Thursday, 13 November 2014

Capital II, Chapter 20 - Part 23

Marx’s comment,

“It must be noted in the first place that no portion of the social working-day, whether in I or in II, serves for the production of the value of the constant capital employed and functioning in these two great spheres of production.” (p 431)

at first sight seems odd. Of course, the workers in Department 1 are constantly producing means of production that forms constant capital, in both Department 1 and 2. But, if we take this as referring to a single cycle, his comment is correct. The constant capital, used in Department 1, to produce means of production, already exists. Its value is merely transferred. It is not this value that is being produced. The only value in constant capital that is being produced is new value. That new value of constant capital being produced amounts to £2,000, ⅔ of it, or £1,333, going to Department 1, and one third or £666 going to Department 2. But, this new value will go into circulation in the following cycle.

As Marx points out, if we look at the constant capital, used by Department 2, in the current year, it amounts to £2,000. But, this value has not been created in the current year. It has been created in previous years, and similarly, its value would have been made up of £1,333 constant capital, £333 variable capital, and £333 surplus value.

“The entire product of II — the articles of consumption — viewed concretely as a use-value, in its bodily form, is a product of the one-third of the social working-day spent by II. It is the product of labour in its concrete form — such as the labour of weaving, baking, etc., performed in this department — the product of this labour, inasmuch as it functions as the subjective element of the labour-process.” (p 431)

The constant capital used in its production is not newly created. It already existed in another form, the commodity-capital of Department I, and transferred its value along with its use value. The £3,000 value, of Department 2 products, is comprised of one third of a current social working day (£3,000), in the form of new added value £500 (v) and £500 (s) from Department 2, and two-thirds of a past social working day, in the form of constant capital £2,000.

This past labour, in the form of constant capital, finds expression in a portion of the current output of consumer goods, i.e. the value of two-thirds of a working day equals £2,000 worth of consumer goods.

“The exchange of part of the articles of consumption equal to 2,000 IIc for means of production of I equal to I (1,000v + l,000s) thus really represents an exchange of two-thirds of an aggregate working-day — which do not constitute any portion of this year’s labour, and elapsed before this year — for two-thirds of the working-day newly added this year.” (p 432)

However this is looked at, it is an exchange of this year's labour-time for last. Two-thirds of a working day from last year comprise the constant capital of Department 2. The equivalent of that value is exchanged with Department 1 workers and capitalists, in the form of £2,000 of consumer goods. The workers and capitalists of Department 1 need those consumer goods to live, and thereby work, and so replace the constant capital consumed by Department 2. Similarly, Department 2 needs to sell that £2,000 of consumer goods to Department 1, to raise the funds to once more buy the replacement constant capital from Department 1.

“This explains the riddle of how the value-product of an entire social working-day can resolve itself into variable capital-value plus surplus-value, although two-thirds of this working-day were not expended in the production of articles in which variable capital or surplus-value can be realised, but rather in the production of means of production for the replacement of the capital consumed during the year. The explanation is simply that two-thirds of the value of the product of II, in which the capitalists and labourers of I realise the variable capital-value plus surplus-value produced by them (and which constitute two-ninths of the value of the entire annual product), are, so far as their value is concerned, the product of two-thirds of a social working-day of a year prior to the current one.” (p 432)

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