Grundrisse: Notebook I / II – The Chapter on Money

(c) Money as material representative of wealth (accumulation of money; before that, money as the general material of contracts, etc.)

It is in the nature of circulation that every point appears simultaneously as a starting-point and as a conclusion, and, more precisely, that it appears to be the one in so far as it appears to be the other. The specific form M–C–C–M therefore just as correct as the other, which appears the more original, C–M–M–C. The difficulty is that the other commodity is qualitatively different; not so the other money. It can differ only quantitatively. – Regarded as measure the material substance of money is essential, although its availability and even more its quantity, the amount of the portion of gold or silver which serves as unit, are entirely irrelevant for it in this quality, and it is employed in general only as an imaginary, non-existent unit. In this quality it is needed as a unit and not as an amount. If I say a pound of cotton is worth 8d., then I am saying that 1 pound of cotton = 1/116 oz. of gold (the ounce at £3 17s. 7d.) (931d.). This expresses at the same time its particularity as exchange value as against all other commodities, as equivalent of all other commodities, which contain the ounce of gold this or that many times, since they are all in the same way compared to the ounce of gold. This original relation of the pound of cotton with gold, by means of which the quantity of gold contained in an ounce of cotton is determined, is fixed by the quantity of labour time realized in one and the other, the real common substance of exchange values. This is to be presupposed from the chapter dealing with exchange value as such. The difficulty of finding this equation is not as great as it may appear. For example, labour which directly produces gold directly reveals a certain quantity of gold to be the product of, say, one working day. Competition equates the other working days with that one, modificandis modificatis. Directly or indirectly. In a word, in the direct production of gold, a definite quantity of gold directly appears as product and hence as the value, the equivalent, of a definite amount of labour time. One has therefore only to determine the amount of labour time realized in the various commodities, and to equate them to the labour time which directly produces gold, in order to state how much gold is contained in a given commodity. The determination of all commodities as prices – as measured exchange values – is a process which takes place only gradually, which presupposes frequent exchange and hence frequent comparison of commodities as exchange values; but as soon as the existence of commodities as prices has become a precondition – a precondition which is itself a product of the social process, a result of the process of social production – then the determination of new prices appears simple, since the elements of production cost are themselves already present in the form of prices, and are hence simply to be added. (Frequent alienation, sale, frequent sale, Steuart. [66] Rather, all this must have continuity so that prices achieve a certain regularity.) However, the point we wanted to get at here is this: in so far as gold is to be established as the unit of measurement, the relation of gold to commodities is determined by barter, direct, unmediated exchange; like the relation of all other commodities to one another. With barter, however, the product is exchange value only in itself; it is its first phenomenal form; but the product is not yet posited as exchange value. Firstly, this character does not yet dominate production as a whole, but concerns only its superfluity and is hence itself more or less superfluous (like exchange itself); an accidental enlargement of the sphere of satisfactions, enjoyments (relations to new objects). It therefore takes place at only a few points (originally at the borders of the natural communities, in their contact with strangers), is restricted to a narrow sphere, and forms something which passes production by, is auxiliary to it; dies out just as much by chance as it arises. The form of barter in which the overflow of one’s own production is exchanged by chance for that of others’ is only the first occurrence of the product as exchange value in general, and is determined by accidental needs, whims, etc. But if it should happen to continue, to become a continuing act which contains within itself the means of its renewal, then little by little, from the outside and likewise by chance, regulation of reciprocal exchange arises by means of regulation of reciprocal production, and the costs of production, which ultimately resolve into labour time, would thus become the measure of exchange. This shows how exchange comes about, and the exchange value of the commodity. But the circumstances under which a relation occurs for the first time by no means show us that relation either in its purity or in its totality. A product posited as exchange value is in its essence no longer a simple thing; it is posited in a quality differing from its natural quality; it is posited as a relation, more precisely as a relation in general, not to one commodity but to every commodity, to every possible product. It expresses, therefore, a general relation; the product which relates to itself as the realization of a specific quantity of labour in general, of social labour time, and is therefore the equivalent of every other product in the proportion expressed in its exchange value. Exchange value presupposes social labour as the substance of all products, quite apart from their natural make-up. Nothing can express a relation without relating to one particular thing, and there can be no general relation unless it relates to a general thing. Since labour is motion, time is its natural measure. Barter in its crudest form presupposes labour as substance and labour time as measure of commodities; this then emerges as soon as it becomes regularized, continuous, as soon as it contains within itself the reciprocal requirements for its renewal. – A commodity is exchange value only if it is expressed in another, i.e. as a relation. A bushel of wheat is worth so many bushels of rye; in this case wheat is exchange value in as much as it is expressed in rye, and rye is exchange value in as much as it is expressed in wheat. If each of the two is related only to itself, it is not exchange value. Now, in the relation in which money appears as measure, it itself is not expressed as a relation, not as exchange value, but as a natural quantity of a certain material, a natural weight- fraction of gold or silver. In general, the commodity in which the exchange value of another is expressed, is never expressed as exchange value, never as relation, but rather as a definite quantity of its natural make-up. If 1 bushel of wheat is worth 3 bushels of rye, then only the bushel of wheat is expressed as a value, not the bushel of rye. Of course, the other is also posited in itself; the 1 bushel of rye is then = 1/3 bushel of wheat; but this is not posited, but merely a second relation, which is admittedly directly present in the first. If one commodity is expressed in another, then it is posited as a relation, and the other as simple quantity of a certain material. 3 bushels of rye are in themselves no value; rather, rye filling up a certain volume, measured by a standard of volume. The same is true of money as measure, as the unit in which the exchange values of other commodities are measured. It is a specific weight of the natural substance by which it is represented, gold, silver, etc. If 1 bushel of wheat has the price of 77s. 7d., then it is expressed as something else, to which it is equal, as 1 ounce of gold; as relation, as exchange value. But 1 ounce of gold is in itself no exchange value; it is not expressed as exchange value; but as a specific quantity of itself, of its natural substance, gold. If 1 bushel of wheat has the price of 77s. 7d. or of 1 ounce of gold, then this can be a greater or lesser value, since 1 ounce of gold will rise or fall in relation to the quantity of labour required for its production. But for the determination of its price as such, this is irrelevant; for its price of 77s. 7d. exactly expresses the relation in which it is equivalent to all other commodities, in which it can buy them. The specificity of price determination, whether the bushel is 77 or 1,780s., is a different matter altogether from the determination of price as such, i.e. the positing of wheat as price. It has a price, regardless of whether it costs 100 or 1s. The price expresses its exchange value only in a unit common to all commodities; presupposes therefore that this exchange value is already regulated by other relations. To be sure, the fact that 1 bushel of wheat has the price of 1 ounce of gold – since gold and wheat as natural objects have no relation with one another, are as such not a measure for one another, are irrelevant to one another – this fact is found out by bringing the ounce of gold itself into relation with the amount of labour time necessary for its production, and thus bringing both wheat and gold in relation to a third entity, labour, and equating them through this relation; by comparing them both, therefore, as exchange values. But this shows us only how the price of wheat is found, the quantity of gold to which it is equal. In this relation itself, where gold appears as the price of wheat, it is itself not in turn posited as a relation, as exchange value, but as a certain quantity of a natural material. In exchange value, commodities (products) are posited as relations to their social substance, to labour; but as prices, they are expressed as quantities of other products of various natural make-ups. Now, it can admittedly be said that the price of money is also posited as 1 bushel of wheat, 3 bushels of rye and all the other quantities of different commodities, whose price is 1 ounce of gold. But then, in order to express the price of money, the whole sphere of commodities would have to be listed, each in the quantity which equals 1 ounce of gold. Money would then have as many prices as there are commodities whose price it itself expresses. The chief quality of price, unity, would disappear. No commodity expresses the price of money, because none expresses its relation to all other commodities, its general exchange value. But it is the specific characteristic of price that exchange value must be expressed in its generality and at the same time in a specific commodity. But even this is irrelevant. In so far as money appears as a material in which the price of all commodities is expressed and measured, to that extent is money itself posited as a particular amount of gold, silver, etc., in short, of its natural matter; a simple amount of a certain material, not itself as exchange value, as relation. In the same way, every commodity which expresses the price of another is itself not posited as exchange value, but as a simple amount of itself. In its quality as unit of exchange value, as their measure, their common point of comparison, money is essentially a natural material, gold, silver; since, as the price of the commodity, it is not an exchange value, not a relation, but a certain weight of gold, silver; e.g. a pound with its subdivisions, and thus money appears originally as pound, aes grave. This is precisely what distinguishes price from exchange value, and we have seen that exchange value necessarily drives towards price formation. Hence the nonsensicality of those who want to make labour time as such into money, i.e. who want to posit and then not posit the distinction between price and exchange value. Money as measure, as element of price determination, as measuring unit of exchange values thus presents the following phenomena: (1) it is required only as an imagined unit once the exchange value of an ounce of gold compared to any one commodity has been determined; its actual presence is superfluous, along with, even more so, its available quantity: as an indicator (an indicator of value) the amount in which it exists in a country is irrelevant; required only as accounting unit; (2) while it thus only needs to be posited ideally, and, indeed, in the form of the price of a commodity is only ideally posited in it; at the same time, as a simple amount of the natural substance in which it is represented, as a given weight of gold, silver, etc. which is accepted as unit, it also yields the point of comparison, the unit, the measure. Exchange values (commodities) are transformed by the mind into certain weights of gold or silver, and are ideally posited as being = to this imagined quantity of gold etc.; as expressing it.

But when we now go over to the second quality of money, money as medium of exchange and realizer of prices, then we have found that in this case it must be present in a certain quantity; that the given weight of gold and silver which has been posited as a unit is required in a given quantity in order to be adequate to this function. If the sum of prices to be realized, which depends on the price of a particular commodity multiplied by its quantity, is given on one side, and the velocity of monetary circulation on the other, then a certain quantity of the circulating medium is required. When we now examine the original form more closely, the direct form in which circulation presents itself, C–M–M–C, then we see that money appears here as a pure medium of exchange. The commodity is exchanged for a commodity, and money appears merely as the medium of this exchange. The price of the first commodity is realized with money, in order to realize the price of the second commodity with the money, and thus to obtain it in exchange for the first. After the price of the first commodity is realized, the aim of the person who now has its price in money is not to obtain the price of the second commodity, but rather to pay its price in order to obtain the commodity. At bottom, therefore, money served him to exchange the first commodity for the second. As mere medium of exchange, money has no other purpose. The man who has sold his commodity and got money wants to buy another commodity, and the man from whom he buys it needs the money in order to buy another commodity etc. Now, in this function, as pure medium of circulation, the specific role of money consists only of this circulation, which it brings about owing to the fact that its quantity, its amount, was fixed beforehand. The number of times in which it is itself contained in the commodities as a unit is determined beforehand by their prices, and as medium of circulation it appears merely as a multiple of this predetermined unit. In so far as it realizes the price of commodities, the commodity is exchanged for its real equivalent in gold and silver; its exchange value is really exchanged for another commodity, money; but in so far as this process takes place only in order to transform this money back into a commodity, i.e. in order to exchange the first commodity for the second, then money appears only fleetingly, or, its substance consists only in this constant appearance as disappearance, as this vehicle of mediation. Money as medium of circulation is only medium of circulation. The only attribute which is essential to it in order to serve in this capacity is the attribute of quantity, of amount, in which it circulates. (Since the amount is co-determined by the velocity, the latter does not require special mention here.) In so far as it realizes the price, its material existence as gold and silver is essential; but in so far as this realization is only fleeting and destined to suspend itself, this is irrelevant. It is only a semblance, as if the point were to exchange the commodity for gold or silver as particular commodities: a semblance which disappears as soon as the process is ended, as soon as gold and silver have again been exchanged for a commodity, and the commodity, hence, exchanged for another. The character of gold and silver as mere media of circulation, or the character of the medium of circulation as gold and silver is therefore irrelevant to their make-up as particular natural commodities. Suppose the total price of circulating commodities = 1,200 thalers. Their measure is then 1 thaler = x weight of silver. Now let 100 thalers be necessary to circulate these commodities in 6 hours; i.e. every thaler pays the price of 100 thalers in 6 hours. Now, what is essential is that 100 thalers be present, the amount of 100 of the metallic unit which measures the sum total of commodity prices; 100 of these units. That these units consist of silver is irrelevant to the process itself. This is already visible in the fact that a single thaler represents in the cycle of circulation a mass of silver 100 times greater than is contained in it in reality, even though in each particular transaction it only represents the silver weight of 1 thaler. In circulation as a whole, the 1 thaler thus represents 100 thalers, a weight of silver a hundred times greater than it really contains. It is in truth only a symbol for the weight of silver contained in 100 thalers. It realizes a price which is 100 times greater than it realizes in reality as a quantity of silver. Let the pound sterling be = 1/3 ounce of gold (it is not as much as that). In so far as the price of a commodity at £1 is paid, i.e. its price of £1 is realized, it is exchanged for £1, to that extent it is of decisive importance that the £1 really contain 1/3 ounce of gold. If it were a counterfeit £, alloyed with non-precious metals, a £ only in appearance, then indeed the price of the commodity would not be realized; in order to realize it, it would have to be paid for in as great a quantity of the non-precious metal as equals 1/3 of an ounce of gold. Looking at this moment of circulation in isolation, it is thus essential that the unit of money should really represent a given quantity of gold or silver. But when we take circulation as a totality, as a self-enclosed process, C–M–M–C, then the matter stands differently. In the first case the realization of price would be only apparent: in reality only a part of its price would be realized. The price posited in it ideally would not be posited in reality. The commodity which is ideally equated to a given weight of gold would in actual exchange not bring in as much gold as that. But if a fake £ were to circulate in the place of a real one, it would render absolutely the same service in circulation as a whole as if it were genuine. If a commodity, A, with the price of £1, is exchanged for 1 fake £, and if this fake pound is again exchanged for commodity B, price £1, then the fake pound has done absolutely the same service as if it had been genuine. The genuine pound is, therefore, in this process, nothing more than a symbol, in so far as the moment in which it realizes prices is left out, and we look only at the totality of the process, in which it serves only as medium of exchange and in which the realization of prices is only a semblance, a fleeting mediation. Here the gold pound serves only to allow commodity A to be exchanged for commodity B, both having the same price. The real realization of the price of commodity A is, here, the commodity B, and the real realization of the price of B is the commodity A or C or D, which amounts to the same as far as the form of the relation is concerned, for which the particular content of the commodity is entirely irrelevant. Commodities with identical prices are exchanged. Instead of exchanging commodity A directly for commodity B, the price of commodity A is exchanged for the price of commodity B and the price of commodity B for commodity A. Money thus represents to the commodity only the latter’s price. Commodities are exchanged for one another at their prices. The price of the commodity expresses about it, ideally, that it is an amount of a certain natural unit (weight units) of gold or silver, of the material in which money is embodied. In the form of money, or its realized price, the commodity now confronts a real amount of this unit. But in so far as the realization of the price is not the final act, and the point is not to possess the price of commodities as price, but as the price of another commodity, to that extent the material of money is irrelevant, e.g. gold and silver. Money becomes a subject as instrument of circulation, as medium of exchange, and the natural material in which it presents itself appears as an accident whose significance disappears in the act of exchange itself; because it is not in this material that the commodity exchanged for money is supposed to be realized, but rather in the material of another commodity. For now, apart from the moments that, in circulation, (1) money realizes prices, (2) money circulates titles of ownership; we have (3), additionally, that by means of it something takes place which could not happen otherwise, namely that the exchange value of the commodity is expressed in every other commodity. If 1 yard of linen costs 2s. and 1 lb. of sugar 1s., then the yard of linen is realized, by means of the 2s., in 2 lb. of sugar, while the sugar is converted into the material of its exchange value, into the material in which its exchange value is realized. As a mere medium of circulation, in its role in the constant flow of the circulatory process, money is neither the measure of prices, because it is already posited as such in the prices themselves; nor is it the means for the realization of prices, for it exists as such in one single moment of circulation, but disappears as such in the totality of its moments; but is, rather, the mere representative of the price in relation to all other commodities, and serves only as a means to the end that all commodities are to be exchanged at equivalent prices. It is exchanged for one commodity because it is the general representative of its exchange value; and, as such, as the representative of every other commodity of equal exchange value, it is the general representative; and that is, as such, what it is in circulation itself. It represents the price of the one commodity as against all other commodities, or the price of all commodities as against the one commodity. In this relation it is not only the representative of commodity prices, but the symbol of itself; i.e. in the act of circulation itself, its material, gold and silver, is irrelevant. It is the price; it is a given quantity of gold or silver; but in so far as this reality of the price is here only fleeting, a reality destined constantly to disappear, to be suspended, not to count as a definitive realization, but always only as an intermediate, mediating realization; in so far as the point here is not the realization of the price at all, but rather the realization of the exchange value of one particular commodity in the material of another commodity, to that extent its own material is irrelevant; it is ephemeral as a realization of the price, since this itself disappears; it exists, therefore, in so far as it remains in this constant movement, only as a representative of exchange value, which becomes real only if the real exchange value constantly steps into the place of its representative, constantly changes places with it, constantly exchanges itself for it. Hence, in this process, its reality is not that it is the price, but that it represents it, is its representative – the materially present representative of the price, thus of itself, and, as such, of the exchange value of commodities. As medium of exchange, it realizes the prices of commodities only in order to posit the exchange value of the one commodity in the other, as its unit; i.e. in order to realize its exchange value in the other commodity; i.e. to posit the other commodity as the material of its exchange value.

