Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION 4.—CIRCUMSTANCES THAT, INDEPENDENTLY OF THE DIVISION OF SURPLUS-VALUE INTO CAPITAL AND REVENUE, DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF ACCUMULATION. DEGREE OF EXPLOITATION OF LABOUR-POWER. PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOUR. GROWING DIFFERENCE IN AMOUNT BETWEEN CAPITAL EMPL - Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume I: The Process of Capitalist Production
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SECTION 4.—CIRCUMSTANCES THAT, INDEPENDENTLY OF THE DIVISION OF SURPLUS-VALUE INTO CAPITAL AND REVENUE, DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF ACCUMULATION. DEGREE OF EXPLOITATION OF LABOUR-POWER. PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOUR. GROWING DIFFERENCE IN AMOUNT BETWEEN CAPITAL EMPL - Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume I: The Process of Capitalist Production 
Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume I: The Process of Capitalist Production, by Karl Marx. Trans. from the 3rd German edition, by Samuel Moore and Edward Aveling, ed. Federick Engels. Revised and amplified according to the 4th German ed. by Ernest Untermann (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Co., 1909).
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SECTION 4.—CIRCUMSTANCES THAT, INDEPENDENTLY OF THE DIVISION OF SURPLUS-VALUE INTO CAPITAL AND REVENUE, DETERMINE THE AMOUNT OF ACCUMULATION. DEGREE OF EXPLOITATION OF LABOUR-POWER. PRODUCTIVITY OF LABOUR. GROWING DIFFERENCE IN AMOUNT BETWEEN CAPITAL EMPLOYED AND CAPITAL CONSUMED. MAGNITUDE OF CAPITAL ADVANCED.
The proportion in which surplus-value breaks up into capital and revenue being given, the magnitude of the capital accumulated clearly depends on the absolute magnitude of the surplus-value. Suppose that 80 per cent. were capitalised and 20 per cent. eaten up, the accumulated capital will be £2,400 or £1,200, according as the total surplus-value has amounted to £3,000 or £1,500. Hence all the circumstances that determine the mass of surplus-value, operate to determine the magnitude of the accumulation. We sum them up once again, but only in so far as they afford new points of view in regard to accumulation.
It will be remembered that the rate of surplus-value depends, in the first place, on the degree of exploitation of labour-power. Political economy values this fact so highly, that it occasionally identifies the acceleration of accumulation due to increased productiveness of labour, with its acceleration dut to increased exploitation of the labourer.55 In the chapters on the production of surplus-value it was constantly presupposed that wages are at least equal to the value of labour-power. Forcible reduction of wages below this value plays, however, in practice too important a part, for us not to pause upon it for a moment. It, in fact, transforms, within certain limits, the labourer's necessary consumption-fund into a fund for the accumulation of capital.
"Wages," says John Stuart Mill, "have no productive power; they are the price of productive-power. Wages do not contribute, along with labour, to the production of commodities, no more than the price of tools contributes along with the tools themselves. If labour could be had without purchase, wages might be dispensed with."56 But if the labourers could live on air they could not be bought at any price. The zero of their cost is therefore a limit in a mathematical sense, always beyond reach, although we can always approximate more and more nearly to it. The constant tendency of capital is to force the cost of labour back towards this zero. A writer of the 18th century, often quoted already, the author of the "Essay on Trade and Commerce," only betrays the innermost secret soul of English capitalism, when he declares the historic mission of England to be the forcing down of English wages to the level of the French and the Dutch.57 With other things he says naïvely: "But if our poor" (technical term for labourers) "will live luxuriously...then labour must, of course, be dear.... When it is considered what luxuries the manufacturing populace consume, such as brandy, gin, tea, sugar, foreign fruit, strong beer, printed linens, snuff, tobacco, 8c."58 He quotes the work of a Northamptonshire manufacturer, who, with eyes squinting heavenward, moans: "Labour is one-third cheaper in France than in England; for their poor work hard, and fare