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The Pictorial Key to the Tarot

Arthur Edward Waite

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

The Secret Doctrine, Volume II Anthropogenesis

H. P. Blavatsky

A contribution to the critique of political economy

by Karl Marx


The main difficulty in the analysis of money is overcome as 60on as the evolution of money from commodity is understood. This point once granted, it only remains to comprehend clearly the particular forms of money, which is to some extent made difficult by the fact that all bourgeois relations, being gilt or silver plated, have the appearance of money relations, and money, therefore, seems to possess an endless variety of forms, which have nothing in common with it.

In the following investigation only those forms of money are treated of which directly grow out of the exchange of commodities; the forms which belong to a higher stage of production, as e. g., credit money will not be discussed here. For the sake of simplicity gold is assumed throughout as the money commodity.


The first process of circulation constitutes, so to 6ay, the theoritical preparatory process to actual circulation. To begin with, commodities which are use-values by nature, acquire a form in which they appear in idea to each other as exchange values, as definite quantities of incorporated universal labor-time. The first necessary step in this process is, as we have seen, the setting apart by the commodities of a specific commodity, say gold, as the direct incarnation of universal labor-time, or the universal equivalent. Let us go back for a moment to the form in which commodities turn gold into money.

1 ton of iron = 2 ounces of gold

1 quarter of wheat = 1 ounce of gold

1 hundred weight of Mocca coffee = 1-4 ounce of gold

1 hundred weight of potash = l/2 ounce of gold

1 ton of Brazil timber = lyi ounces of gold

Y commodities = X ounces of gold

In the above series of equations iron, wheat, coffee, potash, etc. appear to each other as embodiments of homogeneous labor, namely, as labor materialized in money, from which all the peculiarities of the different kinds of concrete labor represented in the different usevalues are completely eliminated. As value they arc all identical, they are the incarnation of the same labor, or the same incarnation of labor, viz., gold. As uniform embodiments of the same labor they display only one difference, a quantitative one, by appearing as different quantities of value, because unequal quantities of labor-time are contained in their use-values. The mutual relation of these separate commodities is that of embodiments of universal labor-time, since they are related to universal labor-time as to an excluded commodity, viz., gold. The same relation the development of which causes commodities to appear to each other as exchange values, causes the labor time contained in gold to appear as universal labor-time, a given quantity of which is expressed in different quantities of iron, wheat, coffee, etc,—in short, in the use-values of all commodities, or is directly unfolded in the endless series of commodityequivalents. While all commodities express their exchange values in gold, gold expresses its exchange value directly in all commodities. While commodities assume the form of exchange value in relation to each other, they lend to gold the form of the universal equivalent, or of money.

Gold becomes the measure of value, because all commodities measure their exchange values in gold, in proportion as a certain quantity of gold and a certain quantity of the commodity contain the same amount of labor-time; and it is only by virtue of this function of being a measure of value, in which capacity its own value is measured directly in the entire series of commodity equivalents, that gold becomes a universal equivalent or money. On the other hand, the exchange value of all commodities is expressed in gold. In this expression, the qualitative aspect is to be distinguished from the quantitative: there is the exchange value of the commodity as the embodiment of the same uniform labor-time; while the magnitude of value is exhaustively expressed, since in the same proportion in which commodities are equated to gold they are equated to one another. On the one hand the universal character of the labor-time contained in them is revealed; on the other, its quantity is expressed in its golden equivalent. The exchange value of commodities thus expressed in the form of a universal equivalent and, moreover, as a numerical proportion of this equivalent, in terms of one specific commodity, or represented in the form of a series of commodities equated to one specific commodity, is Price. Price is the form into which the exchange value of commodities is converted when it appears within the sphere of circulation.

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