Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Capital III, Chapter 47 - Part 13

The foundation of this form of rent remains a property relation, in which the direct producer remains in possession of the land, possession handed down through history by inheritance or custom. The rent paid is not, therefore, a rent paid for the use of another's property, but is a rent paid equally arising from history and custom, reflecting the social relation between landlord and peasant.

It is simply that this historic form of rent now requires the peasant to perform surplus labour by producing commodities rather than surplus products, and to sell those commodities, so as to obtain money to hand over to the landlord as money rents, to pay taxes and tithes etc.

The peasant, under such systems, is not only the possessor of the land, as the main instrument of production, but also the owner of the other means of production. In fact, this private ownership of the means of production is a requirement for the peasant to be an independent commodity producer, which, in turn, is a precondition for such money-rent.

“The transformation of rent in kind into money-rent, taking place first sporadically and then on a more or less national scale, presupposes a considerable development of commerce, of urban industry, of commodity-production in general, and thereby of money circulation. It furthermore assumes a market-price for products, and that they be sold at prices roughly approximating their values, which need not at all be the case under earlier forms. In Eastern Europe we may still partly observe this transformation taking place under our very eyes.” (p 797)

But, this form of rent is the final form of pre-capitalist rent, and represents the form of its dissolution. Money-rent requires this more developed and generalised commodity production, on the part of the direct producers, and that also requires the extension and expansion of markets. It increasingly requires the direct producers to gear their production towards the production of commodities, and exchange values, rather than the production of use values. At the same time, that process and increasing competition, via the market, necessitates that the direct producers maximise their individual appropriation of exchange value, and surplus exchange value, by producing using the most efficient means.

As a consequence, the process of differentiation of the peasantry is greatly intensified. The richer peasants are able to acquire additional, more effective means of production, to hire day labourers, to rent additional land from their poorer neighbours and so on. They can acquire horses, additional livestock, as well as spinning wheels to replace spinning by hand. At the same time, the poorer peasants find their production increasingly uncompetitive, in the market. They rent out their own land, they hire out their own labour-power, and so on. The peasants begin to divide into a future bourgeoisie and proletariat.

As a result, where previously the rent constituted more or less all of the surplus value produced, and was the limiting factor for any profit above it, now, for the richer and more efficient peasants, the potential for a growing amount of such profit, in the shape of money profits, that can be accumulated, arises.

“However, as already indicated, money-rent is simultaneously the form of dissolution of the ground-rent considered thus far, coinciding prima facie with surplus-value and surplus-labour, i.e., ground-rent as the normal and dominant form of surplus-value. 

In its further development money-rent must lead — aside from all intermediate forms, e.g., the small peasant tenant farmer — either to the transformation of land into peasants’ freehold, or to the form corresponding to the capitalist mode of production, that is, to rent paid by the capitalist tenant farmer.” (p 798)

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