Money as Displaced Social Form: Why Value cannot be Independent of Price

  • Patrick Murray


Money may be a mirror in which the value of a commodity is reflected, but Marx’s theory of money is a window on to what is most distinctive about his theory of value and his critique of political economy. Widespread misconception holds that Marx adopted the classical (Ricardian) labour theory of value and then drew radical consequences from it in his theory of exploitation: surplus value is expropriated surplus labour. For Marx, value was strictly a ‘social substance’, a ‘phantom-like objectivity’, a congealed quantity of ‘socially necessary’ ‘homogeneous human labour’ of a particular social sort: namely, privately undertaken labour that produces goods and services for sale. Value necessarily appears as money. But, for the classical theory, labour of whatever social sort was the source of value, and money was an afterthought, a ‘ceremonial form’ Ricardo called it, the answer to a merely technical problem. The radical Ricardian Thomas Hodgskin pushed this approach to the limit, expelling money from economic discourse:


Social Form Capitalist Society Labour Theory Capitalist Mode Money Price 
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© Patrick Murray 2005

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  • Patrick Murray

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