Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Theories of Surplus Value, Part II, Chapter 16 - Part 19

[c) Transformation of a Part of Profit and a Part of Capital into Rent. The Magnitude of Rent Varies in Accordance with the Amount of Labour Employed in Agriculture]

The last example leads to what appears to be a conundrum, Marx says. If wages rise to a level whereby surplus value disappears, how is it then that rent is payable on land types III to Ib? The conundrum is only apparent. The solution to the apparent conundrum, Marx explains, is that its necessary to understand the process of reproduction as a reproduction of material balances, i.e. a physical replacement of the use values that comprise the constant and variable capital, on a “like for like basis”. 

If we look at the capital employed on land type III, Marx says, £100 of capital is employed, divided into £50 c and £50 v. But, the 16.66 workers employed by this capital only produce £50 of new value, so they produce no surplus value. However, Marx says, things look very different when we analyse the situation not in terms of these money values, but in terms of the reproduction and replacement of the physical use values. So, he says, 16.66 workers produce £50 of new value. On land type III, 1 ton of output is equal to £1.60's worth of labour-time. The output of land type III, attributable to the new value created by labour is then equal to 31.25 tons, i.e. 31.25 tons x £1.60 = £50. But, the 16.66 workers employed on land type III only require 16.66 tons to reproduce their labour-power. So, when reproduction is viewed in terms of this actual physical reproduction process that takes place in the real world, it's clear that the labour here, on land type III produces a physical surplus product, equal to 31.25 tons – 16.66 tons for wages = 14.59 tons, and this represents a surplus value, from which also a portion for rent is derived. 

But, the importance of analysing the process of reproduction on the basis of the replacement of physical quantities does not stop there, 

“... because the market-value of a ton has risen from £1 3/5 or £8/5 to £3, 16⅔tons or quarters out of the product of 62½ tons or quarters, will suffice to replace the value of the constant capital.” (p 452) 

In other words, assuming the constant capital comprises other commodities, such as fertiliser etc. previously, 31.25 tons of the total output would have been required to replace this £50 of constant capital, but now the output sells at £3 per ton, rather than £1.60 per ton. The exchange value of the grain has risen relative to the fertiliser and other components of the constant capital. To buy this £50 of constant capital now requires only 16.66 tons of output, at £3 per ton, to reproduce. 

“Thus 31¼–16⅔ tons or quarters, i.e., 14 7/12 tons or quarters, become available and fall to the share of rent.” (p 452) 

In other words, its not just that a smaller physical quantity of land type III's output is required to reproduce the physical commodities that comprise the variable-capital, but also that a smaller physical quantity of its output is required to reproduce the physical components of the constant capital too. In effect, there is a release of capital. And, this similar calculation applies to land types II-Ib. 

“Thus it becomes evident that the differential rent—which arises on the better types of land owing to the difference between market-value and individual value of the products raised on them— in its material form as rent in kind, surplus-product, rent in tons or corn in the above example, is made up of two elements and due to two transformations. (Firstly:) The surplus-product which represents the surplus-labour of the workers or the surplus-value, is changed from the form of profit to the form of rent, and therefore falls to the landlord instead of the capitalist. Secondly: a part of the product which previously—when the product of the better type of land or mine was being sold at its own value—was needed to replace the value of the constant capital, is now, when each portion of the product possesses a higher market-value, free and appears in the form of surplus-product, thus falling to the landlord instead of the capitalist.” (p 452) 

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