Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part I, Addenda - Part 16

The direct producers, engaged in the production of products to meet their needs or which could be exchanged for other products which met their needs, but capital produces only to create surplus value, and competition between capitals means that it must strive to produce more surplus value, so as to accumulate and be more competitive.

The very nature of this capitalist production, by replacing individual production with co-operative production, acts to increase the surplus value, and so a greater portion of the workers' output is appropriated by capital.

“Since living labour—through the exchange between capital and labourer—is incorporated in capital, and appears as an activity belonging to capital from the moment that the labour-process begins, all the productive powers of social labour appear as the productive powers of capital, just as the general social form of labour appears in money as the property of a thing. Thus the productive power of social labour and its special forms now appear as productive powers and forms of capital, of materialised labour, of the material conditions of labour—which, having assumed this independent form, are personified by the capitalist in relation to living labour. Here we have once more the perversion of the relationship, which we have already, in dealing with money, called fetishism.” (p 389)

In other words, it is here the fact that labour is more productive, when it is employed co-operatively, that explains the additional surplus value it produces, but this appears now rather as the productive power of capital, which employs all of these individual labourers under one roof. It is just the same as the way this capital appropriates the gains provided by science, even though, as with capital, those gains are themselves attributable to labour. For example, it is human labour, as scientific labour, that conceived the idea of the steam engine, and it is human labour that produces the steam engine, and its component parts, and the fuel to run it. Yet, when this steam engine enhances the productivity of the labour that uses it, for a variety of functions, it is not the labour that is credited with bringing about this increase in productivity, but capital.

“The productivity of capital consists in the first instance—even if one only considers the formal subsumption of labour under capital—in the compulsion to perform surplus-labour, labour beyond the immediate need; a compulsion which the capitalist mode of production shares with earlier modes of production, but which it exercises and carries into effect in a manner more favourable to production. 

Even from the standpoint of this purely formal relation—the general form of capitalist production, which is common both to its less developed stage and to its more developed stage—the means of production, the material conditions of labour—material of labour, instruments of labour (and means of subsistence)—do not appear as subsumed to the labourer, but the labourer appears as subsumed to them.” (p 389-90) 

The labour employed by capital preserves the value of the means of production, and creates additional new value, which is absorbed by the means of production.

“Already in its simple form this relation is an inversion— personification of the thing and materialisation of the person; for what distinguishes this form from all previous forms is that the capitalist does not rule over the labourer through any personal qualities he may have, but only in so far as he is “capital”; his domination is only that of materialised labour over living labour, of the labourer’s product over the labourer himself.” (p 390)

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