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K. Marx_Contribution_to_the_Critique_of_Political_Economy

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of circulation, there is a general movement of world money; the
points of departure being the sources of production, from which gold and silver flow in various directions
to all the markets of the world. Thus gold and silver as commodities enter the sphere of world circulation
and in proportion to the labour-time contained in them they are exchanged for commodity equivalents
before reaching the area of domestic circulation. They accordingly already have a definite value when
they turn up in these areas. Their relative value on the world market is therefore uniformly affected by
every fall or rise in their costs of production and is quite independent of the degree to which gold or
silver is absorbed bY the various national spheres of circulation. One branch of the stream of metal
which is caught up in a particular area of the world of commodities immediately enters the domestic
circulation of money as replacement of worn-out coins; another is diverted into various reservoirs where
coin, means of payment and world money accumulate; a third is used to make luxury articles and the rest,
finally, is turned simply into hoards. Where the bourgeois mode of production has reached an advanced
stage the formation of hoards is reduced to the minimum needed by the different branches of the
circulation process for the free action of their mechanism. Under these conditions hoards as such consist
only of wealth lying idle, unless they represent a temporary surplus in the balance of payments, the result
of an interruption in the interchange of products and therefore commodities congealed in their first
Just as in theory gold and silver as money are universal commodities, so world money is the appropriate
form of existence of the universal commodity. In the same proportion as all commodities are exchanged
for gold and silver these become the transmuted form of all commodities and hence universally
exchangeable commodities. They are realised as embodiments of universal labour-time in the degree that
the interchange of the products of concrete labour becomes world-wide. They become universal
equivalents in proportion to the development of the series of particular equivalents which constitute their
spheres of exchange. Because the exchange-value of commodities is universally developed in
international circulation, it appears transformed into gold and silver as international money. Since as a
result of their versatile industry and all-embracing commerce the nations of commodity-owners have
turned gold into adequate money, they regard industry and commerce merely as means enabling them to
withdraw money in the form of gold and silver from the world market. Gold and silver as international
money are therefore both the products of the universal circulation of commodities and the means to
expand its scope. Just as the alchemists, who wanted to make gold, were not aware of the rise of
chemistry, so commodity-owners, chasing after a magical form of the commodity, are not aware of the
sources of world industry and world trade that are coming into being. Gold and silver help to create the
world market by anticipating its existence in their concept of money. Their magical effect is by no means
confined to the infancy of bourgeois society, but is the inevitable consequence of the inverted way in
which their own social labour appears to the representatives of the world of commodities; a proof of this
being the remarkable influence which the discovery of gold in various new areas exerted on international
trade in the middle of the nineteenth century.
As money develops into international money, so the commodity-owner becomes a cosmopolitan. The
cosmopolitan relations of men to one another originally comprise only their relations as
commodity-owners. Commodities as such are indifferent to all religious, political, national and linguistic
barriers. Their universal language is price and their common bond is money. But together with the
development of international money as against national coins, there develops the commodity-owner's
cosmopolitanism, a cult of practical reason, in opposition to the traditional religious, national and other
prejudices which impede the metabolic process of mankind. The commodity-owner realises that
Means of Payment 
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nationality "is but the guinea's stamp", since the same amount of gold that arrives in England in the shape
of American eagles is turned into sovereigns, three days later circulates as napoleons in Paris and may be
encountered as ducats in Venice a few weeks later. The sublime idea in which for him the whole world
merges is that of a market, the world market. [9]
[1.] Of course capital, too, is advanced in the form of money and it is possible that the money advanced
is capital advanced, but this aspect does not lie within the scope of simple circulation.
[2.] Luther emphasises the distinction which exists between means of purchase and means of payment.
[Note in author's copy.]
[3.] Despite Mr. Macleod's doctrinaire priggishness about definitions, he misinterprets the most
elementary economic relations to such an extent that he asserts that money in general arises from its most
advanced form, that is means of payment. He says inter alia that since people do not always require each
other's services at the same time and to the same value, "there would remain a certain difference or
amount of service due from the first to the second, and this would constitute a debt". The owner of this
debt may need the services of a third person who does not immediately require his services, and "what
could be more natural than for the second to transfer to the third the debt due to him from the first". The
"evidence of a debt, would pass from hand to hand;... what is called a currency....when a person receives
an obligation expressed by a metallic currency, he is able to command the services not only of the
original debtor, but also those of the whole of the industrious community." H. D. Macleod, The Theory
and Practice of Banking, Vol. I, London, 1855, Ch. I [pp. 24, 29].
[4.] "Money is the general commodity of contract, or that in which the majority of bargains about
property, to be completed at a future time, are made." Bailey, op. cit., p. 3
[5.] Senior (op. cit., p. 221) says: "Since the value of everything changes within a certain period of time,
people select as a means of payment an article whose value changes least and which retains longest a
given average ability to buy things. Thus, money becomes the expression or representative of values."
On the contrary, gold, silver, etc., become general means of payment, because they have become money,
that is the independent embodiment of exchange-value. It is precisely when the stability of the value of
money, mentioned by Mr. Senior, is taken into account, i.e., in periods when force of circumstances
establishes money as the universal means of payment, that people become aware of variations in the
value of money. Such a period was the Elizabethan age in England, when, because of the manifest
depreciation of the precious metals, an Act was shepherded through Parliament by Lord Burleigh and Sir
Thomas Smith to compel the universities of Oxford and Cambridge to provide for the payment of
one-third of the rent of their lands in wheat and malt.
[6.] Boisguillebert, who wishes to prevent bourgeois relations of production from being pitted against the
bourgeoisie themselves, prefers to consider those forms of money in which money appears as a purely
nominal or transitory phenomenon. Previously he regarded means of circulation from tbis point of view
and now means of payment. He fails to notice, however, the sudden transformation of the nominal form
of money into external reality, and the fact that even the purely conceptual measure of value latently
contains hard cash. Boisguillebert says, wholesale trade -- in which, after "the