Thursday, 1 December 2016

Capital III, Chapter 51 - Part 4

The worker then does not sell their labour directly to a consumer, in return for wages, but sells their labour-power, their ability to perform labour, and create new value, to capital. The worker must do so, because a condition of labour is means of production. If we interpret this definition of labour and capital in its pure form as Marx defines it in the Grundrisse, then even if we take some form of labour such as a musician, they require the provision of instruments, or a venue from which to perform.

Marx says, (Grundrisse, p 206) that “capital is only capital as not-labour” whilst labour is “not-capital as against Capital”. 

The owner of these means of production, the capitalist, will only allow the worker to use these means of production if the worker, in return, provides an amount of free labour. (This is not the case where the relation is not capital-wage labour. For example, someone may employ a cook to provide them with meals. They own the house, and equipment, and provide the food – means of production – but they pay the cook to provide them with a use value, not to provide them with labour-power. The cook does not sell their labour-power, which would allow the buyer to extract surplus value, as occurs with productive labour, but rather sells a use value to the buyer, the product of their labour, a meal, and so sells it at a price that reflects the labour-time undertaken on its production.) Moreover, the worker owns no means of consumption of their own. These too are owned by capitalists. In order to live, the worker must also buy these means of consumption from the capitalist. That is despite the fact that it is the workers who produce both the means of production and means of consumption that confront them as alien products, and the property of another class.

Wages then appear as capital in two ways. Firstly, before the worker obtains them as money wages, to use to buy the means of consumption they require, they exist as money-capital, as variable capital, in the hands of the capitalist who buys their labour-power. Secondly, this money-capital is only the money equivalent of the capital value of the variable capital, whose underlying true nature is comprised of those physical products required for the reproduction of the labour-power.

At the level of the total social production, it exists as that portion of the total social product consumed by workers. In order for workers to spend their wages as revenue, i.e. in order for them to buy those commodities required to reproduce their labour-power, those commodities themselves must exist, they must have been produced, and exist as the commodity-capital of some capital.

The fact of these production relations, whereby labour can only produce if it is allowed to do so by the owners of the means of production, determines the social relations between labour and capital, but it also determines the distribution relations between the two.

Moreover, if the producers are divorced from their own means of production, this also means they become also divorced from the land, although various intermediate stages and conditions may exist, such as share-cropping. But, in its pure form, this implies also a specific historical form of landed property, whereby land exists as a commodity, which is bought and sold, and like loanable money-capital, thereby obtains a market price, expressed as rent for the former, and interest for the latter, determined on the basis of demand and supply. The laws previously outlined, determine the proportions in which these values are allocated variously as wages, profit, interest and rent, and the share of the total social product they thereby obtain.

But, as set out earlier, those laws determine this proportionate division of the total social output on the assumption that one part of that output, and the equivalent amount of value, has already been set aside, not as revenue, but as capital, to reproduce the means of production consumed in current production.

“If one portion of the product were not transformed into capital, the other would not assume the forms of wages, profit and rent.

On the other hand, if the capitalist mode of production presupposes this definite social form of the conditions of production, so does it reproduce it continually. It produces not merely the material products, but reproduces continually the production relations in which the former are produced, and thereby also the corresponding distribution relations.” (p 879)

This indeed is the difference between these systemic relations, and the condition referred to earlier, whereby, in previous modes of production, labour has appeared as wage-labour, separate from capital, for example, the labour of retainers.

“But this distribution differs altogether from what is understood by distribution relations when the latter are endowed with a historical character in contradistinction to production relations. What is meant thereby are the various titles to that portion of the product which goes into individual consumption. The aforementioned distribution relations, on the contrary, are the basis of special social functions performed within the production relations by certain of their agents, as opposed to the direct producers. They imbue the conditions of production themselves and their representatives with a specific social quality. They determine the entire character and the entire movement of production.” (p 879)

Back To Part 3

Forward To Part 5

8 comments:

Satan The Devil said...

1) You say that:

“…The owner of these means of production, the capitalist, will only allow the worker to use these means of production if the worker, in return, provides an amount of free labour.”

