Thursday, 22 August 2013

Capital II, Chapter 6 - Part 4

 (b) Book-keeping

A similar situation applies to book-keeping. The small peasant producer had less need to keep detailed and accurate books. But, the time they did spend on them was clearly seen by them as a cost, as unproductive time that could otherwise have been used productively. In addition, the costs involved in buying pens, paper etc. to keep those books, was also unproductive expenditure that could have been used to buy seed, cotton etc.

In the Indian village communes a separate book-keeper was employed, and here it becomes apparent that their labour, although necessary adds nothing to the villages store of products and value. The book-keeper has to be supported out of the village's social product, and, therefore, they represent a cost, not an addition to the value produced.

The fact that this function, under capitalism becomes much more important and necessary, and its scale and specialisation increases, does not change its fundamental nature. The labour-time involved in producing, the materials used by them – including today expensive computer hardware and software – is necessary, but not productive of new value.

The capitalist, starting a new business has to lay out constant and variable capital for this function, but it adds no value to the product. An existing capitalist has to deduct each year a portion of their surplus value, in order to reproduce the book-keeper and their materials.

(c) Money

Capitalist production of both goods and services implies a continual expansion of these commodities coming on to the market. This continual expansion of capital implies an expansion of the ideal form of its value i.e. of money.

Even where that money is not in circulation, but is stored up in hoards and reserves i.e. where it is latent, it still has to exist, still has to have been produced. Gold and silver etc. produced as commodities to be used in jewellery, ornaments, cutlery or electrical circuits are commodities that have a use value as well as value. But, Gold and silver produced as money give up their use value functions in order to become the Universal Equivalent Form of Value. Their only function then, their use value is to act as money.

But, in this role they do not add anything to social wealth. Yet, in this role, their use in circulation means they become worn out and need to be replaced. Social labour-time has to be expended not to increase social wealth, but merely to replace worn out means of circulation. This is one reason precious metal is replaced by paper currency and credit-money, which reduces the overhead costs of circulation for capital.

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