Monday, 11 February 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 20 - Part 52

The author of the “Inquiry” says, quoting Ricardo, 

““‘There cannot be accumulated (p. 360) in a country any amount of capital which cannot be employed productively’ (meaning, I presume,”—says the author in brackets—“‘with profit to the owner’) ‘until wages rise so high in consequence of the rise of necessaries, and so little consequently remains for the profits of stock, that the motive for accumulation ceases’” [loc. cit., pp. 18-19].” (p 120) 

Marx notes that, here, Ricardo equates productivity and profitability, but, under capitalist production, it is only production that is profitable that can be considered productive, because, for capital, it is only what produces surplus value/profit, which is the purpose of production. The purpose of capitalist production is not the maximisation of the gross product, or gross revenue, but of the net product/surplus value. 

“In order to produce “productively”, production must be carried on in such a way that the mass of producers are excluded from the demand for a part of the product. Production has to be carried on in opposition to a class whose consumption stands in no relation to its production—since it is precisely in the excess of its production over its consumption that the profit of capital consists. On the other hand, production must be carried on for classes who consume without producing. It is not enough merely to give the surplus product a form in which it becomes an object of demand for these classes. On the other hand, the capitalist himself, if he wishes to accumulate, must not himself consume as much of his own products, insofar as they are consumer goods, as he produces. Otherwise he cannot accumulate.” (p 120) 

Consequently, it appears, considering what is produced for consumption, that the workers that produce it cannot consume all of it, because if they did there would be no surplus product, and so no surplus value, but, nor can the capitalists consume all of the remainder, because the point of capitalist production is not simply for the capitalist to personally consume the surplus value, but for them to use it for capital accumulation. The problem appears, therefore, to be that, although a surplus value is produced, it cannot all be realised in a way that enables capital accumulation. It's for this reason that Malthus proposes, as the solution, that the landed aristocracy and the state consume the remainder of the surplus product, so that the capitalist realises the surplus value, and is thereby enabled to accumulate. It is essentially the same solution that Keynes, and his supporters brought forward a century later, to have the unsold output consumed by the state – even if indirectly by the state running a fiscal deficit. 

No comments: