Thursday, 13 October 2016

Capital III, Chapter 48 - Part 16

This cost of production argument is found in Adam Smith, along with his labour theory of value. It is also found in Storch.

Wages, profit, and rent are the three original sources of all revenue, as well as of all exchangeable value (A. Smith) [An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, Aberdeen, London, 1848, S. 43. — Ed.] — It is thus that the causes of material production are at the same time the sources of the original revenues which exist. (Storch [Cours d’économie politique, St.-Pétersbourg, 1815. — Ed.], I, p. 259. — Ed.)” (Note 50, p 826)

This raises commodity fetishism to new heights. Instead of value being labour, and the exchange of value ultimately being an exchange of equal amounts of labour, the thing being bought and sold, the commodity, is itself seen to be inherently valuable, i.e. it is viewed as having value embodied in it, rather than simply being a representative of a certain quantity of social labour-time.

“All forms of society, in so far as they reach the stage of commodity-production and money circulation, take part in this perversion. But under the capitalist mode of production and in the case of capital, which forms its dominant category, its determining production relation, this enchanted and perverted world develops still more.” (p 826-7)

This mystification of the actual social relations, that exists in commodity exchange must, therefore, cause an even greater mystification, under capitalist production, because labour-power, capital and land each appear as commodities, and each form the basis, therefore, of different classes of property, upon which rest different social classes.

At certain points of the process, and at different stages of the development of capitalism, these real relations may be more apparent that at others.

For example, in the early stages of capitalist development, capital relies on the extraction of absolute surplus value. This becomes manifest in a struggle over the length of the working day. In this struggle there stands a fairly open social conflict between the interests of labour and capital. It is fairly obvious, in this conflict, that the source of additional value comes from labour.

If the worker works for 12 hours, they produce 20% more value than if they work for only 10 hours. Capital opposed the reduction of hours, because, if wages remained constant, and were equal to 6 hours, the surplus value appropriated would fall from 6 hours to 4 hours.

But, when capital moves to the extraction of relative surplus value, it is not so apparent that the additional value is the product of labour. Rather, labour's productive power appears to be a function of capital. Relative surplus value is made possible because of rising social productivity, which reduces the portion of the working day required to reproduce labour-power.

If productivity rises so that only 4 hours rather than 6 hours are required to meet the workers requirements, then in a 10 hour day, the amount of surplus value rises from 4 hours to 6 hours, and this increase in the value appropriated by capital appears to flow directly from the application of this capital, rather than the productive power of labour. The additional value appears to flow from the thing capital, rather than from the social relation with wage labour, which enables a greater proportion of the value produced by labour during the day to be appropriated by capital.

No comments: