3 thoughts on “The “barter story” is about the ABSENCE of barter. Clarifying an earlier post.

  1. This seems like an ad hoc hypothesis regarding the barter myth to save it from Graeber’s critique. Here’s what the wealth of nations says about barter:
    “ But when barter ceases , and money has become the common instrument of commerce, every particular commodity is more – frequently exchanged for money than for any other commodity.”

    “ Even the Peruvians, the more civilised nation of the two, though they made use of gold and silver as ornaments, had no coined money of any kind. Their whole commerce was carried on by barter, and there was accordingly scarce any division of labour among them.” (empirically false, the incas had a commerce free centrally planned economy based on a collective labor obligation, but Smith didn’t know that)


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    1. and

      “ In order to avoid the inconvenienc y of such situations, every prudent man in every period of society, after the first establishment of the division of labour, must naturally have endeavoured to manage his affairs in such a manner as to have at all times by him , besides the peculiar produce of his own industry , a certain quantity of some one commodity or other , such as he imagined few peoplewould be likely to refuse in exchange for the produce oftheirindustry.

      Many different commodities, it is probable, were successively both thought of and employed for this purpose .”

      note this is still barter, not a money system, which why “many different commodities, it is probable” can be supposed to be at work. the claim is that a universal money commodity like gold gets normalized naturally as the most widely accepted commodity for barter. but thats not real, because it seems clear that money springs into being before you have markets operating for that kind of direct commodity exchange.


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