Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 19 - Part 31

In Capital III, Chapter 17, Marx gives another account of this, in relation to commercial profit. Commercial capital does not create new value, and so does not create new surplus value. But, the amount of profit does not depend only upon the surplus value produced, but also on the costs of circulation necessary for its realisation. To the extent that commercial capital can reduce the costs of circulation, it does not increase the produced surplus value, but does increase the realised profit. Similarly, commercial workers do not create additional value or surplus value, but their labour does act to realise the produced surplus value as profit. 

The difference between the additional profit realised by the commercial workers and the wages they are paid for doing so, thereby constitutes a surplus value for the commercial capitalist. It is value that flows to them as a result of labour performed by the commercial workers in excess of what they have paid to those workers in wages, for their labour-power

“But according to Malthus, who declares that the worker only gives back an equivalent, things are different.” (p 45) 

D and C, like B, cannot artificially create a surplus fund by selling commodities to workers at a higher price than workers were paid for producing them. Workers do not buy the products of B, C or D. If C and D are taken together, as was previously the case with A and B, then CD can only realise a profit by selling to A and B. Now, the D capitalists sell their output above its value to A and B capitalists. If they sell luxury commodities with a value of £100 for £110, then A and B capitalists who buy them can only buy 10/11 of them, in just the same way that A sells necessaries to D capitalists at 10% above their value. D then has a surplus product equal to 1/11 of their output, which they can consume themselves. 

On this basis, the only real surplus fund arises from the sale of necessaries to workers, because these commodities are sold to them at 10% above their value, whereas in every case the workers are paid only the value of their labour. The capitalists B obtain a share of this surplus fund because they sell their commodities to A at 10% above their value. Capitalists C obtain a share of this fund, because they sell their commodities at 10% above their value to D, who, in turn, sells their output to A and B, at 10% above its value. 

In terms of their mutual exchanges, the profits made by capitalists A, B, C and D cancel each other out. B overcharges A for means of production. C overcharges D for means of production, and D in turn overcharges A for luxuries. But, A overcharges B, C and D for the necessaries they buy from them. B gains from A's overcharging of C and D for necessaries through their own overcharging of A, but B likewise is overcharged for luxuries bought from D, and C gains from D's overcharging of A and B, for luxuries via their own overcharging of D for means of production. 

Referring to the difference between the two classes of capitalists A and B, and C and D, Marx says, 

“Although the capitalists of both classes sell to one another for 110 commodities worth 100, only in the hands of the second class has 100 really the significance of 110. In actual fact, the capitalists of the first class only receive the value of 100 for 110. And they only sell their surplus product for a higher price because for the articles on which they spend their revenue they have to pay more than they are worth. In fact, however, the surplus-value realised by the capitalists of the second class is limited only to a share in the surplus product realised by the first class, for they themselves do not create any surplus product.” (p 48) 

And, it's because what this amounts to is a drain of surplus value from the first class of capitalists, in so far as they buy luxuries above their value, this encourages them to limit their consumption of luxuries, Malthus argues. 

“But if they do so, and increase their accumulation, then effective demand falls, the market for the necessaries they produce shrinks, and this market cannot expand to its full extent on the basis of the demand on the part of the workers and the producers of constant capital. This leads to a fall in the price of necessaries, but it is only through a rise of these prices, through the nominal surcharge on them—and in proportion to this surcharge—that the capitalists of class A are able to extract surplus product from the workers. If the price were to fall from 120 to 110, then their surplus product (and their surplus-value) would fall from 2/12 to 1/11, and consequently the market, the demand for the commodities offered by the producers of luxuries, would decline as well, and by a still greater proportion.” (p 49) 

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