Saturday, 18 February 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 3 - Part 38

The new value created by labour is divided into wages and profits, and assuming no accumulation, all of this is used as revenue to buy consumption goods. It is the value equivalent of that portion of the social product that constituted the consumption fund. By dividing it into wages and profit, this simply reflects the fact that it is as profit that the surplus value is realised, even though the capitalist may hand over part of it as interest and rent. Marx quotes Ramsey.

“... the master is the general distributor of the national revenue who undertakes to pay to the labourers, the wages to the” (moneyed) “capitalist, the interest to the proprietor, the rent of his land” (Ramsay, [l.c. I, pp. 218–19).” (p 108)

Marx describes the situation I outlined above that any accumulation in any society is only a consequence of this surplus labour, and then asks,

“Who is it that labours in order to replace the equivalent of the constant capital already expended in production? The part of the labour which the labourer performs for himself replaces his wages, or, considered in relation to the whole of production, creates his wages. On the other hand, his surplus-labour which forms the profit is in part a consumption fund for the capitalist, and in part is transformed into additional capital. But the capitalist does not replace the capital already used up in his own production out of this surplus-labour or profit. necessary labour which forms the wages and the surplus-labour which forms the profit make up the whole working-day, and no other labour is performed in addition to these.” (p 108)

If we assume that workers undertake no surplus labour, then taking the whole working-class collectively, they not only produce a quantity of new value, equal to their wages, and value of their labour-power, but, in terms of use value, they produce a mass of new products, required for their consumption, so as to reproduce their labour-power.

“... he reproduces not only the same value but the same use-values...” (p 109)

If productivity remains the same, this amount of value is represented by the same use values, that simply replace those previously consumed, and if productivity changes, those use values will simply represent a larger or smaller amount of value/labour-time.

The new value created, and the new use values created, would simply replace the use values previously consumed by the workers, and the value of their labour-power consumed in the production process.

“If we take society at any one moment, there exists simultaneously in all spheres of production, even though in very different proportions, a definite constant capital—presupposed as a necessary condition of production—that once for all belongs to production and must be given back to it, as seed must be given back to the land, It is true that the value of this constant part can fall or rise, depending on whether the commodities of which it is composed have to be reproduced at less or greater cost. This change in value, however, never alters the fact that in the process of production, into which it enters as a condition of production, it is a postulated value which must reappear in the value of the product. Therefore this change of value of the constant capital can here be ignored.” (p 109)

In other words, it is the physical replacement of the commodities that comprise the constant capital that is determinate, not any change in their value, consequent upon a change in productivity. 

Nor is the problem here one relating to the fact that fixed capital may be produced during one year, but only gives up part of its value – in wear and tear – each year.

“For the question here centres on that part of the constant capital which is actually consumed within the year, and therefore also must be replaced within the year.” (p 109)

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