Thursday, 5 December 2019

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Chapter 24 - Part 45

Marx paraphrases from an article by John C. Morton, in an article in the Journal of the Society of Arts, from December 9th, 1859, which discusses the role of steam engines in agriculture, which had reduced the number of horses employed. Marx also quotes Hodgskin who points out that because agricultural production is constrained by natural laws relating to growing times, during all of the year, prior to the harvest, the landlord and the farmer, as well as the farm labourers were dependent upon the production of other producers for their sustenance. 

“For that whole period they are obliged to borrow of the shoemaker, the tailor, the smith, the wheelwright, and the various other labourers, whose products they cannot dispense with, but which are completed in a few days or weeks. Owing to this natural circumstance, and owing to the more rapid increase of the wealth produced by other labour than that of agriculture, the monopolisers of all the land, though they have also monopolised legislation, have not been able to save themselves and their servants, the farmers, from becoming the most dependent class of men in the community” (Thomas Hodgskin, Popular Political Economy, London, 1827, p. 147, note).” (p 445) 

Marx notes that, in fact, for any capitalist, as opposed to capital itself, they must live, so that not all of the profit can be accumulated. A part of the profit, as revenue for the capitalist, must be consumed unproductively. This ceases to be the case with socialised capital. The day to day professional managers, who take on the functional role “labour of superintendence” of organising production, in the way a conductor organises the performance of an orchestra, are paid out of the variable-capital. That is clear in the case of the worker-owned cooperative, where such managers are employed to undertake that function by the workers. It is only in the case of the joint stock company or corporation where these managers, in addition to that labour of superintendence, also fulfil a function in policing the labour of the workers, that payment for this activity is paid for out of surplus value. In addition, the executives appointed by shareholders, to defend their interests, and who sit above the actual functioning capitalists, perform no useful role in production – often as representatives of shareholders interests, quite the opposite – and the whole of their excessive remuneration is paid for out of surplus value. 

For the private capitalist, the longer the period of turnover of their capital, the longer the sum of money they must have, not only to advance as money-capital, but to cover their own unproductive consumption, in the intervening period. 

“He must advance his own revenue for a longer period. His capital must be larger. He is obliged to leave a part of it always unused, as a consumption fund. 

{In small-scale farming, therefore, domestic industry is combined with agriculture; supplies for the year, etc.}” (p 445) 

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