Saturday, 29 July 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Chapter 6 - Part 20

[6. Significance of the Tableau Économique in the History of Political Economy]

Marx emphasises the important role that the Tableau played, especially considering when it was produced. He did not share the view of Mirabeau, cited by Smith,

““There have been since the world began three great inventions… The first is the invention of writing….The second is the invention (!) of money…. ‘The third is the economical table, the result of the other two, which completes them both” ( [Smith, Wealth of Nations, O.U.P. edition, Vol. II, p. .300], Garnier, t. III, l. IV, ch. IX, p. 540).” (p 543)

However, Marx lists everything that the Tableau depicts and demonstrates, and concludes,

“... and all this depicted in a Tableau which in fact consists of no more than five lines which link together six points of departure or return— [and this was] in the second third of the eighteenth century, the period when political economy was in its infancy—this was an extremely brilliant conception, incontestably the most brilliant for which political economy had up to then been responsible.” (p 344)

What the Tableau shows is the reproduction process of capital. Within this process, money which had been central to the Monetary School's conception of the production of wealth, is reduced only to a means of circulation, which itself comprises only a phase in the circulation of capital. The Tableau illustrates the origin of revenue as well as the exchange between capital and revenue, and so between productive and unproductive consumption.

It also depicts,

“... the two great divisions of productive labour—raw material production and manufacture—as phases of this reproductive process.” (p 344),

which mirrors Marx's division of this process into Department I and Department II.

“As regards the circulation of capital—its reproductive process, the various forms which it assumes in this process of reproduction, the connection between the circulation of capital and circulation in general (that is, not only the exchange of capital for capital, but of capital for revenue)—Adam Smith in fact only took over the inheritance of the Physiocrats and classified and specified more precisely the separate items in the inventory. But his exposition and interpretation of the movement as a whole was hardly as correct as its presentation in outline in the Tableau économique, in spite of Quesnay’s false assumptions.” (p 344)

Back To Part 19

Forward To Chapter 7

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