of account (ie implying you could measure "socially necessary labour" directly, even though Marx wrote pages and pages, in arguing against advocates of "labour-money", the currency cranks of his day, explaining why this couldn't be done). Which has been the point of view of some, mainly defenders of the old state capitalism in Russia and China. I don't know if Noa and/or Bellofiore meant to lend credibility to this position. Hopefully not.

In other words, to return to the origin of this thread for a moment, socialism will not only be a moneyless but also a "value-less" society.

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Feb 12 2012 10:04

This is argument is not worth having. Bellofiore who rejects Marx's theory of money, knows what Marx meant.

Bellofiore wrote:
Gold as the "product of labour" which plays the role of the universal equivalent "counts as the value-form for other commodities", and hence it "has immediately social form". Thus, the definite, useful, concrete labour producing gold is social labour without the mediation of exchange. The inner opposition between use-value and value within the commodity develops into an external opposition: the equivalent-commodity counts as value-form, the shape of exchange value, while the other commodity counts as the shape of use value. As a consequence, the concrete labour producing the money-commodity is immediately not private but social labour: it is the form of actualisation of abstract labour. Gold as money is a commodity in the sense of being produced by labour. It is not a commodity in the sense of "having" value (though Marx often uses this expression). Value is private labour validated in exchange, whereas money does not need to be validated almost by definition: rather, money as the material symbol of abstract labour "represents" value in its own "bodily or natural" form.

On labour-money, you might want to read ch 2 of the grundrisse, to see who here of us is standing on the side of Proudhon.

alb
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Feb 12 2012 11:36
Noa Rodman wrote:
Bellofiore who rejects Marx's theory of money, knows what Marx meant.
Bellofiore wrote:
Gold as money is a commodity in the sense of being produced by labour. It is not a commodity in the sense of "having" value (though Marx often uses this expression). Value is private labour validated in exchange, whereas money does not need to be validated almost by definition: rather, money as the material symbol of abstract labour "represents" value in its own "bodily or natural" form.

What are you trying to do: convince me that Bellofiore doesn't know what he's talking about? But I don't need convincing of that.

The passage you quote from him is just his (mis)interpretation of Marx. Where, for instance, does Marx say that money is the "natural or bodily form" of value? Again, where does Marx say that the money-commodity isn't a commodity having a value, but is value? (Bellofore virtually admits in the passage in brackets that Marx doesn't).

Noa Rodman wrote:
On labour-money, you might want to read ch 2 of the grundrisse, to see who here of us is standing on the side of Proudhon.

I've read all that and you've missed the point. The advocates of labour-money assumed that you could measure "socially necessary labour" directly (and so could replace metallic money by paper labour-money). Marx said you couldn't because this couldn't be known before the product of labour was put on the market. It was through the market (through actually being exchanged) that this was established. This was why he said that money (commodity-money in his day) could not be replaced with paper labour-money (at least not without causing all sorts of anamolies and problems). This has got nothing to do with the argument about whether or not commodity-money could be replaced by an inconvertible paper currency in the buying and selling of commodities (the market). Anyway, it has been.

You're making Marx sound like Ron Paul, even though he didn't want to retain gold as the currency but wanted to abolish money and value by abolishing the social relation of production of which they were the expression, ie capitalism, and replace it with socialism (or communism, the same thing) as the common ownership of the means of production, which would permit production directly for use and not for sale on a market.

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Feb 12 2012 12:04
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Where, for instance, does Marx say that money is the "natural or bodily form" of value?

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/appendix.htm

Quote:
This has got nothing to do with the argument about whether or not commodity-money could be replaced by an inconvertible paper currency in the buying and selling of commodities (the market).

Sure, its function as means of circulation can be replaced. That leaves measure of value as the only one left.

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You're making Marx sound like Ron Paul

No I'm not.

Angelus Novus
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Feb 12 2012 16:54

Turns out the Gegenstandpunkt book is available online.

Noa, jura, I don't have to translate this for you guys, you can read German. The section in question is 1. Zum Dissens über die „kapitalismusimmanente Notwendigkeit“ einer „reellen verselbständigten Wertgestalt“.

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Feb 12 2012 18:35

Yes that's the Dieter Wolf - Freerk Huisken debate (I think in Trendonline in 2000-1). Gegenstandpunkt are good, but I hope they don't all agree with Huisken on this (unfortunately they likely do). Huisken's point reminded me of Marx's polemic 'Moralising critique' and later in the SPD there was a similar debate (in Sozialistische Monatshefte or Neue Zeit, can't remember) about political oppression vs. economic oppression.

