Thursday, 21 January 2016

Capital III, Chapter 23 - Part 10

If interest becomes a fixed separate category, based on capital, then likewise profit of enterprise becomes a separate category based on the function of management of production.

“But the process of production, separated from capital, is simply a labour-process. Therefore, the industrial capitalist, as distinct from the owner of capital, does not appear as operating capital, but rather as a functionary irrespective of capital, or, as a simple agent of the labour-process in general, as a labourer, and indeed as a wage-labourer.” (p 382)

Because interest is seen as a property of capital, and because this capital is seen as completely separate from the production process, interest has no relation to the worker that creates the surplus value. Interest represents only the relation between two capitals – the money-capital and the productive-capital.

At the same time, the functioning capitalist now receives profit of enterprise, and wages of superintendence, on the basis that they also work.

“The specific functions which the capitalist as such has to perform, and which fall to him as distinct from and opposed to the labourer, are presented as mere functions of labour. He creates surplus-value not because he works as a capitalist, but because he also works, regardless of his capacity of capitalist. This portion of surplus-value is thus no longer surplus-value, but its opposite, an equivalent for labour performed.” (p 382)

These various functions, undertaken by the capitalist, whereby they take more or less risk, exert greater acumen in buying and selling, demonstrate greater ability to organise production etc., assume then the same place in the mind of the functioning capitalist as the grounds for compensating, discussed earlier in Capital III.

But, that is not to say that this labour of superintendence is not required.

“On the one hand, all labour in which many individuals co-operate necessarily requires a commanding will to co-ordinate and unify the process, and functions which apply not to partial operations but to the total activity of the workshop, much as that of an orchestra conductor. This is a productive job, which must be performed in every combined mode of production.

On the other hand — quite apart from any commercial department — this supervision work necessarily arises in all modes of production based on the antithesis between the labourer, as the direct producer, and the owner of the means of production. The greater this antagonism, the greater the role played by supervision. Hence it reaches its peak in the slave system. But it is indispensable also in the capitalist mode of production, since the production process in it is simultaneously a process by which the capitalist consumes labour-power.” (p 383-4)

Under slavery, some of the managers were themselves slaves, as Marx describes. The need for this supervision, under slavery, in the past was used to justify the slavery itself, as it was proposed that the slaves, by their nature, were not inclined to work, and unable to work effectively. By making them into slaves, therefore, it was argued the slave owners were really doing them a favour, by organising them to do what they otherwise were not inclined or able to do, and thereby providing for their needs.

But, the same ridiculous argument is put by liberal apologists for capitalism, who suggest that the division into entrepreneurs and workers is merely a reflection of the fact that some people have the drive to take risks etc. whereas others are simply content to work for them. That, of course, is historically disproven by the fact that, prior to capitalism becoming predominant, the vast majority of people worked to meet their own needs, as producers in their own right. It also fails to account for the fact that those who obtain the largest rewards do so, not because they have the most drive, skill willingness to take risks etc., but do so simply because they own vast amounts of capital.

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