Saturday, 3 December 2016

Capital III, Chapter 51 - Part 6

The fact that under capitalism, production is characterised by the production of commodities, and so very little is characterised by direct production, for immediate consumption, itself implies that the worker appears merely a seller of commodities, because very little of of their production is to meet their own needs, and to meet their own needs, they need to sell in order to buy the commodities they require.

“The principal agents of this mode of production itself, the capitalist and the wage-labourer, are as such merely embodiments, personifications of capital and wage-labour; definite social characteristics stamped upon individuals by the process of social production; the products of these definite social production relations.” (p 880)

The product, taken individually or socially then takes the form of a commodity or commodity-capital, and is the product of capital, and these two conditions also determine the conditions under which this product is circulated.

That is, unlike under direct production, the product is sold into a market. The motivation of the producer is no longer to meet or maximise some particular need, but merely to maximise the amount of exchange value obtained for the commodity. If the producer can reduce the individual value of their product below its social value, they can thereby obtain a greater quantity of value (labour-time) in exchange than they have expended on its production. Competition, therefore, becomes implicit in this form of production and exchange. But, the fact of production taking the form of the production by capital, as opposed even to the production of commodities by peasant producers, results in capital also seeking to maximise the rate of profit.

The peasant producer seeks to obtain the value they have themselves expended for materials plus the value they have added by their own labour. If they can exceed this by obtaining the means of production cheaper than the average, or by themselves producing more efficiently than the average, they thereby benefit, and are able thereby to expand their own means of production. This is indeed one means by which a differentiation of the peasantry occurs, so that some are able to accumulate capital and become capitalist producers, whilst others are reduced to becoming wage labourers.

However, the capitalist producer is not just concerned to maximise this accidental excess of value, but to maximise the production of surplus value, and its relation to the advanced capital, i.e. the rate of profit. This means that the determining factor in the way society organises its production is no longer to meet those needs for consumption, but to meet the need to maximise the rate of profit.

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