hard, as to their food and clothing. Their chief diet is bread, fruit, herbs, roots, and dried fish; for they very seldom eat flesh; and when wheat is dear, they eat very little bread."59 "To which may be added," our essayist goes on, "that their drink is either water or other small liquors, so that they spend very little money....These things are very difficult to be brought about; but they are not impracticable, since they have been effected both in France and in Holland."60 Twenty years later, an American humbug, the baronised Yankee, Benjamin Thompson (alias Count Rumford) followed the same line of philanthropy to the great satisfaction of God and man. His "Essays" are a cookery book with receipts of all kinds for replacing by some succedaneum the ordinary dear food of the labourer. The following is a particularly successful receipt of this wonderful philosopher: "5 lbs. of barley meal, 7½d.; 5 lbs. of Indian corn, 6¼d.; 3d. worth of red herring, 1d. salt, 1d. vinegar, 2d. pepper and sweet herbs, in all 20¾d.; make a soup for 64 men, and at the medium price of barley and of Indian corn...this soup may be provided at ¼d, the portion of 20 ounces."61 With the advance of capitalistic production, the adulteration of food rendered Thompson's ideal superfluous.62 At the end of the 18th and during the first ten years of the 19th century, the English farmers and landlords enforced the absolute minimum of wage, by paying the agricultural labourers less than the minimum in the form of wages, and the remainder in the shape of parochial relief. An example of the waggish way in which the English Dogberries acted in their "legal" fixing of a wages tariff: "The squires of Norfolk had dined, says Mr. Burke, when they fixed the rate of wages; the squires of Berks evidently thought the labourers ought not to do so, when they fixed the rate of wages at Speenhamland, 1795.... There they decide that 'income (weekly) should be 3s. for a man,' when the gallon or half-peck loaf of 8 lbs. 11 oz. is at 1s., and increase regularly till bread is 1s. 5d.; when it is above that sum, decrease regularly till it be at 2s., and then his food should be 1/5th less."63 Before the Committee of Inquiry of the House of Lords, 1814, a certain A. Bennett, a large farmer, magistrate, poor-law guardian, and wage-regulator, was asked: "Has any proportion of the value of daily labour been made up to the labourers out of the poors' rate?" Answer: "Yes, it has; the weekly income of every family is made up to the gallon loaf (8 lbs. 11 oz.), and 3d. per head!...The gallon loaf per week is what we suppose sufficient for the maintenance of every person in the family for the week; and the 3d. is for clothes, and if the parish think proper to find clothes, the 3d. is deducted. This practice goes through all the western part of Wiltshire, and, I believe, throughout the country."64 "For years," exclaims a bourgeois author of that time, "they (the farmers) have degraded a respectable class of their countrymen, by forcing them to have recourse to the workhouse...the farmer, while increasing his own gains, has prevented any accumulation on the part of his labouring dependants."65 The part played in our days by the direct robbery from the labourer's necessary consumption-fund in the formation of surplus-value, and, therefore, of the accumulation fund of capital, the so-called domestic industry has served to show. (Ch. xv., sect. 8, c.) Further facts on this subject will be given later.
Although in all branches of industry that part of the constant capital consisting of instruments of labour must be sufficient for a certain number of labourers (determined by the magnitude of the undertaking), it by no means always necessarily increases in the same proportion as the quantity of labour employed. In a factory, suppose that 100 labourers working 8 hours a day yield 800 working-hours. If the capitalist wishes to raise this sum by one half, he can employ 50 more workers; but then he must also advance more capital, not merely for wages, but for instruments of labour. But he might also let the 100 labourers work 12 hours instead of 8, and then the instruments of labour already on hand would be enough. These would them simply be more rapidly consumed. Thus additional labour, begotten of the greater tension of labour-power, can augment surplus-product and surplus-value (i.e., the subject matter of accumulation), without corresponding augmentation in the constant part of capital.
