Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Addenda - Part 43

Where all capitalists use their own capital, the category of interest does not arise. Where some capitalists borrow money-capital, and pay interest, the category of profit separates into two – interest and industrial profit – which appears to reflect two different types of capital – interest-bearing capital and industrial capital. This appears, initially, as just a quantitative division of the profit, no different than where, say, a firm belongs to four partners, and its profit is divided between them, proportionately to the capital each has contributed. 

But, in the case of interest-bearing capital this quantitative division becomes transformed into a qualitative division. If profit is the natural fruit of capital, and capital sold as a commodity bears interest, then profit and interest form two distinct categories. The industrial capitalist who uses their own capital now sees their profit itself as divided into these two distinct forms of property. They see the capital value they advance as producing interest, and the remainder of the profit as being a revenue deriving from the production process itself, and their role within it as a functioning capitalist

This latter source of revenue, is, thereby, completely separated from their ownership of capital. It is attributable not to ownership of capital but their function in the production process. Then “industrial profit is happily converted into wages and is equated with ordinary wages, differing from them only quantitatively and in the special form in which they are paid, i.e., that the capitalist pays wages to himself instead of someone else paying them to him.” (p 492) 

When the monopoly of private capital is itself replaced by the dominance of socialised capital, this overlap between the capitalist as owner of capital and as functioning capitalist disappears, or assumes a different form. The private capitalist steps away from their role as functioning capitalist. At first, that function is taken on by individual professional managers, but, as the scale of production increases, so that function has to be taken on by an increasing army of professional managers, technicians and bureaucrats in production, sales, marketing, purchasing, accounting, administration, personnel and so on. And, increasingly, as these functioning capitalists are drawn from the ranks of the working-class, and indeed, like other workers, form themselves into trades unions alongside the other workers, so the owners of the interest-bearing capital are led to protect their own interests against them, by appointing their own representative on to Boards of Directors that sit on top of, and exercise control over the actual functioning capitalists, and the industrial capital. 

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