Thursday, 19 December 2013

Capital II, Chapter 10 - Part 11

As stated earlier, Smith does not classify labour-power as circulating capital, but he does argue that the means of subsistence for the worker does constitute circulating capital. That is clearly wrong because for the sellers of those means of subsistence, they constitute commodity-capital, and for the workers who buy them, they are only commodities and not capital at all. For the capitalist who employs the workers, the means of subsistence do not form capital, because he does not buy them. He pays wages to his workers so that they can do so.

For Marx, slaves do not produce surplus value.  Economically
speaking, they are no different from any other pack animal used
 in production.  They are bought and sold as commodities
themselves; they do not enter the market as buyers of commodities
as wage workers do; their means of consumption are bought for them
by the slave owner.  The slave, therefore, constitutes constant not
variable capital.
The Physiocrats correctly argued that wages were paid out of circulating capital – avances annuelle, but they do not count the labour-power bought with those wages as productive capital, rather they count the means of subsistence given to the farm labourers. That is consistent with their view that the value of the end product is equal to the value of everything that went into its production. That is the value added by labour is only equal to the value of the means of subsistence given to those workers, just as the value added by a horse is equal to the food etc. provided for it. As Marx sets out in the Grundrisse, and as I have described elsewhere - Labour-Power v Horse-Power – this is true of slave labour. A slave, like any other pack animal, constitutes fixed capital, and, therefore, constant not circulating, variable capital. A slave, like an animal or a machine, therefore, can produce a surplus product, but not surplus value. Only wage labour produces surplus value, and that is precisely due to the fact that the wage labour enters the market as a free agent to sell their labour-power, and to buy commodities at their value.

“In production based on slavery, as well as in patriarchal agriculture…..the slave does not come into consideration as engaged in exchange at all.” (419)


“in the relations of slavery and serfdom….The slave stands in no relation whatsoever to the objective conditions of his labour; rather, labour itself, both in the form of the slave and in that of the serf, is classified as an inorganic condition of production along with other natural beings, such as cattle, as an accessory of the earth.” (p 489)

“In production based on slavery, as well as in patriarchal agricultural-industrial production, where the greatest part of the population directly satisfies the greatest part of its needs directly by its labour, the sphere of circulation and exchange is still very narrow; and more particularly in the former, the slave does not come into consideration as engaged in exchange at all. But in production based on capital, consumption is mediated at all points by exchange, and labour never has a direct use value for those who are working. Its entire basis is labour as exchange value and as the creation of exchange value. 

Well. First of all 

the wage worker as distinct from the slave is himself an independent centre of circulation, someone who exchanges, posits exchange value, and maintains exchange value through exchange. Firstly: in the exchange between that part of capital which is specified as wages, and living labour capacity, the exchange value of this part of capital is posited immediately, before capital again emerges from the production process to enter into circulation, or this can be conceived as itself still an act of circulation. Secondly: To each capitalist, the total mass of all workers, with the exception of his own workers, appear not as workers, but as consumers, possessors of exchange values (wages), money, which they exchange for his commodity. They are so many centres of circulation with whom the act of exchange begins and by whom the exchange value of capital is maintained. They form a proportionally very great part -- although not quite so great as is generally imagined, if one focuses on the industrial worker proper -- of all consumers. The greater their number -- the number of the industrial population -- and the mass of money at their disposal, the greater the sphere of exchange for capital. We have seen that it is the tendency of capital to increase the industrial population as much as possible.” 

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