Marx, MMT, and a Currency’s Expression of Labor Time

For Marx, a currency’s representation of the labor performed in commodity production is indirect, mediated through a ‘money commodity’. The reason for this is that labor performed in commodity production is not directly social but only made so, indirectly, according to the ‘law’ of value under which the concrete properties of diverse labors are abstracted from and the amount of labor socially necessary to produce each commodity is determined. Since the currency, at least from the standpoint of the currency issuer, does not require labor for its production, the currency itself is not a commodity and so does not in itself have (marxian) value. Instead, the currency expresses value indirectly by representing a commodity that does have value – the money commodity – which serves as universal equivalent. The indirect determination of social labor time within commodity production contrasts with the direct determination of social labor time when production is not for market. In the latter case, a currency (or labor certificates) can directly represent social labor time, because the labor is directly social.

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