## Tuesday, 29 April 2014

### Capital II, Chapter 16 - Part 3

The labour process is measured by time. A working day consists of a certain number of hours of abstract labour. A working period could be considered as a single working day of say 300 hours. It could be made up in a variety of ways. For example, if we are looking at purely abstract labour, it may be made up of 30, 10 hour days, divided into 6, five day weeks, or five, six day weeks. Or it could be 50, 6 hour days etc. Similarly, the labour-power employed may be complex rather than simple labour. If it is equal to 2 hours of abstract labour, this complex labour may actually work for 6 hours per day for only 25 days, yet this will amount to 300 hours of abstract labour.

Provided it is exploited at the same rate as other labour-power, this complex labour would then produce as much surplus value in 25 x 6 hour days, as simple labour produces in 50 x 6 hour days etc.

Similarly, if we are considering the labour-power exploited, and the quantity of labour-time, the other variable is the number of workers exploited. The 300 hours could be made up of 50 workers working a six hour day for 1 day. The amount of variable capital laid out to buy the labour-power of 50 workers to work a six hour day, is the same as to buy the labour-power of one worker to work a six hour day for 50 days.

On that basis.

“The rate of surplus-value and the length of the working-day being the same, variable capitals of equal magnitude are therefore employed, if equal quantities of labour-power (a labour-power of the same price multiplied by the number of labourers) are set in motion in the same time.” (p 302)

Returning to A and B, we have

 A Week Capital Advanced Utilised Returned 1 500 100 0 2 400 100 0 3 300 100 0 4 200 100 0 5 100 100 500 6 0 100 0
 B Week Capital Advanced Utilised Returned 1 5000 100 0 2 4900 100 0 3 4800 100 0 4 4700 100 0 5 4600 100 0 6 4500 100 0 7 4400 100 0 8 4300 100 0
Etc.

“The variable capital advanced for a definite period of time is converted into employed, hence actually functioning and operative variable capital only to the extent that it really steps into the sections of that period of time taken up by the labour-process, to the extent that it really functions in the labour-process. In the intermediate time, in which a portion of it is advanced in order to be employed later, this portion is practically non-existent for the labour-process and has therefore no influence on the formation of either value or surplus-value. Take for instance capital A, of £500. It is advanced for 5 weeks, but every week only £100 enter successively into the labour-process. In the first week one-fifth of this capital is employed; four-fifths are advanced without being employed, although they must be in stock, and therefore advanced, for the labour-processes of the following 4 weeks.” (p 302)