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PART VI.: TRANSFORMATION OF SURPLUS PROFIT INTO GROUND-RENT. - Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume III: The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole 
Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume III: The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole, by Karl Marx. Ed. Federick Engels. Trans. from the 1st German edition by Ernest Untermann (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Co. Cooperative, 1909).
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TRANSFORMATION OF SURPLUS PROFIT INTO GROUND-RENT.
THE analysis of landed property in its various historical forms belongs outside of the limits of this work. We shall occupy ourselves with it in this place only to the extent that a portion of the surplus-value produced by the industrial capital falls into the hands of the land owner. We assume, then, that agriculture is dominated by the capitalist mode of production, just as manufacture is, in other words, that agriculture is carried on by capitalists, who differ primarily from the other capitalists only through the element, in which their capital and the wage-labor set in motion by this capital are invested. So far as we are concerned, the capitalist farmer produces wheat, etc., in the same way that the manufacturer produces yarn or machines. The assumption that the capitalist mode of production has seized agriculture implies that it rules all spheres of production and bourgeois society, so that its prerequisites, such as free competition among capitals, the possibility of transferring them from one sphere of production to another, a uniform level of the average rate of profit, etc., are fully matured. The form of landed property which we consider here is a specifically historical one, a form altered through the influence of capital and of the capitalist mode of production, and evolved either out of feudal land ownership, or out of small peasants' agriculture carried on for a living, in which the possession of land constitutes one of the prerequisites of production for the direct producer, and in which his ownership of land appears as the most advantageous condition for the prosperity of his mode of production. Just as capitalist production is conditioned in a general way on the expropriation of the laborers from their requirements of production, so capitalist agriculture demands the expropriation of the rural laborers from the land and their subordination to a capitalist, who carries on agriculture for the sake of profit. For the results of our analysis the objection, that other forms of landed property and of agriculture have existed or still exist, is quite irrelevant. Such an objection cannot apply to any one else but to those economists, who treat of the capitalist mode of production in agriculture, and of the form of landed property corresponding to it, as though it were not a historical but an eternal category.
For our purposes it is necessary to study the modern form of landed property, because it is our business to consider the typical conditions of production and commerce, which arise from the investment of capital in agriculture. Without this our analysis of capital would not be complete. We therefore confine ourselves exclusively to the investment of capital in agriculture strictly so-called, that is, capital invested in the production of the principal plant crop, on which a certain population lives. We may say wheat, because it is the principal article of food among the modern capitalistically developed nations (or mining instead of agriculture, because the laws of both are the same).
It is one of the great merits of Adam Smith to have shown that the ground rent for capital invested in the production of such crops as flax, dye stuffs, independent cattle raising, etc., is determined by the ground rent obtained from capital invested in the production of the principal article of subsistence. In fact no progress has been made in this since his time. What we might add in the way of exception or supplement belongs in a separate study of landed property, not here. Hence we shall not speak of landed property outside of the land destined for the production of wheat in the manner of exports, but shall merely refer to it occasionally by way of illustration.
For the sake of completeness we shall remark, that we include also water, etc., in the term land, so far as it has an owner and belongs as an accessory to the soil.
Landed property is conditioned on the monopolisation of certain portions of the globe by private persons, for the purpose of making these portions the exclusive spheres of their private will and keeping all others away from it.119 With this in mind, the problem is to ascertain the economic value, that is, the employment of this monopoly on the basis of capitalist production. With the legal power of these persons to use or misuse certain portions of the globe nothing is settled. The use of this power depends wholly upon economic conditions, which are independent of their will. The legal conception itself signifies nothing else but that the land owner may do with the soil what the owner of commodities may do with them. And this conception, this legal conception of free property in land, arises in the ancient world only with the dissolution of the organic order of society, and in the modern world only with the development of capitalist production. Into Asia it has been imported by Europeans in but a few places. In that Part of our work, which deals with primitive accumulation (Volume I, chapter XXVI), we have seen that this mode of production presupposes on the one hand the separation of the direct producers from their position as mere attachments to the soil (in their capacity of bondsmen, serfs, slaves, etc.), on the other hand the expropriation of the mass of the people from the land. To this extent the monopoly of landed property is a historical premise, and remains the basis, of the capitalist mode of production, just as it does of all other modes of production, which rests on the exploitation of the masses in one form or another. But that form of landed property, which the capitalist mode of production meets in its first stages, does not suit its requirements. It creates for itself that form of property in land, which is adapted to its requirements, by subordinating agriculture to the dominion of capital. It transforms feudal landed property, tribal property, small peasants' property in mark communes, whatever may be their legal form, into the economic form corresponding to the requirements of capitalism. It is one of the great outcomes of the capitalist mode of production, that it transforms agriculture from a merely empirical and mechanically perpetuated process of the least developed part of society into a consciously scientific application of agronomics, so far as this is at all feasible under the conditions going with private property;120 that it detaches property in land on the one side from the relations between master and servant, and on the other hand totally separates land as an instrument of production from property in land and land owners, for whom it represents merely a certain tribute of money, which he collects by force of his monopoly from the industrial capitalist, the capitalist farmer. It dissolves all these connections so thoroughly, that the owner of the land may spend his whole life in Constantinople, while his estates are in Scotland. Private property in land thus receives its purely economic form by discarding all its former political and social trappings and implications, in brief all those traditional accessories, which are denounced as a useless and absurd attachment by the industrial capitalists and their theoretical spokesmen in the heat of their struggle with landed property, as we shall see later. The rationalising of agriculture on the one hand and thus rendering it capable of operation on a social scale, and the reduction ad absurdum of private property in land on the other hand, these are the great merits of the capitalist mode of production. Like all its other historical advances it bought these also by first completely pauperizing the direct producers.
Before we pass on to the problem itself, we must make a few more preliminary remarks in order to forestall misunderstanding.
The premises for a capitalist production in agriculture are these: The actual tillers of the soil are wage-laborers, employed by a capitalist, the capitalist farmer, who carries on agriculture merely as a special field of exploitation for his capital, an investment of his capital in a special sphere of production. This renting capitalist pays to the land owner, the owner of the soil exploited by him, a sum of money at definite periods fixed by contract, for instance annually (just as the borrower of money-capital pays a fixed interest), for the permission to invest his capital in this particular sphere of production. This sum of money is called ground-rent, no matter whether it is paid for agriculture soil, building lots, mines, fishing grounds, forests, etc. It is paid for the entire time, during which the land owner has rented his land to the capitalist by contract. Ground-rent, therefore, is that form, in which property in land realizes itself economically, that is, produces value. Here, then, we have all three classes together, which constitute the frame work of modern society, and they have divergent interests—wage-laborers, industrial capitalists, land owners.
Capital may be fixed in the soil, may be incorporated in it, either in a transient manner, as it is by improvements of a chemical nature, fertilization, etc., or more permanently, as in drainage canals, irrigation works, leveling, farm buildings, etc. In another place I have called the capital thus incorporated in the soil land-capital.121 It belongs in the categories of fixed capital. The interest on the capital thus incorporated in the soil and the improvements thus made in it as an instrument of production may form a part of the rent paid by the capitalist farmer to the land owner,122 but it does not constitute that ground-rent, strictly speaking, which is paid for the use of the soil as such, whether it be in a natural state or cultivated. In a systematic treatment of private property in land, which is not included in our plan, this part of the revenue of the land owner would have to be discussed at length. But a few words about it will suffice here. The more transient investments of capital which go with the ordinary processes of production in agriculture, are made without exception by the capitalist farmer. These investments, like cultivation proper, improve the soil,123 if cultivation is carried on in a moderately rational manner and does not reduce itself to a brutal spoilation of the soil, such as used to be in vogue among the former slave holders in the United States, a thing against which the land owners may provide by contract. In this way material land is transformed into land-capital. A cultivated field is worth more than an uncultivated one of the same natural quality. Likewise the more permanent fixed capitals, which are incorporated in the soil and worn out in longer time, are largely, and in some spheres often exclusively, invested by the capitalist farmer. But as soon as the time stipulated by contract has expired—and this is one of the reasons why the land owners seek to shorten the time of contract as much as possible when capitalist production develops—the improvements embodied in the soil become the property of the land owner as an inseparable part of the land. In the new contract, which the land owner makes, he adds the interest for the capital incorporated in the soil to the real ground-rent. And he does this whether he leases the land to the same capitalist who made these improvements or to some other capitalist farmer. His rent is thus increased; or, if he wishes to sell his land (we shall see immediately how its price is determined), its value has risen. He sells not merely the soil, but the improved soil, the capital incorporated in the soil for which he did not pay anything. Quite aside from the movements of real ground-rent, this is one of the secrets of the increasing enrichment of the land owners, of the continuous inflation of their rents, and of the growing money-value of real estate in proportion as economic development proceeds. Thus they pocket a result of social development brought about without their help, fruges consumere nati, they are born to consume the fruits of the earth. But this is at the same time one of the greatest obstacles to a rational development of agriculture, because the capitalist renter avoids all improvements and expenses, for which he cannot expect any returns during the time of his lease. We find this fact denounced as such an obstacle, not only in the 18th century by James Anderson, the actual discoverer of the modern theory of rent, who was also a practical capitalist farmer and an advanced agronomist for his time, but also in our own days by the opponents of the present constitution of landed property in England.
A. A. Walton, in his "History of the Landed Tenures of Great Britain and Ireland," London, 1865, says on this score: All the efforts of the numerous agricultural institutes in our country cannot accomplish any very important or really appreciable results in the actual progress of improved cultivation, so long as such improvements increase in a far higher degree the value of real estate and the size of the rent roll of the land owner, than they improve the condition of the tenant or the farm laborer. The tenants in general know quite as well as the land owner, his rent collector, or even the president of an agricultural society, that good drainage, ample manuring, and good management, together with an increased application of labor, cleaning the land thoroughly and working it over, will produce wonderful results, both in the improvement of the soil and in an increased production. But all this demands considerable expense, and the tenants also know very well, that no matter how much they may improve the soil or raise its value, the land owner will in the long run get the principal benefit of it in raised rents and increased land values....They are cunning enough to observe, what those speakers [land owners and their agents speaking at agricultural feasts] always forget to tell them, namely that the lion's share of all improvements made by the tenants must always pass ultimately into the pockets of the land owners....No matter how much the former tenant may have improved his leasehold, his successor will always find, that the land owner will raise the rent in proportion to the increased land value due to previous improvements. (Pages 96 and 97.)
In agriculture proper this process does not yet appear quite so plainly as when the land is used for building lots. The overwhelming part of the land used in England for building purposes, but not sold as a freehold, is rented by the land owners for 99 years, or for a shorter time if possible. After the lapse of this time the buildings fall into the hands of the land owner together with the land. The tenants are obliged, says Walton, to deliver the house to the great land owner in a good inhabitable condition after the expiration of the lease, after they have paid up to this time an exorbitant ground-rent. Hardly has the lease expired, when the agent or inspector of the landlord comes, inspects your house, takes care that you get it into good condition, takes possession of it and annexes it to the domain of his landlord. The fact is that if this system is permitted to exert its full effects for some time longer, the entire ownership of houses as well as of country real estate will be in the hands of the great landed proprietors. The whole West End of London, north and south of Temple Bar, belongs almost exclusively to half a dozen great landlords, is rented at enormous ground-rents, and if the leases have not quite expired, most of them expire in rapid succession. The same applies in a greater or smaller degree to every city in the Kingdom. But even here this greedy system of exclusiveness and monopoly does not stop. Nearly all the docking facilities of our port cities are in the hands of the great land leviathans in consequence of the same process of usurpation. (L. c., p. 93.) Under these circumstances it is evident that if the census for England and Wales in 1861 gives the total population as 20,066,224 and the number of house owners as 36,032, the proportion of the owners to the number of houses and to the population would take on a very different aspect, if the great house owners were placed on one side and the small ones on the other.
This illustration of property in buildings is important. In the first place, it clearly shows the difference between real ground-rent and interest on fixed capital incorporated in the soil, which may form an addition to the ground-rent. The interest on buildings, like that on capital incorporated in the soil by the tenant, falls into the hands of the industrial capitalist, the building speculator, or the tenant, so long as the lease lasts, and has in itself nothing to do with the ground-rent, which must be paid annually at stated dates for the use of the soil. In the second place it shows, that the capital incorporated in the soil ultimately passes into the hands of the landlord together with the land, and that the interest on it helps to swell his rent.
Some writers, either acting as spokesmen of landlordism against the attacks of bourgeois economists, or endeavoring to transform the capitalist system of production from a system of antagonisms into one of "harmonies," as did Carey, have tried to represent ground-rent, the specific economic expression of private property in land, as identical with interest. For this would obliterate the antagonism between landlords and capitalists. The opposite method was employed in the beginning of capitalist production. In those days landed property was still regarded by popular conception as the primitive and respectable form of private property, while interest on capital was decried as usury. Dudley North, Locke and others, therefore represented interest on capital as a form analogous with ground-rent, just as Turgot deduced the justification of interest from the existence of ground-rent.—Aside from the fact that ground-rent may, and does, exist in its pure form without any addition for interest on capital incorporated in the soil, these more recent writers also forget, that in this way the landlord does not only receive interest on the capital of other people that cost him nothing, but also pockets this capital of others without any compensating return. The justification of private property in land, like that of all other forms of property within a certain mode of production, is that the mode of production is itself a transient historical necessity, and this includes the conditions of production and exchange, which flow from it. It is true, as we shall see later, that property in land differs from the other kinds of property by the fact that it appears superfluous, and even noxious, at a certain stage of development, even from the point of view of capitalist production.
In another form, ground-rent may be confounded with interest and its specific character overlooked. Ground-rent assumes the shape of a certain sum of money, which the landlord draws annually out of the lease of a certain piece of the globe. We have seen that every sum of money may be capitalised, that is, considered as the interest on an imaginary capital. For instance, if the average rate of interest is 5%, then an annual ground-rent of 200 pounds sterling may be regarded as the interest on a capital of 4,000 pounds sterling. Ground-rent so capitalised forms the purchase price or value of the land, a category which is on its face irrational, just as the price of labor is, since the earth is not the product of labor and therefore has no value. But on the other hand a real relation in production is concealed behind this irrational form. If a capitalist buys land yielding a rent of 200 pounds sterling annually and pays 4,000 pounds sterling for it, then he draws the average interest of 5% on his capital of 4,000 pounds sterling, just as though he had invested this capital in interest-bearing papers or loaned it directly at 5% interest. It is the utilisation of a capital of 4,000 pounds sterling at 5%. On this assumption he would recover the purchase price of his estate in twenty years by its revenues. In England, therefore, the purchase price of land is calculated on so many years' purchase, and this is merely a different expression for the capitalisation of the ground-rent. It is in fact the purchase price, not of the land, but of the ground-rent yielded by it, calculated on the ordinary rate of interest. But this capitalisation of rent has for its premise the existence of rent, for rent cannot be explained and derived from its own capitalisation. Its existence, independent of its sale, is rather the condition from which the inquiry must start.
It follows, then, that the price of land may rise or fall inversely as the rate of interest rises or falls, if we assume that ground-rent is a constant magnitude. If the ordinary rate of interest should fall from 5% to 4%, then the annual ground-rent of 200 pounds sterling would represent the annual self-expansion of a capital of 5,000 pounds sterling instead of 4,000 pounds sterling. The price of the same piece of land would thus have risen from 4,000 to 5,000 pounds sterling, or from 20 years' to 25 years' purchase. The reverse would take place in the opposite case. This is a movement of the price of land, which is independent of the movement of ground-rent itself and regulated only by the rate of interest. But as we have seen that the rate of profit has a tendency to fall in the course of social progress, and that the rate of interest has the same tendency, so far as it is regulated by the rate of profit; and since, furthermore, the rate of interest has a tendency to fall in consequence of the growth of loanable capital, aside from the influence of the rate of profit, it follows that the price of land has a tendency to rise, even independently of the movement of ground-rent and the prices of the products of the soil, of which the rent forms a part.
The mistaking ground-rent for the interest form, which it assumes for the buyer of the land—a mistake due to a complete unfamiliarity with the nature of ground-rent—must lead to the most absurd conclusions. Since landed property is considered, in all old countries, as a particularly noble form of property, and its purchase also as an eminently safe investment of capital, the rate of interest at which ground-rent is bought is generally lower than that of other investments of capital for a long time, so that a buyer of real estate draws, for instance, only 4% on his purchase price, whereas he would draw 5% for the same capital in other investments. In other words, he pays more capital for the ground-rent than he would for the same amount of income in other investments. This leads Mr. Thiers to conclude in his utterly valueless work on La Propriété (a reprint of a speech of his made in 1849 against Proudhon in the French National Assembly) that ground-rent is low, while it proves merely that its purchase price is high.
The fact that capitalised ground-rent represents itself as the price or value of land, so that the earth is bought and sold like any other commodity, serves to some apologists as a justification of private property in land, seeing that the buyer pays an equivalent for it the same as he does for other commodities, and that the major portion of property in land has changed hands in this way. The same reason would, in that case, serve also to justify slavery, since the returns from the labor of the slave, whom the slave holder has bought, represent merely the interest on the capital invested in this purchase. To derive from the sale and purchase of ground-rent a justification for its existence signifies to justify its existence by its existence.
It is very important for a scientific analysis of ground-rent, that is of the independent and specifically economic form of property in land on the basis of capitalist production, to study it in its pure form and free from all falsifying and obliterating by-work. And it is no less important for an understanding of the practical effects of property in land, even for a theoretical comprehension of a multitude of facts, which run counter to the conception and nature of ground-rent and yet appear as modes of existence of ground-rent, to know the elements which give rise to such obscurities in theory.
In practice everything appears naturally as ground-rent that is paid in the form of lease money by the tenant to the landlord for the permission of cultivating the soil. Whatever may be the composition of this tribute, whatever may be its sources, it has this in common with real ground-rent that the monopoly of the so-called owner of a piece of the globe enables him to levy such a tribute and impose such a tax. This tribute furthermore shares with the real ground-rent the fact that it determines the price of land, which, as we have indicated above, is nothing but the capitalised income from the lease of the land.
We have already seen, that the interest for the capital incorporated in the soil may form one of those foreign ingredients in ground-rent, an element which must become a continually growing addition to the total rent of a certain country in proportion as economic development proceeds. But aside from this interest it is possible that the lease money may conceal a deduction from the average profit or from the normal wages, or both, being made up of them either in part or wholly, so that in some cases it may not represent any real ground-rent at all and the soil may be valueless. This portion of the profit, or of wages, appears then as ground-rent, because instead of falling normally into the hands of the industrial capitalist or the wage worker, it is paid to the land-lord in the form of lease money. Economically speaking neither the one nor the other of these portions constitutes any ground-rent; but in practice they constitute some of the revenue of the landlord, an economic utilisation of his monopoly, just as real ground-rent does, and they have a determining influence on land prices just as ground-rent has.
We are not now speaking of conditions, in which ground-rent, the form of landed property adapted to the capitalist mode of production, formally exists without the capitalist mode of production itself, so that the tenant is not an industrial capitalist, nor the mode of his management a capitalist one. Such is the case in Ireland. The tenant is here generally a small farmer. What he pays to the landlord in the shape of rent absorbs frequently not merely a part of his profit, that is, of his own surplus-labor, to which he is entitled as the possessor of his own instruments of production, but also a part of his normal wages, which he would receive under different conditions for the same amount of labor. Besides, the landlord, who does not do anything for the improvement of the soil, also expropriates him from his small capital, which he incorporates for the greater part in the soil by his own labor, just as a usurer would do under similar circumstances. Only the usurer would at least risk his own capital in the operation. This continual robbery is the center of the disputes over the Irish Land Bill, which has for its principal aim to compel the landlord, when giving notice to his tenant to vacate, should pay him an indemnity for the improvements made by him in the soil, or for the capital incorporated by him in the land. Palmerston used to meet this demand with the cynical answer: "The House of Commons is a house of landlords."
Nor do we speak of exceptional circumstances, in which the landlord may enforce a high rent even in countries with a capitalist production, although this rent may not be in any way connected with the product of the soil. Of such a nature is the renting of small patches of ground to laborers in English factory districts, either for small gardens or for amateur agriculture in spare hours. (Reports of Inspectors of Factories.)
We are speaking of ground-rent in countries with a developed capitalist production. Among English tenants, for instance, there is a number of small capitalists, who are destined and compelled by education, training, tradition, competition, and other circumstances, to invest their capital as tenants in agriculture. They are compelled to be satisfied with less than the average profit, and to yield up a part of it to the landlords for rent. This is the only condition on which they are permitted to invest their capital in the soil, in agriculture. Since the landlords exert everywhere a considerable, in England even an overwhelming, influence on legislation, they are in a position to exploit this for the purpose of grinding down the entire class of tenants. The corn laws of 1815, for instance, a bread tax confessedly imposed upon the country for the purpose of securing for the idle landlords a continuation of their abnormally increased rentals during the anti-Jacobin wars, had indeed the effect, with the exception of a few extraordinarily rich years, of keeping the prices of agricultural products above the level which they could have held in free competition. But they did not have the effect of keeping prices at that level, which had been ordered by the law-making landlords to serve as standard prices in such a way as to form the legal limit for the importation of foreign corn. But the leases were made out under the impression created by these normal prices. As soon as the illusion passed away, a new law was made, with new normal prices, which were as much an impotent expression of the greedy land-lord's phantasy as the old ones. In this way the tenants were cheated from 1815 to the thirties. Hence we have during all this period the standing subject of agricultural distress. And with it we have during this period the expropriation and the ruin of a whole generation of tenants, and the appropriation of their places by a new class of capitalists.124
A much more general and important fact, however, is the depression of the wages of the actual farm laborers below their normal average, so that a portion of the wages is deducted in order to become a part of the lease money and thus flowing into the pockets of the landlord instead of the laborer under the disguise of ground-rent. This is the case quite generally in England and Scotland, with the exception of a few favorably situated counties. The inquiries of the Parliamentarian Committees into the scale of wages made before the passing of the corn laws in England—so far the most valuable and almost unexploited contributions to a history of wages in the 19th century, and at the same time a monument of disgrace erected for themselves by the English aristocracy and bourgeoisie—proved convincingly and beyond a doubt that the high rates of rent and the corresponding raise in the land prices during the anti-Jacobin wars, were due in part to no other cause but the deductions from wages and the depression of wages even below the physical minimum. In other words, a part of the wages had been paid over to the landlords. Various circumstances such as the depreciation of money, the handling of the poor laws in the agricultural districts, etc., had made these operations possible, at a time when the incomes of the tenants were rising enormously and the landlords amassed fabulous riches. Yes, one of the main arguments for the introduction of the corn laws, used by both tenants and landlords, was that it was physically impossible to depress the wages of the farm laborers still more. This condition of things has not been materially altered, and in England as well as in all European countries a portion of the normal wages is absorbed by the ground-rent the same as ever. When Count Shaftsbury, then Lord Ashley, one of the philanthropic aristocrats, was so extraordinarily moved by the condition of the English factory laborers and acted as their spokesman in Parliament during the agitation for a ten hour day, the spokesmen of the industrials got their revenge by publishing statistics on the wages of the agricultural laborers in the villages belonging to him (see Volume I, chapter XXV, 5e, The British Agricultural Proletariat), which showed clearly, that a portion of the ground-rent of this philanthropist consisted of the loot, which his agents filched for him out of the wages of the agricultural laborers. This publication is also interesting for the reason, that the facts exposed by it may rank in the same class with the worst exposures made by the Committees in 1814 and 1815. As soon as circumstances permit of a temporary raise in the wages of the agricultural laborers, a cry goes up from the capitalist tenants to the effect that a raising of the wages to their normal level, as customary in other lines of industry, would be impossible and would ruin them, unless ground-rent were reduced at the same time. This is a confession, that the tenants deduct a portion from the wages of the laborers under the name of ground-rent and pay it over to the landlords. For instance, from 1849 to 1859 the wages of the agricultural laborers rose in England through a combination of overwhelming circumstances, such as the exodus from Ireland, which cut off the supply of agricultural laborers coming from that country; an extraordinary absorption of the agricultural population by the factories; a demand for soldiers to go to war; an exceptional emigration to Australia and the United States (California), and other causes which need not be mentioned here. At the same time the average prices of grain fell by more than 16% during this period, with the exception of the poor agricultural years from 1854 to 1856. The tenant capitalists shouted for a reduction of their rents. They succeeded in single cases. But on the whole they failed to get what they wanted. They sought refuge in a reduction of the cost of production, among other things by introducing steam engines and new machinery in abundance, which partly replaced horses and crowded them out of the business, but partly also created an artificial overpopulation by throwing agricultural laborers out of work and thereby causing a fall in wages. And this took place in spite of the general relative decrease of the agricultural population during that decade, compared to the growth of the total population, and in spite of the absolute decrease of the agricultural population in some purely agricultural districts.125 In the same way Fawcett, then professor of political economy at Cambridge, who died in 1884 as Postmaster General, said at the Social Science Congress, October 12, 1865: "The agricultural laborers began to emigrate and the tenants began to complain, that they would not be able to pay such high rents as they had been accustomed to pay, because labor became dearer in consequence of emigration." Here, then, the high ground-rent is directly identified with low wages. And so far as the level of the prices of land is determined by this circumstance increasing the rent, a rise in the value of the land is identical with a depreciation of labor, a high price of land with a low price of labor.
