Sunday, 26 June 2016

Capital III, Chapter 37 - Part 10

Ground rent is often confused with surplus labour and the surplus product.

“The natural basis of surplus-labour in general, that is, a natural prerequisite without which such labour cannot be performed, is that Nature must supply — in the form of animal or vegetable products of the land, in fisheries, etc. — the necessary means of subsistence under conditions of an expenditure of labour which does not consume the entire working day.” (p 632)

The production of surplus food is a prerequisite of freeing up labour-time for other activities. Originally, the primitive community engaged in agriculture and industrial production without any distinction between the two. It was impossible to hunt, fish or cultivate without producing suitable tools, whilst activities such as spinning and weaving were undertaken as sidelines to these activities.

Just as the individual workers labour-time is divided into necessary and surplus labour, so the social labour-time is so divided. So, part of the working-class may produce the things required by the whole of society, whilst the other part produces the surplus product of the society. 

The necessary product of the society, however, does not just consist of agricultural products, but also of all those manufactured products, required for the workers' subsistence. So, although some workers may be considered to produce only surplus products, because others produce only necessary products, this division is not between agricultural and industrial products; the industrial worker cannot be seen to be a producer only of surplus products.

The division between agricultural and industrial production is a fairly recent phenomenon, whereby also some workers can produce only agricultural products, because others produce only industrial products, and vice versa. But, similarly, some workers can produce only luxury products, because others produce only necessities. That applies both to agricultural and industrial products. And, some workers produce goods, which are only used in the production process, whilst others produce goods only destined for final consumption.

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