Sunday, 11 September 2016

Capital III, Chapter 47 - Part 10

III) Rent In Kind

“The transformation of labour rent into rent in kind changes nothing from the economic standpoint in the nature of ground-rent. The latter consists, in the forms considered here, in that rent is the sole prevailing and normal form of surplus-value, or surplus-labour. This is further expressed in the fact that it is the only surplus-labour, or the only surplus-product, which the direct producer, who is in possession of the labour conditions needed for his own reproduction, must give up to the owner of the land, which in this situation is the all-embracing condition of labour. And, furthermore, that land is the only condition of labour which confronts the direct producer as alien property, independent of him, and personified by the landlord.” (p 794)

Rent in kind requires a higher level of society than labour rent. On the one hand, the landlord tends to have their own retainers, able to perform paid and unpaid labour. On the other, the direct producers now have all of their time available for production on their own account, apart from the fact that a certain element of labour rent always remains alongside the rent in kind, for example, in gathering in harvests.

Labour rent always requires a certain amount of compulsion and supervision, but by the time rent in kind develops, this is replaced by more subtle and effective means of extracting the surplus value. In other words, it becomes based upon laws and contractual relations. The advantage of that for the landlord is that the overhead cost of such compulsion and supervision is removed. But, there are also advantages for the direct producer. Given the low level of development under labour rent, the rent itself accounted for more or less all of the surplus value and surplus labour of the producer.

Even as productivity rose, although the producer gained from an increase in their real living standard, providing a basis for a process of differentiation, the fact that a fixed period of labour-time as rent, meant that the amount of rent, as surplus value and surplus product, also increased, thereby limiting the extent to which the “profit” of the producer could rise.

When the direct producer has control over all of their labour-time, this is no longer the case. In just the same way that a given proportion of time becomes established by custom as the fixed labour rent, so similar processes fix the amount of products that must be handed over as rent in kind

As productivity rises so this amount of products to be paid as rent requires less and less time to produce. Thereby, the amount of surplus left in the hands of the direct producer is able to increase more rapidly, and thereby enhances the process of differentiation of the peasantry.

“The labour of the producer for himself and his labour for the landlord are no longer palpably separated by time and space.” (p 795)

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