Sunday, 19 June 2016

Capital III, Chapter 37 - Part 3

Marx points out that Johnson and Comte are only talking about a rational use of land in a national economy. But, a truly rational use of land needs to be organised on a global scale. Moreover, as Marx points out, rational agriculture requires crop rotation and other measures to prevent degradation of the soil, etc. and yet the immediate requirements of capital, to maximise profits, leads to shifts in production that can lead to a destruction of the soil and even desertification.

“A striking illustration of this is furnished by the forests, which are only rarely managed in a way more or less corresponding to the interests of society as a whole, i.e., when they are not private property, but subject to the control of the state.” (ibid) 

Capitalism thereby introduces “the conscious scientific application of agronomy”, and “... divorces landed property from the relations of dominion and servitude, on the one hand, and, on the other, totally separates land as an instrument of production from landed property and landowner — for whom the land merely represents a certain money assessment which he collects by virtue of his monopoly from the industrial capitalist, the capitalist farmer; it dissolves the connection between landownership and the land so thoroughly that the landowner may spend his whole life in Constantinople, while his estates lie in Scotland.” (p 617-8)

As a result,

“Landed property thus receives its purely economic form by discarding all its former political and social embellishments and associations, in brief all those traditional accessories, which are denounced, as we shall see later, as useless and absurd superfluities by the industrial capitalists themselves, as well as their theoretical spokesmen, in the heat of their struggle with landed property.” (p 618)

But, as with all the other great advances made by capitalism, this transformation of agriculture and of landed property and the social relations built upon it, could only be effected by first destroying the direct producers. The capitalist farm like the capitalist factory, is then one owned by a capitalist farmer who employs wage labourers and extracts surplus value from them. If the farmer borrows money-capital, they pay interest, as the price of being able to use this loanable money-capital as capital. Similarly, because the landowner allows them to use their land, for productive purposes, they pay ground-rent as the price for being allowed to use the use value of that land as capital.

“This sum of money is called ground-rent, no matter whether it is paid for agricultural land, building lots, mines, fishing grounds, or forests, etc. It is paid for the entire time for which the landowner has contracted to rent his land to the capitalist farmer. Ground-rent, therefore, is here that form in which property in land is realised economically, that is, produces value. Here, then, we have all three classes — wage-labourers, industrial capitalists, and landowners constituting together, and in their mutual opposition, the framework of modern society.” (p 618)

No comments: