Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Theories of Surplus Value Part I, Chapter 2 - Part 10

Marx again quotes Turgot, to indicate that for him, the surplus value obtained by the landowner is a value for which they have given no equivalent, and out of this surplus, the landowner is able to make payment to other, non-productive sections of society.

“... “The cultivator produces his own wages, and, in addition, the revenue which serves to pay the whole class of artisans and other stipendiaries… The proprietor has nothing except through the labour of the cultivator” (therefore not through a pure gift of nature); “he receives from him his subsistence and that wherewith he pays the labours of other stipendiaries...” (Turgot) (p 57) 

For Turgot, however, this surplus value, which the cultivator hands over to the landowner is not a surplus of exchange value, because he still has no conception of value as labour. It is still seen as a surplus product, a surplus of use values.

“... which surplus of products, however, is only the embodiment of the amount of time which he works gratis for the proprietor in addition to the time which he works for the reproduction of his wages.

We see thus how, within the limits of agricultural labour, the Physiocrats have a correct grasp of surplus-value; they see it as a product of the wage-labourer’s labour, although they in turn conceive this labour in the concrete forms in which it appears in use-values.” (p 57) 

Turgot considers capitalist agriculture, i.e. the leasing and letting of land, to be the most advantageous form, but it required a “land that is already rich”, i.e. it requires that productivity has already risen to a level that makes such production efficient, and justifiable.

For the Physiocrats, surplus value is created in production, and this surplus is appropriated by the landowner. Out of this surplus, they pay for other goods and services, so that those who receive such payments are seen as receiving the equivalent of a wage or stipend, in return. Its also on this basis that they see the basis of the governing, land owning class, and the governed.

Turgot recognises that, in order to perform labour, the labourer must have means of production, in the shape both of tools and material. Initially, these are provided free by the land. Hunter gatherers find fruit, roots and nuts, and so on, as well as stones, branches etc. to use as tools and weapons to catch fish and game.

“Now these conditions of labour, these advances to labour become capital as soon as they have to be advanced to the labourer by a third person, and this is the case from the moment when the labourer owns nothing but his labour-power itself.” (p 58)

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