Monday, 22 May 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 77

In a money economy, the farmer simply receives money from the miller, rather than flour, and then exchanges this money with the baker rather than flour.

If we consider the position of the baker here, as the producer of consumption goods, only a third of the value of his product constitutes revenue. It is that third, equal to the new value he has created by his labour. The other two-thirds is equal to the value of constant capital used in its production, 20 hours of flour. Although this two-thirds of his product exists in the form of consumable commodities, he cannot consume them, because he must exchange this product once more, in order to obtain the flour he requires to continue production.

In a sense, the situation here is reversed from that considered previously. What he must reproduce is the flour consumed, but he does not do this by actually selling two-thirds of his production to the miller. Instead he sells one third to the farmer and one third to the miller, and thereby obtains the money required to buy the flour once more from the miller.

The same is true here if there were the producer of some other type of consumable product, such as linen. If the baker exchanges 5 hours of their product for linen, with a value of 5 hours, this is only possible, if their own consumption of bread falls by 5 hours. In other words, their total consumption is limited to 10 hours. If the baker consumed 10 hours value of their production, and then exchanged the other 20 hours of their production for linen, they would then have to exchange this linen for 20 hours of flour, because without flour they could not continue to produce bread on the same scale.

But, having consumed 10 hours value of that production, either as bread or linen, the baker must exchange 20 hours of consumable product. The only possible exchange is then to exchange this consumable product for means of production, i.e. flour.

“Its use-value excludes industrial consumption. So he can only industrially consume its value, [by selling it] to the producers of those elements of production needed for his product. He can neither consume in kind this part of his product, nor can he consume its value by selling it for other products that can be consumed individually. Just as little as this part of his product can enter into his own revenue, can it be replaced out of the revenue of producers of other individually consumable products; since this would only be possible if he exchanged his product for their product and so consumed the value of his product, which cannot happen.” (p 237)

Likewise, because his product can only be consumed, the buyer of this product can only do so in order to consume it, rather than to use it as means of production. In other words, the buyer can only buy it from their own revenue – wages, or profit.

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