Huisken wrote:
Wir finden es im Übrigen auch in moralischer Hinsicht ganz angemessen,
dass der bürgerliche Staat sich heutzutage nicht mehr mit
der Herstellung von Geldzeichen begnügt, die formell Zugriff auf ein
von ihnen unterschiedenes wirkliches Geld versprechen, sondern
mit der eigenmächtigen Stiftung einer definitiven nationalen „Geldmaterie
– dein Ausdruck! – in Zettelform faktisch dazu bekennt,
dass hinter den ersten und letzten politökonomischen Kategorien
und systemimmanenten Notwendigkeiten des Kapitalismus nichts
Objektiveres steckt als die Gewalt, mit der er seiner Gesellschaft das
Gesetz des Werts aufoktroyiert.
..
Dass sie sich heutzutage dazu entschlossen
hat, ihr Diktat nicht mehr in der politökonomischen Auszeichnung
eines speziellen Metalls gegenständlich werden zu lassen,
in dem wirklicher gesellschaftlicher Arbeitsaufwand drinsteckt, sondern
in einem gesetzlich geschützten Papierlappen, das fügt dem erwähnten
schlechten Treppenwitz derWeltgeschichte den passenden
weltgeschichtlichen Hohn hinzu: ‚Seht her, nichts als meine Gewalt
steckt hinter dem „substanziellen“ Höchst-Wert, um den die ganze
kapitalistische Welt sich dreht!‘

This won't do I'm afraid.

If anyone wants Kautsky's critique of Luxemburg's and Weber's theory of money, PM me for a link.

Angelus Novus
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Feb 12 2012 20:13

Whatever the ultimate utility of this discussion, at least the following brought a smile to my face:

Noa Rodman wrote:
Gegenstandpunkt are good, but I hope they don't all agree with Huisken on this (unfortunately they likely do).
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Feb 12 2012 22:11

On value appearing in a natural form a) via any commodity in equivalent form and thus b) via money – well, that's kind of the point of the "three peculiarities" in the section on the form of value (and hence of hte underpinning of the section of fetishism), isn't it? Social appears as natural, historically specific appears as transhistorical and all that.

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Feb 13 2012 11:07
Noa Rodman wrote:
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Where, for instance, does Marx say that money is the "natural or bodily form" of value?

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/appendix.htm

Thanks. I see that as the translators explain most of this was incorporated into later German editions of Capital, from one of which the English translation was made.

What Marx is doing here is describing the evolution of (or, rather, the logical steps towards) a measure of value. Since, for him, value is a social relation and not a tangible thing, a commodity's value can only be expressed in relation to another commodity, as an amount of that commodity as a tangible thing (a "body"). That is what "the natural or bodily form" of the value of the first commodity is (in one of his examples 20 yards of linen is the bodily form of the value of 10 lbs of tea). Eventually one commodity emerges that can become the "bodily form" of the value of any commodity and so of all other commodities, ie becomes money.

But this is only saying that money can be the "bodily form" of the value of particular commodities, a measure of their value, not that money is value. Nor is it saying that value is a tangible, bodily thing with its own "natural form", as this passage can suggest:

Noa Rodman wrote:
The point is, as Bellofiore puts it, that money must represent value in its natural form; the amount of (directly social) labour. It has value even before entering circulation.

Marx in fact expressly denies that value is a property of a commodity on its own.

Incidentally, there is an error of transcription, as Dave B has noticed, in D of Section 3 of Chapter 1 of the on-line version of Capital on the MIA which makes Marx say that "2 oz of gold = 2 oz of gold". Which in the end is what we may be arguing about here.

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Feb 13 2012 11:57
alb wrote:
But this is only saying that money can be the "bodily form" of the value of particular commodities, a measure of their value, not that money is value.

Yes, I agree my formulation can be misleading, but I did refer to Bellofiore's exposition:

Quote:
Gold as money is a commodity in the sense of being produced by labour. It is not a commodity in the sense of "having" value (though Marx often uses this expression). Value is private labour validated in exchange, whereas money does not need to be validated almost by definition: rather, money as the material symbol of abstract labour "represents" value in its own "bodily or natural" form.

And now that you agree with it, we have eliminated one more false disagreement.

alb wrote:
an error of transcription, as Dave B has noticed, in D of Section 3 of Chapter 1 of the on-line version of Capital on the MIA which makes Marx say that "2 oz of gold = 2 oz of gold". Which in the end is what we may be arguing about here.

Can you tell me what "we" are arguing about? You and dave b don't seem to think it's even necessary to hold a debate, since everything is so obvious.

alb
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Feb 13 2012 15:50
Noa Rodman wrote:
alb wrote:
an error of transcription, as Dave B has noticed, in D of Section 3 of Chapter 1 of the on-line version of Capital on the MIA which makes Marx say that "2 oz of gold = 2 oz of gold". Which in the end is what we may be arguing about here.