Only within circulation, then, is it such a material symbol; taken out of circulation, it again becomes a realized price; but within the process, as we have seen, the quantity, the amount of these material symbols of the monetary unit is the essential attribute. Hence, while the material substance of money, its material substratum of a given quantity of gold or silver, is irrelevant within circulation, where money appears as something existing in opposition to commodities, and where, by contrast, its amount is the essential aspect, since it is there only a symbol for a given amount of this unit; in its role as measure, however, where it was introduced only ideally, its material substratum was essential, but its quantity and even its existence as such were irrelevant. From this it follows that money as gold and silver, in so far as only its role as means of exchange and circulation is concerned, can be replaced by any other symbol which expresses a given quantity of its unit, and that in this way symbolic money can replace the real, because material money as mere medium of exchange is itself symbolic.

It is these contradictory functions of money, as measure, as realization of prices and as mere medium of exchange, which explain the otherwise inexplicable phenomenon that the debasement of metallic money, of gold, silver, through admixture of inferior metals, causes a depreciation of money and a rise in prices; because in this case the measure of prices [is] no longer the cost of production of the ounce of gold, say, but rather of an ounce consisting of 2/3 copper etc. (The debasement of the coinage, in so far as it consists merely of falsifying or changing the names of the fractional weight units of the precious metal, e.g. if the eighth part of an ounce were to be called a sovereign, makes absolutely no difference in the measure and changes only its name. If, earlier, 1/4 of the ounce was called 1 sovereign, and now it is 1/8, then the price of 1 sovereign now expresses merely 1/8 of an ounce of gold; thus (about) 2 sovereigns are necessary to express the same price which was earlier expressed by 1 sovereign); or in the case of a mere falsification of the name of the fractional parts of the precious metal, the measure remains the same, but the fractional part [is] expressed in twice as many francs etc. as before; on the other hand, if the substratum of money, gold, silver, is entirely suspended and replaced by paper bearing the symbol of given quantities of real money, in the quantity required by circulation, then the paper circulates at the full gold and silver value. In the first case, because the medium of circulation is at the same time the material of money as measure, and the material in which prices are definitively realized; in the second case, because money only in its role as medium of circulation.

Example of the clumsy confusion between the contradictory functions of money: ‘Price is exactly determined by the quantity of money there is to buy it with. All the commodities in the world can fetch no more than all the money in the world.’ First, the determination of prices has nothing to do with actual sale; money, in sale, serves only as measure. Secondly, all commodities (in circulation) can fetch a thousand times more money as is in the world, if every piece of money were to circulate a thousand times. (The passage is quoted from the London Weekly Dispatch, 8 November 1857.)

Since the total sum of prices to be realized in circulation changes with the prices of the commodities and with the quantity of them thrown into circulation; and since, on the other side, the velocity of the medium of circulation is determined by circumstances independent of itself, it follows from this that the quantity of media of circulation must be capable of changing, or expanding and contracting – contraction and expansion of circulation.

In its role as mere medium of circulation, it can be said about money that it ceases to be a commodity (particular commodity), when its material is irrelevant and it meets only the needs of circulation itself, and no other direct need: gold and silver cease to be commodities as soon as they circulate as money. It can be said about it, on the other hand, that it is now merely a commodity (general commodity), the commodity in its pure form, indifferent to its natural particularity and hence indifferent to all direct needs, without natural relation to a particular need as such. The followers of the Monetary System, even partly of the protectionist system (see e.g. Ferrier, p. 2), [67] have clung only to the first aspect, while the modern economists cling to the second; e.g. Say, who says that money should be treated like a ‘particular’ commodity, a commodity like any other. [68] As medium of exchange, money appears in the role of necessary mediator between production and consumption. In the developed money system, one produces only in order to exchange, or, one produces only by exchanging. Strike out money, and one would thereby either be thrown back to a lower stage of production (corresponding to that of auxiliary barter), or one would proceed to a higher stage, in which exchange value would no longer be the principal aspect of the commodity, because social labour, whose representative it is, would no longer appear merely as socially mediated private labour.

The question whether money as medium of exchange is productive or not productive is solved just as easily. According to Adam Smith, money not productive. [69] Of course, Ferrier says e.g.: ‘It creates values, because they would not exist without it.’ One has to look not only at ‘its value as metal, but equally its property as money’. A. Smith is correct, in so far as it is not the instrument of any particular branch of production; Ferrier is right too because it is an essential aspect of the mode of production resting on exchange value that product and agency of production should be posited in the character of money, and because this characteristic presupposes a money distinct from products; and because the money relation is itself a relation of production if production is looked at in its totality.

When C–M–M–C is dissected into its two moments, although the prices of the commodities are presupposed (and this makes the major difference), circulation splits into two acts of direct barter.

C–M: the exchange value of the commodity is expressed in another particular commodity, in the material of money, like that of money in the commodity; similarly with M–C. To this extent, A. Smith is right when he says that money as medium of exchange is only a more complicated kind of barter. But when we look at the whole of the process, and not at both as equivalent acts, realization of the commodity in money and of money in the commodity, then A. Smith’s opponents are correct when they say that he misunderstood the nature of money and that monetary circulation suppresses barter; that money serves only to balance the accounts of the ‘arithmetical division’ arising from the division of labour. These ‘arithmetical figures’ no more need to be of gold and silver than do the measures of length. (See Solly, p. 20.) [70]

Commodities change from being marchandises to being denrées, they enter consumption; money as medium of circulation does not; at no point does it cease to be commodity, as long as it remains within the role of medium of circulation.

