Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 85

Marx then turns to examine this like for like reproduction of c in more precise detail.

“It consists of the constant capital which enters into raw materials, and secondly of the constant capital which enters into the formation of the capital, and thirdly of the constant capital which enters into auxiliary materials.” (p 245)

Raw Materials

Marx's definition of raw material, as set out in Capital I, includes anything that is used in the production process, as a component part of the end product. So, a raw material such as yarn, used in the weaving process to create linen, itself contains the raw material flax, used in the spinning process to create yarn. On the other hand, some raw materials may themselves be directly consumable. Marx lists “... cattle, corn, grapes ...” (p 245), although cattle would presumably have to be slaughtered and butchered, rather than being directly consumable. But, in so far as such raw materials are directly consumed, they comprise commodities of class A, in the examples given (Department II).

The relevance of this is that, in so far as these commodities belong in class A, the constant capital used in their production does not fall into the category of constant capital being discussed. It is only the constant capital used in the production of means of production that we are concerned with here.

That constant capital, used in the production of raw materials, Marx lists as:-

“... in the first place of fixed capital, machinery, instruments of labour and buildings, and perhaps auxiliary materials, which are means of consumption for the machinery employed.” (p 245)

This seems to leave out the raw materials, used in the production of some raw materials, used in the production of some raw materials, as described above, but that is not the case, because these end up in the consumable product themselves ultimately. So, flax is used as raw material by the spinner to produce yarn, which in turn is used by the weaver to produce the consumable product linen. Similarly, cattle are raw material for the abattoir, and the butcher, who then produces the consumable product.

We are not considering here any of the constant capital that goes into the production of the consumable product, but only that which goes into the production of the means of production. Even so, the same thing applies to the raw materials used here. For example, steel is a raw material used by the machine maker. But, for the steel maker, iron ore and carbon are raw materials, Moreover, for the steel producer, coal may be an auxiliary material, but it is one used in large quantities. Coal here is defined as an auxiliary material, because its use value does not form a component of the end product, in the way that iron ore does in steel, or flax does in linen. The coal is only required to provide the heat to smelt the iron ore, and some other heat source can be used for that, but you can't make steel without iron ore.

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