I thought that summed up rather well what we were arguing about. Sorry you were not amused.

Some of us are saying that, today, 2 oz of gold is just 2 oz of gold. You (I don't know about Jura) are saying that 2 oz of gold is something more than this: the "natural and bodily form" of the value of anything priced at US$3440 (much more, then, than 1 coat, 10 lbs of tea or 20 yards of linen). Assuming, that is, that prices = values (which is assuming rather a lot).

Incidentally, I notice that the price of 2 oz of gold has now gone up to US$3480. According to your position, this ought to mean that the general price level should now go up by 1% or so, no?

I should add that, even if you were right, some of us would like to see a society in which 2 oz of gold would just be 2 oz of gold, ie a society in which money would be unnecessary. How about you?

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Feb 13 2012 18:02
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I should add that, even if you were right, some of us would like to see a society in which 2 oz of gold would just be 2 oz of gold, ie a society in which money would be unnecessary. How about you?

So during the gold standard you didn't like to see a moneyless society?

Dave B
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Feb 13 2012 18:20

Perhaps as, according to Kautsky’s formulation of state capitalist ‘socialism’ in 1924 that paper money can be conceived of as ‘imaginary gold’?

Karl Kautsky The Labour Revolution III. The Economic Revolution
X. MONEY

c) Socialist Money

Quote:
As measure of value, only an imaginary gold is necessary, or rather the value of gold. In order to calculate how many gold marks will constitute the price of a pair of boots, no gold mark need be in actual existence

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1924/labour/ch03_j.htm

I have been waiting for a cue for that one for four days now!

After all in Applied Mathematics and Engineering you can have ‘imaginary numbers’ they are still arguing about what they really ‘are’ today.

I never liked Applied Mathematics and did Pure Mathematics and Statistics instead.

The Libcom theorist are a bit of a dour lot ALB, probably the famous German sense of humour.

Dave B
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Feb 13 2012 18:28

I can’t remember if it has been already mentioned but Kautsky was a bit more tolerant towards Rudolph in 1911 before it developed into a cat fight in 1912.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/kautsky/1911/xx/finance.htm

When Kautsky started to throw sand in the air in 1912 like he did re prices versus value he was just being a git.

As if Rudolph didn’t know the difference.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/hilferding/1904/criticism/ch02.htm

alb
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Feb 13 2012 18:55
Noa Rodman wrote:
So during the gold standard you didn't like to see a moneyless society?

Why wouldn't a socialist like to? Marx lived at the time of the Gold Standard and he wanted a society in which there would be no money.

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Feb 13 2012 18:55
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When Kautsky started to throw sand in the air in 1912 like he did re prices versus value he was just being a git.

As if Rudolph didn’t know the difference.

Actually Poznjakov corrects Kautsky on this (you can find Hilferding also arguing against Knapp's quantity theory). The problem is with Hilferding's notion of 'socially-necessary circulation value'.

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Feb 13 2012 19:00

alb I ask, because you apparently agree with my 'Kautsky' position during a gold standard.

Dave B
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Feb 13 2012 19:18

ALB and myself having been chatting informally about this elsewhere in good faith to what going on here, thus;

Quote:
As the 2 oz’s of gold is on both sides in the early appendix, I was wondering if it was pulled from early editions.

As 2 oz coin(s) as, the money form, would be worth more than 2oz of gold due to seigniorage and fabrication assay costs etc, unless you had free coinage which was very rare.

And therefore the exchange value of the gold coin (money) = its gold value + seigniorage

You could argue that paper money has 100% or is seigniorage

Which would be a negation of a negation and quantitative change leading to a qualitative one.

Quote:
IV. The Money-form
20 yards of linen =
1 coat =
10 pounds of tea =
40 pounds of coffee =
1 quarter of wheat = 2 ounces of gold
½ ton of iron =
x commodity A =

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/appendix.htm

It was slightly amusing actually as I decided it would be interesting to put 2 oz on both sides after reading the paper extant version of Das capital.

only to discover come cut and paste it was already there.

Dave B
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Feb 13 2012 19:24

got that wrong

alb
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Feb 13 2012 19:27
Noa Rodman wrote:
alb I ask, because you apparently agree with my 'Kautsky' position during a gold standard.

But why would that make me (or anyone else) not want to see socialism established as a (necessarily) moneyless society?

I know that in the debate in the German-speaking Social Democratic movement after WW1 about "economic calculation" in a socialist society Kautsky came to the conclusion that this would have to be done in money, rejecting both calculation in labour-time (as proposed by Otto Leichter) and in kind (as proposed by Otto Neurath). Are you with Kautsky on this?

