Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 3 - Part 48

If we take linen as representing this consumption fund, then the producers of this linen (12 metres = £36) take out an amount equal to the new value they have created in this product, i.e. 4 metres = £12. This is equal to their wages and profit. The remaining 8 metres = £24, they pay to the suppliers of their constant capital – the spinner, and the machine maker. But, the spinner and the machine maker can only consume an amount equal to the new value they have created themselves, i.e. the new labour undertaken, and equal to their own wages and profit.

They in turn must hand over the remainder to their own suppliers of constant capital – the flax grower, wood producer, and iron maker. In ever decreasing quantities, the amount taken as revenue eventually equals the total of new labour undertaken. But, at each stage, the amount of value exceeds the new value produced, because it includes a quantity of constant capital, alongside the additional labour expended.

It must always be the case, therefore, that a proportion of the total output never exchanges with linen, but is used solely to replace the means of production used in the production of means of production.

The account, however, can only be settled if it is only revenue, newly-added labour, not constant capital, that has to be replaced by the last part of the linen, the consumable product. For on the assumption we have made the linen enters only into consumption and does not in turn form the constant capital of another phase of production.” (p 144)

It was seen in relation to agriculture that a portion of output is directly returned to production to replace what was previously consumed, seed etc. But, Marx now turns to the rest of the means of production, i.e. Department I, as described in Capital II, to show how a portion of its output similarly goes only to reproduce its own constant capital.

The issue of fixed capital is effectively set aside here, because it is only its wear and tear that goes into the value of output. It is not a question of the fact that a certain sum of value is consumed to produce this fixed capital, but only a portion of it is returned via wear and tear. The issue here concerns the portion of total social output that simply replaces the consumed constant capital.

As well as in agriculture, where seeds are directly replaced out of production, fish are replaced out of production in fish farms, and so on, there are other types of production where the constant capital is directly reproduced out of the industry's product. For example, coal mines replace the coal they use in steam engines from their own coal production.

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