Thursday, 31 December 2015

Capital III, Chapter 21 - Part 11

Marx then turns to the question of the interest specifically. If all that is returned to the lender was the sum of value they had relinquished, it would not have been capital. It is only capital to the extent that its value self-expands. As was discussed earlier, this interest bearing capital may be either fixed capital or circulating capital. That is it may be loaned for long periods, with only the interest being paid periodically, with the capital sum only repaid after the end of this long period, or else it may be loaned for short periods, with the capital, plus the interest, being fully repaid at the same time.

For now, only the latter is considered.

In the process of commodity exchange, what is it that is alienated? It is not value but use value. The worker who sells their labour-power does not alienate its value, they simply retain that value in a different form, as wages. What they alienate is its use value, its ability to create value and surplus value.

When a commodity producer sells their commodity, they do not alienate its value, but its use value. The buyer buys the commodity because it is that use value they desire. The seller alienates the use value of the commodity, but all the time retains its value, because the instant they exchange this commodity for some other commodity, or money, the value simply metamorphoses into the form of the commodity they receive.

“It is only by this act of alienating that capital is loaned by the money-lender as a commodity, or that the commodity at his disposal is given to another as capital.” (p 350)

It is the use value of this capital, its ability to self-expand , that is alienated, and it is this which is paid for. Marx says,

“In the case of an ordinary commodity, a commodity as such, the same value remains in the hands of the buyer and seller, only in different forms; both have the same value which they had before the transaction, and which they had alienated — the one in the form of a commodity, the other in the form of money. The difference is that in a loan the money-capitalist is the only one in the transaction who gives away value; but he preserves it through the prospective return. In the loan transaction just one party receives value, since only one party relinquishes value. — In the second place, a real use-value is relinquished on the one side, and received and consumed on the other. But in contrast to ordinary commodities this use-value is value in itself, namely the excess over the original value realised through the use of money as capital. The profit is this use-value.” (p 351)

But, this does not seem to be a real difference. These other commodities are consumed and disappear, only so long as they are not capital. If they act as capital, then that capital-value reproduces itself and expands. Similarly, capital as a commodity, i.e. interest bearing capital, only remains intact and expands so long as it acts as capital. Money-capital, used to buy commodities, for unproductive consumption disappears, as capital-value, and fails to expand. It is reduced simply to money.

“It is this use-value of money as capital — this faculty of producing an average profit — which the money-capitalist relinquishes to the industrial capitalist for the period, during which he places the loaned capital at the latter's disposal.” (p 351)

Back To Part 10

Forward To Part 12

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