Monday, 27 April 2015

Capital III, Chapter 2 - Part 3

The surplus value is realised, however, in circulation, and the conditions existing there once more reinforce the idea that it is there, not in production, that the surplus arises. After all, if conditions are not favourable, not only may no such surplus arise, but losses may be incurred. And, of course, in reality, in this competitive market place, where a range of conditions apply, some capitals will be more favoured than others. Some will sell their commodities above their individual values and some below, so some will accrue more surplus value and others less.

“It is not alone the metamorphoses discussed by us in Book II that take place in the process of circulation; they fall in with actual competition, the sale and purchase of commodities above or below their value, so that the surplus-value realised by the individual capitalist depends as much on the sharpness of his business wits as on the direct exploitation of labour.” (p 43)

Production and circulation intermingle so that they obscure the real relations in other ways. Commodity-capital itself, when sold, steps outside the circuit of capital, and into the circuit of commodities, including money. The capitalist sells the commodities that comprise his commodity-capital, but not as capital, only as commodities, the same as any other commodity owner. He receives in exchange, for it, another commodity – money – which only assumes the form of capital if and when it is thrown into production to buy productive capital. And, the multitude of exchanges of commodities then involve not only the exchange of commodity-capital against revenue I(v+s) = II(c), but also includes the exchange of capital with capital, as happens with the reproduction of constant capital in Department I, but also includes the exchange of revenue with revenue. 

The time of circulation and working-time cross paths and thus both seem to determine the surplus-value. The original form in which capital and wage-labour confront one another is disguised through the intervention of relationships seemingly independent of it. Surplus-value itself does not appear as the product of the appropriation of labour-time, but as an excess of the selling price of commodities over their cost-price, the latter thus being easily represented as their actual value (valeur intrinsèque), while profit appears as an excess of the selling price of commodities over their immanent value.” (p 44)

On the one hand, as was seen in Volume I, the capitalist has some clue that it is the exploitation of labour, which is the source of his profits. That is why he seeks to exploit more of it, to extend or intensify the working day, week, year, life etc. On the other, it increasingly seems to him that the source of his profit resides outside the production process.

“Even such modern economists as Ramsay, Malthus, Senior, Torrens, etc., identify these phenomena of circulation directly as proofs that capital in its bare material existence, independent of its social relation to labour which makes capital of it, is, as it were, an independent source of surplus-value alongside labour and independent of labour.” (p 44)

And, in that respect, obtaining a saving in wages appears no different than extracting a saving in the purchase of any other input.

“In this way the extortion of surplus-labour loses its specific character. Its specific relationship to surplus-value is obscured. This is greatly furthered and facilitated, as shown in Book I (Abschn. VI)[English edition: Part VI, pp. 535-43. — Ed.], by representing the value of labour-power in the form of wages.” (p 45)

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