Sunday, 5 February 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 3 - Part 25

Capital is productive of value only as a relation, in so far as it is a coercive force on wage-labour, compelling it to perform surplus-labour, or spurring on the productive power of labour to produce relative surplus-value. In both cases it only produces value as the power of labour’s own material conditions over labour when these are alienated from labour; only as one of the forms of wage—labour itself, as a condition of wage—labour. But in the sense commonly used by economists, as stored up labour existing in money or commodities, capital—like all conditions of labour, even the unpaid natural forces—functions productively in the labour-process, in the production of use-values, but it is never a source of value. It creates no new value, and only adds exchange-value to the product at all in so far as it has exchange-value, that is to say, only in so far as it itself consists in materialised labour-time, so that labour is the source of its value.” (p 93)

As Marx then explains, neither land nor capital are sources of value, but they are sources of revenue for their owners. Smith conflates the two.

“Thus Adam Smith says for example: 

Wages, profit, and rent, are the three original sources of all revenue, as well as of all exchangeable value” ([Wealth of Nations, O.U.P. edition, p. 57], [Garnier], l. I, ch. VI).” (p 93) 

Smith is correct that wages, profit and rent are the three original sources of revenue, but wrong that they are the sources of value.

“In so far as they are titles (conditions) for the appropriation of a part of the value, that is, of the labour materialised in the commodity, they are sources of income for their owners. But the distribution or appropriation of value is certainly not the source of the value that is appropriated. If this appropriation did not take place, and the workman received the whole product of his labour as his wage, the value of the commodities produced would be just the same as before, although it would not be shared with the landowner and the capitalist.” (p 94)

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