Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Capital II, Chapter 16 - Part 7

2) The Turnover of the Individual Variable Capital

“Whatever the form of the process of production in a society, it must be a continuous process, must continue to go periodically through the same phases... When viewed therefore as a connected whole and as flowing on with incessant renewal, every social process of production is, at the same time, a process of reproduction... As a periodic increment of the capital advanced, or periodic fruit of capital in process, surplus-value acquires the form of a revenue flowing out of capital.” (p 312)

Looking at capital A, over a five week period, £500 of variable capital, is laid out. The £500 of money-capital that was transformed into it disappeared. The money form of that capital, as wages, becomes just money. The worker spends it, not as capital, but only as money to buy wage goods. The wage goods themselves, when consumed, by the worker, also disappear.

But, at the end of the five week period, the capital that had assumed its productive form (labour-power) has also disappeared. It has been consumed itself in the production process, and transformed into the end product. The capital now exists in a different form as commodity-capital. But, this capital also now comprises a surplus value of £500. The capital has expanded in the production process, to a value of £1,000, as a consequence of the surplus labour provided by the worker.

But, precisely because of the nature of this production process, as continuous, the commodity-capital does not just contain within itself the equivalent of the labour-power consumed to produce it, it also represents the means by which that labour-power is to be reproduced.

“But by converting the product into money, that portion of its value which is equal to the value of variable capital advanced can once more be exchanged for labour-power and thus again function as variable capital. The fact that the same workmen, i.e., the same bearers of labour-power, are given employment not only by the reproduced capital-value but also by that which has been reconverted into the form is immaterial. It is possible for the capitalist to hire different workmen for the second period of turnover.” (p 313)

So, over ten turnover periods, a capital of £5,000, rather than just £500, is spent on wages, even though only £500 is advanced. £5,000, not £500, will be reproduced in the value of the new product. It will, in addition, produce a surplus value of £5,000.

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