Saturday, 16 June 2018

Theories of Surplus Value, Part II, Chapter 16 - Part 23

Marx then sets out the argument using an example most favourable to Ricardo, where both the variable and constant capital consists entirely of agricultural produce. Referring back to the previous tables set out, when land type Ia determines the market value, the price of this produce, say corn, rises to £3 per ton. Assuming a fixed working-day, the technical composition of capital remains the same, so that a given number of workers requires a given quantity of means of production. The initial composition of capital was £60 c + £40 v, and the price per ton was £2. So, £40 v, at £2 per ton, is equal to 20 tons. The £40 v represented 20 workers, so that each worker is paid 1 ton of corn as wages. Equally, the £60 c is equal to 30 tons of corn at £2 per ton. 

On land type III, the 20 workers produce 75 tons of corn. Now, on the assumption, following Ricardo, that land type Ia determines the market value, which rises to £3 per ton, the £40 variable-capital would only employ 40/3 = 13.33 workers, because each worker must be paid 1 ton of corn as wages. These 13.33 workers, in turn, only produce 50 tons (⅔ x 75 tons), as opposed to the 75 tons that was previously produced by 20 workers. Previously, 20 workers set in motion 30 tons of corn as constant capital, and so now 13.33 workers set in motion 20 tons. Considered in money terms, the 13.33 workers produce a new value of £40. 

The capitalist must pay £60 for the corn used as means of production (even if this is his own corn, this is its value), and £40 to cover the wages of the 13.33 workers. In that case, the capital laid out is £100, and the value of output is £100, so that there appears to be no surplus value, and so no profit or rent. However, the reality is different when considered from the standpoint of the physical use values, 

“... because the productivity of III has remained the same, as has already been said, 13⅓ men produce 50 tons or quarters. The outlay in kind of tons, or quarters, however, only amounts to 20 tons for constant capital and 13⅓ tons for wages, i.e., 33⅓ tons. The 50 tons thus leave a surplus-product of 16⅔ and this forms the rent.” (p 456) 

Where does the surplus come from? 

“Since the value of the product is £100 and the product itself equals 50 tons, the value of the ton produced here would in fact be £2, which is 100/50. And so long as the product in kind is greater than what is required for the replacement of the capital in kind, the individual value of a ton must remain smaller than its market-value according to this criterion.” (p 456) 

In physical terms, the cost to the farmer, on land type III, is 20 tons to physically replace his constant capital, and 13.33 tons to physically reproduce the wages paid to workers. But, the workers produce 50 tons, which means a surplus of 50 – 33.33 = 16.66 tons. 

The farmer calculates the 20 tons, and the 13.33 tons as £3 per ton, because that is the market value per ton. If they sold this output, rather than replaced it in kind, that is how much they would obtain, if they sold the 33.33 tons in the market, but, similarly, it is what they would have to pay a seed merchant for the replacement seed, and their workers in money wages. 

“In actual fact, however, so far as class III is concerned, the 20 tons cost £40 and the 13⅓ cost only £26⅔, But the 13⅓workers produce a value of £40, and therefore a surplus-value of £13⅓. At £2 per ton, this amounts to 6 4/6 or 6⅔tons. 

And since the 20 tons [constant capital] cost only £40 on III, this leaves an excess of £20 equal to 10 tons. 

The 16⅔ tons rent are thus equal to 6⅔ tons surplus-value which is converted into rent and 10 tons capital which is converted into rent. But because the market-value per ton has risen to £3, the 20 tons cost the farmer £60 and the 13⅓ cost him £40, while the 16⅔ tons, that is the excess of the market-value over the [individual] value of his product, appear as rent, and [cost] £50.” (p 456) 

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