4) Das Kapital S1, C2, C3, § 1,2 (pp. 49)

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Chapter 2: The Process of Exchange

Guardians of commodities reassure that commodities can go to market and perform exchanges. “The guardians must therefore recognize each other as owner of private property” (178).

All commodities are non-use values for their owners and, and use values for their non-owners

“(…) his own commodity is the universal equivalent for all the others.” (180)

Action of society run a particular commodity into the universal equivalent. Socially recognized form -> money.

“Money necessarily crystallizes out of the process of exchange, in which different products of labour are in fact equated with each other, and thus converted into commodities” (181)

Alienation: “Things are in themselves external to man, and therefore alienable” (182). Products become commodities -> exchange becomes a normal social process -> products produced intentionally for the purpose of exchange.

“Money, like every other commodity, cannot express the magnitude of its value except relatively in other commodities” (186)

“What appears to happen is not that a particular commodity becomes money because all other commodities express their values in it, but, on the contrary, that all other commodities universally express their values in a particular commodity because it is money.” (187)

"Men are henceforth related to each other in their social process of production in a purely atomistic way. ..This situation is manifested first by the fact that the products of men's labour universally take on the form of commodities.”

Chapter 3: Money, or the Circulation of Commodities.

1. The Measure of Values

Gold = Money.

First main function: “to supply commodities with the material for expression of their values, or to represent their values as magnitudes of the same denomination, qualitatively equal and quantitatively comparable. Universal measure of value (188)

“The general relative form of value of commodities has therefore resumed its original shape of simple or individual value.” “As against this money has no price”(189)

“In its function of measure of value, money therefore serves only in an imaginary or ideal capacity” (190)

The value that is contained in one ton of iron for example, is expressed by an imaginary quantity of the money commodity, which contains the same amount of labour as the gold.

Money performs two functions: 1) Measure of value as social incarnation of human labour 2) Standard of price as a quantity of metal with fixed weight (only commodity or representative money?)

Inflation (a general rise in the price of commodities): 1) A rise in their values (more labour needed) 2) A fall in the value of money (when value of commodities remain constant)

“Things which in and for themselves are not commodities, things such s conscience, honour, etc., can be offered for sale by their holders, and thus acquire the form of commodities through their price. Hence a thing can, formally speaking have, have a price without having a value” (197) (relevant for contemporary debate on intellectual property)


Questions: - money in diff currencies. Exchange of these, give a price of 1 EUR = 7,45 DKK

2. The Means of Circulation

a) The Metamorphosis of Commodities

The process of social metabolism: “The product of one kind of useful labour replaces that of another. Once a commodity has arrived at a situation in which it can serve as a use-value, it falls out of the sphere of exchange into that of consumption.”

Exchange produces “a differentiation of the commodity into two elements, commodity and money, an external opposition which expresses the opposition between use-value and value which is inherent in it.” (199)

Exchange (sell linen and buy the Bible for the money): Commodity –> Money -> Commodity C -> M -> C

Material content (metabolic interaction of social labour): C->C

First metamorphosis of the commodity, or sale. Value of commodity, labour time, measured by universal equivalent, money: C -> M

“The realisation of the merely ideal use-value of money; the conversion of a commodity into money is the conversion of money into commodity (…)A sale is also a a purchase, C-M is also M-C”. (for two diff persons? Or because money is a commodity? Or because money later is changed to commodity? )

M -> C: The second or concluding metamorphosis of the commodity: purchase. ”Money is the absolutely alienable commodity, because it is all other commodities divested of their shape, the product of their universal alienation. (…) Since every commodity disappears when it becomes money it is impossible to tell from the money itself how it got into the hands of its possessor, or what article has been changed into it.” (205)

“(…) the circuit made by one commodity in the course of its metamorphoses is inextricably entwined with the circuits of other communities. This whole process constitutes the circulation of commodities.” (207)

“Exchange of commodities breaks through all the individual and local limitations of the direct exchange of products, and develops the metabolic process of human labour” (207)

Wheat -> linen -> Bible -> Brandy etc etc


b) the Circulation of Money

« The circulation of money is the constant and monotonous repetition of the same process. The commodity is always in the hands of the seller; the money, as a means of purchase, always in the hands of the buyer.” (210-11)

“As means of circulation, money circulates commodities, which in and for themselves lack the power of movement, and transfers them from hands in which they are use- values; and this process always takes the opposite direction to the path of the commodities themselves. Money constantly removes commodities from the sphere of circulation, by constantly stepping into their place in circulation, and in this way continually moving away from its own starting-point” (211)

Commodities steps into circulation falls out of circulation again to be replaced by fresh commodities. Money, on the contrary, as the medium of circulation, constantly moves around with it .(213)

Sum of prices of commodities varies by three factors: 1) movement of prices 2) quantity of commodities in circulation 3) velocity of circulation of money

1) If the prices of commodities remain constant, the quantity of money circulating rises when the quantity of circulating commodities increases or the circulation of money is retarded, and drops vice versa. 2) With a general rise in the prices of commodities, the quantity of money circulating remains constant if the quantity of commodities decreases or the velocity of circulation increases in the same proportion. 3) With a general drop in the prices of commodities , the converse of (2).

“given the sum of the values of commodities and the average rapidity of their metamorphoses, the quantity of money or of the material of money in circulation depends on its own value.” (219-20)

Sum of the prices of commodities / Number of moves made by a piece of money = Quantity of money functioning as the circulating medium.

c) Coin. The Symbol of Value.

“Money takes the shape of a coin because of its function as the circulating medium” (221)

“The only difference between coin and bullion lies in their physical configuration, and a gold can at any time pass from form to the other” (222) (fixed rate only with representative money, not really valid today?)

But a coin wears away during circulation. The coin becomes more and more a symbol of its official content. Silver and copper replacing gold; paper money, issued by the state, with compulsory circulation.

“If the paper money exceeds its proper limit, i.e. the amount in gold coins of the same denomination which could have been in circulation, then, quite, apart from the danger of becoming universally discredited, it will still represent within the world of commodities only that quantity of gold which is fixed by its immanent laws.” (? Nolonger fix rate for money/gold…But do we see money – in US, Iceland, Hungary, Balticum etc. – exceeding its proper limit?)