Monday, 27 October 2014

Capital II, Chapter 20 - Part 16

All capital is comprised of commodities. Productive-capital is comprised of the commodity labour-power, and the commodities that make up the means of production. The end product, the commodity-capital, is most obviously comprised of commodities. But, money-capital is comprised of the commodity money too.

All of these commodities are consumed. The productive-capital is consumed in the productive process. The commodity-capital is consumed either as consumer goods or as means of production itself. In the process of the consumption of their use value, the value of these commodities disappears too, thereby necessitating the expenditure of labour once more.

Even the money commodity wears out in use, but it is the money function that continues, and with it thereby continues to circulate value.

On one side, to effect these exchanges, there is then money, and on the other there has to be commodities against which it exchanges. At this stage it is assumed that these commodities really are commodities, i.e. they are use values that someone wishes to purchase at their exchange value. There are, of course, any number of reasons why this may not be the case, as many capitalists discover in trying to sell their products.

In the real economy, because each firm starts in business at different times, and because each industry, and even firm, will have different working periods, and turnover times, money will be continually thrown into and withdrawn from circulation, either as advances of capital or as revenue. Similarly, commodities of varying types will be continually thrown into circulation, and just as continually withdrawn either for immediate consumption, or to be used themselves in the production process.

As demonstrated, the money flows that accompany these transactions can follow an unlimited number of paths. Money spent from wages by workers in Department 1, can be destined to various locations to cover rent, food, clothing etc. The Department 2 capitalists, or, in the case of rent, landlords, might themselves spend this money on consumer goods. Its only when the aggregate of Department 2 capitalists is considered that the flow of these funds back to Department 1 capitalists can be observed.

“However, the money-capital converted into variable capital, i.e., the money advanced for wages, plays a prominent role in the circulation of money itself, since the labourers must live from hand to mouth and cannot give the industrial capitalists credit for any length of time. For this reason variable capital must be advanced in the form of money simultaneously at innumerable territorially different points in society at certain short intervals, such as a week, etc.—in periods of time that repeat themselves rather quickly (and the shorter these periods, the smaller relatively is the total amount of money thrown at one time into circulation through this channel) — whatever the various periods of turnover of the capitals in the different branches of industry. In every country with a capitalist production the money-capital so advanced constitutes a relatively decisive share of the total circulation, the more so as the same money, before its reflux to its point of departure, passes through the most diverse channels and functions as a medium of circulation for countless other businesses.” (p 418-9)

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