Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Theories of Surplus Value, Part II, Chapter 17 - Part 19

Its interesting that Marx says that the analysis of crises where commodities cannot be sold belongs under the heading of competition, because this implies a conception of crises arising, at this phenomenal level, whereby it is no longer a matter of abstract numerical equivalences of values, but where questions of quality rather than quantity play a decisive role, and where, therefore, questions of use value and demand arise. Marx deals with these issues later in the chapter, as well as in Part III

“The weaver can reconvert the £5,000 surplus-value into capital, if besides labour for £1,000 he finds yarn etc. ready on the market or is able to obtain it to order; this presupposes the production of a surplus-product consisting of commodities which enter into his constant capital, particularly of those which require a longer period of production and whose volume cannot be increased rapidly, or cannot be increased at all during the course of the year, such as raw material, for example flax.” (p 484) 

As stated earlier, the basis of the accumulation is this surplus product. At its most basic, if the flax grower is seen as representing the whole of society, the surplus product they obtain, at the end of the year, is the physical source of the additional seed they plant for the following year, as well as the source of the additional wages paid for workers. The only question for an economy involving a wide range of production then is that such surplus products and available labour exists. In practice, there is no reason that they will. There is even less reason, in practice, why they will exist at the right time, in the right proportions, or at the right prices, and as Marx describes later in the chapter, this is a basic cause of crises within capitalism, because it means that a rupture in the circuit of capital arises, as money-capital cannot be metamorphosed into productive-capital

In practice, as Marx says, because some inputs take longer to produce, the stocks held by merchants play a part in smoothing out such changes in demand and supply. For example, with agricultural products, it is not possible to increase the supply of cotton or flax overnight, to meet the demands of spinners, because the additional crops must first be planted, during the planting season, and then cultivated over several months, before they can be harvested. In a global economy, additional crops can be sourced from different parts of the globe, and the introduction of Futures Markets was intended to smooth out violent shifts in demand and supply for such commodities. This is an extension of the point that Marx makes about the role of stocks held by merchants speculatively. But, for now, the analysis proceeds only on the basis of exchanges between producers. 

“Just as the production and reproduction of existing capital in one sphere presupposes parallel production and reproduction in other spheres, so accumulation or the formation of additional capital in one branch of production presupposes simultaneous or parallel creation of additional products in other branches of production. Thus the scale of production in all spheres which supply constant capital must grow simultaneously (in accordance with the average participation—determined by the demand—of each particular sphere in the general growth of production) and all spheres which do not produce finished products for individual consumption, supply constant capital. Of the greatest importance, is the increase in machinery (tools), raw material, and auxiliary material, for, if these preconditions are present, all other industries into which they enter, whether they produce semi-finished or finished goods, only need to set in motion more labour.” (p 485) 

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