Saturday, 10 September 2016

Capital III, Chapter 47 - Part 9

But, the natural rise in productivity is the material basis, which makes possible the surplus labour by the peasant, over and above that appropriated by the landlord as rent. It is this which forms the economic basis for the differentiation of the peasantry, as those able to raise their productivity by the most are thereby enabled to increase their wealth, to acquire additional means of production, to employ day labourers and so on, thereby creating the social forces that can evolve into the capitalist farmer.

“Finally, labour rent in itself implies that, all other circumstances remaining equal, it will depend wholly upon the relative amount of surplus-labour, or enforced labour, to what extent the direct producer shall be enabled to improve his own condition, to acquire wealth, to produce an excess over and above his indispensable means of subsistence, or, if we wish to anticipate the capitalist mode of expression, whether he shall be able to produce a profit for himself, and how much of a profit, i.e., an excess over his wages which have been produced by himself.” (p 792-3)

What also enhances this process of differentiation, which leads to the transformation of a section of the peasants into capitalist farmers is the development of the market itself. As the towns grow, and increasing numbers of direct producers become artisans devoting all their time to the production of commodities, as a result of the division of labour, so they need to be provided with food and raw materials by the agricultural producers. This in itself stimulates the development of a money economy, to facilitate these exchanges. But, it is also the spur for the direct agricultural producer to increase their own commodity production, i.e. to use this increasing surplus labour-time to produce food and raw material that can be exchanged or sold in these growing markets.

“But the productivity of the remaining days of the week, which are at the disposal of the direct producer himself, is a variable magnitude, which must develop in the course of his experience, just as the new wants he acquires, and just as the expansion of the market for his product and the increasing assurance with which he disposes of this portion of his labour-power will spur him on to a greater exertion of his labour-power, whereby it should not be forgotten that the employment of his labour-power is by no means confined to agriculture, but includes rural home industry. The possibility is here presented for definite economic development taking place, depending, of course, upon favourable circumstances, inborn racial characteristics, etc.” (p 794)

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