We now pass on to the third function of money; which initially results from the second form of circulation:

M–C–C–M; in which money appears not only as medium, nor as measure, but as end-in-itself, and hence steps outside circulation just like a particular commodity which ceases to circulate for the time being and changes from marchandise to denrée.

But first it must be noted that, once the quality of money as an intrinsic relation of production generally founded on exchange value is presupposed, it is possible to demonstrate that in some particular cases it does service as an instrument of production. ‘The utility of gold and silver rests on this, that they replace labour.’ (Lauderdale, p. 11.) [71] Without money, a mass of swaps would be necessary before one obtained the desired article in exchange. Furthermore, in each particular exchange one would have to undertake an investigation into the relative value of commodities. Money spares us the first task in its role as instrument of exchange (instrument of commerce); the second task, as measure of value and representative of all commodities (idem, loc. cit.). The opposite assertion, that money is not productive, amounts only to saying that, apart from the functions in which it is productive, as measure, instrument of circulation and representative of value, it is unproductive; that its quantity is productive only in so far as it is necessary to fulfil these preconditions. That it becomes not only unproductive, but faux frais de production, the moment when more of it is employed than necessary for its productive aspect – this is a truth which holds for every other instrument of production or exchange; for the machine as well as the means of transportation. But if by this it is meant that money exchanges only real wealth which already exists, then this is false, since labour, as well, is exchanged for it and bought with it, i.e. productive activity itself, potential wealth.

The third attribute of money, in its complete development, presupposes the first two and constitutes their unity. Money, then, has an independent existence outside circulation; it has stepped outside it. As a particular commodity it can be transformed out of its form of money into that of luxury articles, gold and silver jewellery (as long as craftsmanship is still very simple, as e.g. in the old English period, a constant transformation of silver money into plate and vice versa. See Taylor) [72] ; or, as money, it can be accumulated to form a treasure. When money in its independent existence is derived from circulation, it appears in itself as a result of circulation; by way of circulation, it closes the circle with itself. This aspect already latently contains its quality as capital. It is negated only as medium of exchange. Still, since it can be historically posited as measure before it appears as medium of exchange, and can appear as medium of exchange before it is posited as measure – in the latter case it would exist merely as preferred commodity – it can therefore also appear historically in the third function before it is posited in the two prior ones. But gold and silver can be accumulated as money only if they are already present in one of the other two roles, and it can appear in a developed form of the third role only if the two earlier ones are already developed. Otherwise, accumulating it is nothing more than the accumulation of gold and silver, not of money.

(As an especially interesting example, go into the accumulation of copper money in the earlier periods of the Roman republic.)

Since money as universal material representative of wealth emerges from circulation, and is as such itself a product of circulation, both of exchange at a higher potentiality, and a particular form of exchange, it stands therefore in the third function, as well, in connection with circulation; it stands independent of circulation, but this independence is only its own process. It derives from it just as it returns to it again. Cut off from all relation to it, it would not be money, but merely a simple natural object, gold or silver. In this character it is just as much its precondition as its result. Its independence is not the end of all relatedness to circulation, but rather a negative relation to it. This comes from its independence as a result of M–C–C–M. In the case of money as capital, money itself is posited (1) as precondition of circulation as well as its result; (2) as having independence only in the form of a negative relation, but always a relation to circulation; (3) as itself an instrument of production, since circulation no longer appears in its primitive simplicity, as quantitative exchange, but as a process of production, as a real metabolism. And thus money is itself stamped as a particular moment of this process of production. Production is not only concerned with simple determination of prices, i.e. with translation of the exchange values of commodities into a common unit, but with the creation of exchange values, hence also with the creation of the particularity of prices. Not merely with positing the form, but also the content. Therefore, while in simple circulation, money appears generally as productive, since circulation in general is itself a moment of the system of production, nevertheless this quality still only exists for us, and is not yet posited in money. (4) As capital, money thus also appears posited as a relation to itself mediated by circulation – in the relation of interest and capital. But here we are not as yet concerned with these aspects; rather, we have to look simply at money in the third role, in the form in which it emerged as something independent from circulation, more properly, from both its earlier aspects.

(‘An increase of money only an increase in the means of counting.’ Sismondi. [73] This correct only in so far as defined as mere medium of exchange. In the other property it is also an increase in the means of paying.)

‘Commerce separated the shadow from the body, and introduced the possibility of owning them separately.’ (Sismondi.) [74] Thus, money is now exchange value become independent (it never puts in more than a fleeting appearance as such, as medium of exchange) in its general form. It possesses, it is true, a particular body or substance, gold and silver, and precisely this gives it its independence; for what only exists as an aspect or relation of something else is not independent. On the other side, with this bodily independence, as gold and silver, it represents not only the exchange value of one commodity as against another, but rather exchange value as against all commodities; and although it possesses a substance of its own, it appears at the same time, in its particular existence as gold and silver, as the general exchange value of all commodities. On one side, it is possessed as their exchange value; they stand on the other side as only so many particular substances of exchange value, so that it can either transform itself into every one of these substances through exchange, or it can remain indifferent to them, aloof from their particularity and peculiarity. They are therefore merely accidental existences. It is the ‘précis de toutes les choses’, [75] in which their particular character is erased; it is general wealth in the form of a concise compendium, as opposed to its diffusion and fragmentation in the world of commodities. While wealth in the form of the particular commodity appears as one of the moments of the same, or the commodity as one of the moments of wealth; in the form of gold and silver general wealth itself appears as concentrated in a particular substance. Every particular commodity, in so far as it is exchange value, has a price, expresses a certain quantity of money in a merely imperfect form, since it has to be thrown into circulation in order to be realized, and since it remains a matter of chance, due to its particularity, whether or not it is realized. However, in so far as it is realized not as price, but in its natural property, it is a moment of wealth by way of its relation to a particular need which it satisfies; and, in this relation, [it] expresses (1) only the wealth of uses [Gebrauchsreichtum], (2) only a quite particular facet of this wealth. Money, by contrast, apart from its particular usefulness as a valuable commodity, is (1) the realized price; (2) satisfies every need, in so far as it can be exchanged for the desired object of every need, regardless of any particularity. The commodity possesses this property only through the mediation of money. Money possesses it directly in relation to all commodities, hence in relation to the whole world of wealth, to wealth as such. With money, general wealth is not only a form, but at the same time the content itself. The concept of wealth, so to speak, is realized, individualized in a particular object.


c. November 1857

The Chapter on Money (continuation)

(Superfluity, accumulation)

In the particular commodity, in so far as it is a price, wealth is posited only as an ideal form, not yet realized; and in so far as it has a particular use value, it represents merely a quite singular facet of wealth. In money, by contrast, the price is realized; and its substance is wealth itself considered in its totality in abstraction from its particular modes of existence. Exchange value forms the substance of money, and exchange value is wealth. Money is therefore, on another side, also the embodied form of wealth, in contrast to all the substances of which wealth consists. Thus, while on one side the form and the content of wealth are identical in money, considered for itself, on the other side, in contrast to all the other commodities, money is the general form of wealth, while the totality of these particularities form its substance. Thus, in the first role, money is wealth itself; in the other, it is the general material representative of wealth. This totality exists in money itself as the comprehensive representation of commodities. Thus, wealth (exchange value as totality as well as abstraction) exists, individualized as such, to the exclusion of all other commodities, as a singular, tangible object, in gold and silver. Money is therefore the god among commodities.