In the extractive industries, mines, 8c., the raw materials form no part of the capital advanced. The subject of labour is in this case not a product of previous labour, but is furnished by Nature gratis, as in the case of metals, minerals, coal, stone, 8c. In these cases the constant capital consists almost exclusively of instruments of labour, which can very well absorb an increased quantity of labour (day and night shifts of labourers, e.g.). All other things being equal, the mass and value of the product will rise in direct proportion to the labour expended. As on the first day of production, the original produce-formers, now turned into the creators of the material elements of capital—man and Nature—still work together. Thanks to the elasticity of labour-power, the domain of accumulation has extended without any previous enlargement of constant capital.
In agriculture the land under cultivation cannot be increased without the advance of more seed and manure. But this advance once made, the purely mechanical working of the soil itself produces a marvellous effect on the amount of the product. A greater quantity of labour, done by the same number of labourers as before, thus increases the fertility, without requiring any new advance in the instruments of labour. It is once again the direct action of man on Nature which becomes an immediate source of greater accumulation, without the intervention of any new capital.
Finally, in what is called manufacturing industry, every additional expenditure of labour presupposes a corresponding additional expenditure of raw materials, but not necessarily of instruments of labour. And as extractive industry and agriculture supply manufacturing industry with its raw materials and those of its instruments of labour, the additional product the former have created without additional advance of capital, tells also in favour of the latter.
General result: by incorporating with itself the two primary creators of wealth, labour-power and the land, capital acquires a power of expansion that permits it to augument the elements of its accumulation beyond the limits apparently fixed by its own magnitude, or by the value and the mass of the means of production, already produced, in which it has its being.
Another important factor in the accumulation of capital is the degree of productivity of social labour.
With the productive power of labour increases the mass of the products, in which a certain value, and therefore, a surplus-value of a given magnitude, is embodied. The rate of surplus-value remaining the same or even falling, so long as it only falls more slowly, than the productive power of labour rises, the mass of the surplus-product increases. The division of this product into revenue and additional capital remaining the same, the consumption of the capitalist may, therefore, increase without any decrease in the fund of accumulation. The relative magnitude of the accumulation fund may even increase at the expense of the consumption fund, whilst the cheapening of commodities places at the disposal of the capitalist as many means of enjoyment as formerly, or even more than formerly. But hand-in-hand with the increasing productivity of labour, goes, as we have seen, the cheapening of the labourer, therefore a higher rate of surplus-value, even when the real wages are rising. The latter never rise proportionally to the productive power of labour. The same value in variable capital therefore sets in movement more labour-power, and, therefore, more labour. The same value in constant capital is embodied in more means of production, i.e., in more instruments of labour, materials of labour and auxiliary materials; it therefore also supplies more elements for the production both of use-value and of value, and with these more absorbers of labour. The value of the additional capital, therefore, remaining the same or even diminishing, accelerated accumulation still takes place. Not only does the scale of reproduction materially extend, but the production of surplus-value increases more rapidly than the value of the additional capital.
The development of the productive power of labour reacts also on the original capital already engaged in the process of production. A part of the functioning constant capital consists of instruments of labour such as machinery, 8c., which are not consumed, and therefore not reproduced, or replaced by new ones of the same kind, until after long periods of time. But every year a part of these instruments of labour perishes or reaches the limit of its productive function. It reaches, therefore, in that year, the time for its periodical reproduction, for its replacement by new ones of the same kind. If the productiveness of labour has, during the using up of these instruments of labour, increased (and it developes continually with the uninterrupted advance of science and technology), more efficient and (considering their increased efficiency), cheaper machines, tools, apparatus, 8c., replace the old. The old capital is reproduced in a more productive form, apart from the constant detail improvements in the instruments of labour already in use. The other part of the constant capital, raw material and auxiliary substances, is constantly reproduced in less than a year; those produced by agriculture, for the most part annually. Every introduction of improved methods, therefore, works almost simultaneously on the new capital and on that already in action. Every advance in Chemistry not only multiplies the number of useful materials and the useful applications of those already known, thus extending with the growth of capital its sphere of investment. It teaches at the same time how to throw the excrements of the processes of production and consumption back again into the circle of the process of reproduction, and thus, without any previous outlay of capital, creates new matter for capital. Like the increased exploitation of natural wealth by the mere increase in the tension of labour-power, science and technology give capital a power of expansion independent of the given magnitude of the capital actually functioning. They react at the same time on that part of the original capital which has entered upon its stage of renewal. This, in passing into its new shape, incorporates gratis the social advance made while its old shape was being used up. Of course, this development of productive power is accompanied by a partial depreciation of functioning capital. So far as this depreciation makes itself acutely felt in competition, the burden falls on the labourer, in the increased exploitation of whom the capitalist looks for his indemnification.
