By Derek Sayer
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Additional info for Marx's Method: Ideology, Science, and Critique in Capital
Just as to the Monetaristsand Mercantilists gold and silver were intrinsically wealth, so money now appears to be intrinsically interest-bearing: Capital appears as a mysterious and self-creating source of interest - the source of its own increase. The thing (money, commodity, value) is now capital even as a mere thing, and capital appears as a mere thing. The result of the entire process of reproduction appears as a property inherent in the thing itself ... In interestbearing capital, therefore, this automatic fetish, self-expanding value, money generating money, are brought out in their pure state and in this form it no longer bears the birthmarks of its 60 Marx's Method origin.
The consequence of this misconception, however, is clear: 68 These imaginary expressions arise ... from the relations of production themselves. They are categories for the phenomenal forms of essential relations. That in their appearance things often represent themselves in inverted form is pretty well known in every science except Political Economy (ibid. 537). In this case, Marx lists several relevant considerations. Most generally, the form of the labour-power/wages exchange is one consistent with all transactions in the sphere of circulation (where, as Marx puts it, 'Freedom, Equality, Property and Bentham' reign undisturbed (ibid.
So what in fact happens is that a sum is lent for a specified period, to be repaid with interest. The interest is not the price of the principal (which is, of course, its facevalue) but of its use-value as capital. Marx sometimes draws an analogy with the buying and selling of labour-power: whereas, for example, in slave societies people's labour-power as such is bought and sold, that is the labourer's person becomes a commodity, in capitalist societies workers strictly speaking sell capitalists only the temporary use of this capacity.