11 thoughts on “Pretty easy to tell who has actually read Capital…”

  1. Actually….if you spent more time reading chapter one, instead of shit talking, you’d know silly tweets about wages and the price of gold are not based on chapter one. As Marx makes clear in footnote 15:

    Wages is a category that, as yet, has no existence at the present stage of our investigation.


    1. Ah! Yes. In chapter 1, labor power is not yet a commodity.

      Still, as a commodity, it behaves like any commodity as explained in chapter 1. Thus it remains true that its value can only manifest itself in the form of another commodity. To know the value of this commodity at any point in time and thus compare it to any later point in time, we need only find its equivalent in some commodity money.

      True or no, Marshall?


  2. In chapter one Marx examines ‘the commodity’ in abstraction from capital, wages, profit, interest, rent etc. These categories are presupposed, per the first lines of Capital, but are not yet posited. They must be developed through analysis. So directly applying what Marx says in chapter one about ‘the commodity’ to empirical reality is misguided. It is a methodological mistake (ie putting ‘the science before the science’ as Marx accused Ricardo of doing).

    Value requires a form because value is not a property of an individual thing or of a single commodity. It is an expression of a social relation. In chapter one section three Marx lays out the form of value, the universal equivalent form, exchange-value, money. For the purpose of analysis, Marx assumes gold is the universal equivalent form. But he is explicit about gold not being money in itself. That is, gold is not money by nature. Gold is playing a social role- the universal equivalent form of value. All commodities express their value in the price of gold because gold has immediate social validity per assumption. This, immediate social validity, is what makes it the universal equivalent form of value the ‘universal’ form.

    Does something other than gold have immediate social validity today?


  3. Both.

    If you think a prior universal equivalent form of value – such as gold – was somehow more correct(?) or better(?) or whatever in times past, then what was it about a prior universal equivalent form of value that made it more correct or better or whatever?


    1. Marshall,

      Do something that no critic of Marx’s theory of money has EVER done: compare the change in GDP since 1929 in gold money to the same data in in current dollars. See which better explains what we all know is the history of capitalism since that time.

      This is all that is necessary. Use as detailed a level of analysis as is necessary to falsify Marx’s theory and support the quantity theory of money that you use. Apply the most rigorous statistical methods possible to this effort.

      I have no doubt what the conclusion will be.

      Likewise, not one critic of Marx’s theory has ever attempted this because they already know what the answer will be.


  4. Is it really good faith to note that “gold is not by its nature money…” without completing the POINT of saying that, namely “…. but money, by it’s nature, is gold”? Given how this rather directly, right there in ch1, undermines the idea that an abstract, valueless “unit of price” can serve as marxian money?


  5. Jehu,

    Why is gold the best yardstick to measure the value of labor? My understanding is that we are comparing the amount of gold an hour of work would fetch between 1971 and 2021 to show the dwindling compensation of workers. However, there a plenty of other commodities you could compare by price in dollars over time. Why not cars, or housing, or canned beans? Does gold in particular hold any significance in Marx’s analysis of money?

    I am a novice when it comes to Marx, and I appreciate your patience in responding.


    1. I should clarify that in Marx’s labor theory of value, gold doesn’t measure the value of labor, because labor itself has no value. This might seem somewhat odd, but in the theory, labor creates value, but does not itself have value.

      Now the labor (which, again, has no value of its own) can under certain definite conditions create the value that is actually embodied in use-values created during the labor process. When it does, we call this a commodity. It is the commodity, not the labor that has value.

      Having said this, it is also necessary to state that the value embodied in the commodity during the labor process cannot be apprehended directly. It can only manifest itself in an exchange — hence the term “exchange value”.

      The exchange value of any commodity is expressed in a definite exchange with another commodity that, in Marx’s labor theory of value, serves as the money in the transaction.

      Money is not an ordinary commodity — like a car, house or can of beans. It is special commodity that has acquired this function through centuries (millennia) of social action. The commodities serving as money are not chosen arbitrarily by scholars following Marx, but were the result of this long historical process. Several have been used over that period. We did not determine this, society did. Nor did we decide in 1971 to put an end to its use.

      I hope this helps you. Your questions are encouraged.


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