And you add that:

“(This is not the case where the relation is not capital-wage labour. For example, someone may employ a cook to provide them with meals. They own the house, and equipment, and provide the food – means of production – but they pay the cook to provide them with a use value, not to provide them with labour-power. The cook does not sell their labour-power, which would allow the buyer to extract surplus value, as occurs with productive labour, but rather sells a use value to the buyer, the product of their labour, a meal, and so sells it at a price that reflects the labour-time undertaken on its production.)”

Can this cook really sell her product of her labour, a meal? No. No because as you said to start with nearly everything belongs not to the cook but rather to the cook’s employer. So the house belongs to the employer. The equipment belongs to the employer. The food – means of production – (e.g. raw eggs) all belong to the employer.

Therefore in your example the cook simply cannot bill her employer for the whole makings of the meal. I mean that she cannot bill her employer for the use of the house, saucepan, spoon, fork, plate, salt, pepper, and fuel for cooking, truffles, cream, eggs, tea, milk, etc. She cannot bill her employer for that.

Where is the employer who will accept that bill please?

What then can she bill her employer for?

There’s just one element out of this meal that she has to sell at a price that reflects the labour-time undertaken on its production.

That is her labour-power.

A meal is a meal. Labour-power is labour-power.

It is only her labour power (not the meal) that the cook gives for her wages.

2) The cook takes her wages to spend her wages on some things which she needs to live. All of those things are products of labour – of how much labour? It took labour time on the average to produce those things. We will say three hours. Then we say that her wages contain 3 hours. If she also has given her employer a 3 hour working day baking cakes and making scrambled eggs then she has given 3 hours for 3 hours. In that case yes it is true that she provided no free (unpaid) labour. But what if she has given more than 3 hours for 3 hours? What if she has given her employer 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 or 9 hours for just 3 hours?

Her wages amount to 3 hours. But that is not clear to her. Her wage is in cash. It is in no way clear to her how many hours the cash amounts to. She also buys in cash. Again it is not clear to her how many hours the cash prices amount to. It is very clear how many hours she puts in but she does not know how many she receives.

How can you know if she stops her work after 1 working day of just 3 hours?

Her employer may have some things to say about that.

What is to stop her from working on preparing more food in effect to provide free unpaid labour hours?

Boffy said...

"There’s just one element out of this meal that she has to sell at a price that reflects the labour-time undertaken on its production.

That is her labour-power.

A meal is a meal. Labour-power is labour-power."

This is wrong, for the reasons I have explained to you previously, which are also explained in my post on productive-labour, and which you will find explained in Chapter 4 of Theories of Surplus Value.

I never said in the above that the cook charges the employer for all of the labour-time involved in the production of the meal, represented by the means of production, i.e. the food, cooking utensils etc. That does form part of the value of the meal, but it is value that the employer has already bought and paid for.

What the cook charges for the meal is the labour-time they provide. Let us say that it takes 3 hours for them to prepare the meal. They charge the employer the equivalent of 3 hours labour for its provision. But, this is NOT the same as their labour-power, for the reasons Marx set out in Capital Volume I, and returns to in Theories of Surplus Value.

It may only require 2 hours of labour to reproduce the cook's labour-power, required to produce the meal. But the cook does not charge the employer only 2 hour's for the meal, equal to the value of their labour-power, but charges 3 hours of labour-time to the employer, which is the value of the use value they sell to the employer, i.e. the use value of the meal, and not of the labour-power.

It may be the case that due to specific conditions that the employer is able to pay wages to the cook only equal to the value of the labour-power, rather than the labour-time provided, but as Marx sets out in detail in Theories of Surplus Value, that still does not result in a production of surplus value, because the wages are an exchange with the revenue of the employer and not with their capital. In other words, he buys the use value of the meal from the cook, not the use value of labour-power, and having bought the use value of the meal, he then consumes it!

As I said previously, I am too busy at the moment to deal with these elementary issues of the differences between the value created by labour, and the value of labour-power, and I will in any case, be dealing with all of these in full detail in the coming months in dealing with Marx' Theories of Surplus Value.

Satan The Devil said...