The same is true of France. "The price of rent rises, because the prices of bread, wine, meat, vegetables and fruit rise on the one side, while on the other the price of labor remains unchanged. If the older people compare the bills of their fathers, taking us back about 100 years, they will find that the price of one day's labor was then the same in rural France as it is now. The price of meat has trebled since them....Who is the victim of this revolution? Is it the rich, who is the proprietor of the estate, or the poor who works it?...The raising of the prices of rent is the proof of a national disaster." (Du Mécanisme de la Société en France et en Angleterre. Par M. Rubichon, Second edition, Paris, 1837, p. 101.)
We now give some illustrations of rent representing deductions either from the average profit or from the average wages.
The above quoted Morton, real estate agent and agricultural engineer, says that the observation has been made in many localities that the rent for large estates is smaller than for small ones, because "competition for the latter is generally greater than for the former, and because small tenants, who are rarely able to take up any other business but farming, are frequently willing to pay a rent, which they themselves know to be too high, pressed by the want of finding some other business." (John C. Morton, The Resources of Estates. London, 1858, p. 116.)
However, he is of the opinion that this difference is gradually disappearing in England, and he attributes this largely to the emigration of the class of small tenants. The same Morton gives an illustration, in which evidently the wages of the tenant himself, and still more surely of the laborers, suffer a deduction for ground-rent. This takes place in the case of estates of 70 to 80 acres, who cannot keep a two-horse plow. "Unless the tenant works as diligently with his own hands as any laborer, he cannot make out on his lease. If he leaves the execution of the work to his men and confines himself to superintending them, he will most likely find very quickly that he is unable to pay his rent." (L. c., p. 118.) Morton concludes, therefore, that unless the tenants of a certain locality are very poor, the leaseholds should not be smaller than 70 acres, so that the tenants may keep two or three horses.
Extraordinary wisdom of Monsieur Léonce de Lavergne, Membre de l'Institut et de la Société Centrale d'Agriculture. In his Economic Rurale de l'Angleterre (quoted from the English translation, London, 1855), he makes the following comparison of the annual advantages from cattle, that work in France but not in England, where they are replaced by horses (p. 42):
But the higher amount for England is obtained here, according to his own statement, because milk is twice as dear in England than in France, while he counts the same prices for meat in both countries (p. 35); therefore the English milk product reduces itself to 8 million pounds sterling, and the total product to 28 million pounds sterling, the same as in France. It is indeed a strong dose, that Mr. Lavergne lumps the quantities and price differences together in his calculation, when England produces certain articles more expensively than France, so that this appears as an advantage of English agriculture, whereas it signifies at best only a higher profit for tenants and landlords.
That Mr. Lavergne is not only familiar with the advantages of English agriculture, but also believes in the prejudices of the English tenants and landlords, is proved by him on page 48: "One great disadvantage is generally connected with grain plants...they exhaust the soil that bears them." Mr. Lavergne believes not only that other plants do not do so, but he also believes that leguminous crops and root crops enrich the soil: "Leguminous plants draw the principal elements of their growth out of the air, while they give back to the soil more than they take from it; therefore they help both directly and indirectly through their return in the shape of animal manure to make good in a double way the damage caused by grain crops and other exhausting crops; hence it is a matter of principle that they should at least alternate with such crops; in this consists the Norfolk rotation." (Pages 50 and 51.)
No wonder that Mr. Lavergne, who believes these fairy tales of the English rural mind, also believes that the wages of the English farm laborers have lost their abnormality since the repeal of the corn tax. See what we have said on this point in another place, Volume I, chapter XXV, 5c, pages 739 to 766. But let us also listen to Mr. John Bright's speech in Birmingham, December 14, 1865. After mentioning the 5 million families that are not represented in Parliament, he continues: "Among these are one million, or rather more than one million in the United Kingdom, who are put down on the luckless list of paupers. Then there is still another million, who are holding themselves just above pauperism, but who are continually in danger of likewise becoming paupers. Their condition and prospects are not any better. Now take a look at the ignorant lower strata of this portion of society. Consider their outcast condition, their poverty, their complete hopelessness. Even in the United States, even in the southern states during the reign of slavery, every negro looked forward to some jubilee year. But these people, this mass of the lowest strata of our country, I am here to express it, have neither the faith in any improvement nor even a longing for it. Did you read the other day that item about John Cross, a farm laborer of Dorsetshire? He worked six days in the week, had an excellent character from his employer, for whom he had worked 24 years for a weekly wage of 8 sh. John Cross had to keep a family of seven children in his hut out of this wage. In order to warm his sickly wife and her suckling babe, he took, or legally speaking he stole, a wooden hurdle worth six pence. For this crime he was sentenced to 14 or 20 days' imprisonment by the justices of the peace. I can tell you that many thousands of cases like that of John Cross may be found in the whole country, and particularly in the South, and that their condition is such, that so far the most sincere investigator has not been able to solve the secret, how they keep body and soul together. And now throw your glances over the whole country and look at those 5 million families and the desperate condition of this stratum of them. Can we not say truly that the mass of the nation excluded from the suffrage toils and toils again and knows almost no rest? Compare them with the ruling class—but if I do that I shall be accused of communism...but compare this great toiling and suffrageless nation with that part which may be regarded as the ruling class. Look at their wealth, their showiness, their luxury. Look at their weariness—for there is a weariness also among them, but it is the weariness of satiety—and see how they hasten from place to place, as though it were only a question of discovering new pleasures." (Morning Star, December 15, 1865.)
We will show hereafter, in what manner surplus-labor, and consequently surplus-products, are confounded with ground-rent, which is, at least under the capitalist mode of production, qualitatively and quantitatively a specifically determined part of the surplus-product. The natural basis of surplus-labor in general, that is a natural condition without which such labor cannot be performed, is that nature must supply, either in animal or vegetable products of the soil or in fisheries, etc., the necessary means of subsistence by an expenditure of labor which does not consume the entire working day. This natural productivity of agricultural labor (which implies here the labor of gathering, hunting, fishing, cattle raising) is the basis of all surplus-labor; so is all labor primarily and originally directed toward the appropriation and production of food. (The animal supplies at the same time skins for warmth in colder climates; also cave dwellers, etc.)
The same confusion between surplus-product and ground-rent, differently expressed, is shown by Mr. Dove. Originally agricultural and industrial labor are not separated. The second joins into the first. The surplus-labor and the surplus-product of the farming tribe, the house commune or family, comprise both agricultural and industrial labor. Both go hand in hand. Hunting, fishing, agriculture are impossible without suitable tools. Weaving, spinning, etc., were first carried on as side occupations to farming.
We have shown previously, that in the same way in which the labor of the individual workman may be separated into necessary and surplus-labor, the aggregate labor of the working class may be divided so that that portion, which produces the total means of subsistence for the working class (including the means of production required for this purpose) performs the necessary labor for the whole society. The labor performed by all the remainder of the working class may then be regarded as surplus-labor. But the necessary includes by no means only agricultural labor, but also that labor which produces all other products that necessarily pass into the average consumption of the laborer. Socially speaking, some perform only necessary, others only surplus-labor, and vice versa. It is but a division of labor between them. It is the same with the division of labor between agricultural and industrial laborers in general. The purely industrial character of labor on the one side is offset by the purely agricultural one on the other. This purely agricultural labor is by no means natural, but is rather a product, and a very modern one at that, which has not yet been acquired everywhere, of social development, and it corresponds to a very definite stage of development. Just as a portion of the agricultural labor is materialised in products, which either minister only to luxury or serve as raw materials in industry, but do not serve as food, particularly not as food for the masses, so a portion of the industrial labor is materialised in products, which serve as necessary means of consumption of both the agricultural and industrial laborers. It is a mistake to consider this industrial labor, from a social point of view, as surplus-labor. It is in part as much necessary labor as the necessary portion of the agricultural labor. It is likewise but a separated form of a part of industrial labor which was formerly naturally connected with agricultural labor, it is a necessary and mutual supplement to the purely agricultural labor, which is now separated from it. (From a purely material point of view 500 mechanical weavers may produce surplus-fabrics to a far greater degree, that is, more than is required for their own clothing.)
It should finally be remembered in the study of the various forms which appear as ground-rent, that is, of the lease money paid under the name of ground-rent to the landlord for the use of the land for the purposes of production or consumption, that the price of things, which have in themselves no value, not being the products of labor, such as the land, or which at least cannot be reproduced by labor, such as antiquities, works of art of certain masters, etc., may be determined by many accidental combinations. In order to sell a thing, nothing more is required than that it can be monopolised and alienated.
There are three great errors, which should be avoided in the study of ground-rent, and which obscure its analysis.
1) Confusion of the various forms of rent, which correspond to different stages of development of the process of social production.
Whatever may be the specific form of rent, all types of it have this in common that the appropriation of rent is that economic form, in which property in land realises itself, and that ground-rent on its part is conditioned on the existence of private property in land, the ownership of certain portions of the globe by certain individuals. The owner may be the individual representing the community, as in Asia, Egypt, etc., or this private ownership in land may be merely accessory to the ownership of the persons of the direct producers by some individuals, as under the slave or serf system, or it may be a purely private ownership of nature by nonproducers, a mere title to land, or finally it may be a relation to the soil which, as in the case of colonists and small peasants owning land, seems included under a system of isolated and unsocial labor in the appropriation and production of the products of certain pieces of land by the direct producers.
This common element in the various forms of rent, namely that of being the economic realisation of property in land, a legal fiction by grace of which certain individuals have an exclusive right to certain pieces of the globe, misleads into overlooking the differences.
2) All ground-rent is surplus-value, the product of surplus-labor. In its undeveloped form, as natural rent (rent in kind), it is as yet directly the surplus-product itself. This gives rise to the mistaken idea that the rent corresponding to the capitalist mode of production is explained by merely explaining the general prerequisites of surplus-value and profit, whereas this ground-rent is always a surplus over and above profit. It is a peculiar and specific portion of surplus-value, over and above that portion of the value of commodities, which is known as profit and consists itself of surplus-value (surplus-labor). The general conditions for the existence of surplus-value and profit are: The direct producers must work beyond the time necessary for the reproduction of their own labor-power. They must perform surplus labor in general. This is the subjective condition. The objective condition is that they must be able to perform surplus-labor. The natural conditions must be such that a part of their available labor time suffices for their reproduction and selfmaintenance as producers, that the production of their necessary means of subsistence shall not consume their whole labor-power. The fertility of nature forms a limit here, a starting point, a basis. The development of the social productivity of their labor forms the other limit. Still more strictly speaking, since the production of means of subsistence is the very first condition of their existence and of all production, the labor used in this production, that is the agricultural labor in the widest economic meaning, must be productive enough, so that it will not absorb the entire available labor time in the production of means of subsistence for the direct producers. Agricultural surplus-labor and an agricultural surplus-product must be possible. More widely applied, it means that the total agricultural labor, both necessary and surplus-labor, of a part of society suffices to produce the necessary subsistence for the whole society, including the laborers who are not agricultural. It means that this great division of labor between farmers and industrials must be possible, also that between farmers producing subsistence and farmers producing raw materials. Although the labor of the producers of subsistence consists of necessary and surplus-labor, so far as their own point of view goes, it represents from the social standpoint only the labor necessary to produce the social subsistence. The same takes place in the case of division of labor within society as a whole, as distinguished from division of labor in the individual workshop. It is the labor necessary for the production of particular articles, for the satisfaction of some particular need of society. If this division is proportional, then the products of the various groups are sold at their values (at a later stage of development at their prices of production), or at prices which are modifications of their values or prices of production due to general laws. It is indeed the law of value enforcing itself, not with reference to individual commodities or articles, but to the total products of the particular social spheres of production made independent by division of labor. Every commodity must contain the necessary quantity of labor, and at the same time only the proportional quantity of the total social labor time must have been spent on the various groups. For the use-value of things remains a prerequisite. The use-value of the individual commodities depends on the particular need which each satisfies. But the use-value of the social mass of products depends on the extent to which it satisfies in quantity a definite social need for every particular kind of product in an adequate manner, so that the labor is proportionately distributed among the different spheres in keeping with these social needs, which are definite in quantity. (This point is to be noted in the distribution of capital to the various spheres of production.) The social need, that is the use-value on a social scale, appears here as a determining factor for the amount of social labor which is to be supplied by the various particular spheres. But it is only the same law, which showed itself in the individual commodity, namely that its use-value is the basis of its exchange-value and thus of its surplus-value. This point has any bearing upon the proportion between necessary and surplus-labor only in so far as a violation of this proportion makes it impossible to realise the value of the commodities and the surplus-value contained in it. For instance, take it that proportionally too much cotton goods have been produced, although only the labor-time necessary for this total product under the prevailing conditions is realised in it. But too much social labor has been expended in this particular line, in other words, a portion of this product is useless. The whole of it is therefore sold only as though it had been produced in the necessary proportion. This quantitative limit of the quota of social labor available for the various particular spheres is but a wider expression of the law of value, although the necessary labor time assumes a different meaning here. Only just so much of it is required for the satisfaction of the social needs. The limitation is here due to the use-value. Society can use only so much of its total labor for this particular kind of products under the prevailing conditions of production. But the subjective and objective conditions of surplus-labor and surplus-value in general have nothing to do with the peculiar form of either the profit or the rent. These conditions apply to surplus-value as such, no matter what special form it may assume. Hence they do not explain ground-rent.
3) It is precisely the self-expansion of private property, the development of ground-rent, which reveals the characteristic peculiarity, that its amount is by no means determined by the actions of its recipient, but by the independent development of social labor, in which he does not take part. It may easily happen, therefore, that something is regarded as a peculiarity of rent (and of the products of agriculture in general), which is really a common feature of all lines of production and all their products on the basis of the production of commodities, or, more strictly speaking, of capitalist production.
The amount of ground-rent (and with it the value of the soil) develops with the progress of social advance as a result of the total labor of society. On the one hand this leads to a growth of the market and of the demand for products of the soil, on the other it stimulates the demand for the land itself, which is a prerequisite of competitive production in all lines of business, even in those which are not agricultural. Speaking strictly of real-ground rent, this rent, and with it the value of the soil, develops with the market for the products of the soil, and thus with the increase of the other than agricultural population, with its needs and demand for either means of subsistence or raw materials. It is the nature of capitalist production to reduce the agricultural population continually as compared to the non-agricultural, because in industry (strictly speaking) the increase of the constant capital compared to the variable capital goes hand in hand with an absolute increase, though relative decrease, of the variable capital; whereas in agriculture the variable capital required for the exploitation of a certain piece of land decreases absolutely and cannot increase, unless new land is taken into cultivation, which implies a still greater previous growth of the non-agricultural population.
In fact we are not dealing here with a characteristic peculiarity of agriculture and its products. On the contrary, the same applies to all other lines of production and products on the basis of a production of commodities and of its absolute form, capitalist production.
These products are commodities, use-values, which have an exchange-value which can be realised, converted into money, only to the extent that other commodities form an equivalent for them, that other products face them as commodities and values. They have an exchange-value to the extent that they are not produced as immediate means of subsistence for the producers themselves, but as commodities, as products which become use-values only by their conversion into exchange-values (money), by being gotten rid of. The market for these commodities develops through the social division of labor; the separation of the productive labor into various departments transforms their respective products mutually into commodities, into mutual equivalents, makes them serve mutually as markets. This is in no way peculiar to agricultural products.
Rent can develop as money-rent only on the basis of a production of commodities, more strictly of capitalist production, and it so develops in proportion as the agricultural production becomes a production of commodities. This is the same proportion in which other than agricultural lines of production develop independently of agriculture, for to that extent does the agricultural product become a commodity, an exchange-value, a value. To the same extent that the production of commodities develops as a capitalist production, and as a production of value, does the production of surplus-value and surplus-products proceed. But to the same extent that this continues does property in land acquire the faculty of capturing an ever increasing portion of this surplus-value by means of its land monopoly. Thereby it raises its rent and the price of the land itself. The capitalist performs at least an active function himself in the development of surplus-value and surplus-products. But the land owner has but to capture his growing share in the surplus-product and the surplus-value created without his assistance. It is this which is the characteristic peculiarity of his position, and not the fact that the value of the products of the soil and thus of the land increases in proportion as the market for them expands, the demand grows and with it the world of commodities which are not agricultural products, the mass of producers and products outside of agriculture. But as this is done without the assistance of the landowner, it appears as something specifically his own, that measures of value, measures of surplus-value, and the conversion of a portion of surplus-value into ground-rent should depend upon the process of social production, on the development of the production of the commodities in general. For this reason a man like Dove wants to develop rent out of this element. He says that rent does not depend upon the mass of agricultural products, but upon their value; but this depends upon the mass and productivity of the non-agricultural population. But it is also true of all other products that they cannot develop the character of commodities, unless the mass, the variety and the succession of other commodities form equivalents for them. We have shown this previously in the discussion of the general nature of value. On the one hand the exchangeability of a certain product depends altogether on the multiplicity of commodities existing outside of it. On the other hand this circumstance determines in particular to what extent this product shall be put out as a commodity.
No producer, whether an industrial or farmer, considered by himself alone, produces value or commodities. His product becomes a commodity only in definite social interrelations. It becomes a commodity, in the first place, to the extent that it represents social labor, so that the individual producer's labor counts as a part of the general social labor. And in the second place this social character of his labor appears impressed upon his product through its pecuniary character and through its general exchangeability determined by its price.
Instead of explaining rent, such vagaries confine themselves to explaining merely surplus-value in general, or, still more absurdly, surplus-products in general, and on the other hand they make the mistake of ascribing a character, which belongs to all products in their capacity as commodities, to agricultural products exclusively. This is still more vulgarised by those who pass from a general analysis of value over to the realisation of a certain commodity's value. Every commodity can realise its value only in the process of circulation, and whether it realises its value, and to what extent it does so, depends on the prevailing market conditions.
It is not a peculiarity of ground-rent, then, that the products of agriculture develop into values and as values, that they face other commodities as commodities, and that products not agricultural face them as commodities, or that they develop as specific expressions of social labor. The peculiarity of ground-rent is rather that in proportion as the conditions develop, in which agricultural products develop as commodities (values), and in which they can realise their values, so does also property in land develop the power to appropriate an increasing portion of these values, which were created without its assistance, and so does an increasing portion of the surplus-value assume the form of ground-rent.
DIFFERENTIAL RENT. GENERAL REMARKS.
IN the analysis of ground-rent we shall start from the assumption, that products paying such a rent, that is, products a portion of whose surplus-value and general price resolves itself into ground-rent, are sold at their prices of production, like all other commodities. It suffices for our purposes to confine ourselves to products of agriculture and mining. In other words, their selling prices are made up of the elements of their cost (the value of the consumed constant and variable capital) plus a profit, which is determined by the average rate of profit and calculated on the total capital advanced, whether consumed or not consumed. We assume, then, that the average selling prices of these products are equal to their prices of production. The question is now, how can a ground-rent develop under these conditions, how can a portion of the profit become converted into ground-rent, so that a portion of the prices of the commodities falls into the hands of the landlord.
In order to show the general character of this form of ground-rent, we assume that most of the factories of a certain country are driven by steam engines, while a certain smaller number of them are driven by natural waterfalls. Let us further assume that the price of production in those industries amounts to 115 for a quantity of commodities which have consumed a capital of 100. The 15% of profit are calculated, not merely on the consumed capital of 100, but on the total capital invested in the production of this value in the commodities. We have previously shown that this price of production is not determined by the individual cost-price of every single producing industrial, but by the cost-price required on an average for the commodity under the average conditions of capital in the entire sphere of production. It is, in fact, the market price of production, as distinguished from its oscillations. For it is in the form of the market price, and in a wider sense of the regulating market price, or market price of production, that the nature of value asserts itself in commodities. It becomes evident, in this way, that it is not determined by the labor time necessary in the case of any individual producer for the production of a certain quantity of commodities, or of some individual commodity, but by the socially necessary labor time. This is that quantity of labor time, which is necessary for the production of the socially required total quantity of commodities of any kind on the market under the existing average conditions of social production.
As definite figures are immaterial in this case, we shall furthermore assume that the cost price in the factories driven by water power is only 90 instead of 100. Since the regulating market price of production of this quantity of commodities is 115, with a profit of 15%, the factories driven by water power will also sell their commodities at 115, the average price regulating the market price. Their profit would then be 25 instead of 15; the regulating market price of production would allow them a surplus-profit of 10%, not because they sell their commodities above the price of production, but because they sell them at the price of production, because their commodities are produced, or their capital expanded, under exceptionally favorable conditions, under conditions, which are above the average prevailing in this sphere.
Two things become evident at once.
1) The surplus-profit of the producers, who use the natural waterfall as motive power, is in the same class with all surplus-profit (and we have already analysed this category when discussing the prices of production), which is not the result of mere transactions in the sphere of circulation, of mere fluctuations of market prices. This surplus-profit, then, is likewise equal to the difference between the individual price of production of these favored producers and the general social price of production regulating the market in this entire sphere. This difference is equal to the excess of the general price of production of the commodities over their individual price of production. The two regulating limits of this excess are on the one hand the individual cost price, and thus the individual price of production, on the other hand the general price of production. The value of the commodities produced with water power is smaller, because a smaller quantity of labor is required for their production, namely less labor materialised in the constant capital. The labor here employed is more productive, its individual power of production is greater than that employed in the majority of the factories of the same kind. Its greater productive power is shown in the fact that it requires a smaller quantity of constant capital, a smaller quantity of materialised labor, than the others. It also requires less living labor, because the water wheel need not be heated. This greater individual power of production of the employed labor reduces the value, and at the same time the cost price and price of production of the commodity. For the individual industrial capitalist this expresses itself in a lower cost price of his commodities. He has to pay for less materialised labor, and less wages for less labor-power employed. Since the cost price of his commodities is smaller, his individual price of production is also smaller. His cost price is 90 instead of 100. His individual price of production would therefore be only 103½ instead of 115 (100: 115 = 90: 103½). The difference between his individual price of production and the general one is limited by the difference between his individual cost price and the general one. This is one of the magnitudes which form the limits of his surplus-product. The other is the magnitude of the general price of production, into which the average rate of profit enters as a regulating factor. If coal should become cheaper, the difference between his individual cost-price and the general cost-price would decrease, and with it his surplus-profit. If he should be compelled to sell his commodities at their individual value, or at the price of production determined by its individual value, then the difference would disappear. It is on the one side a result of the fact that the commodities are sold at their general market-price, the price brought about by the equalisation of individual prices through competition, on the other side a result of the fact that the greater individual productivity of the laborers employed by him does not benefit the laborers, but their employer, as does all productivity of labor. This productivity represents itself as a faculty of capital.
Since the level of the general price of production is one of the limits of the surplus-product, the level of the average rate of profit being one of its factors, it can have no other source but the difference between the general and the individual price of production, and consequently the difference between the general and the individual rate of profit. An excess of this difference would imply the sale of products above the price of production regulated by the market, not at this price.
2) So far as the surplus profit of the manufacturer using natural water power instead of steam for motive power does not differ in any way from any other surplus profit. All normal surplus profit, that is all surplus profit not due through accidental sales or fluctuations of the market price, is determined by the difference between the individual price of production of the commodities of these particular capitals and the general price of production, which regulates in a general way the market prices of the commodities produced by the capitals of this sphere of production, or the market prices of the commodities of the total capital invested in this sphere of production.
But now we come to the difference.
To what circumstance does the industrial capitalist in the present case owe his surplus-profit, the surplus resulting for him personally from the price of production regulated by the average rate of profit?
He owes it in the last resort to a natural power, the motive power of water, which is found ready at hand in nature and which is not itself a product of labor like coal, which transforms water into steam. The water has no value, it need not be paid by an equivalent, it costs nothing. It is a natural agency of production, which is not produced by labor.
But this is not all. The manufacturer who works with a steam engine also employs natural powers, which cost him nothing and yet make his labor more productive and, to the extent that they cheapen the manufacture of the means of subsistence required for the laborers, increase the surplus-value and with it the profit. These natural powers are quite as much monopolised by capital as the natural powers of social labor arising from co-operation, division, etc. The manufacturer pays for the coal, but not for the faculty of the water to alter its aggregate state, of passing over into steam, not for the elasticity of the steam, etc. The monopolisation of natural powers, that is of the increased productivity of labor due to them, is common to all capital working with steam engines. It may increase that portion of the product of labor which represents surplus-value as against that portion which is converted into wages. To the extent that it does this, it raises the general rate of profit, but it does not make any surplus-profit, for this consists of the excess of the individual profit over the average profit. The fact that the application of a natural power, of a waterfall, creates a surplus-profit in this case, cannot therefore be due solely to the circumstance that the increased productivity of labor is here due to a natural force. There must be still other modifying circumstances.
Look at the reverse side. The mere application of natural powers to industry may influence the level of the general rate of profit, because it affects the quantity of labor necessary to produce the means of subsistence. But in itself it does not create any deviations from the general rate of profit, and this is the point in which we are interested here. Furthermore, the surplus-profit, which some individual capital may ordinarily realise in its particular sphere of production—for the deviations of the rates of profits in the various spheres of production are continually balanced by competition into an average rate—are due, aside from accidental deviations, to a reduction of the cost-price, of the cost of production. This reduction arises either from the fact that a capital is used in greater than ordinary quantities, so that the dead expenses of the production are reduced, while the general causes increasing the productivity of labor, such as co-operation, division, etc., can exert themselves with a higher degree of intensity, their field of expression being larger. Or it may arise from the fact that, aside from the greater volume of the invested capital, better methods of labor, new inventions, improved machinery, chemical secrets in manufacture, etc., in short new and improved means of production and methods are used, which are above the average. The reduction of the cost price and the surplus profit arising from it arise here from the manner, in which the self-expanding capital is invested. They arise either from the circumstance that it is concentrated in one hand in extraordinarily large masses (a circumstance which is neutralised when capitals of the same size become the average), or from the circumstance that a capital of a certain size expands itself under exceptionally favorable circumstances (a circumstance which is neutralised as soon as the exceptional method of production becomes general or is superseded by a still more developed one).
The cause of the surplus profit, then, arises here from the capital itself (which includes the labor set in motion by it); it is either due to the greater size of the capital employed, or to its more improved application; and there is no particular reason why all the capital in the same sphere of production should not be invested in the same way. In fact, the competition between the capitals tends to neutralise their differences more and more. The determination of value by the socially necessary labor time asserts itself by the cheapening of commodities and the necessity of making commodities under the same favorable conditions. But it is different with the surplus profit of the industrial capitalist who uses water power. The increased productive power of his labor is not due either to his capital or his labor, nor to the mere application of some natural force separate from capital and labor, but incorporated in the capital. It arises from the greater natural power of production of labor in conjunction with some other natural power, which natural power is not at the command of all capitals in this sphere, whereas such a thing as the elasticity of steam is. The application of this other natural power does not follow as a selfunderstood matter, whenever capital is invested in this sphere. It is a monopolised natural power, which, like a water fall, is only at the command of those who can avail themselves of particular pieces of the globe and its opportunities. It is not within the power of capital to call to life this natural premise for a greater productivity of labor, whereas any capital may transform water into steam. Water power is found only locally in nature, and wherever it does not exist, it cannot be created by any investment of capital. It is not dependent upon products which labor can secure, such as machines, coal, etc. It is dependent upon definite natural conditions of definite portions of the globe. That section of industrial capitalists who own waterfalls excludes the other section who do not own any from the application of this power, because the land, and particularly land supplied with water power, is limited. Of course this does not prevent the quantity of water power available for industrial purposes from being increased, even if the number of natural waterfalls in a certain country is limited. Water power may be artificially diverted, in order to exploit its motive force fully. Under certain conditions a water wheel may be inproved so as to use the highest possible amount of water power; in places where the ordinary wheel is not suitable for supplying water, turbines may be used, etc. The possession of this natural power forms a monopoly in the hand of its owner, it is a premise for the increase of the productivity of the invested capital, which cannot be created by the process of production of the capital itself.126 This natural power, which can be monopolised in this way, is always attached to the soil. Such a natural power does not belong to the general conditions of that particular sphere of production, and not to those conditions, which may be made general.
Now let us assume that the waterfalls with the land on which they are found are held in the hands of persons, who are considered the owners of these portions of the globe, who are land owners. These owners may exclude others and prevent them from investing capital in the waterfalls or using waterfalls by means of capital. They can permit such a use or forbid it. The capital cannot create a waterfall out of itself. Therefore the surplus profit, which arises from this employment of waterfall, is not due to capital, but to the harnessing of a natural power, which can be monopolised and has been monopolised, by capital. Under these circumstances the surplus-profit is transformed into ground-rent, that is, it falls into the hands of the owner of the waterfall. If the industrial capitalist pays to the owner of the waterfall 10 pounds sterling annually, then his profit is 15 pounds sterling, that is 15% on the 100 which then make up his cost of production; and he is just as well off, or possibly better, as all other capitalists of his sphere of production, who work with steam. It would not matter, if this capitalist should be the owner of the waterfall. He would in that case pocket the surplus profit of 10 pounds in his capacity as a landowner, not in his capacity as an industrial capitalist, just because this surplus is not due to his capital as such, but to a limited natural power separate from his capital, over which he has command, because he has a monopoly of it. And so it is converted into ground-rent.
1) It is evident that this is always a differential rent, for it does not enter as a determining factor into the average price of production of commodities, but rather is based on it. It always arises from the difference between the individual price of production of the individual capital having command over monopoly of natural power and the general price of production of the total capital invested in that particular sphere of production.
2) This ground-rent does not arise from the absolute increase of the productivity of the employed capital, or of the labor appropriated by it, since this can only reduce the value of commodities; it is due to the greater relative fertility of definite individual capitals invested in a certain sphere of production, as compared with investments of capital, which are excluded from these exceptional and natural conditions favoring the productivity. For instance, if the use of steam should offer overwhelming advantages not attached to the use of water power, or tending to neutralise the benefits to be derived from water power, then, water power would not be used and could not produce any surplus profit, or ground-rent, even though coal has a value and water power has not.
3) The natural power is not the source of the surplus profit, but only its natural basis, because this natural basis permits an increase in the productive power of labor. In the same way the use-value is the general bearer of the exchange-value, but not its cause. If the same use-value could be created without labor, it would have no exchange-value, yet it would have the same useful effect as ever. On the other hand, nothing can have an exchange-value unless it has a use-value, unless it has this useful bearer of labor. Were it not for the fact that the different values are neutralised into prices of production, and the different individual prices of production into one average price of production regulating the market, the mere increase in the productivity of labor by the use of a waterfall would merely lower the price of the commodities produced with the waterfall, without adding anything to the share of profit contained in those commodities. On the other hand, this increased productivity of labor would not be converted into surplus-value, were it not for the fact that capital appropriates the natural and social productivity of labor as though it were its own.
4) The private ownership of the waterfall has nothing to do with the creation of that portion of the surplus-value (profit), and of the price of a commodity in general, which is produced by the help of the waterfall. This surplus profit would also exist, if private property did not prevail, for instance, if the land supplied with the waterfall were appropriated by the industrial capitalist as masterless booty. Hence private property in land does not create that portion of value, which is transformed into surplus profit, but it merely enables the landowner, who has possession of the waterfall, to coax this surplus profit out of the pocket of the industrial capitalist into his own. It is the cause, not of the creation of this surplus profit, but of its transformation into ground-rent, of the appropriation of this portion of the profit, or of the price of commodities, by the owner of the land or of the waterfall.
5) It is evident that the price of the waterfall, that is the price which the owner of it would receive if he were to sell it to some other man, perhaps to the industrial capitalist, would not enter directly into the general price of production of the commodities, although it would enter into the individual cost-price of the industrial capitalist. For the rent arises here from the price of production of the commodities produced by steam machinery, and this price is regulated independently of the waterfall. Furthermore, this price of the waterfall is an irrational expression, behind which a real economic relation is concerned. The waterfall, like the earth in general, and like any natural force, has no value, because it does not represent any materialised labor, and therefore it really has no price, which is normally but the expression of value in money. Where there is no value, it is obvious that it cannot be expressed in money. This price is merely capitalised rent. The ownership of land enables the landowner to catch the difference between the individual profit and the average profit. The profit thus acquired, which is renewed every year, may be capitalised, and then it appears as the price of a natural power itself. If the surplus profit realised by the use of the waterfall amounts to 10 pounds sterling per year, and the average interest is 5%, then these 10 pounds sterling annually represent the interest on a capital of 200 pounds sterling; and this capitalisation of the annual 10 pounds sterling, which the waterfall enables its owner to catch, appears then as the capital-value of the waterfall itself. That it is not the waterfall itself, which has a value, but that its price is a mere reflex of the appropriated surplus profit, which the use of the waterfall yields to the industrial capitalist, capitalistically calculated, becomes at once evident in the fact that the price of 200 pounds sterling represents merely the product of a surplus profit of 10 pounds sterling for 20 years, whereas the same waterfall will enable its owner to catch these 10 pounds sterling every year for 30 years, or 100 years, or an indefinite number of years, so long as circumstances remain the same. On the other hand, if some new method of production, which is not suitable for water power, should reduce the cost price of the commodities produced by steam machinery from 100 to 90 pounds sterling, the surplus profit, and with it the rent, and with it the price of the waterfall, would disappear.
Now that we have explained our general conception of differential rent, we will pass on to its consideration in agriculture, strictly so-called. What applies to it will also apply on the whole to mines.
THE FIRST FORM OF DIFFERENTIAL RENT.
|A||1 qr. = 60 sh.||1 qr. = 60 sh.|
|B||2 qrs. = 60 sh.||1 qr. = 30 sh.|
|C||3 qrs. = 60 sh.||1 qr. = 20 sh.|
|D||4 qrs. = 60 sh.||1 qr. = 15 sh.|
|10 qrs. = 240 sh.||Average||1 qr. = 24 sh.|
The actual price of production of these 10 quarters is 240 shillings. But they are sold at 600 shillings, 250% too dear. The actual average price for 1 quarter is 24 shillings; the market price is 60 shillings, also 250% too dear.
This is a determination by the market-value, which is enforced on the basis of capitalist production by means of competition; it creates a false social value. This arises from the law of the market-value, to which the products of the soil are subject. The determination of the market-value of the products, including the products of the soil, is a social act, although performed by society unconsciously and unintentionally. It rests necessarily upon the exchange-value of the product, not upon the soil and its differences in fertility.
If we imagine that the capitalistic form of society is abolished and society is organized as a conscious and systematic association, then those 10 quarters represent a quantity of independent labor, which is equal to that contained in 240 shillings. In that case society would not buy this product of the soil at two and a half times the labor time contained in it. The basis of a class of land owners would thus be destroyed. This would have the same effect as a cheapening of the product to the same amount by foreign imports. While it is correct to say that, by retaining the present mode of production but paying the differential rent to the state, the prices of the products of the soil would remain the same, other circumstances remaining unchanged, it is wrong to say that the value of the products would remain the same, if capitalist production were superseded by association. The sameness of the market prices for commodities of the same kind is the way in which the social character of value asserts itself on the basis of capitalist production, as it does of any production resting on the exchange of commodities between individuals. What society in its capacity as a consumer pays too much for the products of the soil, what constitutes a minus for the realisation of its labor time in agricultural production, is now a plus for a portion of society, for the landlords.
A second circumstance, important for the analysis to be given under II in the next chapter, is the following:
It is not merely a question of the rent per acre, or per hectare, nor in general of a difference between the price of production and the market price, nor between the individual and general price of production per acre, but it is also a question of how many acres of each class of soil are under cultivation. The point of importance is here primarily the magnitude of the rental, that is, of the total rent of the entire cultivated area; but it serves us at the same time as a transition to the development of a rise in the rate of the rent, although there is neither a rise in the prices, nor an increase in the differences of the relative fertility of the various kinds of soil when prices are falling.
We had above:
Now let us assume that the number of cultivated acres is doubled in every class. Then we have:
Let us assume two other cases, and let the first be one, in which production expands on the two inferior classes of soil, in the following manner:
Finally let us assume an unequal expansion of production and of the cultivated area on all four classes, in the following manner:
In the first place, the rent per acre remains the same in all these four cases I, I a, I b and I c. For in fact the result of the same investment of capital per acre of the same class of soil has remained unchanged. Nothing more has been assumed than a fact which may be observed in any country at any given moment, namely that the various classes of soil participate in certain definite proportions in the entire cultivated area. And furthermore, a fact which may be observed in any two countries that are compared, or in the same country at different periods of time, namely that the proportion varies in which the cultivated area is distributed among these classes.
If we compare Ia with I, then we see, if the cultivation of the soils of all four classes grows in the same proportion, that a doubling of the cultivated acres doubles the total production, and at the same time doubles the rent in grain and money.
If we compare Ib and Ic successively with I, we see that in both cases a triplication of the area subject to cultivation takes place. It rises in both cases from 4 acres to 12, but in Ib it is the classes A and B which get the greatest share of the increase, although A pays no rent, and B yields the smallest differential rent. But of 8 newly cultivated acres A and B get 3 each, or 6 between the two of them, whereas C and D get only 1 acre each, or together 2 acres. In other words, three-quarters of the increase go to A and B, and only one-quarter to C and D. According to this assumption and comparing Ib with I, the trebled area of cultivation does not result in a trebled product, for the product does not increase from 10 to 30, but only to 26. On the other hand, seeing that a considerable portion of the increase takes place on A, which does not yield any rent, and since the principal portion of the remaining increase takes place on B, the rent in grain rises only from 6 quarters to 14, and the rent in money from 18 pounds sterling to 42.
But if we compare Ic with I, where the soil yielding no rent does not increase in area, and the soil yielding a minimum rent increases but slightly, while the principal portion of the increase takes place on C and D, we find that the trebled area results in an increase of production from 10 quarters to 36, more than three times the quantity. The rent in grain has risen from 6 quarters to 24, or quadrupled; and so has the money rent from 18 pounds sterling to 72.
In all these cases the price of the agricultural product naturally remains stationary. The total rental increases in all cases with the extension of cultivation, unless it takes place exclusively on the worst soil, which does not pay any rent. But the growth is unequal. In proportion as the extension of cultivation takes place upon the superior classes of soil and consequently the quantity of the products grows not merely at the ratio of expansion of the area, but even faster, the rent in grain and money increases. In proportion as the worst soil and the class next above it share principally in the expansion of the area (provided that the worst soil represents a constant class), the total rental does not rise in proportion to the extension of cultivation. If there are two countries, in which the class A, that yields no rent, is of the same nature, the rental stands in the reverse ratio to the aliquot part represented by the worst soil and the lesser classes next above it in the total area of the cultivated soil, and therefore in the reverse ratio to the quantity of the products of equal investments of capital on the same total areas of land. The proportion between the quantity of the worst cultivated soil and that of the better soil, within the total cultivated area of a certain country, thus has the opposite effect upon the total rental than the proportion between the quality of the worst cultivated soil and that of the better soil has upon the rent per acre and, other circumstances remaining the same, upon the total rental. The confounding these two things has given rise to many mistaken objections to differential rent.
The total rental, then, increases by the mere extension of the cultivation, and by the consequent greater investment of capital and labor in the soil.
But the most important point is this: Although it is our assumption that the proportion of the rents upon the various classes of soil remains the same, calculated per acre, and therefore also the rate of rent considered with reference to the capital invested in each acre, yet we must observe the following: If we compare Ia with I, the case in which the number of cultivated acres and the capital invested in them have been proportionately increased, we find that just as the total production has increased proportionately to the expanded agricultural area, that is just as both of them have been doubled, so has the rental. It has risen from 18 pounds sterling to 36, just as the number of acres has risen from 4 to 8.
If we take the total area of 4 acres, we find that the total rental amounted to 18 pounds sterling, or the average rent, including the soil which does not pay any rent, 4½ pounds sterling. This calculation might be made, say, by a landlord owning all 4 acres. And in this way the average rent is statistically calculated upon a whole country. The total rental of 18 pounds sterling is secured by the investment of a capital of 10 pounds sterling. We call the ratio of these two figures the rate of rent; in the present case it is 180%.
The same rate of rent follows in Ia, where 8 instead of 4 acres are cultivated, but all classes of land have shared in the same proportion in the increase. The total rental of 36 pounds sterling gives for 8 acres and an invested capital of 20 pounds sterling an average rent of 4½ pounds sterling per acre and a rate of rent of 180%.
But if we consider Ib, in which the increase has taken place mainly upon the two inferior classes of soil, we find there a rent of 42 pounds sterling upon 12 acres, or an average rent of 3½ pounds sterling per acre. The invested total capital is 30 pounds sterling, and the rate of rent 140%. The average rent per acre has decreased by one pound sterling, and the rate of rent has fallen from 180 to 140%. Here then we have an increase of the total rental from 18 pounds sterling to 42, and yet a fall of the average rent, calculated both per acre and per capital, while production grows also, but not proportionately. This takes place, although the rent upon all classes of soil, both per acre and per capital, remains the same. It does so, because three-quarters of the increase go to the class A, which does not pay any rent, and upon class B, which pays only the minimum rent.
If the total extension in the case Ib had taken place only upon the soil A, then we should have 9 acres upon A, 1 acre upon B, 1 acre upon C and 1 acre upon D. The total rental would be 18 pounds sterling, the same as before, the average rent upon the 12 acres would be 1½ p. st. per acre; and a rent of 18 pounds sterling on an invested capital of 30 pounds sterling would give a rate of rent of 60%. The average rent, both per acre and per invested capital, would have decreased, and the total rental would not have increased.
Finally, let us compare Ic with I and Ib. Compared to I, the area has been trebled, also the invested capital. The total rental is 72 pounds sterling upon 12 acres, or 6 pounds sterling per acre against 4½ pounds sterling in case I. The rate of rent upon the invested capital (72: 30 pounds sterling) is 240% instead of 180%. The total product has risen from 10 quarters to 36.
Compared to Ib, where the total area of the cultivated acres, the invested capital, and the difference between the cultivated classes are the same, but the distribution different, the product is 36 quarters instead of 26, the average rent per acre is 6 pounds sterling instead of 3½, and the rate of rent with reference to the same invested total capital is 240% instead of 140%.
No matter whether we regard the various conditions in Tables Ia, Ib and Ic as existing side by side in different countries, or as existing successively in the same country, we come to the following conclusions: so long as we have the conditions mentioned hereafter, that is, so long as the price of cereals remains unchanged, because the worst rentless soil has the same product; so long as the differences in the productivity of the different cultivated soils remain the same; so long as the respective products of the same invested capitals are the same for aliquot parts (acres) of the areas cultivated in every class of soil; so long as the ratio between the rents per acre of each class of soils and with the same rate of rent upon the capital invested in each portion of the same kind of soil is constant: 1) the rental always increases with the extension of the cultivated area and with the consequent increased investment of capital, with the exception of the case in which the entire increase falls on the rentless soil. 2) Both the average rent per acre (total rental divided by the total number of acres) and the average rate of rent (total rental divided by the invested total capital) may vary very considerably; both of them in the same direction, but in different proportions compared to one another. If we leave out of consideration the case, in which the increase takes place upon the rentless soil, we find that the average rent per acre and the average rate of rent upon the capital invested in agriculture depend upon the proportional shares, which the various classes of soil claim in the cultivated area; or, what amounts to the same, upon the distribution of the employed total capital among the classes of soil of different fertility. Whether much or little land is cultivated, and whether the total rental is therefore larger or smaller (with the exception of the case, in which the increase is confined to A) the average rent per acre, or the average rent per invested capital, remains the same so long as the proportions of the participation of the various classes of soil in the total cultivated area remain unchanged. In spite of the rise, even of a very considerable one, in the total rental with the extension of cultivation and the expansion of the invested capital, the average rent per acre and the average rent per capital fall whenever the extension of the rentless lands, or of the lands of inferior fertility, increases more than that of the superior rent paying ones. On the other hand the average rent per acre and the average rent per capital increase in proportion as the better lands constitute a greater part of the total area and employ a relatively greater share of the invested capital.
Hence, if we consider the average rent per acre, or hectare, of the total cultivated soil, in the way that is generally done in statistical works, by comparing either different countries at different epochs, or different epochs in the same country, we find that the average level of the rent per acre, and consequently the total rental, corresponds in certain proportions (although by no means equal ones, but rather more rapidly moving ones) to the absolute, not to the relative, productivity of agriculture in a certain country, that is, to the mass of products brought forth by it on an average upon the same area. For the larger the share taken by the superior soils in the total cultivated area, the greater is the mass of products brought forth by equal investments of capital upon equally large areas of land. And the higher is the average rent per acre. In the opposite case the reverse takes place. In this way the rent does not seem to be determined by the ratios of differential fertility, but of absolute fertility, and the law of differential rent seems thereby abolished. For this reason certain phenomena are disputed, or perhaps they are explained by non-existing differences in the average prices of cereals and in the differential fertility of the cultivated lands, whereas such phenomena are merely due to the fact that the ratio of the total rental, either to the total area of the cultivated soil, or to the total capital invested in this soil, so long as the fertility of the rentless soil remains the same and with it the price of production, and so long as the differences of the various classes of soil remain unchanged, is determined not merely by the rent per acre or the rate of rent per capital, but quite as much by the proportional number of acres of each class of soil in the total number of cultivated acres; or, what amounts to the same, by the distribution of the invested total capital among the various classes of land. Curiously enough this fact has been completely overlooked so far. At any rate we see (and this is important for the progress of our analysis), that the relative level of the average rent per acre, and the average rate of rent (or the ratio of the total rental to the total capital invested in the soil), may rise or fall, through the mere extensive expansion of cultivation, while prices remain the same, the differential fertilities of the various soils remain unaltered, and the rent per acre is constant, or while the rate of rent for the capital invested per acre in every actual rent paying class of soil, or for every rent paying capital, remains unchanged.
We have to make the following additional remarks with reference to the form I of the differential rent, which also apply partly to form II:
1) We have seen that the average rent per acre, or the average rate of rent per capital, may rise with an extension of cultivation, with stationary prices, and unaltered differential fertilities of the cultivated lands. As soon as all the land in a certain country has been appropriated, while the investment of capital in land, the cultivation of the soil, and the population, have reached a certain level—all of which conditions are matters of fact as soon as the capitalist mode of production becomes the prevailing one and invades also agriculture—the price of the uncultivated soil of various classes (assuming differential rent to exist) is determined by the price of the cultivated lands of the same quality and equivalent location. The price is the same—after deducting the cost of breaking the ground—although this soil does not carry any rent. The price of the land is, indeed, nothing but the capitalised rent. But even in the case of cultivated lands their price pays only future rents, as for instance, when the regulating rate of interest is 5% and the rent for twenty years is paid in advance at one time. When land is sold, it is sold as a rent paying land, and the prospective character of the rent (which is here considered as a fruit of the soil, which it is only seemingly) does not distinguish the uncultivated from the cultivated soil. The price of the uncultivated lands, like their rent, which it represents as though it were its contracted formula, is quite illusory, so long as the land is not actually used. But it is thus determined beforehand and realised as soon as a purchaser is found. Hence, while the actual average rent of a certain land is determined by its real average rental per year and by its proportion to the entire cultivated area, the price of the uncultivated portions of land is determined by that of the cultivated land, and is therefore but a reflex of the capital invested in cultivated land and of the results obtained by such investments. Since all lands with the exception of the worst carry rent (and this rent, as we shall see under the head of differential rent II, rises with the mass of the capital and the corresponding intensity of cultivation), the nominal price of the uncultivated portions of the soil is thus formed, and thus they become commodities, a source of wealth for their owners. This explains at the same time, why the price of land increases in the whole region, even in the uncultivated part (Opdyke). The speculation in land, for instance in the United States, rests merely upon this reflex, which capital and labor throw on the uncultivated land.
