Monday, 27 June 2016

Capital III, Chapter 37 - Part 11

Ground rent arises from a situation of monopoly, which enables things which have no value, i.e. they are not the products of labour, to have a market price, and thereby to be sold as commodities.

“...that the price of things which have in themselves no value, i.e., are not the product of labour, such as land, or which at least cannot be reproduced by labour, such as antiques and works of art by certain masters, etc., may be determined by many fortuitous combinations. In order to sell a thing, nothing more is required than its capacity to be monopolised and alienated.” (p 633)

There are three main errors that confuse the study of ground-rent.

“1) Confusing the various forms of rent pertaining to different stages of development of the social production process.” (p 634)

Rent is the name given, and the form taken, of all payments to the owners of landed property. Yet, the nature of that landed property, throughout history, changes and so the nature of rent must also change with it. In the Asiatic Mode of Production (AMP), the land is owned by the state, and rent is paid to an individual or individuals who represent the community via the state. In the Roman Empire, and under serfdom, the basis of wealth is the slave or serf, and the land is merely a means of production, required by them for the production of wealth. Under feudalism, it is the mere title to land that exists, its actual working being undertaken by independent producers. Under colonialism, and other forms of peasant production, the land is owned by the producer themselves, and so the rent becomes subsumed in the labour of the producer themselves.

“This common element in the various forms of rent, namely that of being the economic realisation of landed property, of legal fiction by grace of which certain individuals have an exclusive right to certain parts of our planet — makes it possible for the differences to escape detection.” (p 634)

2) All ground-rent is surplus value. That is, like interest, it can only exist because there is a surplus product, and it is a share in it. Under feudalism, for example, where rent is paid by the peasant, as labour-rent, by working on the landlord's fields for a certain number of days, or else in kind, by providing a quantity of products, they can only do this because this labour is provided, or products provided that is in excess of the time required, or products required for the peasants subsistence. It may, or may not be the whole of this surplus labour or product.

This involves both subjective and objective conditions. The subjective condition is that the producer does perform surplus labour; the objective condition is that they are able to perform surplus labour. That requires that the conditions provided by nature are such that the amount of necessary labour-time does not consume the whole working day.

This is also the condition for slavery. There can be no economic basis for having slaves, if the slave can only produce enough, during a working day, to meet their own needs for subsistence.

“The fertility of Nature establishes a limit here, a starting-point, a basis. On the other hand, the development of the social productive power of their labour forms the other limit. Examined more closely, since the production of means of subsistence is the very first condition of their existence and of all production in general, labour used in this production, that is, agricultural labour in the broadest economic sense, must be fruitful enough so as not to absorb the entire available labour-time in the production of means of subsistence for the direct producers, that is, agricultural surplus-labour and therefore agricultural surplus-product must be possible. Developed further, the total agricultural labour, both necessary and surplus labour, of a segment of society must suffice to produce the necessary subsistence for the whole of society, that is, for non-agricultural labourers too.” (p 634-5)

No comments: