Friday, 16 September 2016

Capital III, Chapter 47 - Part 15

As a consequence, the nature of rent itself is changed. The capitalist farmer is now the primary means by which surplus value is extracted. Previously, surplus labour was extracted either directly as labour-rent, or as a surplus product, in the form of rent in kind. Surplus value here is either value in its immediate form, as a quantity of labour-time performed, or is value represented by a quantity of labour required to produce a given quantity of products, i.e. is a surplus product that has value.

Money rent, as the dissolution of these pre-capitalist forms of rent, represents a transitional form. On the one hand, this money rent is merely the money form of rent in kind. In other words, a surplus product that has value, and consequently a surplus value in money form. On the other hand, because this surplus product must assume the form of commodities, sold in the market, it is no longer just a surplus value, but a surplus exchange-value.

Yet, even this has a transitional nature. The direct producer, who produces commodities, realises a surplus exchange value, to the extent that they produce use values in excess of their immediate personal requirements, and sell this excess as commodities. Even as their production becomes increasingly a production of commodities for sale, rather than to meet their immediate requirements, however, the surplus value is of a contradictory nature. It is a surplus value only to the extent that it is a realisation of value in excess of their immediate requirements, reflecting the fact that their labour-time is divided into necessary and surplus labour, their output into a necessary product and a surplus product.

But, it is not a surplus exchange value, in the way that surplus value exists for the capitalist. It is not a quantity of exchange value, for which they have not paid, i.e. have not given an equal amount of value to obtain. The direct producer only obtains surplus value, because they themselves perform surplus labour. They do not obtain it for free, as the capitalist does, but only by exchanging an amount of their own labour-time, i.e. value, for it.

The capitalist, by contrast, obtains a surplus exchange value. They sell commodities, and obtain in exchange a greater quantity of exchange value than they have themselves paid out. The direct producer can only obtain surplus value by performing surplus labour themselves. The capitalist can only obtain surplus exchange value by appropriating the surplus labour performed by the wage worker, i.e. by obtaining a value for which they have given nothing in exchange.

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