Labour transmits to its product the value of the means of production consumed by it. On the other hand, the value and mass of the means of production set in motion by a given quantity of labour increase as the labour becomes more productive. Though the same quantity of labour adds always to its products only the same sum of new value, still the old capital-value, transmitted by the labour to the products, increases with the growing productivity of labour.
An English and Chinese spinner, e.g., may work the same number of hours with the same intensity; then they will both in a week create equal values. But in spite of this equality, an immense difference will obtain between the value of the week's product of the Englishman, who works with a mighty automaton, and that of the Chinaman, who has but a spinning wheel. In the same time as the Chinaman spins one pound of cotton, the Englishman spins several hundreds of pounds. A sum, many hundred times as great, of old values swells the value of his product, in which those reappear in a new, useful form, and can thus function anew as capital. "In 1782," as Frederick Engels teaches us, "all the wool crop in England of the three preceding years, lay untouched for want of labourers, and so it must have lain, if newly invented machinery had not come to its aid and spun it."66 Labour embodied in the form of machinery of course did not directly force into life a single man, but it made it possible for a smaller number of labourers, with the addition of relatively less living labour, not only to consume the wool productively, and put into it new value, but to preserve in the form of yarn, 8c., its old value. At the same time, it caused and stimulated increased reproduction of wool. It is the natural property of living labour, to transmit old value, whilst it creates new. Hence, with the increase in efficacy, extent and value of its means of production, consequently with the accumulation that accompanies the development of its productive power, labour keeps up and eternises an always increasing capital-value in a form ever new.67 This natural power of labour takes the appearance of an intrinsic property of capital, in which it is incorporated, just as the productive forces of social labour take the appearance of inherent properties of capital, and as the constant appropriation of surplus-labour by the capitalists, takes that of a constant self-expansion of capital.
With the increase of capital, the difference between the capital employed and the capital consumed increases. In other words, there is increase in the value and the material mass of the instruments of labour, such as buildings, machinery, drain-pipes, working-cattle, apparatus of every kind that function for a longer or shorter time in processes of production constantly repeated, or that serve for the attainment of particular useful effects, whilst they themselves only gradually wear out, therefore only lose their value piecemeal, therefore transfer that value of the product only bit by bit. In the same proportion as these instruments of labour serve as product-formers without adding value to the product, i.e., in the same proportion as they, are wholly employed but only partly consumed, they perform, as we saw earlier, the same gratuitous service as the natural forces, water, steam, air, electricity, etc. This gratuitous service of past labour, when seized and filled with a soul by living labour, increases with the advancing stages of accumulation.
Since past labour always disguises itself as capital, i.e., since the passive of the labour of A, B, C, etc., takes the form of the active of the non-labourer X, bourgeois and political economists are full of praises of the services of dead and gone labour, which, according to the Scotch genius M'Culloch, ought to receive a special remuneration in the shape of interest, profit, etc.68 The powerful and ever-increasing assistance given by past labour to the living labour process under the form of means of production, is therefore, attributed to that form of past labour in which it is alienated, as unpaid labour, from the worker himself, i.e., to its capitalistic form. The practical agents of capitalistic production and their pettifogging ideologists are as unable to think of the means of production as separate from the antagonistic social mask they wear to-day, as a slave-owner to think of the worker himself as distinct from his character as a slave.