2) The advance in the extension of the cultivated soil in general takes place either toward inferior soil, or upon the various existing soils in different proportions according to the way in which they present themselves. The step toward inferior soil naturally is never made voluntarily, but cannot be due to anything but to rising prices (assuming the capitalist mode of production to be a fact), and under any mode of production it will be a result of necessity. However, this is not absolutely so. An inferior soil is preferred to a relatively better soil on account of its location, which decides the point during all extension of cultivation in new countries; furthermore for the reason that, while the formation of the soil in a certain region may belong to the superior ones, the better will nevertheless be relieved here and there by inferior soil, so that the inferior soil must be cultivated along with the superior on account of its location. If inferior soil is surrounded by superior soil, then the better soil gives to the poorer soil the advantage of location as against other and more fertile soil, which is not connected with the already cultivated soil, or with soil about to be cultivated.
In this way the state of Michigan was one of the first to export corn. Yet its soil is on the whole poor. But its vicinity to the state of New York and its water routes by lakes and by the Erie Canal gave to it the advantage before the naturally more fertile states which were farther west. The example of this state, as compared to the state of New York, shows us also the transition from superior to inferior soil. The soil of the state of New York, particularly the western portion of it, is far more fertile, particularly in the raising of wheat. This fertile soil was made sterile by robbing it, and now the soil of Michigan appeared as the more fertile.
"In 1836 wheat flour was shipped from Buffalo to the West, principally from the wheat belt of New York and Canada. At present, only 12 years later, enormous supplies of wheat and flour are brought from the West, by way of Lake Erie, and shipped East upon the Erie Canal, in Buffalo and the neighboring port of Blackrock. The export of wheat and flour was particularly stimulated by the European famine in 1847. The wheat in western New York thus became cheaper, and the raising of wheat less profitable; this caused the New York farmers to throw themselves more upon cattle raising and dairying, fruit growing, etc., lines in which the Northwest, in their opinion, will be unable to compete with them directly." (J. W. Johnston, Notes on North America, London, 1851, I, p. 222.)
3) It is a mistaken assumption that the land in colonies, and in new countries generally, which can export cereals at cheaper prices, must for that reason be necessarily of a greater natural fertility. The cereals are not only sold below their value in such cases, but below their price of production, namely below the price of production determined by the rate of profit in the older countries.
The fact that we, as Johnston says (p. 223) "are accustomed to connect with these new states, which ship annually such large supplies of wheat to Buffalo, the idea of great natural fertility and endless stretches of rich soil," depends primarily upon economic conditions. The entire population of such a country, for instance of Michigan, is at first almost exclusively engaged in agriculture, and particularly in producing agricultural goods in large masses, which they can alone exchange for products of industry and tropical goods. The whole surplus product of this population appears, therefore, in the shape of cereals. This distinguishes from the outset the colonial states founded on the basis of the modern world market from those of former, particularly of antique, times. They receive from the world market finished products, which they would have to make themselves under different circumstances, such as clothing, tools, etc. Only on such a basis were the southern states of the Union enabled to make of cotton their staple product. The division of labor upon the world market permitted this. Hence, if they seem to produce a large surplus product in spite of their youth and small relative population, it is not due to the fertility of their soil, nor to the productivity of their labor, but to the onesided form of their labor, and therefore of the surplus product, in which this labor is incorporated.
Furthermore, a relatively inferior soil, which is newly cultivated and was never touched by civilisation before, has accumulated much easily soluble plant food, at least in its upper layers, provided the climatic conditions are not extremely hard, so that it will yield crops without any manure for a long time, even with very superficial cultivation. The western prairies have the additional advantage of requiring hardly any expenses for clearing, since nature has cleared them herself.127 In less fertile districts of this kind a surplus is produced, not through the great fertility of the soil or the yield per acre, but through the large number of acres, which may be superficially cultivated, because this soil costs the cultivator little or nothing compared with older countries. For instance, where share farming exists, as it does in certain parts of New York, Michigan, Canada, etc., there this condition is found. A family cultivates superficially, say, 100 acres, and although the product per acre is not large, the product of 100 acres yields a considerable surplus for sale. In addition to this cattle may be kept on natural pastures for almost nothing, without any artificial grass meadows. It is the quantity, not the quality of the soil, which decides the point here. The possibility of this superficial cultivation is naturally more or less rapidly exhausted, in a reverse ratio to the fertility of the new soil, and in a direct ratio to the export of its products. "And yet such a country will yield excellent harvests, even of wheat; whoever skims the first cream off the soil, will be able to ship an abundant surplus of wheat to the market" (L. c., p. 224). In countries of older civilisation the property relations, the determination of the price of the uncultivated soil by that of the cultivated, etc., make such an extensive economy impossible.
That this soil does not have to be very rich, as Ricardo imagines, nor soils of equal fertility have to be cultivated, may be seen from the following: In the state of Michigan 465,900 acres were planted in 1848 with wheat and produced 4,739,300 bushels, or an average of 10 1/5 bushels per acre; deducting the seed grain this leaves less than 9 bushels per acre. Of the 29 counties of this state 2 produced an average of 7 bushels, 3 an average of 8 bushels, 2 one of 9, 7 one of 10, 6 one of 11, 3 one of 12, 4 one of 13 bushels, and only one county produced an average of 16 bushels, and another of 18 bushels per acre (L. c., p. 226).
In practical agriculture a higher fertility of the soil coincides with a greater immediate utilisation of this fertility. This may be greater in a naturally poor soil than in a naturally rich one; but it is the kind of soil which a colonist will take up first, and must take up from lack of capital.
4) The extension of cultivation to greater areas—aside from the case just mentioned, in which recourse must be had to inferior soil than that hitherto cultivated—upon the various classes of soil from A to D, for instance, the cultivation of larger tracts of B and C, does not presuppose by any means a previous rise of the prices of cereals, any more than the annually increasing expansion, for instance of cotton spinning, presupposes a continual rise in the price of yarn. Although a considerable rise or fall of market prices affects the volume of production, nevertheless, aside from this, that relative overproduction which is in itself identical with accumulation always takes place even with average prices, whose stand has neither a paralysing nor an exceptionally stimulating effect upon production. This takes place in agriculture as well as in all other capitalistically managed lines of production. Under different modes of production, this relative overproduction is effected directly by the increase of population, and in colonies by continual immigration. The demand increases constantly, and in anticipation of this new capital is continually invested in new land, although the products of this land will vary according to circumstances. It is the formation of new capitals, which in itself brings this about. But so far as the individual capitalist is concerned, he measures the volume of his production by that of his available capital, to the extent that he himself can still superintend it. What he aims at is to occupy as much room as possible on the market. If there is any overproduction, he does not blame himself, but his competitors. The individual capitalist may expand his production by appropriating a larger aliquot share of the existing market, or by expanding the market itself.
THE SECOND FORM OF DIFFERENTIAL RENT.
(Differential Rent II.)
So far we have considered differential rent only as the result of the different productivity of different investments of capital upon equal areas of land with different fertilities, so that the differential rent was determined by the difference between the yield of the capital invested in the worst, rentless, soil and that of the capital invested in the superior soils, Here we had the invested capitals side by side upon different areas of land, so that every new investment of capital signified a more extensive cultivation of the soil, an expansion of the cultivated area. But in the last analysis the differential rent was by its nature merely the result of the different productivity of equal capitals invested in land.
But could it make any difference, perhaps, whether masses of capital of different productivities are invested successively on the same piece of land, or side by side on different pieces of land, provided that the results are the same?
In the first place, it cannot be denied that it is immaterial, so far as the formation of surplus profit is concerned, whether 3 pounds sterling of cost of production are invested in one acre of A and yield one-quarter of wheat, so that 3 pounds sterling are the price of production and regulating market price of 1 quarter, while 3 pounds sterling of cost of production applied to one acre of B give 2 quarters, and with them a surplus profit of 3 pounds sterling, while in the same way 3 pounds sterling of cost of production applied to one acre of C give 3 quarters and 6 pounds sterling of surplus profit, and finally 3 pounds sterling of cost of production applied to one acre of D give 4 quarters and 9 pounds sterling of surplus profit; or whether the same result is accomplished by applying these 12 pounds sterling of cost of production, or 10 pounds sterling of capital, with the same results and in the same succession upon one and the same acre. It is in either case a capital of 10 pounds sterling, a part of whose successively invested shares of a value of 2½ pounds sterling each, whether invested in four acres of different fertility side by side, or successively upon one and the same acre, does not yield any surplus profit on account of their different products, whereas the other parts yield a surplus profit in proportion to the difference of their yield from that of the rentless investment.
The surplus profits and the various rates of surplus profit for different parts of the value of capital are formed in the same way in either case. And the rent is nothing but a form of this surplus profit, which constitutes its substance. But at any rate, there are some difficulties in this second method in the way of the transformation of surplus profit into rent, of this change of form, which implies the transfer of the surplus profit from the capitalist tenant to the owner of the land. This accounts for the obstinate resistance of the English tenants to an official statistics of agriculture. It accounts for the struggle between them and the landlords over the ascertainment of the actual results of an investment of capital (Morton). For the rent is fixed when the lease for the land is made out, and after that the surplus profits arising from excessive investments of capital flow into the pockets of the tenant so long as the lease lasts. Therefore the tenants fought for long leases, and on the other hand the landlords enforced by their superior numbers an increase of the tenancies at will, which could be cancelled annually.
It is evident from the outset that even though it is immaterial for the law forming the surplus profit, whether equal capitals are invested with unequal results side by side upon equal areas of land, or whether they are invested successively on the same land, it does make a considerable difference for the conversion of surplus profit into ground-rent. The latter method confines this conversion within boundaries, which are narrower on one side and less definite on the other. For this reason the business of the tax assessor, as Morton shows in his "Resources of Estates," becomes a very important, complicated and difficult profession in countries with an intensive cultivation (and economically we mean by intensive cultivation nothing else but the concentration of capital upon the same piece of land, instead of its distribution over adjoining pieces of land). If the improvements of the soil are of the more permanent kind, the artificially raised differential fertility of the soil coincides with its natural fertility as soon as the lease expires, and this leads to the assessment of the rent by the basis of that which is due to the mere differences of fertility in different soils generally. On the other hand, so far as the formation of surplus profit is determined by the magnitude of the working capital, the amount of the rent paid by a certain amount of capital is added to the average rent of the country and care is taken that the new tenant commands sufficient capital to continue cultivation in the same intensive manner.
In the study of differential rent II, the following points must be noted:
1) Its basis and point of departure, not merely historically, but even as concerns its movements at any given period, is differential rent I, that is the simultaneous cultivation side by side of soils of different fertility and location; in other words the simultaneous application, side by side, of different portions of the total agricultural capital upon soil areas of different quality.
Historically this is a matter of course. In colonies the colonists have but little capital to invest. The principal agents of production are labor and land. Every individual head of a family seeks to acquire for himself and his, an independent field of employment, apart from that of his fellow colonists. This must be generally the case even under precapitalist modes of production in agriculture proper. In the case of sheep pastures, and generally of cattle raising as an independent line of production, the exploitation of the soil is more or less collective, and it is extensive from the outset. The capitalist mode of production starts out from former modes of production, in which the means of production are actually or legally the property of the tiller himself, in which agriculture is carried on by professionals. Naturally this mode of agriculture gives way but gradually to the concentration of means of production and their transformation into capital with a simultaneous change of direct producers into wage workers. So far as the capitalist mode of production asserts itself here in a typical manner, it does so at first mainly in sheep pastures and cattle raising; after that it does not assert itself by a concentration of capital upon a relatively small area of land, but in production on a larger scale, so that the expense of keeping horses and other costs of production may be saved; but in fact not by investing more capital in the same land. It is furthermore in the nature of field tillage that capital, which implies at this stage also the means of production already produced, should become the dominating element of agriculture, when cultivation has reached a certain hight and the soil has become correspondingly exhausted. So long as the tilled land constitutes a small area compared to the untilled, and so long as the strength of the soil has not been exhausted (and this is the case so long as cattle raising prevails with meat as the staple food, before agriculture proper and plant food have become dominant), the beginnings of the new mode of production show their opposition to peasants' economy mainly by large tracts of land which are tilled for the account of some capitalist, in other words, the new mode of production itself starts out with an extensive application of capital to larger areas of land. It should therefore be remembered from the outset, that differential rent No. I is the historical basis from which a start is made. On the other hand, the movement of differential rent No. II puts in its appearance at any given moment only upon a territory, which is itself but the variegated basis of differential rent No. I.
2) In differential rent No. II, the differences in the distribution of capital (and of the ability to get credit) among tenants are added to the differences in fertility. In manufacture proper, each line of business rapidly develops its own minimum volume of business and a corresponding minimum of capital, below which no individual business can be carried on successfully. In the same way each line of business develops, above this minimum, a normal size of capital, which the mass of producers must be able to command and do command. Whatever exceeds this, can form extra profits; whatever is below this, does not get the average profit. The capitalist mode of production invades agriculture but slowly and unevenly, as may be seen in England, the classic land of the capitalist mode of production in agriculture. To the extent that no free importation of cereals exists, or that its effect is but limited, because its volume is small, the producers working upon inferior soil and thus with worse than average conditions of production determine the market price. A large portion of the total mass of capital invested in husbandry and available for it is in their hands.
It is true that the farmer spends much labor on his small plot of land. But it is labor isolated from the objective social and material conditions of productivity, labor robbed and stripped of these conditions.
This circumstance makes it possible for the real capitalist tenants to appropriate a portion of the surplus profit; this would not be so, at least so far as this point is concerned, if the capitalist mode of production were as uniformly developed in agriculture as in manufacture.
Let us first consider the formation of surplus profit in differential rent No. II, without taking notice for the present of the conditions under which the conversion of this surplus profit into ground rent may take place.
It is evident, in that case, that differential rent No. II is but a different expression of differential rent No. I, but that it coincides with it in substance. The different fertility of the various kinds of soil exerts its influence in the case of differential rent No. I only to the extent that it brings about unequal results of the capitals invested in the soil, so that the products of equal capitals, or of equal aliquot parts of unequal capitals, are unequal. Whether this inequality takes place for different capitals invested successively in the same land, or for capitals invested in various tracts of different classes of soil, cannot alter anything in the differences of fertility, or in the differences of their products, nor in the formation of the differential rent for the more productively invested parts of capital. It is still the soil which shows different fertilities with the same investment of capitals, only that in this case the same soil does for a capital successively invested in different portions what different kinds of soil do in the case of differential rent No. I for various equally large portions of social capital invested in them.
If the same capital of 10 pounds sterling, which is shown by Table I to be invested in the shape of separate capitals of 2½ pounds sterling by different tenants in one acre of each of the soils A, B, C and D, were invested successively in one and the same acre D, so that its first investment yielded 4 quarters, the second 3 quarters, the third 2 quarters and the fourth 1 quarter (or vice versa), then the price of the 1 quarter, which is furnished by the least productive capital, namely the price of 3 pounds sterling, would not pay any differential rent, but would determine the price of production, so long as the supply of wheat with a price of production of 3 pounds sterling would be needed. And since our assumption is that the capitalist mode of production prevails, so that the price of 3 pounds sterling includes the average profit made by a capital of 2½ pounds sterling generally, the other three portions of capital of 2½ pounds sterling each will make surplus profits according to the difference of their product, since this product is not sold at their own price of production, but at the price of production of the least productive investment of 2½ pounds sterling, which does not pay any rent and whose price of production is determined by the general law of prices of production. The formation of the surplus profits would be the same as in Table I.
We see here once more that differential rent No. II is conditioned upon differential rent No. I. The minimum product raised by a capital of 2½ pounds sterling upon the worst soil is here assumed to be 1 quarter. Take it then that the tenant using soil of class D invests in this same soil, aside from the 2½ pounds sterling which raise 4 quarters and pay a differential rent of 3 quarters, still another capital of 2½ pounds sterling, which raise only 1 quarter, like the same capital upon the worst soil A. This would be a rentless investment, which would pay him only the average profit. There would be no surplus profit, which could be converted into rent. On the other hand, this decreasing yield of the second investment of capital in D would not have any influence on the rate of profit. It would be the same as though 2½ pounds sterling had been invested in another acre of the soil of class A, a circumstance which would in no way affect the surplus profit, nor for that reason the differential rent of the classes A, B, C, and D. But for the tenant this additional investment of 2½ pounds sterling in D would have been quite as profitable as the investment of the original 2½ pounds sterling had been per acre of D, according to our assumption, although this had raised 4 quarters. Furthermore, if two other investments of 2½ pounds sterling each should yield an additional product of 3 quarters and 2 quarters respectively, another decrease would have taken place compared with the product of the first investment of 2½ pounds sterling in D, which amounted to 4 quarters and paid a surplus profit of 3 quarters, But it would be merely a decrease in the amount of surplus profit, and would not affect either the average profit or the regulating price of production. It would have such an effect only if the additional production yielding this decreasing surplus profit should make the production upon A superfluous and throw class A out of cultivation. In that case the decreasing fertility of the additional investments of capital in class D would be accompanied by a fall of the price of production, for instance from 3 pounds sterling to 1½ pounds sterling, and the class B would become the rentless regulator of the market price.
The product of D would not be 4 + 1 + 3 + 2 = 10 quarters, whereas it was only 4 quarters formerly. But the price per quarter as regulated by B would have fallen to 1½ pounds sterling. The difference between D and B would be 10-2 = 8 quarters, at 1½ pounds sterling per quarter, or 12 pounds sterling, whereas the money rent in D used to be 9 pounds sterling. This should be noted. Calculated per acre, the amount of the rent would have risen by 33 1/3% in spite of the decreasing rate of the surplus profits on the two additional capitals of 2½ pounds sterling each.
We see by this to what highly complicated combinations differential rent in general, and particularly form II coupled with form I, may give rise, whereas Ricardo, for instance, treats it very onesidedly and as a simple matter. One may meet, as in the above case, with a fall of the regulating market price and at the same time with a rise of the rent upon superior soils, so that both the absolute product and the absolute surplus product grow. (In differential rent No. I, in a descending line, the relative surplus product and thus the rent per acre may increase, although the absolute surplus product per acre may remain constant or even decrease.) But at the same time the fertility of the investments of capital made successively in the same soil decreases, although a large portion of them falls upon the superior lands. From a certain point of view—both as concerns the product and the prices of production—the productivity of labor has risen. But from another point of view it has decreased, because the rate of surplus profit and the surplus product per acre decrease for the various investments of capital in the same soil.
Differential rent No. II, with a decreasing fertility of the successive investments of capital, would be necessarily accompanied with a rise of the price of production and an absolute decrease of the productivity only in the case that these investments of capital could be made on none but the worst soil A. If one acre of A, which raised with an investment of a capital of 2½ pounds sterling 1 quarter at a price of production of 3 pounds sterling, should raise only a total of 1½ quarters with an additional investment of 2½ pounds sterling, or a total investment of 5 pounds sterling, then the price of production of this 1½ quarter would be 6 pounds sterling, or that of one quarter 4 pounds sterling. Every decrease of the productivity with a growing investment of capital would imply a relative decrease of the product per acre in such a case, whereas it would signify only a decrease of the surplus product upon superior soils.
The nature of the matter will carry with it the fact that with the development of intensive culture, i.e., with successive investments of capital upon the same soil, mainly the superior soils will show this tendency, or will show it to a greater degree. (We are not speaking now of permanent improvements, by which a hitherto useless soil is converted into useful soil.) The decreasing fertility of the successive investments of capital must, therefore, have principally the effect indicated above. The better soil is chosen, because it offers the best prospects that the capital invested in it will be profitable, since this soil contains the greater quantity of the useful elements of fertility, which need but be utilised.
When after the abolition of the corn laws the cultivation in England was made still more intensive, a great deal of the former wheat land was used for other purposes, particularly for cattle pastures, while the tracts best adapted to wheat and fertile were drained and otherwise improved. The capital for wheat culture was thus concentrated into a more limited area.
In this case—and all possible surplus rates between the highest surplus product of the best soil and the product of the rentless soil A coincide here, not with a relative, but with an absolute increase of the surplus product per acre—the newly formed surplus profit (eventually rent) does not represent a portion of a former average profit converted into rent (not a portion of the product in which the average profit formerly incorporated itself) but an additional surplus profit, which converted itself out of this form into rent.
Only in the case in which the demand for cereals would increase to such an extent, that the market price would rise above the price of production of A, so that for this reason the surplus product of A, B, or any other class of soil could be supplied only at a higher price than 3 pounds sterling, would the decrease of the results of an additional investment of capital in A, B, C and D be accompanied by a rise of the price of production and of the regulating market price. To the extent that this would last for a certain length of time without calling forth the cultivation of additional soil (which should be at least of the quality of A), or without bringing on a cheaper supply through other circumstances, wages would rise in consequence of the dearness of bread, other circumstances remaining the same, and the rate of profit would fall accordingly. In this case it would be immaterial, whether the increased demand would be satisfied by drawing upon inferior soil than A, or by additional investments of capital, no matter upon which of the four classes of soil. Differential rent would then rise in connection with a falling rate of profit.
This one case, in which the decreasing fertility of additional capitals invested in already cultivated soils may lead to an increase of the price of production, a fall in the rate of profit, and a formation of higher differential rents—for this rent would rise under the given circumstances upon all classes of soil just as though inferior soil than A were regulating the market—has been stamped by Ricardo as the only case, the normal case, to which he reduces the entire formation of differential rent No. II.
This would also be the case, if only the class A of soils were cultivated, and if successive investments of capital upon it were not accompanied by a proportional increase of the product.
Here then differential rent No. I is entirely lost sight of when analysing differential rent No. II.
With the exception of this case, in which the supply from the cultivated classes of soil is insufficient, so that the market price stands continually higher than the price of production, until new soil of an inferior character is taken under cultivation in addition to the others, or until the total product of the additional capitals invested in the various classes of soil can be supplied only at a higher price of production than the hitherto customary one, with the exception of this case the proportional decrease in the productivity of the additional capitals leaves the regulating price of production and the rate of profit unchanged. For the rest three cases are possible.
a) If the additional capital upon any one of the classes of soil A, B, C or D yields only the rate of profit determined by the price of production of A, then no surplus profit, and therefore no rent, is formed, any more than there would be, if additional soil of the A class had been cultivated.
b) If the additional capital yields a larger product, then a new surplus profit (potential rent) is, of course, formed, provided the regulating price remains the same. This is not necessarily the case, namely it is not the case when this additional production throws the soil A out of cultivation and thus out of the succession of the competing soils. In this case the regulating price of production falls. The rate of profit would rise, if a fall in wages were connected with this, or if the cheaper product were to enter into the constant capital as one of its elements. If the increased productivity of the additional capital had taken place upon the best soils C and D, it would depend entirely upon the degree of the increased productivity and the mass of the additional capitals to what extent a formation of increased surplus profit (and thus increased rent) would be connected with the fall in prices and the rise of the rate of profit. This rate may also rise without a fall in wages, by a cheapening of the elements of constant capital.
c) If the additional investment of capital takes place with decreasing surplus profits, but in such a way that the product of such additional investment still leaves a surplus above the product of the same capital in A, a new formation of surplus profits takes place under all circumstances, unless the increased supply throws the soil A out of cultivation. This new formation of surplus profit may take place simultaneously upon all four soils, D, C, B and A. But if the worst soil A is crowded out of cultivation, then the regulating price of production falls, and it will depend upon the proportion between the reduced price of 1 quarter and the increased number of quarters yielding a surplus profit, whether the surplus profit expressed in money, and consequently the differential rent, shall rise or fall. But at any rate we meet here with the peculiarity, that in spite of decreasing surplus profits of successive investments of capital the price of production may fall, instead of rising, as it seems it ought to do at first sight.
These additional investments of capital with decreasing surplus products correspond entirely to the case, in which four new and separate capitals would be invested in soils having a fertility ranging between A and B, B and C, C and D, for instance four capitals of 2½ pounds sterling each and yielding 1½, 2 1/3, 2 2/3, and 3 quarters respectively. Surplus profits (potential rents) would form upon all these kinds of soil for all four additional capitals, although the rate of surplus profit, compared with the surplus profit of the same investment of capital, on the corresponding better soil, would have decreased. And it would be immaterial, whether these four capitals were invested in D, etc., or distributed between D and A.
We now come to one essential difference between the two forms of differential rent.
With a constant price of production and constant differences, the rental and the average rent per acre, or the average rent per capital, may rise under differential rent No. I. But the average is a mere abstraction. The actual amount of the rent, calculated per acre or per capital, remains the same here.
On the other hand, under the same conditions, the amount of the rent calculated per acre may rise, although the rate of rent, measured by the invested capital, remains the same.