1) I wish I could save you time. That’s not because I’m impatient. I just wish to help. I’m sorry that you’re still too busy.

You gave the specific conditions. The cook never owns that meal. And the cook’s wage is the same whether she serves her employer or his paying guest. Let each serve himself from her buffet. The cook’s wage does not shoot up when her employer eats and fall when the paying guest eats. The cook and her employer had to discover the wage beforehand in the competition of one open market. Competition is ever centralising the wage to a given level. The employer may employ his cook just to cook for him. But then the wages that he needs to pay for a cook are just the same.

2) On the other point: A commodity which takes an hour of skilled labour to produce it counts as more value than a commodity that takes an hour of unskilled labour.

The skilled labourer also gets a higher wage per hour than the unskilled.

But the cause of that difference in the values of their commodities is not the difference in the wages.

The difference in the values of the commodities (and also the difference in wages) comes down to the difference in the number of labour hours that it costs to produce the skilled labourer (with training) as compared to the unskilled labourer.

Satan The Devil said...

Thank you I’ve just now read your Part 5 above. You take us back to old conditions. In those old conditions your claim about the cook getting 3 hours for 3 hours is true.

You share this long quote: “The little that such a family had to obtain by barter or buy from outside, even up to the beginning of the 19th century in Germany, consisted principally of the objects of handicraft production — that is, such things the nature of whose manufacture was by no means unknown to the peasant, and which he did not produce himself only because he lacked the raw material or because the purchased article was much better or very much cheaper. Hence, the peasant of the Middle Ages knew fairly accurately the labour-time required for the manufacture of the articles obtained by him in barter. The smith and the cartwright of the village worked under his eyes; likewise, the tailor and shoemaker — who in my youth still paid their visits to our Rhine peasants, one after another, turning home-made materials into shoes and clothing. The peasants, as well as the people from whom they bought, were themselves workers; the exchanged articles were each one's own products. What had they expended in making these products? Labour and labour alone: to replace tools, to produce raw material, and to process it, they spent nothing but their own labour-power; how then could they exchange these products of theirs for those of other labouring producers otherwise than in the ratio of labour expended on them?” (Engels Supplement, p 897)

Where all can still reckon average costs in labour time there your cook can give 3 hours cooking and for cash which will buy her 3 hours worth of what the cook needs.

The simplicity and community knowledge of average costs in labour time is key and makes a difference.

Next I will read Chapter 4 of Theories of Surplus Value.

Boffy said...

The example I gave is a reproduction of the example that Marx gives in Theories of Surplus Value. He gives a similar example of someone who employs a piano maker to come and assemble a piano, and a tailor who comes in to the home of the buyer to produce a pair of trousers. In each case, the materials and other means of production belong to the employer - though Marx says it does not matter if they belong to the worker in these instances, because all of these materials only transfer their value to the end product.

What the worker provides in each case is a use value - a meal, a piano, a pair of trousers, and that use value has a value equal to the labour-time required for its reproduction. That value comprises the value of the dead labour in the means of production, and the new value created by the labour that processes those materials. If the materials are provided by the worker, they recover their value in selling the end product to the employer, and then have to use that value to buy new means of production for any further meal, piano or pair of trousers they are called on to produce. If the materials are provided by the employer the worker only has to recover the value of the use value they provide to the employer, i.e. cook's labour in producing a meal, piano maker's labour in assembling a piano, or tailor's labour in producing a pair of trousers.

If the employer bought a pair of trousers from a capitalist tailor, the value of the trousers they bought would comprise the value of the materials and other means of production used in their production. Let us say, it involves in labour hours, 2 hours for material, and 2 hours for new labour. The buyer of the trousers would then buy a pair of trousers from a capitalist supplier for 4 hours of labour.

If instead, the employer purchases the materials in the market, they will pay 2 hours for those materials. They will then employ a tailor to process those materials into trousers. The tailor will require 2 hours to process them, and will demand 2 hours equivalent in wages for selling this use value to the employer of his labour. The employer will then have trousers with a value of 4 hours, the same as had they bought them from a capitalist tailor, and will consume the trousers.

Boffy said...

