Thursday, 9 January 2020

Theories of Surplus Value, Part III, Addenda - Part 30

In the formula land – rent, capitalprofit (interest), the final element is labourwages. Superficially, at least, this appears rational. 

“At least it states the source from which wages flow. But it is on the contrary the most irrational of them all, and the basis for the other two, in the same way as wage-labour in general presupposes land in the form of landed property and the product in the form of capital.” (p 480-1) 

In other modes of production, wage labour does not exist or exists only at the periphery. Yet labour itself exists in every mode of production. If labour exists in every mode of production, but wages do not, then its clear that no such essential relation between wages and labour exists. The medieval peasant undertakes labour, but they do not receive wages. The artisan undertakes labour and produces handicraft products, which they sell, but they do not receive wages. The way bourgeois economics gets around this is to take economic categories specific to capitalism and to apply them retrospectively to previous modes of production. 

In the same way, that a capitalist farmer who owns the land they farm is deemed to pay themselves wages alongside any profit they produce in selling the commodities they take to market. Its only because the worker is confronted with landed property and capital as alien forces, as they have been separated from their own ownership of land and means of production that wage-labour appears, because now the worker must sell not their labour of the product of their labour, but their labour-power itself as a commodity. 

For the worker, their labour is indeed the source of their wages, but this is not the same thing as equivalence of wages with labour. Without the workers' labour there would be no wages, but nor would there be rent, interest, and taxes or profits. It is labour that is the source of all new value and thereby of the revenue under all these separate guises. 


“Since wages here appear to be the specific product of labour, its sole product (and they are indeed the sole product of labour for the wage-worker), the other parts of value—rent and profit (interest)appear to flow just as necessarily from other specific sources. And just as that part of the value of the product which consists of wages [is conceived] as the specific product of labour, so those parts of value which are made up of rent and profit must be regarded as specific results of agencies for which they exist and to which they accrue, that is, as offspring of the earth and of capital, respectively.” (p 481)

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