Let us assume that production is doubled by the investment of 5 pounds sterling in each of the soils A, B, C and D instead of 2½ pounds sterling, a total of 20 pounds sterling instead of 10 pounds sterling, with the relative fertilities unchanged. This would be the same as though 2 acres instead of 1 were being cultivated, with the same cost, on each one of these classes of soil. The rate of profit would remain the same, also its ratio to the surplus profit or the rent. But if A were raising 2 quarters now, and B, 4, C, 6, D, 8, the price of production would nevertheless remain at 3 pounds sterling per quarter because this increment is not due to a doubled fertility of the same capital, but to the same proportional fertility of a doubled capital. The two quarters of A would now cost 6 pounds sterling, just as one quarter used to cost 3 pounds sterling. The profit would have doubled on all four classes of soils, but only because the invested capital did. But in the same proportion the rent would also have become doubled. It would now be two quarters for B instead of one, four for C instead of two, and six for D instead of three. And corresponding to this the money rent for B, C, and D would now be 6 pounds sterling, 12 pounds sterling, and 18 pounds sterling respectively. Like the product per acre, so the rent in money per acre would be doubled, and consequently the price of the land also, in which this rent is capitalised. If calculated in this manner, the amount of the rent in grain and money rises, and thus the price of land, because the standard by which the calculation is made, the acre, is a tract of a constant magnitude. On the other hand, calculating it as the rate of rent on the invested capital, no change has taken place in the proportional amount of the rent. The total rental of 36 is proportioned to the invested capital of 20 as the rental of 18 was proportioned to the invested capital of 10. The same holds good for the ratio of the money rent of all classes of soil to the capital invested in them, for instance, 12 pounds sterling of rent in C are proportioned to 5 pounds sterling of capital, as 6 pounds sterling of rent used to be proportioned to 2½ pounds sterling of capital. No new differences arise here between the invested capitals, but new surplus profits arise, because the additional capital is invested in one of the rent paying soils, or in all of them, with the same proportional product. If this double investment were made only in one of these soils, for instance in C, the differential rent, calculated per capital, would remain the same between C, B, and D. For while its mass is doubled in C, so is the invested capital.
This shows that the amount of rent in products and money, and with it the price of the land, may rise while the price of production, the rate of profit, and the differences of fertility remain unchanged (and with them remain unchanged the rate of surplus profit or the rent, calculated on the capital).
The same may take place with decreasing rates of surplus profits and of rent, that is, with a decreasing productivity of the rent paying additional investments of capital. If the second investments of capital of 2½ pounds sterling had not doubled the product, but B would raise only 3½ quarters, C, 5 quarters, and D, 6 quarters, then the differential rent for the second capital of 2½ pounds sterling in B would be only ½ quarter instead of one quarter, in C, one quarter instead of two, and in D, two quarters instead of three. The proportions between rent and capital for the two successive investments would then be as follows:
In spite of this decreased rate of the relative productivity of capital and thus of surplus profit, calculated per capital, the rent in grain and money would have risen in B from one to one and a half quarter (from 3 to 4½ pounds sterling), in C, from two quarters to three (from 6 pounds sterling to 9 pounds sterling), and in D, from three quarters to five (from 9 pounds sterling to 15 pounds sterling). In this case the differences for the additional capitals, compared with the capital invested in A, would have decreased, the price of production would have remained the same, but the rent per acre, and consequently the price of the land per acre, would have risen.
The combinations of differential rent No. II, which are conditioned upon differential rent No. I as their basis, are analysed in the following chapters.
DIFFERENTIAL RENT II.—FIRST CASE: CONSTANT PRICE OF PRODUCTION.
THIS assumption implies that the market price is regulated the same as ever by the capital invested in the worst soil A.
1) If the additional capital invested in any one of the rent paying soils B, C, D, produces no more than the same capital upon the soil A, in other words, if it pays only the average profit by means of the regulating price of production, but no surplus profit, then the effect upon the rent is nil. Everything remains as it is. It is the same as though any number of acres of the A quality, of the worst soil, had been added to the cultivated area.
2) The additional capital brings forth upon every one of the different soils additional products proportional to their magnitude; in other words, the volume of production grows according to the specific fertility of every class of soil, in proportion to the magnitude of the additional capital. We started out in chapter XXXIX from the following Table I:
This table is now transformed into Table II.
It is not necessary in this case that the investment of capital should be doubled in all classes of soil, as it does in this Table. The law is the same, so long as additional capital is invested in one, or several, of the rent paying soils, no matter in what proportion. It is only necessary that production should increase upon every kind of soil in the same ratio as the capital. The rent rises here merely in consequence of an increased investment of capital in the soil, and in proportion to this increase. This increase of the product and of the rent in consequence of, and proportionately to, the increased investment of capital is just the same, so far as the quantity of the product and of the rent is concerned, as though the cultivated area of the rent paying lands of the same quality had been increased and taken under cultivation with the same investment of capital as that previously invested in the same classes of land. In the case of Table II, for instance, the result would remain the same, if the additional capital of 2½ pounds sterling per acre were invested in one additional acre each of B, C and D.
This assumption, furthermore, does not imply a more productive investment of capital, but only an investment of more capital upon the area with the same success as before.
All proportional relations remain the same here. True, if we do not consider the proportional differences, but the purely arithmetical ones, then the differential rent may change upon the various classes of soil. Let us assume, for instance, that the additional capital has been invested only in B and D. In that case the difference between D and A is 7 quarters, whereas it was only 3 before; the difference between B and A is 3 quarters, whereas it was one; that between C and B is minus one, whereas it was plus one, etc. But this arithmetical difference, which is decisive in differential rent I, so far as it expresses the difference of productivity with equal investments of capital, is here quite immaterial, because it is a consequence of different additional investments, or of no additional investments, of capital, while the difference for each aliquot part of capital upon the various lands remains unchanged.
3) The additional capitals bring forth surplus products and thus form surplus profits, but at a decreasing rate, not in proportion to their increase. TABLE III
In the case of this third assumption it is again immaterial, whether the additional second investments of capital are uniformly distributed over the various classes of soil or not; whether the decreasing production of surplus profit proceeds in equal or unequal proportions; whether the additional investments of capital fall all of them upon the same rent paying class of soil, or whether they are distributed equally or unequally over soils of different quality paying rent. All these circumstances are immaterial for the law which we are developing here. The only premise is that additional investments of capital must yield a surplus profit upon any one of the rent paying soils, but in a decreasing ratio to the amount of the increase of capital. The limits of this decrease move in the above illustration of Table III between 4 quarters = 12 p.st., the product of the first investment of capital upon the best soil D, and 1 quarter = 3 p.st., the product of the same investment of capital upon the worst soil A. The product of the best soil on the first investment of capital forms the maximum boundary, and the product of the same investment of capital in the worst soil A, which pays no rent and yields no surplus profit, forms the minimum limit of the product, which the successive investments of capital yield upon any of the various classes of soils producing a surplus profit with successive investments of capital and a decreasing productivity. Just as assumption No. II corresponds to a condition, in which new pieces of the same quality are added to the cultivated area among the superior soils, so that the quantity of any one of the cultivated soils is increased, so assumption No. III corresponds to a condition, in which additional pieces of soil are cultivated in such a way that their various degrees of fertility are distributed among soils between D and A, among soils from the best to the worst kind. If the successive investments of capital take place exclusively upon the soil D, they may include the existing differences between D and A, likewise those between D and C and those between D and B. If all the successive investments are made upon soil C, they will comprise only differences between C and A and C and B; if made exclusively upon B, only differences between B and A.
But this is the law: That the rent increases absolutely upon all these classes of soil, although not in proportion to the additional capital invested.
The rate of surplus profit, considering both the additional capital and the total capital invested in the soil, decreases; but the absolute magnitude of the surplus profit increases. In like manner the decreasing rate of profit on capital in general is generally accompanied by an absolutely increasing mass of profit. Thus the average surplus profit of the investment of capital upon B amounts to 90% on the capital, whereas it amounted to 120% on the first investment of capital. But the total surplus profit increases from one quarter to one and a half quarter, or from 3 pounds sterling to 4½ pounds sterling. Considering the total rent by itself—and not comparing it with the doubled magnitude of the advanced capital—it has risen absolutely. The differences of the rents of the various kinds of soil and their relative proportions may vary here; but this variation in the differences is here a consequence, not a cause, of the increase of the rents compared to one another.
4) The case, in which the additional investments of capital upon the superior soils bring forth a greater product than the original ones, requires no further analysis. It is a matter of course that under this assumption the rent per acre will rise, and will do so at a greater rate than the additional capital, no matter upon which kind of soil the investment may have been made. In this case the additional investment of capital is accompanied by improvements. This includes the case, in which an additional investment of less capital produces the same or a greater result than did formerly an investment of more capital. This case is not quite identical with the former one, and this is a distinction, which is important in all investments of capital. For instance, if 100 make a profit of 10, and 200, employed in a certain form, make a profit of 40, then the profit has risen from 10% to 20%, and to that extent it is the same as though 50, employed in a more effective form, make a profit of 10 instead of 5. We assume here that the profit is combined with a proportional increase of the product. But the difference is this, that I must double the capital in the one case, whereas in the other I produce the double effect by the same capital. It is by no means the same whether I bring forth the same product as before with half as much living and materialized labor, or twice the product as before with the same labor, or four times the former product with twice the labor. In the first case, labor in a living or materialised form is released, which may be employed otherwise; the power to dispose of capital and labor increases. The release of capital (and labor) is in itself an augmentation of wealth; it has just the same effect as though this additional capital had been obtained by accumulation, but it saves the labor of accumulation.
Take it that a capital of 100 has produced a product of ten yards. The 100 may include both constant capital, living labor and profit. In that case one yard costs 10. Now if I can produce 20 yards with the same capital of 100, then one yard costs 5. On the other hand, if I can produce 10 yards with a capital of 50, then one yard likewise costs 5, and a capital of 50 is released, assuming the former supply of commodities to be sufficient. Again, if I have to invest 200 of capital in order to produce 40 yards, then one yard also costs 5. The determination of the value, or price, does not indicate such differences as these, neither does the mass of products proportional to the investment of capital. But in the first case, capital is released; in the second case additional capital is saved to the extent that a duplication of production would be required; in the third case the increased product can be obtained only by an augmentation of the invested capital, although not in the same proportion as it would be if the increased product had to be supplied by the old productive power. (This belongs in Part I.)
From the point of view of capitalist production the employment of constant capital is always cheaper than that of variable capital, not where it is a question of increasing the surplus-value, but of reducing the cost price. For a saving of costs even in the element creating the surplus-value, labor, performs this service for the capitalist and makes profit for him, so long as the regulating price of production remains the same. This presupposes in fact the existence of a development of credit and of an abundance of loan capital corresponding to the capitalist mode of production. On the one hand I employ 100 pounds sterling of additional constant capital, if 100 pounds sterling are the product of five laborers during one year; on the other hand, 100 pounds sterling in variable capital. If the rate of surplus-value is 100%, then the value created by those five laborers in 200 pounds sterling; on the other hand, the value of 100 pounds sterling of constant capital is 100 pounds sterling, or perhaps 105 pounds sterling in its capacity as loan capital, if the rate of interest is 5%. The same sums of money express largely different values in product, according to whether they are advanced to production as values of constant or variable capital. Furthermore, as concerns the cost of the commodities from the point of view of the capitalist, there is also this difference that of 100 pounds sterling of constant capital only the wear and tear passes into the value of the product to the extent that this money is invested in fixed capital, whereas 100 pounds sterling invested in wages pas wholly into the values of commodities and must be reproduced in them.
In the case of colonists and of independent small producers in general, who have no command at all over capital or at least command it only at a high rate of interest, that part of the product which stands in place of wages is their revenue, whereas it constitutes an investment of capital for the capitalist. The colonist, therefore, regards this expenditure of labor as the indispensable prerequisite of his product, which is the thing that interests him first of all. As for his surplus-labor, after deducting that necessary labor, it is evidently realised in a surplus-product and as soon as he can sell this, or even use it for himself, he looks upon it as something that cost him nothing, because it cost him no materialised labor. It is only the expenditure of materialised labor which appears to him as an outlay of wealth. Of course, he tries to sell as high as possible; but even a sale below value and below the capitalist price of production still appears to him as a profit, unless this profit is claimed beforehand by debts, mortgages, etc. But for the capitalist the investment of both variable and constant capital represents an outlay of capital. The relatively large outlay of the capitalist reduces the cost-price, and in fact the value of commodities, provided other circumstances remain the same. Hence, although the profit arises only from surplus-labor, consequently only from the employment of variable capital, still it may seem to the individual capitalist that living labor is the most expensive element of his cost of production, which should be reduced to a minimum above all others. This is but a capitalistically distorted form of the correct view that the relatively greater use of past labor, compared to living labor, signifies an increase in the productivity of social labor and a greater social wealth. From the point of view of competition, everything appears thus distorted and invested.
Assuming the prices of production to remain unchanged, additional investments of capital may be made with an unaltered, an increasing, or a decreasing productivity upon the better soils, that is upon all soils from B upward. Upon soil A this would be possible, under the conditions assumed by us, only in the case that productivity should remain the same, in which case this land continues to pay no rent, or in the case that productivity increases in which case a portion of the capital invested in A would produce rent, while the remainder would not. But it would be impossible, if the productivity upon A were to decrease, for in that case the price of production would not remain unchanged, but would rise. But under all these circumstances the surplus-product and the surplus-profit corresponding to it increases per acre, and with them eventually the rent, in grain or in money, regardless of whether the surplus-product yielded by them is proportional to their magnitude, or above or below this proportion, regardless of whether the rate of the surplus-profit of capital remains constant, rises of falls when this capital increases. The growth of the mere mass of surplus-profit, or of the rent calculated per acre, that is, an increasing mass calculated on the same unaltered unit, in the present case on a definite quantity of land, such as an acre or an hectare, expresses itself as an increasing ratio. Hence the magnitude of the rent, calculated per acre, increases under such circumstances simply in consequence of the increase of the capital invested in the soil. This takes place when the price of production remain the same, no matter whether the productivity of the additional capital stays unaltered, or decreases, or increases. These last named circumstances modify the volume, in which the level of the rent per acre rises, but not the fact of this increase itself. This is a phenomenon, which is peculiar to differential rent No. II and distinguishes it from differential rent No. I. If the additional investments of capital, instead of being made successively one after another upon the same soil, were made side by side upon new additional soil of the corresponding quality, the mass of the rental would have increased, and, as previously shown, the average rent of the cultivated total area would like wise have increased, but not the size of the rent per acre. When results remain the same so far as the mass the value of the total production and of the surplus product are concerned, the concentration of capital upon a smaller area of land develops the size of the rent per acre, whereas its distribution over a larger area, under the same circumstances, and other circumstances remaining the same, does not produce this effect. But the more the capitalist mode of production develops, the more develops also the concentration of capital upon the same area of land, and the higher rises the rent calculated per acre. Consequently, if we have two countries, in which the prices of production are identical, the differences of the various kinds of soil the same, and the same amount of capital invested, but in such a way that the investment is made in the form of successive outlays upon a limited area in one country, whereas in the other country it is made more in the shape of co-ordinated outlays upon a wider are, then the rent per acre, and with it the price of land, would be higher in the first and lower in the second country, although the mass of the rent would be the same in both countries. The difference in the size of the rent could not be explained in such a case out of the natural fertility of the various kinds of soil, nor out of the quantity of employed labor, but solely out of the different ways in which the capital is invested.
In speaking of a surplus-product in this case, we mean that aliquot part of the product, in which the surplus-profit presents itself. Ordinarily we mean by surplus-product that portion of the product, in which the total surplus-value is materialised, or in some cases that portion, in which the average profit presents itself. The specific significance, which this term assumes in the case of rent-paying capital, give rise to misunderstanding, as we have shown in another place.
DIFFERENTIAL RENT II.—SECOND CASE: FALLING PRICE OF PRODUCTION.
THE price of production may fall, when the additional investments of capital take place with an unaltered, a falling, or a rising rate of productivity.
I. The Productivity of the Additional Investment of Capital Remains the Same.
In this case the assumption is that the product increases in the same proportion as the capital invested in the various soils and in accordance with their respective qualities. This implies, always assuming the differences of the various soil to remain unaltered, that the surplus-product increases in proportion to the increased investment of capital. This case, then, excludes any additional investment of capital upon soil A which might affect the differential rent. Upon this soil the rate of surplus-profit is 0; it remains 0, since we have assumed that the productive power of the additional capital and therefore the rate of surplus-profit remain the same.
But under these conditions the regulating price of production can fall only, because instead of the price of production of A that of the next best soil B, or of any better soil than A, becomes the regulator; so that the capital is withdrawn from A, or perhaps from B and A, in case the price of production of C should become the regulating one and all inferior soil should be eliminated from the competition of the wheat raising soils. The prerequisite for this would be, under the assumed conditions, that the additional product of the additional investments of capital should satisfy the demand, so that the product of the inferior soils A, etc., would become superfluous for the formation of a full supply.
Take, for instance, Table II, but in such a way that 18 quarters instead of 20 will satisfy the demand. Soil A would drop out; D and its price of production of 30 shillings would become regulating. In that case the differential rent would assume the following form:
In other words, compared to Table II the ground-rent would have fallen in money from 36 pounds sterling to 9 pounds sterling and in grain from 12 quarters to 6 quarters, whereas the total output would have fallen only by 2, from 20 to 18. The rate of surplus-profit, calculated on the capital, would have fallen by one-half, from 180% to 90%. The fall of the price of production in this case is accompanied by a decrease of the rent in grain and money.
Compared to Table I there is merely a decrease in the money rent; the rent in grain in both cases is 6 quarters. But in the one case these bring 18 pounds sterling, in the other only 9 pounds sterling. So far as the soils C and D are concerned, the rent in grain compared to Table I remains the same. In face, owing to the additional production put forth by the uniformly working additional capital, the product of A has been pushed out of the market, the soil A has been eliminated from the competition of the producing agents, and a new differential rent No. 1 has thus been formed, in which the better soil B plays the same role as formerly the inferior soil A. Consequently the rest of B disappears on the one side; on the other side nothing has been altered in the differences of B, C and D by the investment of additional capital, according to our assumption. For this reason that part of the product, which is converted into rent, is reduced.
If the above result, the satisfaction of the demand with A left out, should have been accomplished by the investment of more than double the capital upon C or D, or upon both, then the matter would assume a different aspect. Let us suppose, that a third investment of capital is made upon C.
In this case, compared to Table IV, the product of C has risen from 6 quarters to 9, the surplus product from 2 quarters to 3, the money rent from 3 pounds sterling to 4½ pounds sterling. Compared to Table II, in which the money rent was 12 pounds sterling, and Table I, in which it was 6 pounds sterling, it has fallen off. The total rental in grain is 7 quarters. It has fallen compared to Table II, in which it was 12 quarters, but has risen compared to Table I, in which it was 6 quarters. In money the rest is 10½ pounds sterling and has fallen compared to both of the other Tables, in which it was 18 and 36 pounds sterling respectively.
If the third investment of capital, amounting to 2½ pounds sterling, had been applied to soil B, it would indeed have altered the quantity of production, but would not have touched the rent, since the successive investments, according to our assumption, do not produce any differences upon the same soil, and soil B does not produce any rent.
Again, if we assume that the third investment of capital takes place upon D instead of C, we get
Here the total product is 22 quarters, more than double that of Table I, although the invested capital is only 17½ pounds sterling as against 10 pounds sterling, in other words, not twice the size. The total product is also larger by 2 quarters than that of Table II, although the capital in it is larger, namely 20 pounds sterling.
Compared to Table I, the rent in grain upon soil D has increased from 2 quarters to 6, whereas the money rent has remained the same, 9 pounds sterling. Compared to Table II the grain rent of D is the same, namely 6 quarters, but the money rent has fallen from 18 pounds sterling to 9 pounds sterling.
Comparing the total rents, the grain rent of IV b is 8 quarters, larger than that of I which is 6 and than that of IV a which is 7 quarters; but it is smaller than that of II which is 12 quarters. The money rent of IV b, 12 pounds sterling, is larger than that of IV a, which is 10½ pounds sterling, and smaller than that of Table I, which is 18 pounds sterling and that of Table II, which is 36 pounds sterling.
In order that the total rental under the conditions of Table IV b, after the elimination of the rent upon B, may be equal to that of Table I, we need 6 pounds sterling of surplus product more, that is, 4 quarters at 1½ pounds sterling, which is the new price of production. Then we shall have once more a total rental of 18 pounds sterling, the same as in Table I. The magnitude of the required additional capital will differ, according to whether we invest it upon C or D, or distribute it between these two.
In the case of C 5 pounds sterling of capital result in a surplus product of 2 pounds sterling, consequently 10 pounds sterling of additional capital will result in 4 quarters of additional surplus product. In the case of D 5 pounds sterling of additional capital would suffice for the purpose of producing 4 quarters of additional grain rent, under the conditions assumed here, namely that the productivity of the additional investments of capital will remain the same. We should then get the following Tables:
The total money rental would be exactly one-half of what it was in Table II, where the additional capitals were invested under conditions, in which the prices of production remained the same.
The most important thing is to compare the above Tables with Table I.
We find that the total money rental has remained the same, namely 18 pounds sterling, while the price of production has fallen by one-half, from 60 shillings to 30 shillings per quarter, and that the grain rent has been correspondingly duplicated, from 6 quarters to 12. The rent upon B has disappeared; the money rent has risen by one-half in IV c, but fallen by one-half in IV d; upon D the money rent has remained the same, 9 pounds sterling, in IV c, and has risen from 9 pounds sterling to 15 pounds sterling in IV d. The production has risen from 10 quarters to 34 in IV c, and to 30 quarters in IV d; the profit from 2 pounds sterling to 5½ pounds sterling in IV c and to 4½ pounds sterling in IV d. The total investment of capital has risen in one case from 10 pounds sterling to 27½ pounds sterling, and in the other from 10 pounds sterling to 22½ pounds sterling, in either case by more than one-half. The rate of rent, that is, the rent calculated on the invested capital, is everywhere the same in all the Tables from IV to IV d for the respective kinds of soils, for this was implied by the assumption that every kind of soil should retain the same rate of productivity with the two successive investments of capital. But compared to Table I, this rate has fallen, both for the average of all kinds of soil and for each one of them individually. In Table I it was 180% on an average, whereas in IV c it is (18 ÷ 27½) × 100 = 65 5/11% and in IV d it is (18 ÷ 22½) × 100 = 80%. The average money rent per acre has risen. Formerly, in Table I, its average was 4½ pounds sterling per acre upon all four acres, whereas now, in IV c and IV d, it is 6 pounds sterling per acre upon the three acres. Its average upon the rent paying soil was formerly 6 pounds sterling, whereas now it is 9 pounds sterling per acre. Hence the money value of the rent per acre has risen, and represents now double the grain product that it did formerly; but the 12 quarters of grain rent are now less than one-half of the total product of 33 and 27 quarters respectively, whereas in Table I the 6 quarters represent 3/5ths of the total product of 10 quarters. Consequently, although the rent as an aliquot part of the total product has fallen, and has also fallen when calculated on the invested capital yet its money-value, calculated per acre, has risen and still more its value as a product. If we take soil D in Table IV d, we find that the cost of production expended in it amounts to 15 pounds sterling, of which 12½ pounds sterling are invested capital. The money rent is 15 pounds sterling. In Table I, for the same soil D, the cost of production was 3 pounds sterling, the invested capital 2½ pounds sterling the money rent 9 pounds sterling, that is, the money rent amounted to three times the cost of production and almost four times the capital. In Table IV d, the money rent for D, 15 pounds sterling, is exactly equal to the cost of production and only by 1/5th larger than the capital. Nevertheless the money rent per acre is two-thirds larger, namely 15 pounds sterling instead of 9 pounds sterling. In Table I the grain rent of 3 quarters constitutes three quarters of the total product of 4 quarters; in Table IV d it is 10 quarters, or one-half of the total product of 20 quarters of one acre of D. This shows that the money value and grain value of the rent per acre may rise, although it forms a smaller aliquot part of the total yield and has fallen in proportion to the invested capital.
The value of the total product in Table I is 30 pounds sterling. The rent is 18 pounds sterling, more than one-half of it. The value of the total product of IV d is 45 pounds sterling, the rent is 18 pounds sterling, or less than one-half of it.
The reason, why in spite of the fall of the price by 1½ pounds sterling per quarter, a fall of 50%, and in spite of the reduction of the competing soil from 4 acres to 3, the total rent remains the same and the grain rent is doubled, while on a calculation per acre both the grain rent and money rent rise, is that more surplus product is created. The price of grain falls by 50%, the surplus product increases by 100%. But in order to accomplish this result, the total production under the conditions assumed by us must be trebled, and the investment of capital upon the superior soils must be more than doubled. In what proportion this last factor must increase, depends in the first place upon the distribution of the additional investments of capital among the superior and best kinds of soil, always assuming that the productivity of the capital upon every kind of soil increases proportionately to its size.