Since it is an individuated, tangible object, money may be randomly searched for, found, stolen, discovered; and thus general wealth may be tangibly brought into the possession of a particular individual. From its servile role, in which it appears as mere medium of circulation it suddenly changes into the lord and god of the world of commodities. It represents the divine existence of commodities, while they represent its earthly form. Before it is replaced by exchange value, every form of natural wealth presupposes an essential relation between the individual and the objects, in which the individual in one of his aspects objectifies [vergegenständlicht] himself in the thing, so that his possession of the thing appears at the same time as a certain development of his individuality: wealth in sheep, the development of the individual as shepherd, wealth in grain his development as agriculturist, etc. Money, however, as the individual of general wealth, as something emerging from circulation and representing a general quality, as a merely social result, does not at all presuppose an individual relation to its owner; possession of it is not the development of any particular essential aspect of his individuality; but rather possession of what lacks individuality, since this social [relation] exists at the same time as a sensuous, external object which can be mechanically seized, and lost in the same manner. Its relation to the individual thus appears as a purely accidental one; while this relation to a thing having no connection with his individuality gives him, at the same time, by virtue of the thing’s character, a general power over society, over the whole world of gratifications, labours, etc. It is exactly as if, for example, the chance discovery of a stone gave me mastery over all the sciences, regardless of my individuality. The possession of money places me in exactly the same relationship towards wealth (social) as the philosophers’ stone would towards the sciences.

Money is therefore not only an object, but is the object of greed [Bereicherungssucht]. It is essentially auri sacra fames. [1] Greed as such, as a particular form of the drive, i.e. as distinct from the craving for a particular kind of wealth, e.g. for clothes, weapons, jewels, women, wine etc., is possible only when general wealth, wealth as such, has become individualized in a particular thing, i.e. as soon as money is posited in its third quality. Money is therefore not only the object but also the fountainhead of greed. The mania for possessions is possible without money; but greed itself is the product of a definite social development, not natural, as opposed to historical. Hence the wailing of the ancients about money as the source of all evil. Hedonism [Genusssucht] in its general form and miserliness [Geiz] are the two particular forms of monetary greed. Hedonism in the abstract presupposes an object which possesses all pleasures in potentiality. Abstract hedonism realizes that function of money in which it is the material representative of wealth; miserliness, in so far as it is only the general form of wealth as against its particular substances, the commodities. In order to maintain it as such, it must sacrifice all relationship to the objects of particular needs, must abstain, in order to satisfy the need of greed for money as such. Monetary greed, or mania for wealth, necessarily brings with it the decline and fall of the ancient communities [Gemeinwesen]. Hence it is the antithesis to them. It is itself the community [Gemeinwesen], [2] and can tolerate none other standing above it. But this presupposes the full development of exchange values, hence a corresponding organization of society. In antiquity, exchange value was not the nexus rerum; it appears as such only among the mercantile peoples, who had, however, no more than a carrying trade and did not, themselves, produce. At least this was the case with the Phoenicians, Carthaginians, etc. But this is a peripheral matter. They could live just as well in the interstices of the ancient world, as the Jews in Poland or in the Middle Ages. Rather, this world itself was the precondition for such trading peoples. That is why they fall apart every time they come into serious conflict with the ancient communities. Only with the Romans, Greeks etc. does money appear unhampered in both of its first two functions, as measure and as medium of circulation, and not very far developed in either. But as soon as either their trade etc. develops, or, as in the case of the Romans, conquest brings them money in vast quantities – in short, suddenly, and at a certain stage of their economic development, money necessarily appears in its third role, and the further it develops in that role, the more the decay of their community advances. In order to function productively, money in its third role, as we have seen, must be not only the precondition but equally the result of circulation, and, as its precondition, also a moment of it, something posited by it. Among the Romans, who amassed money by stealing it from the whole world, this was not the case. It is inherent in the simple character of money itself that it can exist as a developed moment of production only where and when wage labour exists; that in this case, far from subverting the social formation, it is rather a condition for its development and a driving-wheel for the development of all forces of production, material and mental. A particular individual may even today come into money by chance, and the possession of this money can undermine him just as it undermined the communities of antiquity. But the dissolution of this individual within modern society is in itself only the enrichment of the productive section of society. The owner of money, in the ancient sense, is dissolved by the industrial process, which he serves whether he wants and knows it or not. It is a dissolution which affects only his person. As material representative of general wealth, as individualized exchange value, money must be the direct object, aim and product of general labour, the labour of all individuals. Labour must directly produce exchange value, i.e. money. It must therefore be wage labour. Greed, as the urge of all, in so far as everyone wants to make money, is only created by general wealth. Only in this way can the general mania for money become the wellspring of general, self-reproducing wealth. When labour is wage labour, and its direct aim is money, then general wealth is posited as its aim and object. (In this regard, talk about the context of the military system of antiquity when it became a mercenary system.) Money as aim here becomes the means of general industriousness. General wealth is produced in order to seize hold of its representative. In this way the real sources of wealth are opened up. When the aim of labour is not a particular product standing in a particular relation to the particular needs of the individual, but money, wealth in its general form, then, firstly the individual’s industriousness knows no bounds; it is indifferent to its particularity, and takes on every form which serves the purpose; it is ingenious in the creation of new objects for a social need, etc. It is clear, therefore, that when wage labour is the foundation, money does not have a dissolving effect, but acts productively; whereas the ancient community as such is already in contradiction with wage labour as the general foundation. General industriousness is possible only where every act of labour produces general wealth, not a particular form of it; where therefore the individual’s reward, too, is money. Otherwise, only particular forms of industry are possible. Exchange value as direct product of labour is money as direct product of labour. Direct labour which produces exchange value as such is therefore wage labour. Where money is not itself the community [Gemeinwesen], it must dissolve the community. In antiquity, one could buy labour, a slave, directly; but the slave could not buy money with his labour. The increase of money could make slaves more expensive, but could not make their labour more productive. Negro slavery – a purely industrial slavery – which is, besides, incompatible with the development of bourgeois society and disappears with it, presupposes wage labour, and if other, free states with wage labour did not exist alongside it, if, instead, the Negro states were isolated, then all social conditions there would immediately turn into pre-civilized forms.

Money as individualized exchange value and hence as wealth incarnate was what the alchemists sought; it figures in this role within the Monetary (Mercantilist) System. The period which precedes the development of modern industrial society opens with general greed for money on the part of individuals as well as of states. The real development of the sources of wealth takes place as it were behind their backs, as a means of gaining possession of the representatives of wealth. Wherever it does not arise out of circulation – as in Spain – but has to be discovered physically, the nation is impoverished, whereas the nations which have to work in order to get it from the Spaniards develop the sources of wealth and really become rich. This is why the search for and discovery of gold in new continents, countries, plays so great a role in the history of revaluation, because by its means colonization is improvised and made to flourish as if in a hothouse. The hunt for gold in all countries leads to its discovery; to the formation of new states; initially to the spread of commodities, which produce new needs, and draw distant continents into the metabolism of circulation, i.e. exchange. Thus, in this respect, as the general representative of wealth and as individualized exchange value, it was doubly a means for expanding the universality of wealth, and for drawing the dimensions of exchange over the whole world; for creating the true generality [Allgemeinheit] of exchange value in substance and in extension. But it is inherent in the attribute in which it here becomes developed that the illusion about its nature, i.e. the fixed insistence on one of its aspects, in the abstract, and the blindness towards the contradictions contained within it, gives it a really magical significance behind the backs of individuals. In fact, it is because of this self-contradictory and hence illusory aspect, because of this abstraction, that it becomes such an enormous instrument in the real development of the forces of social production.

It is the elementary precondition of bourgeois society that labour should directly produce exchange value, i.e. money; and, similarly, that money should directly purchase labour, and therefore the labourer, but only in so far as he alienates [veräussert] his activity in the exchange. Wage labour on one side, capital on the other, are therefore only other forms of developed exchange value and of money (as the incarnation of exchange value). Money thereby directly and simultaneously becomes the real community [Gemeinwesen], since it is the general substance of survival for all, and at the same time the social product of all. But as we have seen, in money the community [Gemeinwesen] is at the same time a mere abstraction, a mere external, accidental thing for the individual, and at the same time merely a means for his satisfaction as an isolated individual. The community of antiquity presupposes a quite different relation to, and on the part of, the individual. The development of money in its third role therefore smashes this community. All production is an objectification [Vergegenständlichung] of the individual. In money (exchange value), however, the individual is not objectified in his natural quality, but in a social quality (relation) which is, at the same time, external to him.

Money posited in the form of the medium of circulation is coin [Münze]. As coin, it has lost its use value as such; its use value is identical with its quality as medium of circulation. For example, it has to be melted down before it can serve as money as such. It has to be demonetized. That is why the coin is also only a symbol whose material is irrelevant. But, as coin, it also loses its universal character, and adopts a national, local one. It decomposes into coin of different kinds, according to the material of which it consists, gold, copper, silver, etc. It acquires a political title, and talks, as it were, a different language in different countries. Finally, within a single country it acquires different denominations, etc. Money in its third quality, as something which autonomously arises out of and stands against circulation, therefore still negates its character as coin. It reappears as gold and silver, whether it is melted down or whether it is valued only according to its gold and silver weight-content. It also loses its national character again, and serves as medium of exchange between the nations, as universal medium of exchange, no longer as a symbol, but rather as a definite amount of gold and silver. In the most developed international system of exchange, therefore, gold and silver reappear in exactly the same form in which they already played a role in primitive barter. Gold and silver, like exchange itself originally, appear, as already noted, not within the sphere of a social community, but where it ends, on its boundary; on the few points of its contact with alien communities. Gold (or silver) now appears posited as the commodity as such, the universal commodity, which obtains its character as commodity in all places. Only in this way is it the material representative of general wealth. In the Mercantilist System, therefore, gold and silver count as the measure of the power of the different communities. ‘As soon as the precious metals become objects of commerce, an universal equivalent for everything, they also become the measure of power between nations. Hence the Mercantilist System.’ (Steuart.) [3] No matter how much the modern economists imagine themselves beyond Mercantilism, in periods of general crisis gold and silver still appear in precisely this role, in 1857 as much as in 1600. In this character, gold and silver play an important role in the creation of the world market. Thus the circulation of American silver from the West to the East; the metallic band between America and Europe on one side, with Asia on the other side, since the beginning of the modern epoch. With the original communities this trade in gold and silver was only a peripheral concern, connected with excess production, like exchange as a whole. But in developed trade it is posited as a moment essentially interconnected with production etc. as a whole. It no longer appears for the purpose of exchanging the excess production but to balance it out as part of the total process of international commodity exchange. It is coin, now, only as world coin. But, as such, its formal character as medium of circulation is essentially irrelevant, while its material is everything. As a form, in this function, gold and silver remain the universally acceptable commodity, the commodity as such.

(In this first section, where exchange values, money, prices are looked at, commodities always appear as already present. The determination of forms is simple. We know that they express aspects of social production, but the latter itself is the precondition. However, they are not posited in this character [of being aspects of social production]. And thus, in fact, the first exchange appears as exchange of the superfluous only, and it does not seize hold of and determine the whole of production. It is the available overflow of an overall production which lies outside the world of exchange values. This still presents itself even on the surface of developed society as the directly available world of commodities. But by itself, it points beyond itself towards the economic relations which are posited as relations of production. The internal structure of production therefore forms the second section; the concentration of the whole in the state the third; the international relation the fourth; the world market the conclusion, in which production is posited as a totality together with all its moments, but within which, at the same time, all contradictions come into play. The world market then, again, forms the presupposition of the whole as well as its substratum. Crises are then the general intimation which points beyond the presupposition, and the urge which drives towards the adoption of a new historic form.) ‘The quantity of goods and the quantity of money may remain the same, and price may rise or fall notwithstanding’ (namely through greater expenditure, e.g. by the moneyed capitalists, landowners, state officials etc. Malthus, X, 43). [4]

Money, as we have seen, in the form in which it independently steps outside of and against circulation, is the negation (negative unity) of its character as medium of circulation and measure. * We have developed, so far:

* In so far as money is a medium of circulation, ‘the quantity of it which circulates can never be employed individually; it must always circulate’. (Storch.) The individual can employ money only by divesting himself of it, by positing it as being for others, in its social function. This, as Storch correctly remarks, is a reason why the material of money ‘should not be indispensable to human existence’, in the manner of such things as hides, salt, etc., which serve for money among some peoples. For the quantity that is in circulation is lost to consumption. Hence, firstly, metals [enjoy] preference over other commodities as money, and secondly, the precious metals preference over those which useful as instruments of production. It is characteristic of the economists that Storch expresses this thusly: the material of money should should ‘have direct value but on the basis of an artificial need‘. Artificial need is what the economist calls, firstly, the needs which arise out of the social existence of the individual; secondly, those which do not flow from its naked existence as a natural object. This shows the inner, desperate poverty which forms the basis of bourgeois wealth and of its science.

Firstly. Money is the negation of the medium of circulation as such, of the coin. But it also contains the latter at the same time as an aspect, negatively, since it can always be transformed into coin; positively, as world coin, but, as such, its formal character is irrelevant, and it is essentially a commodity as such, the omnipresent commodity, not determined by location. This indifference is expressed in a double way: Firstly because it is now money only as gold and as silver, not as symbol, not in the form of the coin. For that reason the face which the state impresses on money as coin has no value; only its metal content has value. Even in domestic commerce it has a merely temporary, local value, ‘because it is no more useful to him who owns it than to him who owns the commodity to be bought’. The more domestic commerce is conditioned on all sides by foreign commerce, the more, therefore, does the value of this face vanish: it does not exist in private exchange, but appears only as tax. Then: in their capacity as general commodity, as world coin, the return of gold and silver to their point of departure, and, more generally, circulation as such, are not necessary. Example: Asia and Europe. Hence the wailings of the upholders of the Monetary System, that money disappears among the heathen without flowing back again. (See Misselden about 1600.) [5] The more external circulation is conditioned and enveloped by internal, the more does the world coin as such come into circulation (rotation). This higher stage is yet no concern of ours and is not contained in the simple relation which we are considering here.