Cont'd

"And the cook’s wage is the same whether she serves her employer or his paying guest."

In that case, the conditions have changed. A paying guest implies that the employer here acts as a capitalist, and the situation is like that Marx describes in describing Adam Smith's confusion, which you have again repeated in your argument about the difference between an unproductive cook paid out of he revenue of their employer (unproductive because they do not produce surplus value), and a productive cook employed by capital, for example in a restaurant, who does produce surplus value.

You have again confused skilled and unskilled labour with simple and complex labour. An illustration of your error is given by Marx in Capital III, Chapter 17, discussing commercial labour. There Marx sets out that commercial labour is more skilled and so tends to be complex labour, however, because of the extension of public education, this kind of labour becomes plentiful so he says the wages paid to it falls even below that of unskilled workers. As he sets out, there, and more in TOSV, the value of labour-power has nothing to do with the value created by that particular labour. And, skilled labour may tend to be complex labour, but not necessarily, because it depends upon the value that consumers place on the actual product of that labour in the market, which may or may not relate to the level of skill.

"The difference in the values of the commodities (and also the difference in wages) comes down to the difference in the number of labour hours that it costs to produce the skilled labourer (with training) as compared to the unskilled labourer."

But that is only the value of that labour-power, i.e. the cost of its reproduction, and as Marx says wages are only the phenomenal form of this value of labour-power, in which case you are now left facing both ways at the same time.

I would suggest waiting until I cover these issues next year, and in the meantime would recommend that you read Volume I of capital, and Part I of TOSV, where the errors of Adam Smith that you are reproducing here are dealt with. I do not have time to reply further, at this point.

Satan The Devil said...

Thank you,

I cannot see my last reply here. I cannot believe that you moderated it. So I can only believe that there was some computer error and that you haven’t got my last reply.

Here it is once more:

“Thank you I’ve just now read your Part 5 above. You take us back to old conditions. In those old conditions your claim about the cook getting 3 hours for 3 hours is true.

“You share this long quote: “The little that such a family had to obtain by barter or buy from outside, even up to the beginning of the 19th century in Germany, consisted principally of the objects of handicraft production — that is, such things the nature of whose manufacture was by no means unknown to the peasant, and which he did not produce himself only because he lacked the raw material or because the purchased article was much better or very much cheaper. Hence, the peasant of the Middle Ages knew fairly accurately the labour-time required for the manufacture of the articles obtained by him in barter. The smith and the cartwright of the village worked under his eyes; likewise, the tailor and shoemaker — who in my youth still paid their visits to our Rhine peasants, one after another, turning home-made materials into shoes and clothing. The peasants, as well as the people from whom they bought, were themselves workers; the exchanged articles were each one's own products. What had they expended in making these products? Labour and labour alone: to replace tools, to produce raw material, and to process it, they spent nothing but their own labour-power; how then could they exchange these products of theirs for those of other labouring producers otherwise than in the ratio of labour expended on them?” (Engels Supplement, p 897)

“Where all can still reckon average costs in labour time there your cook can give 3 hours cooking and for cash which will buy her 3 hours worth of what the cook needs.

“The simplicity and community knowledge of average costs in labour time is key and makes a difference.

“Next I will read Chapter 4 of Theories of Surplus Value.”
(Satan)

I see that you did not get that reply not until now. And I see that you misread me. Here’s an example: If I was saying that when the cook is cooking food and she is not producing surplus value for a capitalist then she is productive in the capitalist sense then I would have made that clear. That’s a place where you misread me.

Satan The Devil said...


Hooray!

I couldn’t see one of my previous comments. I can see all now.

Your one redundant word in this long sentence of yours is the word: “… necessarily…”

It is here: “… And, skilled labour may tend to be complex labour, but not necessarily, because it depends upon the value that consumers place on the actual product of that labour in the market, which may or may not relate to the level of skill.” (Boffy)

The way to explain value in exchange is not by value in use.

My email is:

thedevilsatan1@gmail.com

Please feel free to remind me just when you want to continue next year.

Thanks also for your comments here:

https://boffyblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/abstract-labour_3934.html

It’s a pleasure to discuss with you.