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Archive for the ‘Capital Volume 1, Part 1: Commodities and Money’ Category

I  The purpose of chapter 3

Chapter 3, by looking at commodities in circulation, i.e. commodities confronting other commodities in repeated cycles of exchange, essentially looks at the functions of money.

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I  The purpose of chapter 2

What is the function of chapter 2? In chapter 1 we saw that:

A commodity is a use-value or object of utility, and a ‘value’. It appears as the twofold thing it really is as soon as its value possesses its own particular form of manifestation, which is distinct from its natural form. This form of manifestation is exchange-value, and the commodity never has this form when looked at in isolation, but only when it is in a value-relation or exchange relation with a second commodity of a different kind.

After having examined use-value, and then exchange-value, we now need to examine the unity of the commodity as whole; but to do this we need to look beyond the individual commodity, and see it in exchange.

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Marx begins, quoting himself from A Contribution to a Critique of Political Economy, published eight years earlier, that ‘the wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an “immense collection of commodities”’ (here we should read ‘appears’ [erscheint] as ‘takes the form of’, i.e. that the word ‘appears’ here suggests not illusion, but a social fact that needs further investigation and explanation); the commodity as its ‘elementary form’. ‘Therefore’, Marx observes, we begin with the analysis of the commodity.

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