Secondly: Money is the negation of itself as mere realization of the prices of commodities, where the particular commodity always remains what is essential. It becomes, rather, the price realized in itself and, as such, the material representative of wealth as well as the general form of wealth in relation to all commodities, as merely particular substances of it; but

Thirdly: Money is also negated in the aspect in which it is merely the measure of exchange values. As the general form of wealth and as its material representative, it is no longer the ideal measure of other things, of exchange values. For it is itself the adequate [adäquat] reality of exchange value, and this it is in its metallic being. Here the character of measure has to be posited in it. It is its own unit; and the measure of its value, the measure of itself as wealth, as exchange value, is the quantity of itself which it represents. The multiple of an amount of itself which serves as unit. As measure, its amount was irrelevant; as medium of circulation, its materiality, the matter of the unit, was irrelevant: as money in this third role, the amount of itself as of a definite quantity of material is essential. If its quality as general wealth is given, then there is no difference within it, other than the quantitative. It represents a greater or lesser amount of general wealth according to whether its given unit is possessed in a greater or lesser quantity. If it is general wealth, then one is the richer the more of it one possesses, and the only important process, for the individual as well as the nation, is to pile it up [Anhäufen]. In keeping with this role, it was seen as that which steps outside circulation. Now this withdrawing of money from circulation, and storing it up, appears as the essential object [Gegenstand] of the drive to wealth and as the essential process of becoming wealthy. In gold and silver, I possess general wealth in its tangible form, and the more of it I pile up, the more general wealth do I appropriate. If gold and silver represent general wealth, then, as specific quantities, they represent it only to a degree which is definite, but which is capable of indefinite expansion. This accumulation [6] of gold and silver, which presents itself as their repeated withdrawal from circulation, is at the same time the act of bringing general wealth into safety and away from circulation, in which it is constantly lost in exchange for some particular wealth which ultimately disappears in consumption.

Among all the peoples of antiquity, the piling-up of gold and silver appears at first as a priestly and royal privilege, since the god and king of commodities pertains only to gods and kings. Only they deserve to possess wealth as such. This accumulation, then, occurs on one side merely to display overabundance, i.e. wealth as an extraordinary thing, for use on Sundays only; to provide gifts for temples and their gods; to finance public works of art; finally as security in case of extreme necessity, to buy arms etc. Later in antiquity, this accumulation becomes political. The state treasury, as reserve fund, and the temple are the original banks in which this holy of holies is preserved. Heaping-up and accumulating attain their ultimate development in the modern banks, but here with a further-developed character. On the other side, among private individuals, accumulation takes place for the purpose of bringing wealth into safety from the caprices of the external world in a tangible form in which it can be buried etc., in short, in which it enters into a wholly secret relation to the individual. This, still on a large historical scale, in Asia. Repeats itself in every panic, war etc. in bourgeois society, which then falls back into barbaric conditions. Like the accumulation of gold etc. as ornament and ostentation among semi-barbarians. But a very large and constantly growing part of it withdrawn from circulation as an object of luxury in the most developed bourgeois society. (See Jacob etc.) [7] As representative of general wealth, it is precisely its retention without abandoning it to circulation and employing it for particular needs, which is proof of the wealth of individuals; and to the degree that money develops in its various roles, i.e. that wealth as such becomes the general measure of the worth of individuals, [there develops] the drive to display it, hence the display of gold and silver as representatives of wealth; in the same way, Herr v. Rothschild displays as his proper emblem, I think, two banknotes of £100,000 each, mounted in a frame. The barbarian display of gold etc. is only a more naïve form of this modern one, since it takes place with less regard to gold as money. Here still the simple glitter. There a premeditated point. The point being that it is not used as money; here the form antithetical to circulation is what is important.

The accumulation of all other commodities is less ancient than that of gold and silver: (1) because of their perishability. Metals as such represent the enduring, relative to the other commodities; they are also accumulated by preference because of their greater rarity and their exceptional character as the instruments of production par excellence. The precious metals, because not oxidized by the air, are again more durable than the other metals. What other commodities lose is their form; but this form is what gives them their exchange value, while their use value consists in overcoming this form, in consuming it. With money, on the other hand, its substance, its materiality, is itself its form, in which it represents wealth. If money appears as the general commodity in all places, so also does it in all times. It maintains itself as wealth at all times. Its specific durability. It is the treasure which neither rust nor moths eat up. All commodities are only transitory money; money is the permanent commodity. Money is the omnipresent commodity; the commodity is only local money. But accumulation is essentially a process which takes place in time. In this connection, Petty says:

‘The great and ultimate effect of trade is not wealth as such, but preferably an overabundance of silver, gold and jewels, which are not perishable, nor as fickle as other commodities, but are wealth in all times and all places. A superfluity of wine, grain, poultry, meat etc. is wealth, but hic et nunc … Therefore the production of those commodities and the effects of that trade which endow a land with gold and silver are advantageous above others.’ (p. 3.) ‘If taxes take money from one who eats or drinks it up, and give it to one who employs it in improving the land, in fisheries, in the working of mines, in manufactures or even in clothing, then for the community there is always an advantage; for even clothes are not as perishable as meals; if in the furnishing of houses, even more; in the building of houses yet more; in the improvement of land, working of mines, fisheries, more again; the most of all, when employed so as to bring gold and silver into the country, for these things alone do not pass away, but are prized at all times and in all places as wealth.’ (p. 5.) [8] Thus a writer of the seventeenth century. One sees how the piling-up of gold and silver gained its true stimulus with the conception of it as the material representative and general form of wealth. The cult of money has its asceticism, its self-denial, its self-sacrifice – economy and frugality, contempt for mundane, temporal and fleeting pleasures; the chase after the eternal treasure. Hence the connection between English Puritanism, or also Dutch Protestantism, and money-making. A writer of the beginning of the seventeenth century (Misselden) expresses the matter quite unselfconsciously as follows:

‘The natural material of commerce is the commodity, the artificial is money. Although money by nature and in time comes after the commodity, it has become, in present custom, the most important thing.’ He compares this to the two sons of old Jacob: Jacob placed his right hand on the younger and his left on the older son. (p. 24.) ‘We consume among us too great an excess of wines from Spain, France, the Rhine, the Levant, the Islands: raisins from Spain, currants from the Levant, cambrics from Hainault and the Netherlands, the silkenware of Italy, the sugar and tobacco of the West Indies, the spices of East India; all this is not necessary for us, but is paid for in hard money … If less of the foreign and more of the domestic product were sold, then the difference would have to come to us in the form of gold and silver, as treasure.’ (loc. cit.) [9] The modern economists naturally make merry at the expense of this sort of notion in the general section of books on economics. But when one considers the anxiety involved in the doctrine of money in particular, and the feverish fear with which, in practice, the inflow and outflow of gold and silver are watched in times of crisis, then it is evident that the aspect of money which the followers of the Monetary and Mercantilist System conceived in an artless one-sidedness is still to be taken seriously, not only in the mind, but as a real economic category.

The antithesis between the real needs of production and this supremacy of money is presented most forcibly in Boisguillebert. (See the striking passages in my Notebook.) [10]

(2) The accumulation of other commodities, their perishability apart, essentially different in two ways from the accumulation of gold and silver, which are here identical with money. First, the accumulation of other commodities does not have the character of accumulating wealth in general, but of accumulating particular wealth, and it is therefore itself a particular act of production; here simple accumulation will not do. To accumulate grain requires special stores etc. Accumulating sheep does not make one into a shepherd; to accumulate slaves or land requires relations of domination and subordination etc. All this, then, requires acts and relations distinct from simple accumulation, from increase of wealth as such. On the other hand, in order then to realize the accumulated commodity in the form of general wealth, to appropriate wealth in all its particular forms, I have to engage in trade with the particular commodity I have accumulated, I have to be a grain merchant, cattle merchant, etc. Money as the general representative of wealth absolves me of this.

The accumulation of gold and silver, of money, is the first historic appearance of the gathering-together of capital and the first great means thereto; but, as such, it is not yet accumulation of capital. For that, the re-entry of what has been accumulated into circulation would itself have to be posited as the moment and the means of accumulation.

