Saturday, 22 July 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 6 - Part 13

[4. Circulation between Farmer and Manufacturer According to the Tableau Économique]

In the third act of circulation, represented in the Tableau as a – c, the landlords (L) buy manufactured goods from the industrial capitalists or sterile class (S). The landlords pay ₣1 billion, and obtain manufactured goods of the same value. The only reason that ₣1 billion are thought necessary for this circulation process is that its taken that the farmer pays rent in one payment, and similarly the landlord buys goods from the farmer and manufacturer in one go. If the farmer paid rent at the rate of ₣200 million, ten times a year, then the landlord could use ₣100 million to buy food, and ₣100 million to buy manufactured goods.

The ₣100 million then having returned to the farmers, they would have this available, once more, to advance as rent. Meanwhile, the manufacturers would have ₣100 million, which they spend with the farmers so that now the farmers have all the ₣200 million returned to them, available for the payment of rent. In other words, all of this circulation of commodities could be effected with just ₣200 million rather than ₣2 billion in money.

In the fourth act of circulation, represented by c-d, the manufacturers (S) buy ₣1 billion of food from the farmers (F), required as means of subsistence. But, there is a difference between this exchange between S and F, compared with either the exchange between S and L or L and F. The landlords pay ₣1 billion to buy food, and to buy manufactured goods, and these are simply consumed. However, when S buys ₣1 billion of food from F, this is used as means of subsistence for workers, whose labour-power had been consumed in the production of manufactured goods. It is then a reproduction of the capital that had been expended for that purpose.

“The one metamorphosis of the commodity, its retransformation from money into commodity, thus in this case expresses at the same time the beginning of its real, not merely formal, metamorphosis—the beginning of its reproduction, the beginning of its retransformation into its own production elements; in this transaction there is at the same time metamorphosis of the capital. But for L, revenue is merely converted from the form of money into the form of commodity. This implies only consumption.” (p 329)

In this same process, the ₣1 billion that F had paid to L as rent, thereby returns via S, but only in exchange for ₣1 billion of commodities thrown into circulation by F. It is the same as if the landlords had had the whole of the rent paid to them in food, and had then kept half themselves for consumption, and exchanged the rest with S for manufactured goods.

“But instead of this, four acts have taken place: (1) transfer of 2 milliards in money from F to L; (2) L buys means of subsistence for 1 milliard from F, the money flows back to F, serving as means of circulation; (3) L buys manufactured goods from S for 1 milliard in money; the money functions as means of circulation; changing hands in the reverse direction to the goods; (4) with the 1 milliard in money, S buys means of subsistence from F; the money functions as means of circulation.” (p 330)

However, as seen above, for S it also circulates as capital, because it acts to reproduce the labour-power consumed in production as variable capital.

At the end of this sequence, the landlord's participation in the exchanges is at an end.

In the process, the landlord has partly replaced the capital of S, because they have bought ₣1 billion of manufactured goods, and with the proceeds, S are able to buy food, to replace the means of subsistence consumed by their workers, i.e. the variable capital.

Those means of subsistence have thereby been consumed and pass out of circulation. Finally, a further ₣1 billion of means of subsistence are consumed by landlords out of the current harvest.

The farmers now, once more, have ₣2 billion in money. But, they need manufactured goods, both as tools etc., and as means of consumption. If the farmers pay ₣1 billion to buy manufactured goods this is a simple act of circulation, which now puts the ₣1 billion into the hands of the manufacturers, whilst putting ₣1 billion of manufactured goods into the hands of farmers. But, this also represents a metamorphosis of capital for both farmers and manufacturers.

The goods bought by the farmer are part of the manufacturer's commodity-capital, which is thereby metamorphosed into money-capital, ready to be transformed into productive-capital once more. For the farmer, the money they use to buy manufactured goods is already money-capital, and the manufactured goods they buy, therefore, represent the metamorphosis of this money-capital into productive-capital. In other words, some of it, in the form of tools etc. forms part of the farmer's constant capital, whilst that part which comprises consumption goods, such as clothes, makes up the farmer's variable capital.

“This is a simple process of circulation. It puts 1 milliard into the hands of S, while the second part of his product existing in the form of a commodity is converted into money. On both sides there is metamorphosis of capital. The farmer’s 1 milliard is reconverted into elements of production needed for reproduction. The finished goods of S are reconverted into money; they pass through the formal metamorphosis from commodity into money, without which the capital cannot be reconverted into its production elements, and therefore also cannot be reproduced. This is the fifth circulation process. One milliard of manufactured goods (product of the previous year’s harvest) (a'–b') fall out of circulation into reproductive consumption.” (p 331) 

This is reproductive consumption as opposed to the consumption of the landlords, precisely because in the former it goes to reproduce elements of productive-capital, i.e. means of production and means of subsistence for productive workers.

In the final circulation process, the manufacturers take the ₣1 billion of money paid by farmers and buy raw materials from farmers. Again, this is a simple process of circulation, whereby money moves in one direction, and commodities move in the other. But, it is again a metamorphosis of capital on both sides. Now the money-capital of the manufacturers turns into productive-capital, in the form of raw and auxiliary materials, whilst the farmers commodity-capital is metamorphosed into money-capital. The commodities once more fall out of circulation as a consequence of being productively consumed.

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