Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Capital III, Chapter 16 - Part 6

Had the industrial capitalist had to fulfil the function of retaining part of their capital in the form of commodity-capital, then they would necessarily have had a smaller portion of their capital that could be dedicated to productive-capital. By taking on that function, merchant capital allows the productive-capitalist to retain a larger portion of their capital as productive-capital.

But, considered from the perspective of the total social capital, a portion is still in the form of money-capital, a portion productive-capital, and a portion commodity-capital. It is just that these different forms of capital-value have assumed the aspect of separate, individual capitals. It is a form of division of labour.

On the one hand, a greater portion of the productive-capitalist's capital can now be in the form of productive-capital. On the other hand, merchant's capital is never in the form of productive-capital. It is always only ever commodity-capital.

But, its precisely this division of labour, and ability to specialise, that provides the basis for the separation into independent capitals.

Because of this specialisation, the merchant spends proportionately less than would the productive-capitalist, for stores, transport and for labour-power; the merchant reduces the circulation time for commodities, and gets money into the hands of producers faster, thereby increasing the rate of turnover of capital; one merchant, in turning over their own capital, can effect the turnover of several productive-capitalists.

Suppose the working period for a producer is six weeks. The merchant capitalist buys this output and sells it all in two weeks. This is four weeks before the producer will have completed their second working period. But, the merchant can use the proceeds from the sale to buy the output of a second producer, who has just completed their working period. In selling this output, in two weeks, they can then do the same thing in selling the output of a third producer, before once more being able to take the output of the first producer.

Alternatively, the merchant may sell the output of a yarn producer, and use the proceeds to buy the output of a silk producer, and so on. This is particularly important for merchant capital involved in foreign trade, selling manufactured goods from say Britain in India, and, with the proceeds, buying tea to sell in Britain.

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