Saturday, 23 September 2017

Theories of Surplus Value, Part II, Chapter 8 - Part 26

[5. Wrong Assumptions in Rodbertus’s Theory of Rent]

Rodbertus begins with a false historical perspective in which the landowner is also a capitalist and slave owner. A “one natural rent”, taken from the workers as surplus product, becomes divided into “rent of land and capital gain”, by which he means profit.

This results in a raw product and a manufactured product. Rodbertus, as a German landowner, sees the raw product as being produced and owned by the landlord, but as Marx describes, the landowner neither produces anything nor owns anything other than the land. The raw product is owned by capitalist farmers.

Rodbertus has no idea what the basis of the rate of profit is, explaining it simply as a result of money prices making it possible to express what was a surplus product, and now assumes the form of money profit, as a proportion of the capital advanced.

“He has not even a remote idea that this uniformity of profit is in contradiction to the equality of rent and unpaid labour in each branch of production, and that therefore the values of commodities and the average prices must differ.” (p 56)

Rodbertus says nothing about the fact that capitalist production revolutionises agriculture itself, and makes the social function of the landlord redundant. He argues,

““in manufacture, the value of the entire product of agriculture is included in the capital as raw material, whereas this cannot be the case in primary production” (p. 95).” (p 56) 

But, as discussed earlier, this is completely wrong. Not only does manufacture also reproduce its own raw materials, in kind, out of its own production, but in both agriculture and manufacture, this raw material and other elements of constant capital, reproduced in kind, from production, enter into the value of the capital advanced.

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