Saturday, 31 August 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 22 - Part 12

Ramsay correctly notes that, because the capitalist replaces less and less of their stock, in kind, and, instead, replaces it more and more by exchange with other producers, their focus is increasingly on exchange-value, rather than use-value. An example of that might be the farmer who formerly saved seeds, so as to replace them in kind, but who now sells all of their output of grain, buying the seeds they require from a seed merchant. Where the farmer saves seeds they are concerned with the quantity of of output, and the quantity, therefore, that they can take out, so as to replace, in kind, the consumed seeds. But, where the farmer buys seeds from a a seed merchant it is not necessarily the quantity of grain they produce that concerns them, but its exchange-value, the price they can obtain for it. It is that which will determine how many seeds they can buy, how much fertiliser, how much labour-power, and so on. 

““… the more the value of the product exceeds the value of the capital advanced, the greater will be his profit. Thus, then, will he estimate it, by comparing value with value, not quantity with quantity. This is the first difference to be remarked in the mode of reckoning profits between nations and individuals” (loc. cit., p. 146).” (p 337) 

But, as Marx notes, the nation too can make this comparison of value with value, not just the individual capital. The reality is that, in every mode of production, social reproduction requires the replacement, on a like for like basis, of all these products that constitute means of production and those that constitute means of subsistence for the producers. It is a process based upon the reproduction of material balances. The difference, in each mode of production, is the form in which this reproduction of those material balances is effected. 

Under capitalism, the means of production takes the form of constant capital. Its value, the labour-time required for its reproduction, is transferred to, and reproduced out of the value of the final output. The means of subsistence, for the producers, takes the form of variable-capital, and its value is also determined by the labour-time required for its reproduction. It does not transfer this value to the value of final output, but this value, like the value of the constant capital, is reproduced out of the value of the final output. That is because, it is reproduced out of the new value created by labour in the labour process. 

For the nation too, therefore, the value of the constant capital and the variable-capital can be calculated. And, the new value created by living labour can also be calculated. By subtracting the value of the variable-capital from the new value created by labour, the amount of surplus value can be calculated, and by comparing this to the total value of constant capital and variable-capital, a rate of profit for the total social capital can be established. 

“It can calculate the total labour-time which it has to expend to replace the used-up part of its constant capital and the part of the product consumed individually, and the time of labour spent in producing a surplus designed to enlarge the scale of reproduction.” (p 337-8) 

No comments: