‘Money’ in Marx and MMT and Social Implications

For both Marx and MMTers, money is a social relationship. For Marx, the social relationship is fetishized in a commodity for reasons that stem from the nature of commodity production. Money only becomes necessary, for Marx, when it is impossible for a currency to represent social labor time directly, which is the case under commodity production in which concrete labors are converted into abstract labor (i.e. marxian value) only indirectly through the workings of the ‘law’ of value. For MMTers, money is a social relationship that originates in debt. Debt relations can apply whether labor is directly social or only indirectly social (as in commodity production). Money, in MMT, is therefore a broader notion than in Marx. If Marx and MMTers meant the same thing by the word ‘money’, Marx’s view of the origins of money – as arising out of commodity production – would be irreconcilable with MMT. But Marx and MMTers do not mean the same thing by the word ‘money’. In MMT’s use of the term, the currency functions as money under commodity and non-commodity production alike, whereas in Marx’s terminology, the currency is a representative of money under commodity production but simply currency under non-commodity production. So far as economic implications go, these naming differences are not important so long as we keep them in mind.

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