“Money in its significant attributes is, above all, a subtle device for linking the present to the future”[1]

 “That which is for me through the medium of money – that for which I can pay (i.e., which money can buy) – that am I myself, the possessor of the money. The extent  of the power of money is the extent of my power. Money’s properties are my – the possessor’s – properties and essential powers. (…). I am ugly, but I can buy for myself the most beautiful of the women. Therefore, I’m not ugly, for the effect of ugliness – its deterrent power – is nullified by money”[2]

1. Introduction: about the role and the form of money in our history[3].

Money is a human invention. Money does not grow on trees. Money shows us that the human being is a social animal. Money is social, it is, more in specific, a social relationship, which today is not equal, but that might become equal. Money is the demonstration of the existence of a community, because money is the result of a trust relationship. But  money is, above all, power: a decision-making power, the power of the strongest. In a capitalist society, money represents the unfair relationship inside the labour-capital ratio. It’s the expression of the capitalistic power[4]. That’s why money cannot be a common good (it is same for labour). It is, or rather could be, should be, an expression of the common in a different type of  society. But today more than ever, it is not. In the bio-cognitive and financialised capitalism, if there must be a struggle, it must necessarily be fighting for the money understood as a tool of the common. A fight for the common(e)ism.

Money has played different role in the history of mankind. In prehistoric societies is a medium of exchange and unit of value. Mean of payment to allow the social relationships dictated by the activity of exchange for survival: the need of the neg-otium ( the damnation of labour), as opposed to otium (the pleasure of creativity and human genius). And as such, unit of measure of the value of the commodities. At the same time, it is an expression of power at a time when such a measure is established on the basis of a social hierarchy . Who decides the “form” of money ? But, above all, yesterday and today, who decides the value of money?

The history of money is related to the history of human beings, we said. In ancient times, until the formation of national States in Europe in 1500, the most prevalent form of money is the money commodity. The value of money is contained in the body of the same coin. Its shape (weight) metal (i.e. physical, be it copper, bronze, silver or gold) indicates the value. It is an exchange between equivalent in value. A meter of cloth, say, with a value of 10 grams of gold is directly exchanged with a coin that contains 10 grams of gold. From this point of view, the exchange of money implies a rival and solvent exchange. 10 grams of that particular coin can only be used for that specific exchange, in a relationship “do ut des”: commodity (cloth) against commodity (metal). We are in a C-M-C system.

According to Herodotus[5], the Lydians were the first people to introduce the use a gold and silver coin and the first to establish shops for monetary retail sale in permanent locations. When the coin is spreading as a means of payment and unit of value in the economic exchange, it also becomes an expression of power. It was who issued the money (the king) to determine its value and to express the command statement.

At this stage of history (euro-Mediterranean), the money commodity implies an ownership structure. The property is expressed by the monopoly of issuing (the sovereign). They are not even shake the rights of seigniorage. It will be with the Roman Empire, first with Nero and then with Septimius Severus, that the value of the coin (Aureus and Denarius, respectively gold and silver) will tend to no longer exactly correspond to the amount of precious metal.  Hence, the right of seigniorage started to work .

But it will be only with the formation of national states in Europe and the technological paradigm shift at the turn of the fifteenth – sixteenth century that we start to witness the total disengagement between the nominal declared value of money and the content of the precious metal.

The monopoly of issuing money then takes the form of a supra -individual and extra- market right: money becomes variable, controlled at the institutional level and not by the dynamics of the market. Once guaranteed by the role of the State, which operates not as an agent of the private market, but at the top of it, money begins to also perform the function of store of value and wealth measure. This stage is, not coincidentally, accompanied by a change in the shape of money. Metallic money, mainly based on gold, is substituted by paper money, which means that means of payment have not the same real value that declares. As we have pointed out, the economic exchange “value versus quantity” had always existed as a pure and direct exchange of equivalent commodities. It is not a coincidence that most of the names of the existing currencies etymologically derives from weight units (pound in Britain, peseta in Spain , lira – from lb- in many countries). With the guarantee of an institutional governance, economic exchange begins to be increasingly characterized as material exchange between a piece of paper, whose intrinsic real value is very small, and a certain amount of commodities. But this piece of paper – banknote – is guaranteed by a superior political power that compels acceptance (trust) and ensures the virtual nominal value reported herein. This step generates, through the increasingly important role of the Central Bank, the possibility of creating a State/public monopoly in the monetary base.

With the industrial revolution and, in the twentieth century, with the Bretton Woods Conference, we observe the gradual abandonment of the monetary system based on precious metals and the convertibility of currencies in precious metals (Gold Standard System). The growth of economic activity, caused by the spread of the capitalist mode of production, has prescribed the use of currencies whose supply is no more constrained by the limited availability of precious metals. Furthermore, the emergence of certain currencies, more and more widely used and accepted in international trade, has rendered obsolete the use of precious metals to regulate these exchanges. Finally, the claim of the banknote and other forms of payment released by the use of precious metals, can be explained by the convenience of payment systems that do not require to transfer large amounts of heavy precious metal. Only one currency (Us dollar) remained fixed to gold, as conventional unite of measure of value (Dollar Standard System).

Today, after the end of Bretton Woods, we are witnessing the complete dematerialization of money. Its value, conventionally set in 1944 at Bretton Woods fixed parity ($ 35 per ounce of gold) felt .

From “money commodity” and “convertible gold money”, finally, we reach the stadium in which  money becomes “pure sign ” (Marx). This step, through and thanks to the process of financialization, has reduced the weight of the rights of seigniorage and also the ability of Central Banks to control in toto money supply and the credit and financial multiplier that ensues.

Money, in this way, becomes totally immaterial. Today money is no more linked to a commodity or to a material asset. There is no more a unit of measure of the value of money, as the meter for length or kilogram for weight.

With the end of the Bretton Woods system, the value of money is no longer determined solely by the institution issuing it. The monetary sovereignty (both national or supranational), whose governance is responsibility of the Central Bank, tends to lose more and more significance.

2. Finance money as expression of the libertarian communism of capital

 With the advent of the capitalist system of production, money becomes an expression of capital and its social relationship of exploitation with labour. With the transition from the Taylorist – Fordist capitalism to the cognitive and financialised bio-capitalism, the main function of money has changed. The credit function, typical of a M-C-M’ system (monetary production economy), where investment activity in the production of goods  requires a monetary anticipation and the indebtness  of economic actors (be they private firms or the State), leaves more and more space to the finance money (financial production economy). This financial function coincides with the total dematerialization of money, being pure sign money.

We are witnessing the transition from credit money, under the control by monetary institutions (Central banks) to finance money, dependent on the dynamics of the financial market .

Until the crisis of Fordism, in fact, the institution of the Central Bank had the task of exercising a direct and precise control over the amount of banknotes and coins issued by the national Mints (