Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Addenda - Part 7

The idea that the start and end point is the expansion of money-capital is a derangement that has arisen because of the identification of money-capital with capital itself, and identification encouraged by the view of the bankers and financiers. 

“The movement of money when it is lent as capital, that is, when it is not converted into capital but enters into circulation as capital, expresses nothing more than the transfer of the same money from one person to another. The property rights remain with the lender, but the possession is transferred to the industrial capitalist. For the lender, however, the conversion of the money into capital begins at the moment when he spends it as capital instead of spending it as money, i.e., when he hands it over to the industrial capitalist.” (p 457) 

This is still the same case when the owner of the money-capital lends it to the industrial capitalist in exchange for shares. The former owns the share certificate, which is merely a debt instrument, which acts as a claim for the return of the money loaned, under certain conditions. The owner of the share certificate is entitled to receive interest/dividends on the money they have loaned, and to sell the shares should they choose. What they do not own is the productive-capital that the industrial capitalist buys with the money they have borrowed, in exchange for shares. 

But, of course, money lenders do not just lend to industrial capitalists. Yet, for the owner of the money, it still has this potential to be loaned as money-capital, and so, whoever they lend it to, they expect to obtain interest from doing so. 

“(It remains capital for him even if he does not lend it to the industrial capitalist but to a spendthrift, or to a worker who cannot pay his rent. The whole pawnshop business [is based on this].) (p 457) 

Where a lender lends money to a spendthrift etc., it does not actually constitute capital. It has the appearance of capital, because it has the form M – M`, an amount of money returns as a greater amount of money, but this, in itself, does not constitute a self-expansion of value. A similar expansion of M – M` arises where there is a change in the value or money price of an asset. In other words, where there is a capital gain. But, as Marx shows in Capital III, Chapter 6, and in Theories of Surplus Value, Chapter 22, a capital gain is not the same thing as profit, or the production of surplus value. A capital gain for one is an equal capital loss for another. The interest paid to A, is the interest paid by B. 

The money loaned by A to B only acts as capital in the hands of B, if it is used as capital, to produce commodities, whose price of production includes the average profit, i.e. the proportional share of the total surplus value produced by capital as a whole. But, this is something that occurs totally separate from the relation between A, the lender, and B, the borrower. What B does with the money borrowed from A is of no concern to A, any more than it is the concern of of the seller of tomatoes what the buyer of tomatoes does with them. This consumption forms a different sphere of activity than the circuit of capital of the tomato producer.
That circuit is P … C` - M`. M – C … P. The tomatoes are sold to D, at the point C` - M`. At that point, they cease being the commodity-capital of the tomato producer, and cease any further role for him. They are metamorphosed into money-capital. But, for D, they now form a completely different sphere of activity. D may simply consume them, and they cease to have any further existence (other than they form a part of D's own reproduction), but D may also be a producer of ketchup or soup, for whom the tomatoes, now form a part of their productive-capital, and so enter a new separate circuit of capital. Alternatively, D may be a merchant, and the tomatoes constitute his commodity-capital, to be sold at a profit. 

The same applies where the money-lender sells the use value of capital. The buyer of that use value may consume it unproductively or productively. It is of no concern to the lender (provided the loan is secured with collateral) and that is why this money-lending capital exists outside the actual circuit of capital. 

“True, the other person converts it into capital, but this is an operation beyond that in which the lender and the borrower are involved. This development is effaced, is not visible, is not directly included in it. Instead of the real conversion of money into capital, there appears only the empty form of this process. Just as in the case of labour-power, the use-value of money here becomes that of creating exchange-value, more exchange-value than it itself contains. It is lent as self-expanding value, as a commodity, but a commodity which, precisely because of this quality, differs from commodities as such and therefore also possesses a specific form of alienation.” (p 457) 

It is not capital, but fictitious capital. It is not itself self-expanding value, but creates the potential for the borrower to use it as such. 

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