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And when they exchange their products they must reduce them to the form of a proportion, otherwise one of the two extremes will have both the excesses1; whereas when they have their own,2 they then are equal, and can form an association together, because equality in this sense can be established in their case (farmer A, food C, shoemaker B, shoemaker's product equalized D3); whereas if it were impossible for reciprocal proportion to be effected in this way, there could be no association between them. [13]

That it is demand which, by serving as a single standard, holds such an association together, is shown by the fact that, when there is no demand for mutual service on the part of both or at least of one of the parties, no exchange takes place between them [as when someone needs something that one has oneself, for instance the state offering a license to export corn in exchange for wine].4 This inequality of demand has therefore to be equalized. [14]

Now money serves us as a guarantee of exchange in the future: supposing we need nothing at the moment, it ensures that exchange shall be possible when a need arises, for it meets the requirement of something we can produce in payment so as to obtain the thing we need. Money, it is true, is liable to the same fluctuation of demand as other commodities, for its purchasing power varies at different times; but it tends to be comparatively constant. Hence the proper thing is for all commodities to have their prices fixed; this will ensure that exchange, and consequently association, shall always be possible. Money then serves as a measure which makes things commensurable and so reduces them to equality. If there were no exchange there would be no association, and there can be no exchange without equality, and no equality without commensurability. Though therefore it is impossible for things so different to become commensurable in the strict sense,

1 That is ‘after any unfair exchange one party has too much by just the amount by which the other has too little. I ought to have given you ten shillings more or something worth that. Then I have ten shillings too much, and you have ten too little; these two tens are my two “excesses”; in respect of the exchange. I am better off then you by twice ten’ (Richards). Cf. 4.10-12.

2 For this proverbial phrase see 4.8,14.

3 Or ‘shoemaker's product D multiplied to equivalence with C’ (Blunt).

4 The clauses bracketed make neither grammar nor sense, and have justly been suspected as interpolated. Munscher inserts a negative: ‘Just as there is no exchange when the producer wants what the consumer has <not> got, for example, when one state needs wine while another can only offer corn for export.’ But there seems to be no question here of foreign commerce.

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