Friday, 2 June 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 4 - Part 87

Fixed Capital

“Their constant capital consists of: (1) their raw materials, metals, stones, vegetative raw materials such as timber, leather belting, rope, etc. But though these raw materials form the raw material for them, they themselves enter as instruments of labour into the production of these raw materials. Hence they replace themselves in kind. The iron producer has to replace machinery, the machine builder iron. In quarrying there is wear and tear of machinery, but in factory buildings there is wear and tear of building stone, etc. (2) The wear and tear of machine—building machinery, which within a certain period has to be replaced by a new product of the same kind. But the product of the same kind can, of course, replace itself. (3) The means of consumption for the machine (auxiliary materials). Machinery consumes coal, but coal consumes machinery, and so on. In the form of containers, tubes, pipes, etc., machinery of all kinds enters into the production of the means of consumption for machinery, as in the case of tallow, soap, gas (for lighting). Therefore also in these cases the products of these spheres enter reciprocally into each other’s constant capital, and consequently replace each other in kind.” (p 246) 

In less developed economies, animals themselves comprise fixed capital, as beasts of burden. Horses and oxen pull ploughs, for example. But, in that case, the raw material required for the reproduction of the animal are themselves a product of the animal, not just because of the supply of manure, but because the animal ploughs the land, clears stones and so on.

Auxiliary Materials

Some of these require raw material for their own production, but likewise the auxiliary material is used in the production of those raw materials. For example, gas was formerly produced from coal, but gas was likewise used for lighting at coal mines, both in offices and externally. Machines are used in the production of oil, but oil is used both as a lubricant for those machines, and as a source of their power.

Marx comments,

Later on, there is something special to be added about chemical factories, all of which in greater or smaller degree produce auxiliary materials, such as the raw material of containers (for example, glass, porcelain), as well as articles which enter directly into consumption. 

All colouring materials are auxiliary materials. But they enter into the product not only as to their value, as for example coal consumed enters into cotton; but they reproduce themselves in the form of the product (its colours).” (p 247)

Auxiliary materials have a number of functions.
  1. They are means of consumption for machines, e.g. a power source or lubricant
  2. They are an auxiliary material for building, such as cement, and the same might be said of glues used in the manufacture of various products
  3. They are necessary for the production process to take place. e.g. to provide heating and lighting in factories etc.
  4. They enter the formation of raw material, e.g. fertiliser enters production of crops, limestone used in production of steel, yeast in the production of beer.
  5. They enter the final product, for example, colourings, polishes and so on.

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