With a given degree of exploitation of labour-power, the mass of the surplus-value produced is determined by the number of workers simultaneously exploited; and this corresponds, although in varying proportions, with the magnitude of the capital. The more, therefore, capital increases by means of successive accumulations, the more does the sum of the value increase that is divided into consumption-fund and accumulation-fund. The capitalist can therefore, live a more jolly life, and at the same time show more "abstinence." And, finally, all the springs of production act with greater elasticity, the more its scale extends with the mass of the capital advanced.
[55.] "Ricardo says: 'In different stages of society the accumulation of capital or of the means of employing" (i.e., exploiting) "labour is more or less rapid, and must in all cases depend on the productive powers of labour. The productive powers of labour are generally greatest where there is an abundance of fertile land.' If, in the first sentence, the productive powers of labour mean the smallness of that aliquot part of any produce that goes to those whose manual labor produced it, the sentence is nearly identical, because the remaining aliquot part is the fund whence capital can, if the owner pleases, be accumulated. But then this does not generally happen, where there is most fertile land." ("Observations on certain verbal disputes, 8c.," pp. 74, 75.)
[56.] J. Stuart Mill: "Essays on some unsettled questions of Political Economy Lond., 1849," p. 90.
[57.] "An Essay on Trade and Commerce, Lond., 1770," p. 44. The "Times" of December, 1866, and January, 1867, in like manner published certain outpourings of the heart of the English mineowner, in which the happy lot of the Belgian miners was pictured, who asked and received no more than was strictly necessary for them to live for their "masters." The Belgian labourers have to suffer much, but to figure in the "Times" as model labourers! In the beginning of February, 1867, came the answer: strike of the Belgian miners at Marchienne, put down by powder and lead.
[58.] l. c., pp. 44, 46.
[59.] The Northamptonshire manufacturer commits a pious fraud, pardonable in one whose heart is so full. He nominally compares the life of the English and French manufacturing labourer, but in the words just quoted he is painting, as he himself confesses in his confused way, the French agricultural labourers.
[60.] l. c., p. 70, 71. Note to the 3rd edition: Today, thanks to the competition on the world-market, established since then, we have advanced much further. "If China," says Mr. Stapleton, M. P., to his constituents, "should become a great manufacturing country, I do not see how the manufacturing population of Europe could sustain the contest without descending to the level of their competitors." ("Times," Sept. 9, 1873, p. 8.) The wished-for goal of English capital is no longer Continental wages but Chinese.
[61.] Benjamin Thompson: Essays, Political, Economical, and Philosophical, 8c., 3 vols., Lond., 1796-1802, vol. i., p. 288. In his "The State of the Poor, or an History of the Labouring Classes in England, 8c.," Sir F. M. Eden strongly recommends the Rumfordian beggar-soup to workhouse overseers, and reproachfully warns the English labourers that "many poor people, particularly in Scotland, live, and that very comfortably, for months together, upon oat-meal and barley-meal, mixed with only water and salt." (l. c., vol. i., book i., ch. 2., p. 503.) The same sort of hints in the 19th century. "The most wholesome mixtures of flour having been refused (by the English agricultural labourer)....in Scotland, where education is better, this prejudice is, probably, unknown." (Charles H. Parry, M.D.: The question of the necessity of the existing Corn Laws considered. London, 1816, p. 69.) This same Parry, however, complains that the English labourer is now (1815) in a much worse condition than in Eden's time (1787).
[62.] From the reports of the last Parliamentary Commission on adulteration of means of subsistence, it will be seen that the adulteration even of medicines is the rule, not the exception of England. E.g., the examination of 34 specimens of opium, purchased of as many different chemists in London, showed that 31 were adulterated with poppy heads, wheat-flour, gum, clay, sand, 8c. Several did not contain an atom of morphia.
[63.] G. B. Newnham (barrister-at-law): "A Review of the Evidence before the Committee of the two Houses of Parliament on the Corn Laws. Lond., 1815," p. 28. note.
[64.] l. c., pp. 19, 20.
