Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Capital II, Chapter 6 - Part 2

The fact that, under capitalism, the scale of the exchange of commodities takes on mammoth proportions, and the fact that this function becomes assigned to specialist agents, who are paid by the capitalists to undertake it, cannot change the act of exchange into a productive act. It remains merely a means of transforming the form of value, not adding to it.

“These third persons will of course not tender their labour-power to the capitalist out of sheer love for them. It is a matter of indifference to the rent collector of a real-estate owner or the messenger of a bank that their labour does not add one iota or tittle to the value of either the rent or the gold pieces carried to another bank by the bagful.” (p 133)

It is precisely because capitalism produces on a massive scale that it must also buy and sell on a massive scale, and so what was once the function of many independent producers – the selling of their products and purchase of their means of production – becomes the specialised function of a relative few. These may be employed by the productive capitalist themselves in purchasing and marketing departments, or may be external agents in the form of merchant capital, to whom the productive capitalists sell, and from whom they buy.

“But without going into this at length here this much is plain from the start: If by a division of labour a function, unproductive in itself although a necessary element of reproduction, is transformed from an incidental occupation of many into an exclusive occupation of a few, into their special business, the nature of this function itself is not changed. One merchant (here considered a mere agent attending to the change of form of commodities, a mere buyer and seller) may by his operations shorten the time of purchase and sale for many producers. In such case he should be regarded as a machine which reduces useless expenditure of energy or helps to set production time free.” (p 134)

Back To Part 1

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