Sunday, November 05, 2006
Key passages from Section 6: pp.250-266
"In the theory the concept of value precedes that of capital, but requires for its pure development a mode of production founded on capital... we are dealing here with developed bourgeois society, which is already moving on its own foundation".
"To develop the concept of capital it is necessary to begin not with labour but with value, and, precisely, with exchange value in an already developed movement of circulation. It is just as impossible to make the transition directly from labour to capital as it is to go from the different human races directly to the banker, or from nature to the steam engine".
Value "in its purity and generality presupposes a mode of production in which the individual product has ceased to exist for the producer in general and even more for the individual worker".
"Within the system of bourgeois society, capital follows immediately after money. In history, other systems come before, and they form the material basis of a less complete development of value".
Bourgeois theory sees "capital as a thing, not as a relation".
"When it is said that capital 'is accumulated (realized) labour (properly, objectified [vergegenständlichte] labour), which serves as the means for new labour (production)', then this refers to the simple material of capital, without regard to the formal character without which it is not capital. This means nothing more than that capital is - an instrument of production, for, in the broadest sense, every object, including those furnished purely by nature, e.g. a stone, must first be appropriated by some sort of activity before it can function as an instrument, as means of production. According to this, capital would have existed in all forms of society...
If, then, the specific form of capital is abstracted away, and only the content is emphasized, as which it is a necessary moment of all labour, then of course nothing is easier than to demonstrate that capital is a necessary condition for all human production. The proof of this proceeds precisely by abstraction from the specific aspects which make it the moment of a specifically developed historic stage of human production.
The catch is that if all capital is objectified labour which serves as means for new production, it is not the case that all objectified labour which serves as means for new production is capital. Capital is conceived as a thing, not as a relation".
In fact, capital is a "process", an "alternation".
The actual evolution into "a mode of production founded on capital" comes, writes Marx, within the "history of landed property... gradual transformation... of the resident serfs, bondsmen and villeins... into agricultural day-labourerers".
In its first forms, "on the margins", "capital has by no means become the foundation of production".
How can it become the foundation?
"In England, for example, the import of Netherlands commodities in the sixteenth century and at the beginning of the seventeenth century gave to the surplus of wool which England had to provide in exchange, an essential, decisive role. In order then to produce more wool, cultivated land was transformed into sheep-walks, the system of small tenant-farmers was broken up etc., clearing of estates took place etc. Agriculture thus lost the character of labour for use value, and the exchange of its overflow lost the character of relative indifference in respect to the inner construction of production. At certain points, agriculture itself became purely determined by circulation, transformed into production for exchange value. Not only was the mode of production altered thereby, but also all the old relations of population and of production, the economic relations which corresponded to it, were dissolved. Thus, here was a circulation which presupposed a production in which only the overflow was created as exchange value; but it turned into a production which took place only in connection with circulation, a production which posited exchange values as its exclusive content".