Thursday, 26 January 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 3 - Part 15

Marx then quotes Smith, who shows that commodities themselves must continue to be valued at the labour-time required for their production. That is the labour-time that the worker adds, in addition to the value of the means of production consumed. The profit, rent and interest are then a deduction from this additional value created by labour, but can only be a deduction from the part of this new value that is in excess of what is required for the reproduction of the workers, i.e. the surplus value.

Smith writes,

““As soon as land becomes private property, the landlord demands a share of almost all the produce which the labourer can either raise, or collect from it. His rent makes the first deduction from the produce of the labour which is employed upon land. It seldom happens that the person who tills the ground has wherewithal to maintain himself till he reaps the harvest. His maintenance is generally advanced to him from the stock of a master, the farmer who employs him, and who would have no interest to employ him, unless he was to share in the produce of his labour, or unless his stock was to be replaced to him with a profit. This profit makes a second deduction from the […] labour which is employed upon land. The produce of almost all other labour is liable to the like deduction of profit. In all arts and manufactures the greater part of the workmen stand in need of a master to advance them the materials of their work, and their wages and maintenance till it be completed. He shares in the produce of their labour, or in the value which it adds to the materials upon which it is bestowed; and in this share consists his profit” ( [McCulloch edition ] Vol. I, b. I, ch. VIII, pp. 109–10).” (p 84-5)

But, as Marx points out, if the profit, rent and interest are merely deductions from this new value, created by labour, this means that neither capital nor land themselves can be independent producers of such value. It is only ownership of land which enables the landowner to appropriate a portion of the surplus value produced by the worker, as rent, just as the ownership of productive-capital enables the capitalist to appropriate a portion as profit, and the ownership of loanable money-capital enables the money lender to appropriate a portion as interest.

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