Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Capital II, Chapter 5 - Part 3

It is only productive-capital that produces value and surplus value, even though money-capital and commodity-capital are necessary to enable capital to pass through its full cycle.

“The agents of circulation must be paid by the agents of production. But the capitalists, who sell to and buy from one another, create neither values nor products by these acts, this state of affairs is not changed if they are enabled or compelled by the volume of their business to shift this function on to others. In some businesses the buyers and sellers get paid in the form of percentages on the profits. All talk about their being paid by the consumer does not help matters. The consumers can pay only in so far as they, as agents of production, produce an equivalent in commodities for themselves or appropriate it from production agents either on the basis of some legal title (as their co-partners, etc.) or by personal services.” (p 130)

For the capitalist, selling is more important than buying. Assuming commodities exchange at their values, buying, M – C, is necessary, but it only provides the productive capital required. It does not produce any surplus value. Selling, C' – M', does not produce surplus value either, but it does realise the surplus value that has been produced.

Commodities are use values, and a commodity only continues to act also as an exchange value so long as its use value is intact. If a commodity loses its use value, it also ceases to possess exchange value.

This is clearly important when considering the various physical forms assumed by commodities as use values, and their time of circulation. Those commodities that are perishable clearly have a limited time that they can remain in the stage of circulation. Beyond it, they lose their use value and their exchange value, as a result. In general, non-perishable goods can remain in the circulation stage longer, but here too there are limits. Summer clothing will not have so much demand in Winter and vice versa, for example. But, even more durable goods have a limited shelf-life. Last year's personal computer or mobile phone etc. will have lost some of its Use Value simply because technological developments have produced enhanced products, so that older products no longer have the same relative functionality.

“The sale of the use-values in the form of commodities, hence their entry into productive or individual consumption effected through this sale is however the ever recurring condition of their reproduction. They must change their old use-form within a definite time in order to continue their existence in a new form. Exchange-value maintains itself only by means of this constant renewal of its body. The use-values of various commodities spoil sooner or later; the interval between their production and consumption may therefore be comparatively long or short; hence they can persist without spoiling in the circulation phase C — M for a shorter or longer term in the form of commodity-capital, can endure a shorter or a longer time of circulation as commodities. The limit of the circulation time of a commodity-capital imposed by the spoiling of the body of the commodity is the absolute limit of this part of the time of circulation, or of the time of circulation of commodity-capital as such. The more perishable a commodity and the sooner after its production it must therefore be consumed and hence sold, the more restricted is its capacity for removal from its place of production, the narrower therefore is the spatial sphere of its circulation, the more localised are the markets where it can be sold. For this reason the more perishable a commodity is and the greater the absolute restriction of its time of circulation as commodity on account of its physical properties, the less is it suited to be an object of capitalist production. Such a commodity can come within its grasp only in thickly populated districts or to the extent that improved transportation eliminate distance. But the concentration of the production of any article in the hands of a few and in a populous district may create a relatively large market even for such articles as are the products of large breweries, dairies, etc.” (p 130-1)

Back To Part 2

Forward To Chapter 6

Back To Volume II Index

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