Thursday, 8 September 2016

Capital III, Chapter 47 - Part 7

But, the Asiatic Mode of Production and the forms of social relations in China, was not the same as in India, or elsewhere, because the specific conditions were different in each case. Each had different prior historical and natural conditions to address, and so on.

“The specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus-labour is pumped out of direct producers, determines the relationship of rulers and ruled, as it grows directly out of production itself and, in turn, reacts upon it as a determining element. Upon this, however, is founded the entire formation of the economic community which grows up out of the production relations themselves, thereby simultaneously its specific political form. It is always the direct relationship of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers — a relation always naturally corresponding to a definite stage in the development of the methods of labour and thereby its social productivity — which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden basis of the entire social structure and with it the political form of the relation of sovereignty and dependence, in short, the corresponding specific form of the state. This does not prevent the same economic basis — the same from the standpoint of its main conditions — due to innumerable different empirical circumstances, natural environment, racial relations, external historical influences, etc. from showing infinite variations and gradations in appearance, which can be ascertained only by analysis of the empirically given circumstances.” (p 791-2)

Labour rent is the most primitive form of rent. As a means of extracting surplus labour it is even more open to observation than slavery. As the slave is provided with their necessities by the slave owner, who takes all of the slave's production, it is not immediately visible what proportion of the day constitutes necessary labour and what surplus labour performed by the slave. Not so with labour rent. The peasant's labour-time is visibly divided into the time they work for themselves, and the time they work for the Lord of the Manor.

In the sense that all labour undertaken to produce use values, products, constitutes value, and that any labour, beyond the labour necessary for the reproduction of the producers, is surplus labour, its product is a surplus product, the value of this surplus product is then a surplus value. As Marx says, the labour rent is then equal to and an appropriation of this surplus value.

“But this identity of surplus-value with unpaid labour of others need not be analysed here because it still exists in its visible, palpable form, since the labour of the direct producer for himself is still separated in space and time from his labour for the landlord and the latter appears directly in the brutal form of enforced labour for a third person.” (p 792)

The open nature of this property relation, between the landlord and peasant, and the social relation that arises upon it, exposes the notion that the rent is somehow a result of the property of the soil. The landlord does not levy a rent on the peasant here for the use of the soil, but purely on the basis that they have an historically determined, legal right to do so, deriving from the social relation of one to the other.

“Here, where surplus-value and rent are not only identical but where surplus-value has the tangible form of surplus-labour, the natural conditions or limits of rent, being those of surplus-value in general, are plainly clear. The direct producer must 1) possess enough labour-power, and 2) the natural conditions of his labour, above all the soil cultivated by him, must be productive enough, in a word, the natural productivity of his labour must be big enough to give him the possibility of retaining some surplus-labour over and above that required for the satisfaction of his own indispensable needs.” (p 792)

However, as was seen in Capital I, when looking at the situation of various people's fortunate enough to live in conditions where their immediate needs could be met with just the expenditure of a few hours labour, the fact that this provides the potential for undertaking surplus labour and producing a surplus product, and surplus value does not mean they will do so.

“It is not this possibility which creates the rent, but rather compulsion which turns this possibility into reality. But the possibility itself is conditioned by subjective and objective natural circumstances. And here too lies nothing at all mysterious. Should labour-power be minute, and the natural conditions of labour scanty, then the surplus-labour is small, but in such a case so are the wants of the producers on the one hand and the relative number of exploiters of surplus-labour on the other, and finally so is the surplus-product, whereby this barely productive surplus-labour is realised for those few exploiting landowners.” (p 792)

These same objective and subjective conditions determine the extent to which the direct producer is able to improve their own conditions, whether simply to increase their own consumption or even to accumulate means of production.

No comments: