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The Value of LaborThe Science of Commodification in Hungary, 1920-1956$
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Martha Lampland

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226314600

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226314747.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 27 May 2022

The Problem with Money

The Problem with Money

(p.109) 4 The Problem with Money
The Value of Labor

Martha Lampland

University of Chicago Press

Marx and Simmel both described money essentially as a means. The chapter contests this representation of money, particularly during the historical period under investigation. The theoretical arguments that Marx and Simmel developed inform the analysis here, but the purpose of this chapter is to historicize the processes whereby money becomes a means, i.e. the ways that money constitutes social relations over time, in varying conditions and contexts. The first half of the chapter recounts Hungarians’ ambivalent attitudes toward money, spanning the period from the abolition of serfdom in 1848 to World War I. The second half of the chapter recounts the history of inflationary spirals that followed both WWI and WWII. Strategies devised to replace cash with novel instruments, such as calorie or labor money, shed light on how Hungarians imagine value being generated and the way it should be expressed. Agrarian economists’ insistence that monetary wages would guarantee higher productivity, despite the rocky history of national currency in Hungary, illustrates the ideological power of money as a means Marx and Simmel had explicated.

Keywords:   cash, calorie money, inflationary spiral, labor money, Karl Marx, money, Georg Simmel, World War I, World War II, WWI

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