Thursday, 6 June 2013

Capital II, Chapter 2 - Part 4

The circuit of the commodity capital is then C – M – C (MP + L), and where it is accumulated c – m – c (MP + L). In other words, the capital-value of the produced commodities P … C1, is separated into C and c. C has the same value as the means of production and labour-power that was consumed in its production. But, it also now has the same value as the same quantity of means of production and labour-power previously consumed. That can only happen if as described above, the exchange values of commodities are defined as Marx does, by their current reproduction costs.

Similarly, c - m - c (MP + L) ensures that the quantity of additional means of production and labour-power is proportional to C (MP + L).

“First: Money-capital M appeared in Form I (circuit M ... M') as the original form in which capital-value is advanced; it appears here from the outset as a part of that sum of money into which commodity-capital transformed itself in the first circulation phase C' — M', therefore from the outset as the transformation of P, the productive capital, through the medium of the sale of commodities, into the money-form. Money-capital exists here from the outset as that form of capital-value which is neither its original nor its final one, since the phase M — C, which concludes the phase C — M, can only be performed by again discarding the money-form. Therefore that part of M — C which is at the same time M — L appears now no longer as a mere advance of money by the purchase of labour-power, but as an advance by means of which the same 1,000 lbs. of yarn, valued at £50, which form a part of the commodity-value created by labour-power, are advanced to labour-power in the form of money.” (p 72)

Does this mean that the actual prices paid for any of these commodities is equal to their exchange value (even leaving aside the issue of price of production and market price)? Clearly not, because in the real world things are not so straightforward. But, that does not change the underlying value relations and value analysis. For example, Marx writes,

“As a result of C — M, money is always the expression of past labour. If the complementary act M — C takes place at once in the commodity-market, i.e., M is given in return for commodities existing in the market, this is again a transformation of past labour, from one form (money) into another form (commodities). But M — C differs in the matter of time from C — M. They may exceptionally take place at the same time, for instance when the capitalist who performs M — C and the capitalist to whom this act means C — M ship their commodities to each other at the same time and M is used only to square the balance. The difference in time between the performance of M — C and C — M may be more or less considerable. Although M, as the result of C — M, represents past labour, it may, in the act M — C, represent the converted form of commodities which are not as yet in the market, but will be thrown upon it in the future, since M — C need not take place until C has been produced anew. M may likewise stand for commodities which are produced simultaneously with the C whose money-expression it is. For instance in the exchange M — C (purchase of means of production) coal may be bought before it has been mined. In so far as m figures as an accumulation of money, is not spent as revenue, it may stand for cotton which will not be produced until the following year. The same holds good on spending the revenue of the capitalist, m — c. It also applies to wages, to L equal to £50. This money is not only the money-form of past labour of the labourers but at the same time a draft on simultaneous and future labour which is just being realised or should be realised in the future. The labourer may buy with his wages a coat which will not be made until the following week. This applies especially to the vast number of necessary means of subsistence which must be consumed almost as soon as they have been produced to prevent spoilage. Thus the labourer receives, in the money which is paid to him in wages, the converted form of his own future labour or that of other labourers. By giving the labourer a part of his past labour, the capitalist gives him a draft on his own future labour. It is the labourer’s own simultaneous or future labour that constitutes the not yet existing supply out of which he will be paid for his past labour. In this case the idea of hoarding disappears altogether.” (p 73-4)

In fact, this is most clear in relation to labour-power. As Marx demonstrated in Volume I, the value of labour-power, as with any commodity is determined by its current reproduction cost. The money price of labour-power is wages. But, does this mean that wages are always equal to the value of labour-power? Clearly not. Employers may reduce wages below the value of labour-power for a time. But, also, Marx explains how, where workers are employed on piece rates, a rise in productivity can result in workers being paid wages above the value of their labour-power, because if piece rates remain the same, and they produce more pieces, their wages will rise. But, none of that changes the value of labour-power or the value relations springing from it.

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