Friday, 25 December 2015

Capital III, Chapter 21 - Part 5

The nature of this process is determined by the peculiar nature of capital as a commodity, by the fact that what is sold is not the capital itself, but only its use value, its ability to self-expand, to produce profit. Consequently, the ownership of this capital never leaves A, which is why, at the end of the period of the loan, the period when B is allowed to use it as capital, B must return it to A, along with the interest, as the price of using the capital and obtaining that use value.

“The form of lending, which is peculiar to this commodity, to capital as commodity, and which also occurs in other transactions instead of that of sale, follows from the simple definition that capital obtains here as a commodity, or that money as capital becomes a commodity.” (p 341)

This is different from the situation as analysed in Capital II, in relation to the circulation of capital. There it was seen at no point does capital itself become a commodity, although at each point, it is comprised of commodities. Productive capital is comprised of commodities – means of production and labour-power – but the productive-capital itself is not a commodity. It is not produced to be sold. Its component parts are bought not as capital, but as commodities. Labour-power is never capital, but although means of production may comprise the commodity-capital of some other capital, they are sold, not as commodity-capital, but as commodities. And that is the case when this productive-capital has itself been expended and produced commodities. These commodities form the commodity-capital of this firm, but they are sold, in the market, only as commodities, the same as if they had been produced by some non-capitalist producer.

“It is also quite immaterial for this reason, whether this commodity is bought by a consumer as a necessity of life, or by a capitalist as means of production, i.e., as a component part of his capital. In the act of circulation commodity-capital acts only as a commodity, not as a capital. It is commodity-capital, as distinct from an ordinary commodity, 1) because it is weighted with surplus-value, the realisation of its value, therefore, being simultaneously the realisation of surplus-value; but this alters nothing about its simple existence as a commodity, as a product with a certain price; 2) because its function as a commodity is a phase in its process of reproduction as capital, and therefore its movement as a commodity being only a partial movement of its process, is simultaneously its movement as capital. Yet it does not become that through the sale as such, but only through the connection of the sale with the whole movement of this specific quantity of value in the capacity of capital.” (p 342)

The same is true with the money-capital. It is not the fact that this money-capital engages in the process of buying.  In that function, it only acts as money, not capital, nor even the nature of the commodities it buys that makes it money-capital. For example, a horse may be a means of production, but the fact that I buy a horse does not make the money I spend to do so, into money-capital. If I use the horse only to ride, it is then not means of production, it is not capital, and so the money spent to buy it was not money-capital either.

It is only because money is used to buy commodities that are used as capital, i.e. for the purpose of expanding their value that makes the money used to buy them money-capital.

“The fact that this money is simultaneously money-capital, a form of capital, does not emerge from the act of buying, the actual function which it here performs as money, but from the connection of this act with the total movement of capital, since this act, performed by capital as money, initiates the capitalist production process.” (p 342)

But, in both cases, in this circuit, the commodity-capital only acts as commodities, and the money-capital only as money.

“At no time during the metamorphosis, viewed by itself, does the capitalist sell his commodities as capital to the buyer, although to him they represent capital; nor does he give up money as capital to the seller. In both cases he gives up his commodities simply as commodities, and money simply as money, i.e., as a means of purchasing commodities.” (p 342)

But, it is specifically this that is different about interest bearing capital, because it is capital itself that is the commodity. Whether this commodity takes the form of a sum of money, a machine, a horse or whatever, it is not this form that is being bought but only the use value of acting as capital, of providing the use value of self-expanding value.

Back To Part 4

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