Thursday, 31 January 2013

Capital I, Chapter 23 - Part 1

Simple Reproduction

The only way any society can continue to produce – and thereby to consume – is if it continually sets aside part of what it produces, just to replace what it has used up, in the process of production itself. A farmer growing corn, for example, may have used 100 kilograms of corn as seed, to produce 1000 kilograms of corn. If they want to grow 1000 kilograms of corn again next year, they will have to set aside 100 kilograms out of this year's crop to use as seed again. But, they will also have used a certain amount of fertiliser, a certain proportion of the life of their plough and so on. The cost of replacing these elements and instruments of production has also to be taken out of the proceeds of selling the 1000 kilograms of corn. Of course, these other things, the fertiliser, the plough and so on, made by other members of society, also require labour-time for their production, and the elements and instruments of their production in turn – for example the lathe used to produce a plough – also get used up, and a proportion of output set aside for their replacement too.

Put another way, - maybe looking at it from the standpoint of Robinson Crusoe – in any given year, out of the total labour-time available to society, then just to continue production at the same level, a certain proportion of that labour-time has to be set aside for no other purpose than to just replace the means of production. Under capitalism, this proportion is what we have described as the constant capital.

If production be capitalistic in form, so, too, will be reproduction. Just as in the former the labour process figures but as a means towards the self-expansion of capital, so in the latter it figures but as a means of reproducing as capital — i.e., as self-expanding value — the value advanced.” (p 531)

Marx’s analysis here is important in relation to the errors made by the Temporal Single System Interpretation (TSSI). Note that Marx does not speak of the “money” advanced here, in this process of reproduction, but of the “value” advanced, and these are two very different things. He continues,

It is only because his money constantly functions as capital that the economic guise of a capitalist attaches to a man. If, for instance, a sum of £100 has this year been converted into capital. and produced a surplus-value of £20, it must continue during next year, and subsequent years, to repeat the same operation. As a periodic increment of the capital advanced, or periodic fruit of capital in process, surplus-value acquires the form of a revenue flowing out of capital.

If this revenue serve the capitalist only as a fund to provide for his consumption, and be spent as periodically as it is gained, then, caeteris paribus, simple reproduction will take place. And although this reproduction is a mere repetition of the process of production on the old scale, yet this mere repetition, or continuity, gives a new character to the process, or, rather, causes the disappearance of some apparent characteristics which it possessed as an isolated discontinuous process.” (p 531-2)

But, the TSSI does continue to see it as a discontinuous process, because they have a syllogistic view of time. Each year, each period of production is viewed as discrete rather than continuous. Rather than the purpose of capitalist production being viewed objectively from the standpoint of capital, as the continuous reproduction and expansion of capital, it is viewed subjectively from the standpoint of the capitalist, and his desire for enrichment. That is why they put forward as valid the idea that capitalist production could cease, mid-flow, simply in order for the capitalist to realise capital gain, where capital has been revalued.

Back To Chapter 22

Forward To Part 2

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