06 July 2015

Money

Marx’s Capital Volume 1, Part 3a

Illustration from Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan

Money

“The commodity that functions as a measure of value, and, either in its own person or by a representative, as the medium of circulation, is money.”

It would not be remarkable that in a work called “Capital” and in a chapter called “Money”, Karl Marx would proceed to define it; except that bourgeois economists cannot do so, even up to today. 

Marx’s definition of money (“the perfected form of the general equivalent”) sits within a concrete overview of all the circumstances of capital, whereas bourgeois economists can never present a full picture of society, but only disconnected snapshots of abstract parts of the whole.

The second title of the book is “Critique of Political Economy”. Karl Marx had read everything of consequence that had been written, from the time of Thomas Hobbes’ “Leviathan” (1651), and had made notes from his reading in a manuscript called “Theories of Surplus Value”, which is also sometimes called “Capital, Volume 4”. The table below is a list of names of political economists mentioned in that work, sixty altogether; and there are many others that are mentioned in the text or in the footnotes of Volume 1, including in the chapter given as a download for today, below.

Karl Marx was not an economist. Capital is not a book of economics. It is a critique of the entire body of Political-Economic thought up to the time of its writing, with conclusions drawn about the development of Political Economy (not economics) into the future. Political Economy is the study of human political relations, and not just money relations.

In this chapter Marx describes Money and Price, the conversions between Use-Value and Exchange-Value, and then the transformation of commodities into money and back again from money into commodities, which is the series “C – M – C”.  Marx spends time on this quite simple description, because he is going to build on it later. Therefore it is advisable to read it at least once in full. But don’t get stuck. If you stick, skip.

Scrooge McDuck: miser

Finally, Marx deals in this chapter with hoarding of money, and with the practical use of money. All of these things are going to be useful while we go through the book.

Top picture: a 17th-century vision of the bourgeois state, from the cover of Hobbes’ “Leviathan”. Above: a 20th-Century vision of a miser (hoarder), “Scrooge McDuck”. Below (table): some authors covered by Marx during his preparations for writing “Capital”.


Names of “political economists” studied in Marx’s “Theories of Surplus Value” (Capital, Volume 4):

Sir James Steuart
John Stuart Mill
Massie
Robert Torrens
Quesnay
Germain Garnier
Buat
James Mill
Turgot
Charles Ganilh
Anonymous English Author
Prévost
Paoletti
Ferrier
Rodbertus
Thomas De Quincey
Adam Smith
Earl of Lauderdale
David Ricardo
Samuel Bailey McCulloch
Schmalz
Count Destutt de Tracy
Anderson
Wakefield
Verri
Nassau Senior
Darwin
Stirling
Say
Pellegrino Rossi
Roscher
John Stuart Mill
Storch
Chalmers
Hopkins
Ravenstone
Ramsay  
Necker
John Barton
Ramsay
Mercantilists
Linguet
Nathaniel Forster
Cherbuliez
Ricardo
Sir Dudley North
Carey
Barbon
Sismondi
Locke
James Deacon Hume
Richard Jones
D’Avenant
Berkeley
Hodgskin
Proudhon 
Petty
Hume
Thomas Robert Malthus
Luther


·        The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Capital V1, Chapter 3, [part], The Medium of Circulation, Money.

1 comments:

Camilla Richards said...

Thanks for the information. Frankly speaking, I haven’t read Marx’s book “Capital” and I didn’t study economics in the university. However, I know that this book is a must read for everyone studying economics and it has affected many famous economy scientists. It’s important to understand at least basic economic processes to know how to organize your budget wisely and spend your money wisely. Today it’s important to be financially literate and know about financial products like fast easy loan website to make up a successful personal budget.