Sunday, 6 November 2016

Capital III, Chapter 49 - Part 20

If we examine Department I, it is undoubtedly true that during the year, new labour is expended on the production of means of production, and a part of this new production goes to replace those means of production used in the production of its output, this year. But, if the value of Department I's output is comprised 4000 c + 1000 v + 1000 s, then its clear that of the total value of its output of 6000, only 2000 is equal to the new labour added in the current year.

Although, therefore, the 2000 of newly added labour, which produces means of production, is itself divided into revenueswages, profits, interest and rent – this accounts for only a third of the value of those commodities that comprise these means of production. The other two-thirds of the value of these commodities is itself derived from the value of the constant capital consumed in their production, and which forms no part of revenue.

“... it is thereby overlooked 1) that one value portion of the product of this labour is no product of this new additional labour, but rather pre-existing and consumed constant capital; that the portion of the product in which this part of value appears is thus also not transformed into revenue, but replaces the means of production of this constant capital in kind; 2) that the portion of value in which this newly added labour actually appears is not consumed as revenue in kind, but replaces the constant capital in another sphere, where it is transformed into a natural form, in which it may be consumed as revenue, but which in its turn is again not entirely a product of newly added labour.” (p 849)

If there is reproduction on the same scale, then every item of constant capital consumed in production must be replaced, “... if not in quantity and form, then at least in effectiveness.” (p 849)

This requirement, that the same physical quantities of constant capital, rather than just the same value of constant capital, must be reproduced, for reproduction on the same scale to be maintained, flows from the technical composition of capital. If 100 workers are required to process 10,000 kg. of cotton, then it does no good to say that if the value of cotton doubles, this has no effect on the quantity of labour employed. If a firm has £10,000 to advance for the purchase of this cotton, then if the price of cotton doubles, it will be able to buy only half the quantity of cotton. But, then it will only require half the previous number of workers to process it.

If production is to continue on the same scale, therefore, so that the same quantity of labour-power is employed, which is the determining factor, because, with a given rate of surplus value, the quantity of surplus value produced is determined by the quantity of labour power employed, then the same quantity of constant capital must be reproduced.

“If the productiveness of labour remains the same, then this replacement in kind implies replacing the same value which the constant capital had in its old form. But should the productiveness of labour increase, so that the same material elements may be reproduced with less labour, then a smaller portion of the value of the product can completely replace the constant part in kind.” (p 849)

If we are considering this situation from the standpoint of the total social capital, and gross output, then,

“The excess may then be employed to form new additional capital or a larger portion of the product may be given the form of articles of consumption, or the surplus-labour may be reduced. On the other hand, should the productiveness of labour decrease, then a larger portion of the product must be used for the replacement of the former capital, and the surplus-product decreases.” (p 849)

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