Dave B
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Feb 13 2012 19:43

Or;

Nikolai Bukharin

Programme of the World Revolution

Chapter XV The End of the Power of Money.

“State Finances” and Financial Economy in the Soviet Republic

Quote:
We have seen, on the other hand, that when production and distribution are thoroughly organised, money will play no part whatever, and as a matter of course no kind of money dues will be demanded from anyone. Money will have generally become unnecessary. finance will become extinct.

We repeat that that time is a long way off yet. There can be no talk of it in the near future. For the present we must find means for public finance. But we are already taking steps leading to the abolition of the money system. Society is being transformed into one huge labour organisation or company to produce and distribute what is already produced without the agency of gold coinage or paper money. The end of the power of money is imminent.

http://www.marxists.org/archive/bukharin/works/1918/worldrev/ch15.html

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Feb 13 2012 20:17
uncle Joe wrote:
What is it that ensures the stability of Soviet currency—if we have in mind, of course, the organised market, which is of decisive importance in our trade turnover, and not the unorganised market, which is only of subordinate importance? Of course, it is not the gold reserve alone. The stability of Soviet currency is ensured, first of all, by the vast quantity of goods held by the state and put into commodity circulation at stable prices. What economist can deny that such a guarantee, which exists only in the U.S.S.R., is a more real guarantee of the stability of the currency than any gold reserve? Will the economists in capitalist countries ever understand that they are hopelessly muddled in their theory of a gold reserve as the "sole" guarantee of the stability of the currency?

SPGB; Stalinist Party of Great Britain

See what I did there?

alb wrote:
Noa Rodman wrote:

alb I ask, because you apparently agree with my 'Kautsky' position during a gold standard.

But why would that make me (or anyone else) not want to see socialism established as a (necessarily) moneyless society?

Right. So likewise, why does it make me not want to see socialism if I think that gold is the measure of value even after the abandonment of a gold standard?

alb
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Feb 13 2012 20:44
Noa Rodman wrote:
Right. So likewise, why does it make me not want to see socialism if I think that gold is the measure of value even after the abandonment of a gold standard?

It doesn't. In fact, in the end, whether or not someone thinks that gold is still the measure of value doesn't make any difference to whether or not that person wants socialism. In that sense, we are just having an academic argument - unless you think that the gold (or gold exchange) standard should be re-established today under capitalism as this would somehow benefit the working class or that a currency could exist in a socialist society. But you seem reluctant to come out and say whether or not you think socialism can only be a moneyless (and value-less) society (or it wouldn't be socialism).

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Feb 13 2012 21:26

Obviously everyone here thinks communism will be money-less and value-less. Nobody wants to give any policy suggestions to the bourgeoisie whatsoever, much less to argue for a return to the gold standard.

It is an academic argument, but (the way I see it) with important implications for an analysis of capitalism that most of us here probably subscribe to.

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Feb 13 2012 23:12
alb wrote:
But you seem reluctant to come out and say whether or not you think socialism can only be a moneyless (and value-less) society (or it wouldn't be socialism).

Well I think it's like the question of the state in the transition phase...

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Feb 14 2012 02:59

We can get as complicated as we want but it won't solve anything. I don't think we need a detailed plan, plans don't always work which is why centralized control always fails, whether it be a military setting or an economic situation, especially when compared to autonomous, decentralized control.

As long as we all agree that money is bad and needs to go, things very well may work themselves out. Trial and error folks, trial and error. I don't know what happened with monetarism, it worked for the time I guess but now it's destructive.

Me being the insurrectionary antichrist bastard I am, if we can't put our heads together and figure out something that doesn't destroy like capitalism and monetarism, I propose we re-prioritize and figure out a cure to the planetary virus that is humanity and administer it.

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Feb 14 2012 18:03

Before moving on from the commodity-money issue, I have to say that alb's post # 135 didn't get my position at all (the confusion is probably due to my bringing up Shaikh's calculations in the beginning), so there really took place no debate on this thread.

Now, on Kautsky's 1922 text which alb asked me about. Yes, I agree with it. "The principles of communist production etc." is a response to Kautsky's work, but Mattick pointed out some weaknesses in it (which go back to the Gotha critique).
When Marx there writes:

Quote:
after labor has become not only a means of life but life's prime want; after the productive forces have also increased with the all-around development of the individual, and all the springs of co-operative wealth flow more abundantly -- only then then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be crossed in its entirety and society inscribe on its banners: From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

this is not a communist principle (as Mattick rightly states). It was Saint-Simon I think who coined it and was taken up by Louis Blanc (before the publication of the Gotha critique, Jules Guesde had critiqued the phrase very sharply).

Way before Engels already had found it problematic (iirc relying on Börne).