Capital, the Communist Manifesto and Other Writings

By Karl Marx; Max Eastman | Go to book overview

propriation of the mass of the people by a few usurpers; in the latter, we have the expropriation of a few usurpers by the mass of the people.


CHAPTER XVI
MONEY

(Extracted from vol. I, ch. 2 and 3.)

COMMODITIES cannot go to market and make exchanges of their own account. We must, therefore, have recourse to their guardians, the owners of commodities. The commodity possesses for the owner no immediate use-value. Otherwise, he would not bring it to the market. It has use-value for others; but for himself its only direct use-value is that of being a depository of exchange value, and, consequently, a means of exchange.1 Therefore, he will part with it for commodities whose value in use is of service to him. All commodities are non-use-values for their owners, and use-values for their non-owners. Consequently, they must all change hands. This change of hands is what constitutes their exchange.

The sale of an object of utility first becomes possible when a greater quantity of it is available, than its proprietor needs. When this happens, the interested parties need only regard one another implicitly as the private owners of such objects. But such a state of reciprocal independence has no existence in a primitive society based on property in common, whether such a society takes the form of a patriarchal family, an ancient Indian community, or a Peruvian Inca State. The individual members of such a community, therefore, could not exchange their commodities. The exchange of commodities first begins on the boundaries of such communities, at

____________________
1
"For two-fold is the use of every object. . . . The one is peculiar to the object as such, the other is not, as a sandal which may be worn, and is also exchangeable. Both are uses of the sandal, for even he who exchanges the sandal for the food he is in want of, makes use of the sandal as a sandal. But not in its natural way. For it has not been made for the sake of being exchanged." ( Aristotle, De Republica, liber I, ch. 9.)

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