Sunday, 2 December 2018

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 19 - Part 28

Of course, Malthus never asks the question of where the landlords rent, or the state's taxes, as revenues come from, that enables them to be buyers without also being sellers! 

“Malthus’s theory of value gives rise to the whole doctrine of the necessity for continually rising unproductive consumption which this exponent of over-population (because of shortage of food) preaches so energetically. The value of a commodity is equal to the value of the materials, machinery, etc., advanced plus the quantity of direct labour which the commodity contains; this, according to Malthus, is equal to the value of the wages contained in the commodity, plus a profit increment on these advances according to the general rate of profit. This nominal price increment represents the profit and is a condition of supply, and therefore of the reproduction of the commodity. These elements constitute the price for the purchaser as distinct from the price for the producer, and the price for the purchaser is the real value of the commodity. The question now arises—how is this price to be realised? Who is to pay it? And from what funds is it to be paid?” (p 40-41) 

Malthus fails to distinguish between all of the potential participants in these exchanges. It is not just a question of workers, capitalists and landlords. 

“One section of capitalists produce goods which are directly consumed by the workers; another section produce either goods which are only indirectly consumed by them, insofar, for example, as they are part of the capital required for the production of necessaries, as raw materials, machinery, etc., or commodities which are not consumed by the workers at all, entering only into the revenue of the non-workers.” (p 41) 

In addition, there are those capitalists who only produce commodities which are bought by other capitalists. Marx goes through each of these groups, on the basis of Malthus' argument. He begins with those capitalists who produce the commodities bought by workers. Marx assumes that capital is only advanced as variable-capital, which simplifies the analysis. So, the capitalists in this sphere employ labour and pay £100 in wages. In line with Malthus' theory of value, this £100 of wages is equal to the value of the labour provided and embodied in the produced commodities. But, the capitalist sells these commodities back to the workers who produced them, at a total price of £110. So, it's obvious that the workers can only by 10/11 of the commodities they produced. The other 1/11 remains with these capitalists as a surplus product. It has a value of £10, which is equal to the profit, added as a surcharge, and which the capitalist requires, in order to produce. 

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