Friday, 8 November 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 24 - Part 18

All investment, in any mode of production, involves “saving”, in the sense that a part of the social product that could otherwise have been consumed, as revenue, is, instead, set aside to increase the means of production, and to provide means of subsistence for additional workers. Capital accumulation is itself the consequence of such “saving”, but it is not the result of personal saving by the capitalist; it is the result of the fact that the workers undertake surplus labour, and, thereby, create a surplus product. Rather than the workers, or society in general, consuming this surplus product unproductively, it is, instead, “saved” and, thereby, set aside as additional means of production and means of subsistence. It only has the appearance of being the result of saving or abstinence by the capitalist because the capitalist appropriates the product of the labourers, and, thereby, the surplus product created by the labourers, before determining its use for either productive or unproductive consumption. 

Marx summarises Jones' comments from pages 16-17 of The Syllabus, where he sets out a description of pre-capitalist economies, where society is divided into agricultural labourers, landlords and servants and retainers, who live off the revenue of the landlords. 

Capital, that is, accumulated wealth employed for the purpose of obtaining profit is the great agent, the motive power which causes the changes that take place in this economic conformation.” (p 414) 

The landlords obtain rents from the agricultural producers, and, from these rents, provide the subsistence of their servants and retainers, as paying for the commodities they require from artisans. Jones describes how, 

“If you want the labour of an artisan, you provide him with materials; he comes to your house, you feed and pay him his wages. After a time, the capitalist steps in, he provides the materials, he advances the wages of the workman, he becomes his employer, and he is the owner of the article produced, which he exchanges for your money… An intermediate class appears between the landowners and a portion of the non-agriculturists, upon which intermediate class, those non-agriculturists are dependent for employment and subsistence. The ties which formerly bound the community together are worn out and fall to pieces; other bonds, other principles of cohesion, connect its different classes: new economical relations spring into being… Not only is the great body of non-agriculturists almost wholly in the pay of capitalists, but even the labouring cultivators of the soil […] are their servants too” (loc. cit., pp. 18-19).” (p 414-5) 

Marx notes, 

“The Syllabus of a Course of Lectures on the Wages of Labour differs from the book on rent in this: the book examines the different forms of landed property to which different social forms of labour correspond. In the Syllabus, these different forms of labour are the point of departure and both the different forms of landed property and capital are regarded as their offspring. The determinate social form of the worker’s labour corresponds to the form which the conditions of labour—that is, in particular, the land, nature, since this relationship embraces all others—assume in respect of the worker. But the former is in fact merely the objective expression of the latter.” (p 415) 

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