Inicio > Economía marxista > «Marx’s Critique of (Ricardian) Political Economy, the Quantity Theory of Money and Credit Money»: John Milios

«Marx’s Critique of (Ricardian) Political Economy, the Quantity Theory of Money and Credit Money»: John Milios


The Marxist concept of value is very frequently equated, whether explicitly or merely tacitly, with the corresponding Ricardian concept of “labour expended”. This paper argues that unlike the Ricardian theory of value, the Marxist theory of value is a monetary theory. In the Marxist system, the value of a commodity is expressed not through itself but through its distorted forms of appearance, in prices. Moreover, it cannot be defined in isolation, but exclusively in relation to all other commodities, in a process of exchange. In this relation of exchange value is materialised in money. The essential feature of the “market economy” (of capitalism) is thus not simply commodity exchange but monetary circulation and money. Commodity exchange presupposes thus the (positive) prices of all commodities involved. In other words, prices are not determined after the establishment of a non-monetary equilibrium system of barter between “production sectors”, like the Sraffian “linear production systems”. On the contrary, barter is for Marx non-existing, as all exchange transactions are made up of separate acts of exchange of commodities with money.

Prices are determined in the process of capitalist commodity production, i.e. in a historically unique process of (capitalist) production-for-the-exchange, a process which unites immediate production with circulation. Money is thus conceived as the adequate form of appearance of capital, that is a material embodiment of abstract and therefore equal human labour, which the capitalist appropriates, and which in the framework of capitalist relations of exploitation is accumulated and functions as a “self-valorising value”.

Only these Marxian concepts of value and money enable, on the one hand, a radical critique to the Quantity Theory of money, and on the other, an insight into the process of credit-money formation, in the framework of the reproduction and circulation of the total social capital.


Marx versus Ricardo (The Marxian Theory of Value)

1. Introduction

Marx formulated after 1857 a new labour theory of value. He placed particular emphasis on the question of the commensurability of “economic goods” which take the form of commodities. He preceded to construct around that idea of value the entirety of his theoretical system as a logically consistent chain of analyses and concepts.

Nevertheless, the Marxist concept of value is very frequently equated, whether explicitly or merely
tacitly, by Marxist and non-Marxist economists, with the corresponding Ricardian: explicitly when it is stated that Marx as an economist was a Ricardian –this is the position usually taken by non-Marxist economists studying the history of economic theory– implicitly when the Marxist theory of value is confined to theses (and their grounding) encompassed by or derived directly from the Classical School of Political Economy, and it is also the view taken by many Marxist economists .

In the present section of the paper referring to Marx’s theory of value I will place particular emphasis on what distinguishes it from the Classical theory of value. From this starting point we can go on to present other significant developments in Marxist economic theory, which touch on issues such as the role of technological innovation in the productive process, economic crises and the role of the money and credit in the process of expanded reproduction of the capitalist system.

Artículo completo

Crowne Plaza Hotel, Manhattan, February 23-25th 2001

Session 3: Theories of Money and Value I

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