[65.] C. H. Parry, l. c., pp. 77, 69. The landlords, on their side, not only "indemnified" themselves for the Anti-jacobin war, which they waged in the name of England, but enriched themselves enormously. Their rents doubled, trebled, quadrupled, "and in one instance, increased sixfold in eighteen years." (l. c., pp. 100, 101.)
[66.] Frederick Engels, "Lage der arbeitenden Klasse in England," p. 20.
[67.] Classic economy has, on account of a deficient analysis of the labour-process, and of the process of creating value, never properly grasped this weighty element of reproduction, as may be seen in Ricardo; he says, e.g., whatever the change in productive power, "a million men always produce in manufactures the same value." This is accurate, if the extension and degree of intensity of their labour are given. But it does not prevent (this Ricardo overlooks in certain conclusions he draws) a million men with different powers of productivity in their labour, turning into products very different masses of the means of production, and therefore preserving in their products very different masses of value; in consequence of which the values of the products yielded may vary considerably. Ricardo has, it may be noted in passing, tried in vain to make clear to J. B. Say, by that very example, the difference between use-value (which he here calls wealth or material riches) and exchange-value. Say answers: "Quant à la difficulté qu'élève Mr. Ricardo en disant que, par des procédés mieux entendus, un million de personnes peuvent produire deux fois, trois fois autant de richesses, sans produire plus de valeurs, cette difficulté n'est pas une lorsque l'on considére, ainsi qu'on le doit, la production comme un échange dans lequel on donne les services productifs de son travail, de sa terre, et de ses capitaux, pour obtenir des produits. C'est par le moyen de ces services productifs, que nous acquérons tous les produits qui sont au monde. Or....nous sommes d'autant plus riches nos services productifs ont d'autant plus de valeur qu'ils obtiennent dans l'échange appelé production une plus grande quantité de choses utiles." (J. B. Say; "Lettres à M. Malthus, Paris, 1820," pp. 168, 169.) The "difficulté"—it exists for him, not for Ricardo—that Say means to clear up is this: Why does not the exchange-value of the use-values increase, when their quantity increases in consequence of increased productive power of labour? Answer; the difficulty is met by calling use-value, exchange-value, if you please. Exchange-value is a thing that is connected one way or another with exchange. If therefore production is called an exchange of labour and means of production against the product, it is clear as day that you obtain more exchange-value in proportion as the production yields more use-value. In other words, the more use-values, e.g., stockings, a working day yields to the stocking-manufacturer, the richer is he in stockings. Suddenly, however, Say recollects that "with a greater quantity" of stockings their "price" (which of course has nothing to do with their exchange-value!) falls "parce que la concurrence les (les producteurs) oblige à donner les produits pour ce qu'ils leur coûtent." But whence does the profit come, if the capitalist sells the commodities at cost price? Never mind! Say declares that, in consequence of increased productivity, every one now receives in return for a given equivalent two pairs of stockings instead of one as before. The result he arrives at, is precisely that proposition of Ricardo that he aimed at disproving. After this mighty effort of thought, he triumphantly apostrophises Malthus in the words: "Telle est, monsieur, la doctrine bien liee, sans laquelle il est impossible, je le déclare, d'expliquer les plus grandes difficultés de l'économie politique, et notamment, comment il se peut qu'une nation soit plus riche lorsque ses produits diminuent de valeur, quoique la richesse soit de la valeur." (1. c. p. 170.) An English economist remarks upon the conjuring tricks of the same nature that appear in Say's "Lettres": "Those affected ways of talking make up in general that which M. Say is pleased to call his doctrine and which he earnestly urges Malthus to teach at Hertford, as it is already taught 'dans plusieurs parties de l'Europe.' He says, 'Si vous trouvez une physionomie de paradoxe à toutes ces propositions, voyez les choses qu'elles expriment, et j'ose croire qu'elles vous paraitront fort simples et fort raisonnables.' Doubtless, and in consequence of the same process, they will appear everything else, except original." (An Inquiry into those Principles respecting the Nature of Demand, 8c., p. 116, 110.)
[68.] M'Culloch took out a patent for "wages of past labour," long before Senior did for "wages of abstinence."