Money in its final, completed character now appears in all directions as a contradiction, a contradiction which dissolves itself, drives towards its own dissolution. As the general form of wealth, the whole world of real riches stands opposite it. It is their pure abstraction – hence, fixated as such, a mere conceit. Where wealth as such seems to appear in an entirely material, tangible form, its existence is only in my head, it is a pure fantasy. Midas. On the other side, as material representative of general wealth, it is realized only by being thrown back into circulation, to disappear in exchange for the singular, particular modes of wealth. It remains in circulation, as medium of circulation; but for the accumulating individual, it is lost, and this disappearance is the only possible way to secure it as wealth. To dissolve the things accumulated in individual gratifications is to realize them. The money may then be again stored up by other individuals, but then the same process begins anew. I can really posit its being for myself only by giving it up as mere being for others. If I want to cling to it, it evaporates in my hand to become a mere phantom of real wealth. Further: [the notion that] to accumulate it is to increase it, [since] its own quantity is the measure of its value, turns out again to be false. If the other riches do not [also] accumulate, then it loses its value in the measure in which it is accumulated. What appears as its increase is in fact its decrease. Its independence is a mere semblance; its independence of circulation exists only in view of circulation, exists as dependence on it. It pretends to be the general commodity, but because of its natural particularity it is again a particular commodity, whose value depends both on demand and supply, and on variations in its specific costs of production. And since it is incarnated in gold and silver, it becomes one-sided in every real form; so that when the one appears as money, the other appears as particular commodity, and vice versa, and in this way each appears in both aspects. As absolutely secure wealth, entirely independent of my individuality, it is at the same time, because it is something completely external to me, the absolutely insecure, which can be separated from me by any accident. Similarly, it has entirely contradictory qualities as measure, as medium of circulation, and as money as such. Finally, in the last-mentioned character, it also contradicts itself because it must represent value as such; but represents in fact only a constant amount of fluctuating value. It therefore suspends itself as completed exchange value.

As mere measure it already contains its own negation as medium of circulation; as medium of circulation and measure, as money. To negate it in the last quality is therefore at the same time to negate it in the two earlier ones. If negated as the mere general form of wealth, it must then realize itself in the particular substances of real wealth; but in the process of proving itself really to be the material representative of the totality of wealth, it must at the same time preserve itself as the general form. Its very entry into circulation must be a moment of its staying at home [Beisichbleiben], and its staying at home must be an entry into circulation. That is to say that as realized exchange value it must be simultaneously posited as the process in which exchange value is realized. This is at the same time the negation of itself as a purely objective form, as a form of wealth external and accidental to individuals. It must appear, rather, as the production of wealth; and wealth must appear as the result of the mutual relations among individuals in production. Exchange value is now characterized, therefore, no longer simply as a thing for which circulation is only an external movement, or which appears individually in a particular material: [but rather] as relation to itself through the process of circulation. On the other side, circulation itself is no longer [qualified] merely as the simple process of exchanging commodities for money and money for commodities, merely as the mediating movement by which the prices of the various commodities are realized, are equated as exchange values, with both [commodities and money] appearing as external to circulation: the presupposed exchange value, the ultimate withdrawal of the commodity into consumption, hence the destruction of exchange value, on one side, and the withdrawal of the money, its achievement of independence vis-à-vis its substance, which is again another form of its destruction [on the other]. [Rather,] exchange value itself, and now no longer exchange value in general, but measured exchange value, has to appear as a presupposition posited by circulation itself, and, as posited by it, its presupposition. The process of circulation must also and equally appear as the process of the production of exchange values. It is thus, on one side, the regression of exchange value into labour, on the other side, that of money into exchange value, which is now posited, however, in a more profound character. With circulation, the determined price is presupposed, and circulation as money posits it only formally. The determinateness of exchange value itself, or the measure of price, must now itself appear as an act of circulation. Posited in this way, exchange value is capital, and circulation is posited at the same time as an act of production.

To be brought forward: In circulation, as it appears as money circulation, the simultaneity of both poles of exchange is always presupposed. But a difference of time may appear between the existence of the commodities to be exchanged. It may lie in the nature of reciprocal services that a service is performed today, but the service required in return can be performed only after a year etc. ‘In the majority of contracts,’ says Senior, ‘only one of the contracting parties has the thing available and lends it; and if exchange is to take place, one party has to cede it immediately on the condition of receiving the equivalent only in a later period. Since, however, the value of all things changes in a given space of time, the means of payment employed is that thing whose value varies least, and which maintains a given average capacity to buy things for the longest time. Thus money becomes the expression or the representative of value.’ [11] According to this there would be no connection at all between the latter quality of money and the former. But this is wrong. Only when money is posited as the autonomous representative of value do contracts cease to be valued e.g. in quantities of grain or in services to be performed. (The latter was current e.g. in feudalism.) It is merely a notion held by Mr Senior that money has a ‘longer average capacity’ to maintain its value. The fact is that it is employed as the general material of contracts (general commodity of contracts, says Bailey) [12] because it is the general commodity, the representative of general wealth (says Storch), [13] because it is exchange value become independent. Money has to be already very developed in its two earlier functions before it can appear generally in this role. Now it turns out in fact that, although the quantity of money remains uniformly the same, its value changes: that, in general, as a specific amount, it is subject to the mutability of all values. Here its nature as a particular commodity comes to the fore against its general character. To money as measure, this change is irrelevant, for ‘in a changing medium, two different relations to the same thing can always be expressed, just as well as in a constant medium’. [14] As medium of circulation it is also irrelevant, since its quantity as such is set by the measure. But as money in the form in which it appears in contracts, this is essential, just as, in general, its contradictions come to the fore in this role.

In separate sections, to be brought forward:

(1) Money as coin. This very summarily about coinage. (2) Historically the sources of gold and silver. Discoveries etc. The history of their production. (3) Causes of the variations in the value of the precious metals and hence of metallic money; effects of this variation on industry and the different classes. (4) Above all: quantity of circulation in relation to rise and fall of prices. (Sixteenth century. Nineteenth century.) Along the way, to be seen also how it is affected as measure by rising quantity etc. (5) About circulation: velocity, necessary amount, effect of circulation; more, less developed etc. (6) Solvent effect of money.

(This to be brought forward.) (Herein the specific economic investigations.)

(The specific gravity of gold and silver, to contain much weight in a relatively small volume, as compared with other metals, repeats itself in the world of values so that it contains much value (labour time) in relatively small volume. The labour time, exchange value realized in it, is the specific weight of the commodity. This makes the precious metals particularly suited for service in circulation (since one can carry a significant amount of value in the pocket) and for accumulation, since one can secure and stockpile a great amount of value in a small space. Gold does not turn into something else in the process, like iron, lead etc. Remains what it is.)

‘If Spain had never owned the mines of Mexico and Peru, it would never have had need of the grain of Poland.’ (Ravenstone.) [15]

‘Illi unum consilium habent et virtutem et potestatem suam bestiae tradent … Et ne quis posset emere aut vendere, nisi qui habet characterem aut nomen bestiae, aut numerum nominis ejus.’ (Apocalypse. Vulgate.) [16] ‘The correlative quantities of commodities which are given for one another, constitute the price of the commodity.’ (Storch.) ‘Price is the degree of exchangeable value.’ (loc cit.) [17]

As we have seen, in simple circulation as such (exchange value in its movement), the action of the individuals on one another is, in its content, only a reciprocal, self-interested satisfaction of their needs; in its form, [it is] exchange among equals (equivalents). Property, too, is still posited here only as the appropriation of the product of labour by labour, and of the product of alien labour by one’s own labour, in so far as the product of one’s own labour is bought by alien labour. Property in alien labour is mediated by the equivalent of one’s own labour. This form of property – quite like freedom and equality – is posited in this simple relation. In the further development of exchange value this will be transformed, and it will ultimately be shown that private property in the product of one’s own labour is identical with the separation of labour and property, so that labour will create alien property and property will command alien labour.