Saturday, 13 May 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 68

Ganilh's attitude to the net product is not consistent, Marx says. On the one hand, he argues that the higher productivity of the free worker, compared with that of the slave, enables the wage of the former to be higher. But, as Marx points out, it is not just the level of productivity that determines the level of the wage but the division between between the worker and capitalist. However, Marx himself is not being entirely consistent here, because he has shown that the value of the wage is equal to the value of labour-power, and this too is a function of productivity.

Its true that given this level of the wage, the division between the wage and surplus value is a function of the length of the working day, but Marx showed in Capital I that the normal working day is limited by objective factors too, i.e. beyond a certain length or intensity, labour-power is exhausted more rapidly, causing the value of labour-power to rise.

The consequence then is, as Marx demonstrated, that the free labourer does tend to produce a greater mass of surplus value, because the higher level of productivity means that a greater mass of production is created during the working-day, whilst the portion of the working day required to reproduce labour-power is diminished. The division of the working day is also thereby not some independent variable, separate from the level of productivity, but likewise a function of it.

Ganilh's position was contradictory, Marx argues, because despite this recognition, he wanted slavery in the colonies.

“He is only liberal in so far as he does not want to reintroduce it into Europe, having grasped that the free labourers here are slaves, that they only exist to produce net product for capitalists, landlords and their retainers.” (p 229)

Further to the point made above about the objective conditions determining the value of labour-power, and relation to surplus value, Marx quotes Ganilh in relation to Quesnay.

““He” (Quesnay) “definitely denies that economies made by the wage-earning classes have the faculty to increase capital; and the reason he gives for this is that these classes should not have any means on which to make economies, and that if they had a surplus, an excess, this could only be due to an error or to some disorder in the society’s economy” (l.c., p. 274).” (p 230)

In other words, Quesnay is pointing out that the value of labour-power should be such that what the workers receive as wages should only be sufficient to reproduce their labour-power. If they receive less than this, the supply of labour-power will fall, and wages will rise and vice versa. So, there should not be the potential for any saving from wages to be accumulated as capital. It can only arise from surplus value.

Ganilh, who believes that it is beneficial for society, that wages for the productive labourers be reduced by capitalists instead using the money as revenue, for consumption, does not understand Quesnay, Marx adds, quoting his comment,

““The larger they” (wages) “are, the less is the revenue of the society” (society stands on them, but they do not stand in society), “and all the skill of governments should be applied to reducing the amount [of the wages]… A task …worthy of the enlightened century in which we live” (t. II, p. 24).” (p 230)

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