The Universal Equivalent as Monopolist of the Ability to Buy

  • Costas Lapavitsas


The theoretical analysis of money as the universal equivalent in the opening chapters of Capital is a highly distinctive aspect of Marx’s theory of value. Neither classical political economy nor neoclassical economics offers a comparable analysis of the relationship between value and money. In Capital (and elsewhere, selectively cited below) Marx defines money as the universal equivalent, or the independent form of value. By representing value in general, money allows the value of particular commodities (abstract labour-time) to be expressed as price in capitalist markets. This much is common ground within the Marxist theory of money. However, there is far less clarity on the specific economic content of money as the universal equivalent, especially the relationship between value representation and money’s unique ability to buy. Similarly, there is no established understanding of the economic process through which the universal equivalent emerges in commodity exchange.


Capitalist Society Social Custom Independent Form Commodity Exchange Abstract Labour 
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© Costas Lapavitsas 2005

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  • Costas Lapavitsas

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