Friday, 30 September 2016

Capital III, Chapter 48 - Part 3

Turning to the second element of this Trinity – land – it has no value, because it is not the product of labour. So, it can neither add value, as it has none, still less can it produce, therefore, a surplus value.

“Value is labour. Therefore surplus-value cannot be earth.” (p 815)

As previous chapters demonstrated, the absolute fertility of the soil enables labour employed on it to produce use values. The relative fertility of one piece of land compared to another enables the same quantity of labour and capital to produce more use values on one compared to another.

“... that is, causes these products to have different individual values.” (p 815)

It is only because these individual values are subsumed in a single market value that results in the capital employed on the more fertile land, producing surplus profit. It is the fact of the existence of landed property, which then ensures that this surplus profit lands in the pocket of the landowner, rather than that of the producer or consumer.

The third element is labour. But labour here is an abstraction, which ignores the various historical forms under which it is undertaken. Labour, again, is not a thing, but an activity, or process.

“And finally, as third party in this union, a mere ghost — "the" Labour, which is no more than an abstraction and taken by itself does not exist at all, or, if we take... [illegible] [As has been established by later reading of the manuscript, it reads here: "wenn wir das Gemeinte nehmen" (if we take that which is behind it). — Ed.], the productive activity of human beings in general, by which they promote the interchange with Nature, divested not only of every social form and well-defined character, but even in its bare natural existence, independent of society, removed from all societies, and as an expression and confirmation of life which the still non-social man in general has in common with the one who is in any way social.” (p 815)

So, of these three things, which according to bourgeois economics are all analogous factors, each contributing value to the production of society's wealth, and each extracting a proportionate quantity of wealth out of society, the first is not a thing at all, but an historically determined social relation; the second is a thing, but has no value; and the third is an abstraction, which fails to identify the specific nature of wage labour, as opposed to any previous form of human productive activity.

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