Saturday, 10 March 2018

Theories of Surplus Value, Part II, Chapter 14 - Part 6

In Chapter VI, Smith still mostly proceeds on the basis that value resolves into revenues, but by Chapter VII, it is the compounding of the values of those different revenues into the commodity price that becomes dominant in Smith's theory. But, if the value of a commodity or the national commodity product is greater than the value of wages, because it also comprises the value of profits and rents, then its clear that any commodity, or the national commodity-product, must be capable of commanding more labour than was required for its production. 

“So it amounts to this: the exchangeable value of the annual product of labour resolves itself into paid labour (wages) and unpaid labour (profit and rent). If therefore a part of that part of the value which resolves itself into unpaid labour is converted into wages, one can purchase a greater quantity of labour than if one merely assigns that part of the value which consists of wages, to the purchase of new labour.” (p 346) 

Marx quotes Smith again then to illustrate the confusion and contradiction that Smith has arrived at. Smith refers to an independent producer, and the way in which these different revenues are then conflated, because he “unites in his own person the three different characters of landlord, farmer, and labourer. His produce, therefore, should pay him the rent of the first, the profit of the second, and the wages of the third.” (p 347) 

But, Smith says, for the independent labourer, the profit and rent are confounded with his wages. However, Marx points out, 

“Is not the whole “the earnings of his labour”? And are not, on the contrary, the conditions of capitalist production—in which, with the alienation of labour from its objective conditions, the worker, capitalist and landowner confront one another as different characters too—transferred to this gardener, so that the product of his labour or rather the value of the product is regarded, part of it as wages, in payment of his labour, part of it as profit, on account of the capital employed, and part of it as rent, as the portion due to the land or rather the proprietor of the land? Within capitalist production(it is) quite correct, when considering those conditions of labour in which these elements are not separated (in actual fact), to assume them to be separated and so to regard this gardener as his own journeyman and as his own landowner in one person.” (p 347) 

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