Sunday, 14 May 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 69

[10.] Exchange of Revenue and Capital [Replacement of the Total Amount of the Annual Product: (a) Exchange of Revenue for Revenue; (b) Exchange of Revenue for Capital; (c) Exchange of Capital for Capital]

In this section, Marx basically examines those social exchanges that are analysed in Capital II, as part of the schemas of reproduction. In those schemas, one exchange is the revenues produced in Department II for the portion of output of Department II, equal to those revenues, which is equal to the new value created by labour in II.  A second exchange is the revenue produced in Department I that exchanges with the output of Department II, equal to the value of its constant capital, and the third exchange is the portion of the output of Department I which replaces the value of the constant capital consumed by Department I.

Here, in order to simplify the analysis, Marx assumes a situation of simple reproduction, so that no part of the revenue goes to capital accumulation. All revenue is thereby consumed.

“The whole amount of the annual product is therefore divided into two parts: one part is consumed as revenue, the other part replaces in kind the constant capital consumed.” (p 230)

Wherever consumption goods are exchanged for consumption goods, for example linen for corn, this is an exchange of revenue for revenue. The simplest way of understanding this is just to remember that revenue (wages, profit, interest, rent) are really not to be understood, as we have come to think about them, as amounts of money. They are really just quantities representing proportions of the total product. In other words, wages should be understood as the Physiocrats understood them as so much food and other products, required by the workers for their reproduction. The only reason we think of wages as a certain amount of money is because we live in a money economy, where money acts as an intermediary. But, in reality, the payment of money wages is only a means of the workers obtaining these necessary commodities.

The real social relation when this obscuring role of money is removed, is that workers exchange their commodity – labour-power – with capital. They produce a quantity of new value, in the form of commodities, and in exchange for their labour-power, capital gives them back a portion of these commodities, in a quantity required for the reproduction of that labour-power.

The revenue – wages – then is equal to this portion of the total social product. But, the workers created new value greater than what has been returned to them as wages. They created a surplus value, which also exists in the shape of a surplus product. This surplus value is divided into profit, rent and interest according to the laws Marx set out in Capital III.

But, as with wages, these revenues – profit, rent and interest – should not be viewed in money terms, but again as merely representing divisions of the total product. On this basis, all revenue, whether it takes the form of wages, rent, interest or profit, can be seen as equal to the new value created by labour, a value divided into a necessary product and a surplus product.

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