Monday, 17 June 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 21 - Part 25

Marx, in this section, also sets out the reason that capitalism, let alone socialism, is only conceivable as an international system, and so why any attempts to restrict either within the borders of the nation state are reactionary. Marx quotes Adam Smith. 

““… It is the infinite variety of wants, and of the kinds of commodities” [and therefore also the infinite variety of real labour, which produces those different kinds of commodities] “necessary to their gratification, which alone renders the passion for wealth” (and hence the passion for appropriating other people’s labour) “indefinite and insatiable” (Wakefield’s edition of Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Source of the Wealth of Nations, Vol. 1, London, 1835, p. 64, note).” (p 253) 

What is also seen here is the extent of Marx's scientific method, which separates out his view of the historic role of capitalism, in increasing the production of surplus value, and its extraction from the workers, for the purpose of its accumulation, from his views about the way that is done and the need thereby to move beyond it, as soon as possible. It is the difference between the scientific method of Marx, and the moralistic approach of Sismondi

So, here, Marx sets out, in the quote from Smith, that it is the opening up of global trade which creates the possibility of this wider range of human desires of the rich, which, in turn, prompts their desire to extract greater masses of surplus labour, which can be exchanged for these wider range of products, and which, in turn, creates the conditions which lead to the accumulation of capital, technological development, and the potential for socialism. Marx notes, 

“But it is only foreign trade, the development of the market to a world market, which causes money to develop into world money and abstract labour into social labour. Abstract wealth, value, money, hence abstract labour, develop in the measure that concrete labour becomes a totality of different modes of labour embracing the world market. Capitalist production rests on the value or the transformation of the labour embodied in the product into social labour. But this is only [possible] on the basis of foreign trade and of the world market. This is at once the pre-condition and the result of capitalist production.” (p 253) 

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