Marx on the Bourse: Coffee and the Intersecting/Integrated Circuits of Capital

Newman, Susan (2021). Marx on the Bourse: Coffee and the Intersecting/Integrated Circuits of Capital. In: Mezzadri, Alessandra ed. Marx in the Field. Anthem Frontiers of Global Political Economy and Development. London: Anthem.



There has been a tendency in academic scholarship of the contemporary capitalist system not only to limit analyses to the confines of specific disciplines with established concepts, analytical categories and methods, but also to focus on realms of production, exchange and finance as distinct from each other. This decoupling is clear within economics with the distinction between the ‘real’ and the ‘financial’. By contrast, the integrated nature of production, exchange and finance is stressed by Marx in Capital, Volume II as he examines economic reproduction in its totality. While Volume II is centred on the market place, as opposed to production in Volume I or finance in Volume III, it has at its heart the notion of the commodity as the unity and contradiction between use-value and exchange-value. Volume II develops Marx’s reproduction schema by examining the constant intertwining of appearance and disappearance of money capital, productive capital and commodity capital from the sphere of circulation into the sphere of production and back again. In doing so, this schema highlights the unity and contradiction between the two spheres and provides clear guidance for identifying both sites and subjects of research that have largely been analysed separately. This chapter elucidates the influence of Volume II on recent analyses of the changing social relations of production of coffee commodity chains that examine not only the relationships between merchants, traders and workers that transform and transport coffee into an object for consumption, but also the money-owner, money-lender and money-manager operating on international financial exchanges as their interests and operations interact with those of commodity chain actors.

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