Of Money, Labour, and Value

 

“Concerning money, Karl Marx writes that David Ricardo, in occasional passages, ‘directly emphasizes that the quantity of labour embodied in a commodity constitutes the immanent measure of the magnitude of its value … only because labour is the factor the different commodities have in common, which constitutes their uniformity, their substance, the intrinsic foundation of their value.’  But having got so far, Ricardo could get no further: ‘What Ricardo does not investigate is the specific form in which labour manifests itself as the common element of commodities.  That is why in his work the transformation of commodities into money appears to be something merely formal, which does not penetrate deeply into the very essence of capitalist production.’ (K. Marx)  “For him (i.e. Ricardo) the decisive task is the definition of the magnitude of value.  Because of this he does not understand the specific form in which labour is an element of value, and fails in particular to grasp that the labour of the individual must present itself as abstract general labour and, in this form, as social labour.  Therefore he has not understood that the development of money is connected with the nature of value and with the determination of this value by labour time.’ (K. Marx)” 

—Scott Meikle, Essentialism in the Thought of Karl Marx, 1985

 

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