Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Capital III, Chapter 50 - Part 9

If the total new value produced by workers is a function of the additional labour-time expended, and here considered a fixed amount, then whatever the amount of this new value, the amount required for the reproduction of the variable capital thereby acts as the limit of surplus value. If the new value is 100, and the value required to reproduce the variable capital is 60, the surplus value is 40, if it is 50, the surplus value is 50, if it is 70, the surplus value is 30.

Moreover, the value of the total output is equal not just to the new value created, but also to the value of the constant capital used in its production, and this value is determined not by its historic cost, but by its current reproduction cost, which is thereby reproduced in the current output value.

If the new value created is equal to 100 and the constant capital is equal to 400, the output value is equal to 500, and if productivity rises by 25%, so that the constant capital only has a value of 300, the total output value is only 400. The fact that this rise in productivity changes the allocation of the new value from being 80 v + 20 s, to 60 v + 40 s, does not change the value of the output. It only changes the quantity of products represented by this value, and so the individual value of each product.

“The value of all other revenue thus has its limit. It is always equal to the value in which the total working-day (which coincides in the present case with the average working-day, since it comprises the total quantity of labour set in motion by the total social capital) is incorporated minus the portion of the working-day incorporated in wages. Its limit is therefore determined by the limit of the value in which the unpaid labour is expressed, that is, by the quantity of this unpaid labour.” (p 859)

The latter is determined by the maximum working day that the worker can perform and still be able to reproduce their labour-power.

“Since we are here concerned with the distribution of the value which represents the total labour newly added per year, the working-day may be regarded here as a constant magnitude, and is assumed as such, no matter how much or how little it may deviate from its physical maximum. The absolute limit of the portion of value which forms surplus-value, and which resolves itself into profit and ground-rent, is thus given. It is determined by the excess of the unpaid portion of the working-day over its paid portion, i.e., by the portion of the value of the total product in which this surplus-labour exists. If we call the surplus-value thus limited and calculated on the advanced total capital — the profit, as I have done, then this profit, so far as its absolute magnitude is concerned, is equal to the surplus-value and, therefore, its limits are just as much determined by law as the latter.” (p 859-60)

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