If the fall of the price of production were smaller, less additional capital would be required for the production of the same money rent. If the supply required for the purpose of throwing soil A out of cultivation—and this depends not merely upon the product per acre of A, but also upon the proportional share taken by A in the entire cultivated area—were larger, and with it also the amount of additional capital required upon better soils they A, then, other circumstances remaining the same, the money rent and the grain rent would have increased still more, although both of them would disappear upon the soil B.
If the eliminated capital of A had been 5 pounds sterling, we should have to compare Tables II and IV d: The total product would have increased from 20 quarters to 30. The money rent would be only half as large, that is, 18 pounds sterling instead of 36 pounds sterling; the grain rent would be the same, namely 12 quarters.
If a total product of 44 quarters, valued at 66 pounds sterling, could be produced upon D with a capital of 27½ pounds sterling—corresponding to the old rate of D, 4 quarters per 2½ pounds sterling of capital—then the total rental would once more reach the level of Table II, and we should get the following diagram:
The total production would be 54 quarters as against 20 quarters in Table II, and the money rent would be the same, 36 pounds sterling. But the total capital would be 37½ pounds sterling, whereas it was 20 in Table II. The invested total capital would almost be doubled, while production would be nearly trebled; the grain rent would have been doubled, the money rent would have remained the same. Hence, if the price falls as a result of the investment of additional money-capital, while productivity remains the same, upon the better soils which pay rent, that is, all soils above A, then the total capital has a tendency not to increase in the same proportion as the production and the grain rent; so that the increase of the grain rent may offer a compensation for the loss in money rent due to the falling price. The same law also manifests itself through the fact that the invested capital must be larger in proportion as it is more largely invested upon C than D, upon the soils paying a smaller rent rather than upon the soils paying a larger rent. The point is simply this: In order that the money rent may remain the same or rise, a certain additional quantity of surplus product must be created, and this requires less capital in proportion as the productivity of the soils yielding a surplus product is greater. If the difference between B and C, C and D were still greater, still less additional capital would be required. The proportion is determined 1) by the proportion in which the price falls, in other words, by the difference between soil B, which is not paying any rent now, and soil A, which formerly was the soil that did not pay any rent; 2) by the proportion between the differences of the better soils from B upward; 3) by the amount of newly invested additional capital, and 4) by its distribution among the different qualities of soil.
In fact, we see that this law expresses merely the same thing which we ascertained already in the case of the first illustration: When the price of production in given, no matter what may be its figure, the rent may increase in consequence of additional investments of capital. For owing to the elimination of A, we have now a new differential rent No. I with B as the worst soil and 1½ pounds sterling per quarter as the new price of production? This applies to Tables IV as well as to Table II. It is the same law, only that we have as a basis soil B instead of A, and a price of production of 1½ pounds sterling instead of 3 pounds sterling.
The important thing here is this: To the extent that so and so much additional capital was necessary for the purpose of withdrawing the capital from soil A and satisfying the supply without it, we find that this may be accompanied by an unaltered, a rising, or a falling rent per acre, if not upon all soils, then at least upon some and so far as the average of the cultivated lands is concerned. We have seen that the grain rent and the money rent do not maintain a uniform ratio to one another. However, it is merely due to tradition that grain rent is still playing any role at all in political economy. One might demonstrate equally well that a manufacturer can buy much more of his own yarn with his profit of 5 pounds sterling than he could formerly with a profit of 10 pounds sterling. It shows at any rate, that the landlords, when they are at the same time owners or partners of manufacturing establishments, sugar factories, distilleries, etc., may still make a considerable profit even when the money rent is falling, in their capacity as producers of their own raw materials.128
II. The Rate of Productivity of the Additional Capitals Decreases.
This does not carry anything new into the problem, in so far as the price of production may also fall in this case as in the previously considered one, when additional investments of capital upon better soils than A make the product of A superfluous and withdraw the capital from A, or lead to the employment of A for the production of other things. We have analysed this eventuality exhaustively. We have shown that in this case the rent in grain and money per acre may increase, decrease, or remain unchanged.
For the purpose of easy comparison we reproduce
Now let us assume that the figure of 16 quarters, supplied by B, C, D, with a decreasing rate of productivity, suffices to throw A out of cultivation. In that case Table III is transformed into the following
Here the rate of productivity of the additional capitals is decreasing, and the decrease is different upon different soils, while the regulating price of production has fallen from 3 pounds sterling to 1 5/7 pounds sterling. The investment of capital has risen by one-half, from 10 pounds sterling to 15 pounds sterling. The money rent has fallen by almost one-half, from 18 pounds sterling to 9 3/7 pounds sterling, while the grain rent has fallen only by one-twelfth, from 6 quarters to 5½ quarters. The total product has risen from 10 to 16, or by 160%. The grain rent constitutes a little more than one-third of the total product. The advanced capital has a ratio of 15 to 9 8/7 to the money rent, whereas formerly this ratio was 10 to 18.
III. The Rate of Productivity of the Additional Capitals Increases.
This differs from Case I in the beginning of this chapter, in which the price of production falls while the rate of productivity remains the same, merely by the fact that soil A is thrown more quickly out of competition, if an increase of the product is required to effect this.
This may work its effects differently, according to the distribution of the investments over the various soils, no matter whether productivity be rising or falling. In proportion as these different effects balance the differences, or accentuate them, the differential rent of the better soils, and with it the total rental, will fall or rise, as we have seen in discussing differential rent No. I. For the rest, everything depends upon the size of the area and of the capital, which are thrown out of competition together with soil A, and upon the relative advanced of capital required with a rising productivity for the purpose of supplying the capital which is to cover the demand.
The only point which it is worth while to analyse here, and which alone carries us back to the investigation of the way in which this differential profit is converted into differential rent, is the following:
In the first case, in which the price of production remains the same, the additional capital which may be invested in the soil A is immaterial for the differential rent as such, since this soil A does not yield any rent now any more than it did before, the price of its product remains the same and continues to regulate the market.
In the second case of Variant No. I, in which the price of production falls while the rate of productivity remains the same, soil A will necessarily be thrown out, and still more so in Variant No. II, in which both the price and production and the rate of productivity fall, since otherwise the additional capital upon soil A would have to raise the price of production. But here, in Variant No. III of the second case, in which the price of production falls, because the productivity of the additional capital rises, this additional capital may eventually be invested upon the soil A as well as upon the better soils.
We will assume that an additional capital of 2½ pounds sterling, when invested upon the soil A, produces 1 1/5 quarter instead of 1 quarter.
This Table VI should be compared with both Basic Tables I and Table II, in which the double investment of capital is combined with a constant productivity proportional to the investment of capital.
According to our assumption the regulating price of production falls. If it were to remain constant, at 3 pounds sterling, then the worst soil which used to pay no rent with an investment of 2½ pounds sterling, would then yield a rent, although no worse soil would have been drawn into cultivation. This would have been accomplished by increasing the productivity of this soil, but only for a part, not for the original capital invested in it. The first 3 pounds sterling of cost of production bring 1 quarter; the second bring 1 1/5 quarter; but the entire product of 2 1/5 quarters is now sold at its average price.
Since the rate of productivity increases with the additional investment of capital, this implies an improvement. This may consist of a general increase of the capital per acre (more fertilizer, more mechanical labor, etc.), or it may be due exclusively to this additional investment that any difference in the quality and productiveness of the investment is brought about. In both cases the investment of 5 pounds sterling of capital per acre brings forth a product of 2 1/5 quarters, whereas the investment of the one-half of this capital, or 2½ pounds sterling, brought forth a product of only 1 quarter. The product of the soil A, leaving aside the question of transient market conditions, could not continue to be sold at a higher price of production instead of all the new average price unless a considerable area of the class A would remain under cultivation with a capital of only 2½ pounds sterling. But as soon as the new scale of 5 pounds sterling of capital per acre would become universal, and with it an improvement of cultivation, the regulating price of production would have to fall to 2 8-11 pounds sterling. The difference between the two portions of capital would disappear, and in that case the cultivation of one acre of soil A with a capital of only 2½ pounds sterling would be abnormal, would not correspond to the new conditions of production. It would then no longer be a difference between the yields of different portions of capital upon the same acre, but between a sufficient and an insufficient investment of capital per acre. This shows, 1), that an insufficient capital in the hands of large number of capitalist farmers (it must be a large number, for a small number would simply be compelled to sell below their price of production) produces the same effect as a differentiation of soils in a descending line. The inferior cultivation upon inferior soil increases the rent upon the superior soils; it may even create a rent upon better cultivated soil of the inferior kind, which would otherwise yield no rent. It shows, 2), that differential rent, to the extent that it arises from successive investments of capital in the same total area, resolved itself in reality into an average, in which the effects of the different investments of capital are no longer visible and distinguishable, so that the worst soil does not yield any rent, but rather, a), the average price or the total product of, say, one acre of A is made the new regulating price, and, b), the effects of the different investment of capital appear as changes in the total quantity of capital per acre, which is required under the new conditions for the adequate cultivation of the soil, and thus the individual successions of invested capital as well as their respective effects are indistinguishably amalgamated. It is the same with the individual differential rents of the superior kinds of soil. In every case they are determined by the difference of the average products of the various soils, compared to the product of the worst soil, with the increase of capital which has become the normal one.
No soil yields any product without an investment of capital. Even in the case of simple differential rent, or differential rent No. I, some capital must be invested. When we say that one acre of class A, which regulates the price of production, gives so and so much of a product at that and that price, and that the superior soils B, C and D yield so much differential product and so much money rent at the regulating price of production, it is always understood that a certain amount of capital is invested in A which is normal under the prevailing conditions. In the same way a certain minimum capital is required for every individual line of industry, in order that commodities may be produced at their price of production.
If this minimum is altered in consequence of successive investments of capital which are accompanied by improvements, it is done gradually. So long as a certain number of acres, say, of A, do not receive this additional first capital, a rent is created upon the better cultivated portions of A by the unaltered price of production, and the rent of all superior soils, such as B, C, D, is raised. But as soon as the new method of cultivation has become general enough to be the normal one, the prices of production falls; the rent of the superior soils declines then, and that portion of the soil A, which does not enjoy the normal running capital, must sell its product below its individual price of production, and therefore below the average profit.
In the case of a falling price of production this happens also, even assuming the productivity of the additional capital to be decreasing, as soon as the required total product is supplied in consequence of increased investments of capital by the superior classes of soil, so that the running capital is withdraw, say, from A and A does not compete any longer in the production of this one staple, say wheat. The quantity of capital, which is now required on an average as an investment upon the new regulating soil, B, is now considered the normal one; and when we speak of the different fertility of the soils, it is understood that this new normal quantity of capital is employed per acre.
On the other hand, it is evident that this average investment of capital, for instance 8 pounds sterling per acre in England before 1848, and 12 pounds sterling after that year, will form the standard in the making of leases for land. For any capitalist farmer spending more than that the surplus profit does not assume the form of rent during the time of his contract. Whether this takes place after the expiration of his contract, will depend upon the competition of the capitalist farmers, who are in a position to make the same extra advance. We are not speaking here of such permanent improvements of the soil as continue to guarantee an increased product with the same or with even a decreasing investment of capital. Such improvements, although products of capital, have the same effect as the natural differences of quality of the land.
We see, then, that an element must be considered in the case of differential rent No. II, which does not appear in differential rent No. I as such, since this last rent may continue independently of any change in the normal investment of capital per acre. It is on one hand the obliteration of the results of different investments of capital upon the regulating soil A, the product of which now appears simply as a normal average product per acre. It is on the other hand the change in the average minimum, or in the average magnitude of invested capital per acre, so that this change presents itself as a quality of the soil. It is finally the difference in the manner of transforming surplus profit into the form of rent.
Table VI shows furthermore, compared with Tables I and II, that the grain has increased more than double as compared to I, and by 1 1/5 quarters as compared to II; while the money rent has doubled as compared to I, but has not changed as compared with II. It would have increased considerably, if (other conditions remaining the same) the additional capital had been placed more upon the superior soils, or if the effects of the addition of capital to A had been less appreciable, so that the regulating average price of the quarter from A had stood higher.
If the increase of productivity by means of additional capital should produce different results upon different soils, it would cause a change in their differential rents.
At any rate we have demonstrated, that the rent per acre, for instance with a doubled capital, may not only be doubled, but more than doubled, while the price of production is falling in consequence of an increased rate of productivity of the additional capitals (as soon as the productivity grows at a greater rate than the advance of capital). But it may also fall, if the price of production should fall much lower as a result of a more rapid increase of productivity upon the soil A.
Let us assume that the additional investments of capital, for instance upon B and C, do not increase the productivity as much as they do upon A, so that the proportional differences would decrease for B and C, and the increase of the product did not make up for the fall in price, then, compared to Table II, the rent upon D would rise, and would fall upon B and C:
Finally, the money rent would rise, if more additional capital were invested upon the superior soils under the same proportional increase of fertility than upon A, or if the additional investments of capital upon the superior soils worked with an increasing rate of productivity. In both cases the differences would increase.
The money rent falls, when the improvement due to additional investments of capital which reduces the differences all over, or in part, affects A more than B and C. It falls so much the more, the less the productivity of the superior soils increases. It depends upon the proportion of inequality in the effects, whether the grain rent shall rise, fall, or remain stationary.
The money rent rises, and so does the grain rent, assuming the proportional difference in the additional fertility of the different soils to remain unaltered, when more capital is added to the rent paying soils than to the rentless soil A, and more capital placed upon the soils with high than those with low rents, or when the fertility, assuming the same additional capital to be used, increases more upon the better and best soils than upon A, and at that in proportion as this increase in fertility is greater upon the better classes of soil than upon the lesser ones.
But under all circumstances the rent rises relatively, when the increased productive power is a result of an addition of capital, and not merely a result of increased fertility with an unaltered investment of capital. This is the absolute point of view, which shows that here, as in former cases, the rent and the increased rent per acre (as in the case of differential rent I upon the entire cultivated area—the amount of the average rental) are a result of an increased investment of capital in the soil, no matter whether this capital does its work with a constant rate of productivity at constant or decreasing prices, or with a decreasing rate of productivity at constant or falling prices, or with an increasing rate of productivity at falling prices. For our assumption of a constant price with a constant, falling, or rising rate of productivity of the additional capitals, and of a falling price with a constant, falling, or rising rate of productivity, resolves itself into a constant rate of productivity of the additional capital at constant or falling prices, a falling rate of productivity at constant or falling prices, and a rising rate of productivity at constant and falling prices. Although the rent may remain stationary or may fall in all these cases, it would fall more, if the additional investment of capital, other circumstances remaining the same; were not a prerequisite of an increased fertility. An addition of capital, then, is always the cause of the relative magnitude of this rent, although it may have decreased absolutely.
DIFFERENTIAL RENT NO. II.—THIRD CASE: RISING PRICE OF PRODUCTION.
[A RISING price of production presupposes that the productivity of the least productive quality of land, which pays no rent, decreases. The regulating price of production cannot rise above 3 pounds sterling per quarter, unless the 2½ pounds sterling invested in soil A produce less than one-quarter, or the 5 pounds sterling less than two-quarters, or unless, even inferior soil than A has to be taken under cultivation.
If the productivity of the second investment of capital should remain the same, this would be possible only in the case that the productivity of the first investment of capital would have decreased. This case occurs often enough. It happens, for instance, when the top soil, exhausted and superficially plowed, produces inferior crops with the old style of cultivation, and when the subsoil, thrown up by deeper plowing, produces better crops than formerly under a more rational treatment. But strictly speaking this special case does not belong here. The falling off in the productivity of the first investment of 2½ pounds sterling implies for the superior soils, even when conditions with them should be analogous, a decrease of the differential rent No. I; but here we are considering only differential rent No. II. Since the present special case cannot occur without the previous existence of differential rent No. II, but represents in fact a reaction of a certain modification of differential rent No. I upon No. II, we will give and illustration of it.
The money rent, and the yield in money, are the same as in Table II. The increased regulating price of production makes up exactly for what has been lost in the quantity of the product; since both of them vary in an inverse proportion, it is a matter of course that the product of both will remain the same.
In the above case we had assumed that the productive power of the second investment of capital was higher than the original productivity of the first investment. The matter remains the same, if we assume that the second investment has only the same productivity as that of the first, as shown in the following:
B) If an inferior soil (designated as a) becomes the regulator of prices and soil A produces a rent. This admits of a constant productivity of the second investment in the case of all variants.
Variant No. 1: The productivity of the second investment of capital remains the same.
As the general result of our analysis of differential rent we come to the following conclusions:
1) The formation of surplus profits may take place in different ways. On the one hand it may come about by the help of differential rent No. I, that is, by an investment of the entire agricultural capital upon one soil area consisting of soils of different fertilities. Or, it may come about by means of differential rent No. II, that is by means of the varying differential productivity of successive investments of capital upon the same soil, which signifies here a greater productivity, say in wheat measured by quarters, than is secured with the same investment of capital upon the worst rentless soil, which regulates the price of production. But no matter how these surplus profits may arise, their transformation into rents, their transfer from the capitalist farmer to the landlord, always presupposes that the various individual prices of production represented by the partial products of the individual capitals invested in succession (independently of the general price of production by which the market is regulated) have previously been reduced to an individual average price of production. The excess of the general regulating price of production of the product of one acre over its individual average price, forms and measures the rent per acre. In differential rent No. I the differential results may be distinguished by themselves, because they take place upon differentiated portions of land lying side by side, with an investment of capital and a degree of cultivation considered normal per acre. In differential rent No. II they must first be made distinguishable; they must in fact be reconverted into differential rent No. I, and this cannot take place in any other but the indicated way. Take for instance Table III, Chapter XLI, 3.
Soil B gives for the first investment of capital 2½ pounds sterling 2 quarters per acre, and for the second equally large one 1½ quarters; together 3½ quarters upon the same acre. These 3½ quarters do not show what part of them is a product of the investment of capital No. I and what part a product of capital No. II, for they are all grown upon the same soil. They are in fact the product of the total capital of 5 pounds sterling; and the actual condition of the matter is that a capital of 2½ pounds sterling produced 2 quarters, and a capital of 5 pounds sterling produced only 3½ quarters, not 4 quarters. The case would be just the same, if these 5 pounds sterling were producing 4 quarters, so that the proceeds of both investments of capital would be the same, or even 5 quarters, so that the second investment of capital would yield a surplus of 1 quarter. The price of production of the first 2 quarters is 1½ pounds sterling per quarter, and that of the second 1½ quarters is 2 pounds sterling per quarter. Consequently the 3½ quarters together cost 6 pounds sterling. This is the individual price of production of the total product, and it makes an average of 1 pound and 14 2/7 shillings per quarter, in round figures 1¾ pounds sterling. With the average price of production regulated by soil A, namely 3 pounds sterling, this makes a surplus profit of 1¼ pounds sterling per quarter, and for the total 3½ quarters profit of 4 3/8 pounds sterling. With the average price of production of B this is represented by about 1½ quarters. In other words, the surplus profit of B is represented by an aliquot portion of the product of B, by these 1½ quarters, which express the rent in terms of grain, and which under the prevailing price of production sell at 4½ pounds sterling. But on the other hand, the surplus product of one acre of B compared to that of A is not without ceremony a formation of surplus profit, is not offhand a surplus product. According to our assumption one acre of B produces 3½ quarters, whereas one acre of A produces only 1 quarter. The surplus of the product of B is, therefore, 2½ quarters, but the surplus product is only 1½ quarters; for the capital invested in B is twice that of A, and for this reason its cost of production is doubled. If soil A should also receive an investment of 5 pounds sterling, and the rate of productivity should remain the same, then the product would amount to 2 quarters instead of 1 quarter, and it would then be seen that the actual surplus product is found, not by a comparison of 3½ with 1, but of 3½ with 2, so that it would be only 1½ quarter, not 2½ quarters. Furthermore, if B should invest a third capital of 2½ pounds sterling, which would produce only 1 quarter, so that this quarter would cost 3 pounds sterling, the same as that of A, then its selling price would cover only the cost of production, would yield only the average profit, but not a surplus profit, and would not offer anything that could be converted into rent. The product per acre of any kind of soil, compared with the product per acre of soil A, shows neither whether it is a product of the same or of a larger investment of capital, nor whether the additional product covers merely the price of production, nor whether it is due to a greater productivity of the additional capital.
2) With a decreasing rate of productivity of the additional investments of capital, whose limits, so far as the new formation of surplus profit is concerned, is that investment of capital which just covers the cost of production, in other words, which produces one quarter at the same expense as the same investment of capital in one acre of soil A, amounting to 3 pounds sterling according to our assumption, we come to the following conclusions on the basis of what has gone before: That the limit, where the total investment of capital in one acre of B would not yield any more rent, is reached when the individual average price of production of the product per acre of B would rise to the price of production per acre of A.
If B invests only such additional capital as pays just the price of production, but forms no surplus profit, no rent, then this raises only the individual average price of production per quarter, but does not affect the surplus profit, or eventually the rent, formed by previous investments of capital? For the average price of production always remains under that of A, and when the excess over the price per quarter decreases, then the number of quarters increases in the same ratio, so that the total excess over the price remains unaltered.
In the case assumed, the first two investments of capital of 5 pounds sterling produce 3½ quarters upon B, which amounts to 1½ quarters of rent, at 4½ pounds sterling, according to our assumption. Now, if a third investment of capital of 2½ pounds sterling is added, which produces only one additional quarter, then the total price of production (including a profit of 20%) of the 4½ quarters is 9 pounds sterling, so that the average price per quarter is 2 pounds sterling. The average price of production per quarter upon B has then risen from 1 5/7 pounds sterling to 2 pounds sterling, so that the surplus profit per quarter, compared with the regulating price of A, has fallen from 1 2/7 pounds sterling to 1 pound sterling. But 1 × 4½ = 4½ pounds sterling, just as formerly 1 2/7 × 3½ = 4½ pounds sterling.
upon B, and that these investments produce one quarter only at its average price of production, then the total product per acre would by 6½ quarters, and their cost of production 15 pounds sterling. The average price of production per quarter of B would have risen once more, from 1 pound sterling to 2 4/13 pound sterling, and the surplus profit per quarter, compared with the regulating price of production of A, would have dropped once more, from 1 pound sterling to 9/13 pound sterling. But these 9/13 would now have to be calculated upon 6½ quarters instead of 4½ quarters. And 9/13 × 6½ = 1 × 4½ = 4½ pounds sterling.
The inference from this is, in the first place, that no raising of the regulating price of production is necessary under these circumstances, in order to make possible additional investments of capital even to the point where the additional capital ceases wholly to produce any surplus profit and yields only the average profit. It follows furthermore that the sum of the surplus profit per acre remains the same here, no matter how much the surplus profit per quarter may decrease; this decrease is always balanced by a corresponding increase of the quarters produced per acre. In order that the average price of production may rise to the general price of production (in this case to 3 pounds sterling for soil B) it is necessary that additions should be made to the capital, which must have a product of a higher price of production than the regulating one of 3 pounds sterling. But we shall see that this does not suffice without further ado in order to raise the average price of production per quarter of B to the general price of production of 3 pounds sterling.
Let us assume that soil B produced.
1) 3½ quarters as before at a price of production of 6 pounds sterling; this with two investments of capital of 2½ pounds sterling each, which both form surplus profits, but of a decreasing amount.
2) 1 quarter at 3 pounds sterling; an investment of capital, in which the individual price of production shall be equal to the regulating price of production.
3) 1 quarter at 4 pounds sterling; an investment of capital, in which the individual price of production shall be higher by 25% than the regulating price.
We should then have 5½ quarters per acre, at 13 pounds sterling, with an investment of a capital of 10 pounds sterling; this would be four times the original investment of capital, but not quite three times the product of the first investment of capital.
5½ quarters per acre at 13 pounds sterling make an average price of production of 2 4/11 pounds sterling, which would give a surplus of 7/11 pound per quarter at the regulating price of production of 3 pounds sterling . This surplus may be converted into rent. 5½ quarters sold at the regulating price of production of 3 pounds sterling make 16½ pounds sterling. After deducting the cost of production of 13 pounds sterling a surplus, or rent of 3½ pounds sterling remains, which, calculated at the present average price of production per quarter of B, that is, at 2 4/11 pounds per quarter, represent 1 5/72 quarters. The money rent would have fallen by 1 pound sterling, the grain rent by about ½ quarter, but in spite of the fact that the fourth additional investment upon B does not produce a surplus profit, but even less than the average profit, a surplus profit and a rent still continue to exist. Let us assume that not only the investment of capital as illustrated in No. 3), but also that in No. 2), produce at a cost exceeding the regulating price of production, then the total production is 3½ quarters at 6 pounds sterling plus 2 quarters at 8 pounds sterling, total 5½ quarters at 14 pounds sterling cost of production. The average price of production per quarter would be 2 6/11 pounds sterling, and it would leave a surplus of 5/11 pound sterling. The 5½ quarters, sold at 3 pounds sterling, make 16½ pounds sterling; subtract the 14 pounds sterling of cost of production, and 2½ pounds sterling remain for rent. At the present average price of production upon B this would be equivalent to 55/56 quarters. In other words, a rent would still remain, although less than before.
This shows at any rate, that upon the better soils with additional investments of capital, whose product costs more than the regulating price of production, the rent does not disappear, at least not within the bounds of admissible practice, although it must decrease, and will do so in proportion, on the one hand, to the aliquot part formed by this unproductive capital in the total investment of capital, on the other hand in proportion to the decrease of its fertility. The average price of its fertility would still stand below the regulating price and would still leave a surplus profit that could be converted into rent.
Let us now assume that the average price per quarter of B coincides with the general price of production, in consequence of four successive investments of capital (2½, 2½, 5 and 5 pounds sterling) with a decreasing productivity.
The capitalist renter in this case sells every quarter at its individual price of production, and consequently the total number of quarters at their average price of production per quarter, which coincides with the regulating price of 3 pounds sterling. Hence he still makes a profit of 20%, or 3 pounds sterling, upon his capital of 15 pounds sterling. But the rent is gone. What has become of the surplus in this compensation of individual prices of production per quarter with the general price of production?
The surplus profit on the first 2½ pounds sterling was 3 pounds sterling; on the second 2½ pounds sterling it was1½ pounds sterling; total surplus profit on one-third of the invested capital, that is, on 5 pounds sterling, 4½ pounds sterling, or 90%.
In the case of investment No. 3) the 5 pounds sterling do not only yield no surplus profit, but its product of 1½ quarters, if sold at the general price of production, gives a minus of 1½ pounds sterling. Finally, in the case of investment No. 4), which amounts likewise to 5 pounds sterling, its product of 1 quarter, if sold at the general price of production, gives a minus of 3 pounds sterling. Both investments of capital together give a minus of 4½ pounds sterling, equal to the surplus profit of 4½ pounds sterling, which was realized on investments Nos. 1) and 2).
The surplus profits and deficits balance one another. Therefore the rent disappears. In fact this is possible only because the elements of surplus-value, which form a surplus profit, or rent, now pass into the formation of the average profit. The capitalist renter makes this average profit of 3 pounds sterling on 15 pounds sterling, or of 20%, at the expense of the rent.
The compensation of the individual average price of production of B to the general price of production A, which regulates the market, presupposes that the difference, by which the individual price of the product of the first investment of capital stands below the regulating price, is more and more compensated and finally balanced by the difference, by which the product of the subsequent investments of capital stands above the regulating price. What appears as a surplus profit, so long as the product of the first investment of capitals sold by itself, becomes by degrees a part of their average price of production, and thereby enters into the formation of the average profit, until it is finally absorbed in this way.
If only 5 pounds sterling are invested in B, instead of 15 pounds sterling, and if the additional 2½ quarters of the last Table are produced by taking 2½ new acres of A under cultivation with an investment of 2½ pounds sterling per acre, then the invested additional capital would amount only to 6¼ pounds sterling, so that the total investment on A and B for the production of these 6 quarters would be only 11¼ pounds sterling instead of 15 pounds sterling, and the total cost of production of these including the profit of 13½ pounds sterling. The 6 quarters would still be sold at 18 pounds sterling, but the investment of capital would have decreased by 3¾ pounds sterling, and the rent upon B would be 4½ pounds sterling per acre, as before. It would be different, if the production of additional 2½ quarters would require that inferior soil than A, for instance A—1, A—2, should be taken under cultivation; so that the price of production per quarter, for 1½ quarters on soil A—1 would be 4 pounds sterling, and for the last quarter on soil A—2 would be 6 pounds sterling. In this case these 6 pounds sterling would be the regulating price of production per quarter. The 3½ quarters of B would then be sold at 21 pounds sterling instead of 10½ pounds sterling, and this would leave a rent of 15 pounds sterling instead of 4½ pounds sterling, or in grain a rent of 2½ quarters instead of 1½ quarter. In the same way the one quarter on A would now leave a rent of 3 pounds sterling, or of ½ quarter.
Before we discuss this point any further, we will pause to make the following observation.
The average price of one quarter of B is compensated and coincides with the general price of production of 3 pounds sterling per quarter, regulated by A, as soon as that portion of the total capital, which produces the excess of 1½ quarter, is balanced by that portion of the total capital, which produces a deficit of 1½ quarter. How soon this compensation is effected, or how much capital with less than average productivity must be invested in B for that purpose, will depend, assuming the surplus productivity of the first investments of capital to be given, upon the relative underproductivity of the later invested capitals, compared with an investment of the same amount upon the worst regulating soil A, or upon the individual price of production of their product, compared with the regulating price.
We now come to the following conclusions from the foregoing:
1) So long as the additional capitals are invested in the same soil with a surplus productivity, even a decreasing one, the absolute rent in grain and money increases per acre, although it decreases relatively, in proportion to the advanced capital (in other words, the rate of surplus profit, or rent). The limit is here formed by that additional capital, which yields only the average profit, or the price of production of whose product coincides with the general price of production. The price of production remains the same under these circumstances, unless the production upon the lesser soils becomes superfluous through an increased supply. Even with a falling price may these additional capitals still produce a surplus profit, though a smaller one, within certain limits.
2) The investment of additional capital, which produces only the average profit, whose surplus productivity is therefore zero, does not alter anything in the level of the existing surplus profit, and consequently of the rent. The individual average price per quarter increases thereby upon the superior soils; the surplus per quarter decreases, but the number of quarters, which carry this decreased surplus, increases, so that the product remains the same.
3) Additional investments of capital, whose product has an individual price of production exceeding the regulating price, whose surplus productivity is therefore not merely zero, but less than zero, that is, a minus lower than the productivity of the same investment of capital upon the regulating soil A, bring the individual average price of production of the total product of the superior soil closer to the general price of production, reduce more and more the difference between both, which forms the surplus profit, or rent. More and more of that which forms a surplus profit, or rent, passes over into the formation of the average profit. But nevertheless the total capital invested in one acre of B continues to yield a surplus profit, although a decreasing one in proportion as the capital with undernormal productivity and the degree of its underproductivity increase. The rent, with an increasing capital and increasing production, decreases in this case absolutely per acre, not merely relatively as compared to the increasing size of the invested capital, as in the second case.
The rent cannot disappear, unless the individual average price of production of the total product of the better soil B coincides with the regulating price, so that the entire surplus profit of the first more productive investment of capital is consumed in the formation of the average profit.
The minimum limit of the fall for the rent per acre is the point at which it disappears. But this point does not assert itself, as soon as the additional investments of capital work with an underproductivity, but rather as soon as the additional investment of the underproductive capitals becomes so great that their effect paralyzes the overproductivity of the first investments of capital, so that the productivity of the total capital becomes the same as that of A, and the individual average price of the quarter of B the same as that of the quarter of A.
In this case, likewise, the regulating price of production, 3 pounds sterling per quarter, remains the same, although the rent would have disappeared. Only after this point would have been passed, would the price of production have to rise in consequence of an increase of either the degree of underproductivity of the additional capital or of the magnitude of the additional capital of the same underproductivity. For instance, if in the above Table 2½ quarters were produced instead of 1½ quarters, at 4 pounds sterling per quarter, upon the same soil, then we should have altogether 7 quarters at 22 pounds sterling cost of production; the quarter would cost 3 1/7 above the general price of production which would have to rise.
For a long time, then, additional capital with underproductivity, or even increasing underproductivity, might be invested, until the individual average price per quarter of the best soils would become equal to the general price of production, until the excess of the latter over the former, and with it the surplus profit and the rent, would entirely disappear.
And even in this case the disappearance of the rent from the better kinds of soil would only signify that the individual average price of their products would coincide with the general price of production, so that this last price would not have to rise.
In the above illustration, upon soil B, which is there the lowest of the better rent paying soils, 3½ quarters were produced by a capital of 5 pounds sterling with a surplus productivity, and 2½ quarters by a capital of 10 pounds sterling with underproductivity, together 6 quarters, of which 5/12 are produced by the capitals with underproductivity. And only at this point does the individual average price of production of the 6 quarters rise to 3 pounds sterling and coincide with the general price of production.
Under the law of landed property, however, the last 2½ quarters could not have been produced in this way at 3 pounds sterling per quarter, with the exception of the case, in which they may be produced upon 2½ new acres of the soil A. The case, in which the additional capital produces only at the general price of production, would have been the limit. Beyond it the additional investment of capital would have to cease upon the same soil.
If the capitalist renter once pays 4½ pounds sterling of rent for the first two investments of capital, he must continue to pay them, and every investment of capital, which produces one quarter below 3 pounds sterling, would cause him a deduction from his profit. The compensation of the individual price of production, in the case of underproductivity, is thereby prevented.
Let us take this case in the previous illustration, in which the price of production of the soil A, at 3 pounds sterling per quarter, regulates the price for B.
The cost of production of the 3½ quarters in the first two investments is likewise 3 pounds sterling per quarter for the capitalist renter, since he has to pay a rent of 4½ pounds sterling, the difference between his individual price of production and the general price of production not flowing into his pocket. In his case, then, the excess of the price of the first two investments of capital cannot serve for the compensation of the deficit incurred in the production of the third and fourth investment of capital.
The 1½ quarters in investment No. 3) cost the capitalist renter, with profit included, 6 pounds sterling; but at the regulating price of 3 pounds sterling per quarter he can sell them only for 4½ pounds sterling. In other words, he would not only lose his whole profit, but also ½ pound sterling, or 10% of his invested capital of 5 pounds sterling. The loss of profit and capital in the case of investment No. 3) would amount to 1½ pound sterling, and in the case of investment No. 4) 3 pounds sterling, together 4½ pounds sterling, just as much as the rent of the better investments amounts to, whose individual price of production cannot take part in the compensation of the individual average price of production of the total product of B, because its surplus is paid as a rent to some third person.
If the demand should require that the additional 1½ quarters must be produced by a third investment of capital, then the regulating market price would have to rise to 4 pounds sterling per quarter. In consequence of this rise in the regulating market price the rent upon B would rise for the first and second investment, and a rent would be formed upon A.
Although the differential rent is but a formal transformation of surplus profit into rent, since property in land enables the owner in this case to draw the surplus profit of the capitalist render into his own hands, we find nevertheless that the successive investment of capital upon the same land, or, what amounts to the same, the increase of the capital invested in the same land, reaches its limit far more rapidly when the rate of productivity of the capital decreases and the regulating price remains the same, so that in fact a more or less artificial barrier is erected as a consequence of the mere formal transformation of surplus profit into ground rent,—which is the result of private property in land. The rise of the general price of production, which becomes necessary when the limit is narrowed beyond the ordinary, is in this case not merely the cause of a rise of the differential rent, but the existence of differential rent as rent is at the same time a reason for the earlier and more rapid rise of the general price of production, in order to insure by this means the supply of the needed larger product.
Furthermore we must make a note of the following facts:
By an addition of capital to soil B the regulating price could not, as above, rise to 4 pounds sterling, if soil A should supply the additional product below 4 pounds sterling by a second investment of capital, or if new and worse soil than A should come into competition, whose price of production would be higher than 3 but lower than 4 pounds sterling. We see, then, that differential rent No. I and differential rent No. II, while the first is the basis of the second, are at the same time mutual limits for one another, by which now a successive investment of capital upon the same soil, now an investment of capital side by side upon new soil, is brought about. In like manner they act as mutual boundaries in other cases, for instance, when better land is taken up.
DIFFERENTIAL RENT EVEN UPON THE WORST SOIL UNDER CULTIVATION.
LET us assume that the demand for grain is rising, and that the supply cannot be made to cover the demand, unless successive investments of capital with deficient productivity are made upon the rent-paying soils, or by an additional investment of capital, likewise with a decreasing productivity, upon soil A, or by the investment of capital in new lands of a lesser quality than A.
Let us take soil B as a representative of the rent paying soils.
The additional investment of capital demands a rising of the market price above the prevailing price of production of 3 pounds sterling per quarter, in order that the increased production of one quarter (which may here stand for one million quarters, as may every acre for one million acres) upon B may be possible. An increased production may also take place upon soils C and D, etc., the soils paying the highest rent, but only with a decreasing power to produce a surplus; but it is assumed that the one quarter upon B must necessarily be produced in order to cover the demand. If this one quarter is more easily produced by investing more capital in B than with the same addition of capital to A, or by descending to soil A—1, which may, perhaps, produce one quarter only for 4 pounds sterling, whereas the additional capital upon A might do so at 3¾ pounds sterling per quarter, then the additional capital upon B will regulate the market price.
Let us also assume that A produces one quarter at 3 pounds sterling, as it did heretofore. Let B likewise, as before, produce altogether 3½ quarters at an individual price of production of 6 pounds sterling for its total output. Now, if an addition of 4 pounds sterling becomes necessary upon B (including the profit) in order to produce an additional quarter, whereas it might be produced upon A at 3¾ pounds sterling, then it would naturally be produced upon A, not upon B. Let us assume, then, that this additional quarter can be produced upon B with an additional cost of production of 3½ pounds sterling. In this case 3½ pounds sterling would become the regulating price for the entire production. B would now sell its product of 4½ quarters at 15¾ pounds sterling. The cost of production of the first 3½ quarters, or 6 pounds sterling, would have to be deducted from this, also that of the last quarter, or 3½ pounds sterling, total 9½ pounds sterling. This leaves a surplus profit for rent of 6¼ pounds sterling, as against the former 4½ pounds sterling. In this case one acre of A would also yield a rent of ½ pound sterling; but not the worst soil A, but the better soil B would regulate the price of production with 3½ pounds sterling. Of course we assume here that new soil of the quality of A is not accessible in the same favorable location as that hitherto cultivated, but that either a second investment of capital upon the already cultivated soil A is required at a higher cost of production, or the cultivation of still inferior soil, such as A—1. As soon as differential rent No. II comes into action by successive investments of capital, the limits of the rising price of production may be regulated by better soil, and the worst soil, the basis of differential rent No. I, may also carry a rent. Under these circumstances all cultivated lands would pay a rent under a mere differential rent system. We should then have the following two Tables, in which we mean by the term cost of production the sum of the invested capital plus 20% profit, in other words, on every 2½ pounds sterling of capital ½ pound sterling of profit, total 3 pounds sterling.
This is the condition of affairs, before the new capital of 3½ pounds sterling is invested in B, which supplies only one quarter. After this investment has been made, we have the following condition:,
[This, again, is not quite correctly calculate. The capitalist renter of B has to meet a cost of production of 9½ pounds sterling for the 4½ quarters and besides 4½ pounds sterling in rent, a total of 14 pounds sterling; average per quarter 3½ pounds sterling. This average price of his total production thus becomes the regulating market price. According to this the rent upon A would amount to 1/9 pound sterling instead of ½ pound sterling and that upon B would remain 4½ pounds sterling, as heretofore. 4½ quarters at 3½ pounds sterling make 14 pounds sterling, and if we deduct 9½ pounds sterling of cost of production we have 4½ pounds sterling left for surplus profit. We see, then, that in spite of the required change in figures this illustration shows the way in which the better rent paying soil, by means of differential rent No. II, may regulate the price and thus transform all soil, even a hitherto rentless one, into rent paying soil.—F. E.]
The grain rent must rise, as soon as the regulating price of production of the grain rises, that is, as soon as the quarter of grain rises upon the regulating soil, or the regulating investment of capital upon one of the various kinds of soil. It is the same as though all kinds of soil had become less productive, and as though they were producing only 5-7 quarter instead of one quarter with a new investment of 2½ pounds sterling. Whatever they produce more in grain with the same investment of capital, is converted into a surplus product, in which the surplus profit and with it the rent are incorporated. Assuming that the rate of profit remains the same, the capitalist renter will have to buy less grain with his profit. The rate of profit may remain the same, if the wages do not rise, either because they are depressed to the physical minimum, below the normal value of labor-power, or because the other things needed for consumption by the laborer and supplied by the manufacturer have become relatively cheaper; or because the working day has been prolonged or has become more intensive, so that the rate of profit in other than agricultural lines of production, which, however, regulates the agricultural profit, has remained the same or has risen; or, finally, because there may be more constant and less variable capital employed in agriculture, even though the total capital invested be the same.
Now we have considered the first condition in which rent may arise upon the worst soil A without taking still worse soil under cultivation; that is, in which rent may arise out of the difference between the old individual price of this land, which was hitherto the regulating price of production, and the new, higher, price of production, at which the last additional capital with less than normal productive power upon the better soil supplies the necessary additional product.
If the additional product had to be supplied by soil A—1, which cannot produce one quarter at less than 4 pounds sterling, then the rent would have risen to one pound sterling upon A. But in this case the soil A—1 would have taken the place of A as the worst cultivated soil, and A would have risen in the scale to the place of the lowest link in the series of rent paying soils. Differential rent No. I would have changed. This case, then, is outside of the consideration of differential rent II, which arises out of the different productivity of successive investments of capital upon the same piece of land.
But aside from this, differential rent may arise upon soil A in two other ways.
In the first place, it may arise so long as the price remains unchanged (any price, even a lower one compared to former ones), if the additional investment of capital creates a surplus product, which it must always do, on first sight, and up to a certain point, upon the worst soil.
In the second place, it may arise, if the productivity of the successive investments of capital upon soil A decreases.
The assumption in either case is that the increased production is required on account of the condition of the demand.
But from the point of view of differential rent, a peculiar difficulty arises here on account of the previously developed law, according to which it is always the individual average price of production per quarter in the total production (or the total investment of capital) which acts as the determining factor. In the case of soil A, however, it is not, as it is in the case of the better soils, a question of a price of production existing outside of it, which limits the equalization of the individual price of production and the general price of production, for new investments of capital. For the individual price of production of A is precisely the general price of production regulating the market price.
Let us assume:
1) When productive power of successive investments of capital is increasing, that one acre of A will produce 3 quarters instead of 2 quarters with an investment of 5 pounds sterling of capital, corresponding to 6 pounds sterling of cost of production. The first investment of 2½ pounds sterling supplies one quarter, the second 2 quarters. In this case 6 pounds sterling of cost of production will correspond to a product of 3 quarters, so that the average price of one quarter will be 2 pounds sterling. If the 3 quarters are sold at 2 pounds sterling per quarter, then A does not produce any rent any more than it did before. Only the basis of differential rent No. II has been altered. The regulating price of production is now 2 pounds sterling instead of 3 pounds. A capital of 2½ pounds sterling produces now an average of 1½ quarters upon the worst soil instead of 1 quarter, and this is now the official productivity for all better soils with an investment of 2½ pounds sterling. A portion of the ordinary surplus product now passes over into the formation of their necessary product, just as a portion of their surplus profit now passes over into the formation of the average profit.
But if the calculation is made as it is upon the better soils, where the average calculation does not alter anything in the absolute surplus, because the general price of production is the limit of the investment of capital, then one quarter of the first investment of capital costs 3 pounds sterling and the 2 quarters of the second investment costs only 1½ pounds sterling. This would give rise to a grain rent of one quarter and a money rent of 3 pounds sterling upon A, but the 3 quarters would be sold at the old price of 9 pounds sterling all together. If a third investment of 2½ pounds sterling of capital were made at the same productivity as the second investment, then the total production would be 5 quarters at 9 pounds sterling of cost of production. If the individual average price of A should remain the regulating price, then one quarter would be sold at 1 4/5 pound sterling. The average price would have fallen once more, not through a new rise of the productivity of the third investment of capital, but merely through the addition of a new investment of capital with the same additional productivity as the second one. Instead of raising the rent upon the rent paying soils, the successive investments of capital of a higher, but sustained, fertility upon the soil A would lower the price of production and with it the differential rent upon all other soils in the same proportion, under conditions remaining the same. On the other hand, if the first investment of capital, which produces one quarter at 3 pounds sterling, should remain in force by itself, then 5 quarters would be sold at 15 pounds sterling, and the differential rent of the later investments of capital upon soil A would amount to 6 pounds sterling. The additional capital per acre of soil A, whatever might be the manner of its application, would be an improvement in this case, and it would make the original portion of capital more productive. It would be nonsense to say that 1/3 of the capital had produced one quarter and the other 2/3 four quarters. For 9 pounds sterling per acre would always produce 5 quarters, while 3 pounds sterling would produce only one quarter. Whether a rent would arise here or not, whether a surplus profit would be made or not, would depend wholly upon circumstances. Normally the regulating price of production would fall. This would be the case, if this improved, but more expensive cultivation of soil A should take place only for the reason that it takes place upon all better soils, in other words, if a general revolution in agriculture should occur. And the assumption in that case would be that this soil is worked with 6 or 9 pounds sterling instead of 3 pounds. This would apply particularly, if the greater part of the cultivated acres of soil A, by which the bulk of the supply of this country is furnished, should be handled by this new method. But if the improvement should extend only to a small portion of the area of A, then this better cultivated portion would yield a surplus profit, which the landlord would be quick to transform wholly or in part into rent and fix permanently in the form of rent. In this way a rent might be gradually formed upon all soil of the A quality, in proportion as more and more of the area of this soil is taken under cultivation by the new method, and the surplus productivity might be confiscated wholly or in part, according to market conditions. The equalization of the price of production of soil A to the average price of its product at an increased investment might thus be prevented by the fixation of the surplus profit of this increased investment of capital in the form of rent. If so, this would be once again an illustration of the way in which the transformation of surplus profit into ground-rent, in other words, the intervention of property in land, raises the price of production, as we have already noticed in the case of the better soils upon which the productivity of the additional capitals decreased, so that here the differential rent would not be a mere result of the difference between the individual and the general price of production. It would prevent, in the case of soil A, the identification of both prices in one, because it would interfere with the regulation of the price of production by the individual price of production of A. It would maintain a higher price of production than the necessary one and thus create a rent. Even if grain were freely imported from abroad, the same result could be brought about or perpetuated by compelling the tenants to use soil capable of competing in the raising of grain at the price of production regulated from abroad for other purposes, for instance for pastures, so that only rent paying soils could raise grain, that is, only soils whose individual average price of production per quarter would be below the price of production determined from abroad. On the whole it may be assumed that the price of production will fall, but not to the level of its average. Rather will it be higher than the average, but below the price of production of the worst cultivated soil A, so that the competition of new lands of the class A is held back.
2) When the productive power of the additional capitals is decreasing, let us assume that soil A—1 can produce the additional quarter only at 4 pounds sterling, whereas soil A produces it at 3¾ pounds sterling, that is, more cheaply than the lesser soil, but still more dearly than the quarter produced by the first investment of capital upon it. In this case the total price of the two quarters produced upon A would be 6¾ pounds sterling, and the average price per quarter 3 3/8 pounds sterling. The price of production would rise, but only by 3/8 pounds sterling, whereas it would rise by another 3/8, or to 3¾ pounds sterling, if the additional capital were invested upon new soil, which could produce at 3¾ pounds sterling and thus bring about a proportional raise of all other differential rents.
The price of production of 3 3/8 pounds sterling per quarter of A would thus be brought to the figure of its average price of production with an increased investment of capital, and would be the regulating price; it would not yield any rent, because it would not produce any surplus profit.
However, if this quarter, produced by the second investment of capital, were sold at 3¾ pounds sterling, then the soil A would yield a rent of ¾ pound sterling, and it would do so upon all acres of A, even those with no additional investment of capital, which would still produce one quarter at 3 pounds sterling. So long as any uncultivated fields of A remain, the price could rise only temporarily to 3¾ pounds sterling. The competition of new fields of A would hold the price of production at 3 pounds sterling, until all lands of the A class would be exhausted, whole favorable location would enable them to produce a quarter at less than 3¾ pounds sterling. This would be a likely assumption, although the landlord will not let any tenant have any land free of rent, if one acre of A pays rent.
It would depend once more upon the greater or smaller generalization of the second investment of capital in the available soil A, whether the price of production shall be brought down to an average or whether the individual price of production of the second investment of capital shall be regulating at 3¾ pounds sterling. This last case will take place only when the landlord gets time to fix the surplus profit, which would be made until the demand would be satisfied at the price of 3¾ pounds sterling, permanently in the form of rent.
Concerning the decreasing productivity of the soil with successive investments of capital, see Liebig. We have seen that the successive decrease of the surplus productive power of the investments of capital always increases the rent per acre, so long as the price of production remains the same, and this may take place even when the price of production is falling.
But in a general way the following remarks may be made.
From the point of view of the capitalist mode of production there is always a relative increase in the price of products, when a product cannot be secured unless an expense is incurred, a payment made, which did not have to be met formerly. For by a reproduction of the capital consumed in production we mean only the reproduction of values, which were represented by certain means of production. Natural elements passing into production as agencies, no matter what role they play in production, do not enter into the problem as parts of capital, but as free gifts of nature to capital, that is, as a free natural productivity of labor, which, however, appears as a productive power of capital, as do all other productive powers under the capitalist system. Therefore, if such a natural power, which originally does not cost anything, takes part in production, it does not count in the determination of prices, so long as the product supplied by its help suffices for the demand. But if a larger product is demanded than that which can be supplied by the help of this natural power, so that the additional product must be created without this power, or by assisting it with human labor power, then a new additional element enters into capital. A relatively larger investment of capital is required for the purpose of securing the same product. All other circumstances remaining the same, the price of the product is raised.
(From a manuscript "Started about the Middle of February, 1876.")
Differential Rent and Rent as a mere interest on capital invested in the soil.
The so-called permanent improvements—which change the physical, and in part also the chemical, condition of the soil by means of operations requiring an expenditure of capital, and which may be regarded as an incorporation of capital in the soil—nearly all amount to giving to a certain piece of land in a certain limited locality such qualities as are possessed by some other piece of land at some other locality, sometimes quite near to the other one, by nature. One piece of land is by nature level, another has to be leveled; one possesses natural drainage, another has to be drained artificially; one has naturally a deep top soil, another must be artificially deepened; one clay soil is naturally mixed with a proper modicum of sand, another has to be treated for the purpose of making it so; one meadow is irrigated or moistened naturally, another requires labor to get it into this condition, or in the language of bourgeois economists, it requires capital.
It is indeed a very exhilarating theory, which calls rent by the name of interest in the case of one piece of land, whose comparative advantages have been acquired, whereas it does not do so in the case of a piece of land which has the same advantages naturally. (As a matter of fact, this is distorted in practice into saying that because rent really coincides in the one case with interest, it must falsely be called interest in cases where this is positively not the case.) However, the land yields a rent after the investment of capital, not because capital has been invested, but because the investment of capital makes this land more productive than it was formerly. Assuming that all land requires this investment, then every piece of land which has not received it must first pass through this stage, and the rent which the soil already endowed with capital yields (the interest which it may pay in a certain case), constitutes as much a differential rent as though it possessed this advantage by nature and the other land had to acquire it artificially.
This rent, which may be resolved into pure interest, becomes altogether a differential rent, as soon as the invested capital is sunk in the land. Otherwise the same capital would have to appear twice as capital.
It is one of the most amusing incidents, that all opponents of Ricardo, who combat the determination of value exclusively by labor, criticize in the case of differential rent arising from differences of soil the determination of value by nature instead of by labor. But at the same time they credit the location of the land with this determination, or perhaps, even more, the interest on capital sunk in the land during its cultivation. The same labor produces the same value in the product created during a certain time. But the magnitude, or the quantity, of this product, and consequently also that portion of value, which falls upon some aliquot part of this product, depends only upon the quantity of the product, so long as the quantity of labor is given, and the quantity of the product, in its turn, depends upon the productivity of the given quantity of labor, not upon the size of this quantity. It is immaterial, whether this productivity is due to nature or to society. Only in the case in which the productivity costs labor, and consequently capital, does it increase the cost of production by a new element, but this is not the case with nature alone.
IN the analysis of ground-rent we proceeded from the assumption, that the worst soil does not pay any ground-rent, or, to put it more generally, that only such land pays ground-rent as produces at an individual price of production which is below the price of production regulating the market, so that in this way a surplus profit arises which is transformed into rent. It should be remembered that the law of differential rent as such is entirely independent of the correctness or incorrectness of this assumption.
Let us call the general price of production, by which the market is regulated, P. Then P coincides for the product of the worst soil A with its individual price of production; that is to say, its price pays for the constant and variable capital consumed in its production plus the average profit (profits of enterprise plus interest).
The rent amounts to zero in this case. The individual price of production of the next better soil B is equal to P', and P is larger than P'; that is P pays more than the actual price of production of the product of the soil B. Now let us assume that P minus P' is d; in this case d, the excess of P over P'. is a surplus profit, which the tenant realises upon class B of soil. This d is converted into rent, which must be paid to the landlord. Let the actual price of production of the third class of soil, C, be P'', and P minus P'' equal to 2d; then this 2d is converted into rent; likewise let the individual price of production of the fourth class of soil, D, be P'', and P minus P'' equal to 3d, which is converted into ground-rent, etc. Now take it that the assumption of a rent upon soil A equal to zero and of a price of production equal to P plus zero is wrong. Rather let the class A of soil also pay a rent, equal to r. In that case we come to two conclusions.
First: The price of the product of the land of class A would not be regulated by its price of production, but by containing a surplus above it would come to P+r. For assuming the capitalist mode of production to be in a normal condition, that is, assuming that the surplus r, which the tenant pays to the landlord, is neither a deduction from wages nor from the average profit of capital, it can be paid only by selling the product above its price of production, so that a surplus profit arises, which the tenant might keep if he did not have to turn it over to the landlord as a rent. In that case the regulating market price of the total product of all soils existing on the market would not be the price of production, which capital generally makes in all spheres of production, which is a price equal to the cost of production plus the average profit, but it would be the price of production plus the rent, P+r, and not merely P. For the price of the product of soil A expresses generally the limit of the regulating general market price, at which the total product can be supplied, and to the extent it regulates the price of this total product.
Secondly: Nevertheless the law of differential rent would not be suspended in this case, although the general price of the products of the soil would be essentially modified. For if the price of the product of class A should be P + r, and this should be the general market price, than the price of class B would be likewise P + r, and so would be the price of classes C, D, etc. But since P—P' = d, in the case of class B, it is evident that (P + r)—(P' + r) is also equal to d, and P—P'' in the case of class C would mean that (P + r)—(P'' + r) is equal to 2d, and P—P'' in the case of class D would mean that the formula (P + r)—(P'' + r) is equal to 3d, and so forth. In other words, the differential rent would still be regulated by the same law as before, although the rent would contain an element independent of this law and would show a general increase in the same way as would the price of the products of the soil. It follows, then, that no matter what may be the condition of the rent upon the least fertile lands, the law of differential rent is not only independent of it, but that also the only manner of viewing differential rent in keeping with its character, is to place the rent of class A at zero. Whether this is zero or larger than zero, is immaterial, so far as the differential rent is concerned, and is not considered in the calculation.
The law of differential rent, then, is independent of the results of the following investigations.
If we now go more deeply into the question, as to what is the sound basis of the assumption that the product of the worst soil A does not pay any rent, we necessarily get the answer: If the market price of the products of the land, say of grain, reaches such a level that an additional investment of capital in the class A of soils pays the ordinary price of production and yields the ordinary average profit to the capitalist, then this is sufficient incentive for investing additional capital in soil of class A. In other words, this condition satisfies the capitalist that new capital may be invested at the average profit and employed in the normal manner.
It should be noted here that in case, likewise, the market price must be higher than the price of production of A. For as soon as the additional supply has been created, the relation between supply and demand has been altered. Formerly the supply was insufficient, now it is sufficient. So the price must fall . In order to fall, it must have been higher than the price of production of A. But the lesser fertility of the newly added soils of class A brings it about that the price does not fall quite as low as it was at the time when the price of production of the class B regulated the market. The price of production of A forms the limit, not for the temporary, but for the relatively permanent rise of market price.
On the other hand, if the newly cultivated soil is more fertile than that of the hitherto regulating class A, yet only to the extent of satisfying the increased demand, then the market price remains unchanged. The inquiry as to whether the lowest class of land pays any rent, nevertheless coincides also in this case with our present inquiry, for here again the assumption that class A does not pay any rent must be explained out of the fact that the market price satisfies the capitalist tenant that this price will cover the invested capital plus the average profit, in brief, that the market price will cover the price of production of his commodities.
At any rate, the capitalist tenant can cultivate soil of class A under these conditions, in so far as he has any decision in this matter in his capacity as a capitalist. The prerequisite for a normal self-expansion of capital is now present upon soil A. But the fact that the average conditions of self- expansion would now enable the capitalist tenant to invest capital in soil of the class A if he did not have to pay any rent, does not imply that such land is at the disposal of the capitalist without any further ceremony. The circumstance that the capitalist tenant might invest his capital at the average profit, if he did not have to pay any rent, is no incentive for the landlord to lend his land to the tenant gratis and be so philanthropic as to grant free credit to this friend in business. To assume that this would be done would be to do away with private property in land, for its existence is precisely an obstacle to the investment of capital and to the liberal self-expansion of capital through land. This obstacle does not fall by any means before the simple reflection of the tenant that the condition of grain prices would enable him to get the average profit out of an investment of capital in class A of soil, if he did not have to pay any rent, in other words, if he could proceed as though private property in land did not exist. But differential rent is based upon the fact that private property in land exists, that the land monopoly is an obstacle of capital, for without it the surplus profit would not be converted into ground-rent and would not fall into the hands of the landlord instead of those of the capitalist tenant. Private property in land remains as an obstacle, even where differential rent as such is not paid, that is, upon soils of the class A. If we observe the cases, in which capital may be invested in the land, in a country with capitalist production, without paying any rent, we shall find that they imply, all of them, a practical abolition of private property in land, even if not a legal abolition, a condition which is found only under very definite circumstances, which are in their very nature accidental.
First: This may take place when the landlord is himself a capitalist, or the capitalist himself a landlord. In this case he may himself exploit his land, as soon as the market price shall have risen sufficiently to enable him to get the price of production, that is, cost of production plus the average profit, out of what is now land of class A. But why? Because for himself private property in land is not an obstacle to the investment of his capital. He can treat his land simply as an element of nature, and can listen wholly to considerations of expediency concerning his capital, to capitalist considerations. Such cases occur in practice, but only as exceptions. Just as the capitalist cultivation of the land presupposes the separation of the active capital from property in land, so it excludes as a rule the self-management of property in land. It is evident, that the opposite is only an exception. If the increased demand after grain requires the cultivation of a larger area of land of the class A than is in the hands of self-managing proprietors, in other words, if a part of such land must be rented in order to be cultivated at all, then this hypothetical conception of the obstacle created by private property in land for capital and its investment at once collapses. It is an absurd contradiction to start out from the differentiation between capital and land, capitalist tenants and landlords, which corresponds to the capitalist system, and then to turn around and assume that the landlords, as a rule, exploit their own land in all cases and to the full extent, where capital would not get a rent out of the cultivation of the soil, if private property in land were not separate and distinct from it. (See the passage from Adam Smith concerning mining rent, quoted further along.) Such an abolition of private property in land is accidental. It may or may not occur.
Secondly: In the total area of some rented land there may be certain portions, which do not pay any rent under the existing condition of market prices, so that they are virtually loaned gratis, although the landlord does not look upon it in that light, because he does not consider the special rent of some particular patches in the total rental of his rented land. In such a case, so far as such patches are exempt from rent, private property as an obstacle to the investment of capital is obliterated for the capitalist tenant, and his contract with the landlord implies as much. But he does not pay any rent for such patches for the simple reason that he pays rent for the land to which they belong. The assumption in this case deals with a combination, in which the worse land of the class A is not an independent resort by which to supply the missing product, but rather an inseparable part of some better land. But the case to be investigated is precisely that in which certain pieces of land of class A are independently cultivated, and must be rented separately under the general conditions of capitalist production.
Thirdly: A capitalist tenant may invest additional capital upon the same rented land, although the additional product secured in this way nets him only the price of production at the prevailing market prices, so that he gets only the average profit, but does not get any surplus profit with which to pay rent. In that case he pays ground-rent with a portion of the capital invested in the land, but does not pay any ground-rent with the remainder of his invested capital. How little this assumption solves the problem in question, is seen by the following considerations: If the market price (and the fertility of the soil) enables him to obtain a larger yield with his additional capital, so that this additional capital secures for him not merely the price of production, the same as his old capital, but also a surplus profit, then he pockets this surplus profit himself so long as his present lease runs. But why? Because the obstacle of private property has been eliminated for his capital during the time of his lease. But the simple fact, that new and inferior soil must be independently cleared and independently rented, in order to secure this surplus profit for him, proves that the investment of additional capital upon the old soil no longer suffices to fill the required increased demand. One assumption excludes the other. It is true that one might say: The rent of the worst soil A is itself a differential rent compared either to the land cultivated by the owner himself (which is an accidental exception), or with the additional investment of capital upon the old leaseholds which do not produce any rent. However, this would be a differential rent, which would not arise from the difference in fertility of the various classes of soil, and which would, therefore, not be based upon the assumption that class A of soil does not pay any rent and sells its product at the price of production. And furthermore, the question as to whether additional investments of capital upon the same leasehold produce any rent or not is quite immaterial for the question, whether the new soil of class A, which is about to be taken under cultivation, pays any rent or not, just as it is immaterial for the organization of a new and independent manufacturing business whether another manufacturer of the same line of business invests a portion of his capital in interest-bearing papers, because he cannot use all of it in his business; or whether he makes certain improvements, which do not secure the full profit for him, but at least more than interest. This is immaterial for him. The new establishments must produce the average profit and are built on this assumption. It is true that the additional investments upon the old leaseholds and the additional cultivation of new land of class A mutually restrict one another. The limit, up to which additional capital may be invested upon the same leasehold under less favorable conditions of production, is determined by the new competing investments upon soil of class A; on the other hand, the rent which may be produced by this class of soil is limited by the competing additional investments of capital upon the old leaseholds.
But all these false subterfuges do not solve the problem, which in simple language consists of this: Assuming the market price of grain (which shall be typical of all products of the soil in this inquiry) to be sufficient for the purpose of taking portions of soil of class A under cultivation and securing the price of production (cost of production plus average profit) by means of the capital invested in these new fields, in other words, assuming the conditions for the normal self-expansion of capital upon the soil A to be existent, is this sufficient cause for making the investment of such capital really possible? Or must the market price raise to a point where even the worst soil A will produce a rent? Does the monopoly of the land owner place an obstacle in the way of the capitalist who wants to invest, an obstacle which would not exist from the capitalist's point of view without that monopoly in land? The conditions, under which this question is put, show that the question as to whether capital may really be invested in soil of A class A, which would produce the average profit, but no rent is not at all solved by the fact that, for instance, additional investments upon the old leaseholds may exist, which produce only the average profit but no rent at the prevailing market prices. The question still remains unanswered. The fact that the additional investments, which do not produce any rent, do not satisfy the demand is proved by the necessity of taking new land under cultivation out of class A. If the additional cultivation of land of class A takes place only to the extent that it produces a rent, that is, more than the price of production, then only two cases are possible. Either the market price must be such that even the last additional investment of capital upon the old leaseholds produce a surplus profit, which may be pocketed by the tenant or by the landlord. This raise in price and this surplus profit of the last additional investment of capital would then be a result of the fact that soil A cannot be cultivated without producing a rent. For if the price of production were sufficient to bring about a cultivation of land A, if the mere average profit were enough for that, then the price would not have risen to this point and the competition of new lands would have manifested itself as soon as they could produce just this price of production. The additional investments upon the old leaseholds, which do not produce any rent, would then have to compete with the investments upon soil A, which likewise do not produce any rent. Or, the last investments upon the old leaseholds may not produce any rent, but still the market price may have risen sufficiently to make the cultivation of soil A possible and to get a rent out of it. In this case, the additional investment of capital, which does not produce any rent, would be possible only for the reason that soil A could not be cultivated until the market price enabled it to produce a rent. Without this condition its cultivation would have begun when prices stood lower; and those later investments of capital upon the old leaseholds, which require a high market price in order to produce the ordinary profit without any rent, could not have taken place. For they produced only the average profit at the high market prices. At a lower market price, which would have become the regulating market price of production from the time that soil A would have been taken under cultivation, those later investments upon the old leaseholds could not have produced this average profit, and this means that the investments would not have been made under such conditions. In this way, the rent of soil A would indeed form a differential rent, compared to the investments upon the old leasehold, which do not produce any rent. But the fact that the area of A forms such a differential rent is but a consequence of the condition that this area is not taken under cultivation at all, unless it produces a rent. The first condition in this case is that the necessity of this rent, which is not based upon any differences of soil, must exist and from a barrier to the possible investment of additional capitals upon the old leaseholds. In either case, the rent of soil A would not be a simple consequence of the rise in grain prices, but on the contrary, the fact that the worst soil must produce a rent in order to become available for cultivation would be the cause of a rise in the price of grain to the point at which this condition may be fulfilled.
The differential rent has this peculiarity, that the landlord merely catches the surplus profit which would otherwise go into the pocket of the tenant, and which the tenant may actually pocket under certain circumstances during the time of his lease. The property in land is here merely the cause of the transfer of a portion of the price of the product, which arises without any active participation of the landlord in production and resolves itself into surplus profit. This transfer of a portion of the price from one individual to another, from the capitalist to the landlord, is due to private property in land. But private ownership of land is not the cause which creates this portion of the price, or brings about the rise in the price, upon which it is conditioned. On the other hand, if the worst soil A cannot be cultivated—although its cultivation would yield the price of production—until it produces something in excess of the price of production, then private property in land is the creative cause of this rise in price. Private property in land itself has created rent. This fact is not altered, if, as in the second case mentioned, the rent now produced by soil A is a differential rent compared with the last additional investment of capital upon the old leaseholds, which pays only the price of production. For the circumstance, that soil A cannot be cultivated, until the regulating price of production has risen high enough to admit of a rent for soil A, is in this case the sole reason of the rise of the market price to that level, which enables the last investments upon the old leaseholds to secure the price of production, by means of which a rent is obtained from soil A. The fact that this soil has to pay any rent at all is in this case the cause which creates a differential rent between soil A and the last investment upon the old leaseholds.
Speaking in general of the fact that class A of soil, under the assumption that the price of grain is regulated by the price of production, does not pay any rent, we mean rent in the categorical sense of the word. If the tenant pays a rent, which is either a deduction from the normal wages of his laborers, or from his own normal average profit, then he does not pay a rent which is clearly distinguished from wages and profit in the price of his product. We have already indicated that this takes place continually in practice. To the extent that the wages of the agricultural laborers in a certain country are continually depressed below the normal level of wages, so that a part of the wages, being deducted from them, passes generally over into the rent, this is no exception for the tenant upon the worst kind of soil. In the same price of production, which makes the cultivation of the worst soil possible, these low wages already form a constituent element, and the sale of his product at the price of production does not enable the tenant upon this soil to pay any rent. The landlord might rent his land also to some laborer, who may be satisfied to pay all or a part of that in the form of rent which he may get in the selling price above the wages. In all these cases, however, no real rent is paid, but merely lease money. But wherever conditions correspond to the capitalist mode of production, rent and lease money must coincide. It is precisely this normal condition which must be analyzed here.
A reference to colonial conditions proves even less for our problem than do the above-mentioned cases, in which actual investments of capital under conditions of capitalist production may take place upon the land without producing any rent. What makes a colony of a colony—we have in mind only true agricultural colonies—is not merely the vast area of fertile lands in a natural state. It is rather the circumstance that these lands are not appropriated, are not brought under private ownership. It is this which makes the enormous difference between the old countries and the colonies, so far as the land is concerned, it is this nonexistence, legal or actual, of private property in land, as Wakefield remarks correctly;129 and long before him the elder Maribeau, the physiocrat, and other older economists had discovered. It is quite immaterial here, whether the colonists take possession of the land without further ceremony, or whether they pay to the state a fee for a valid title to the land under the title of a nominal price of land. It is also immaterial, that already settled colonists may be legally the owners of land. In fact the land ownership is not an obstacle to the investment of capital here, nor to the employment of labor upon land without any capital. The setting of a part of the land by the established colonists does not prevent the newcomers from employing their capital or their labor upon new land. Therefore, if we are asked to investigate the influence of private ownership of land upon the prices of the products of land and upon the rent in places where such ownership is an obstacle to the investment of capital, it is very absurd to speak of free bourgeois colonies, in which neither the capitalist mode of production in agriculture, nor the form of private property belonging to it, exist, and in which the latter does not exist at all in fact. Ricardo is an illustration of this in his chapter on ground-rent. In the beginning he says that he is going to investigate the effect of the appropriation of land upon the value of the products of the soil, and immediately after that he takes for an illustration the colonies, assuming that real estate exists in a relatively elementary form and that its exploitation is not limited by the monopoly of private ownership in land.
The mere legal property in land does not create any ground-rent for the landlord. But it gives him the power to withdraw his land from exploitation until the economic conditions permit him to utilize it in such a way that it will yield him a surplus, whenever the land is used either for agriculture proper or for other productive purposes, such as buildings, etc. He cannot increase or decrease the absolute quantity of its field of employment, but he can do so with its marketable quantity. For this reason, as Fourier has already remarked, a characteristic fact in all civilized countries is that a comparatively considerable portion of the land always remains uncultivated.
Assuming, then, that the demand requires the opening up of new lands, and that these lands are less fertile than those hitherto cultivated, will the landlord rent such lands for nothing, just because the market price of the products of the soil has risen high enough to pay to the tenant the price of production on his investment in this land and enable him to reap the average profit? By no means. The investment of capital must net him a rent. He does not rent his land until he can get lease money for it. Therefore the market price must have risen above price of production to the point P+r, so that a rent can be paid to the landlord. Since the real estate does not net any income, according to our assumption, until it is rented, so that it is economically valueless until then, a small rise of the market price above the price of production will suffice to bring the new land of the worst class upon the market.
The question is now: Does it follow from the ground-rent of the worst soil, which cannot be derived from any difference of fertility, that the price of the products of the soil is necessarily a monopoly price in the ordinary meaning of the term, or a price, into which the rent enters like a tax, only with the distinction that the landlord levies the tax instead of the state? It is a matter of course that this tax has certain definite economic limits. It is limited by the additional investments of capital upon the old leaseholds, by the competition of the products of the soil of foreign countries, which are imported free of duty, by the competition of the landlords among themselves, and finally by the wants and the solvency of the consumers. But this is not the point. The point is whether the rent paid by the worst soil passes into the price of its products, which price regulates the general market price according to our assumption, and whether it enters into this price in the same way as a tax enters into the price of commodities which are dutiable, in other words, whether this rent enters into the price as an element independent of its value.
This does not necessarily follow by any means, and the contention that it does has been made only because the distinction between the value of commodities and their price of production had not been understood up to the present. We have seen that the price of production of a commodity is by no means identical with its value, although the prices of production of all commodities, considered as a whole, are regulated only by their total value, and although the movement of the prices of production of the various kinds of commodities, taking all other circumstances as equal, is controlled exclusively by the movement of their values. It has been demonstrated that the price of production of a commodity may stand above or below its value, and coincides but rarely with its value. Hence the fact that the products of the soil are sold above their prices of production does not prove by any means that they are sold above their values. Neither does the fact, that the products of industry are, on an average sold at their prices of production, prove that they are sold at their values. It is possible that the products of agriculture are sold above their price of production and below their value, while many products of industry bring the price of production only because they are sold above their value.
The relation of the price of production of a certain commodity to its value is exclusively determined by the proportion, in which the variable part of their capital with which it is produced stands to its constant part, or by the organic composition of the capital producing it. If the composition of the capital in a certain sphere of production is lower than that of the social average capital, in other words, if its variable portion, which is used for wages, is relatively larger than its constant portion, which is invested in material requirements of production, compared to the social average capital, then the value of its products must stand above their price of production. In other words, such a capital, employing more living labor, produces at the same rate of exploitation of labor more surplus-value, and therefore more profit, than an equally larger aliquot portion of the social average capital. The value of its products stands, therefore, above their price of production, since this price of production is equal to the cost of production plus the average profit, and the average profit is lower than the profit produced in these commodities. The surplus-value produced by the social average capital is smaller than that produced by a capital of this lower composition. On the other hand, when the capital invested in a certain sphere of production is of higher than average composition, then the case is reversed. The value of the commodities produced by it stands below their price of production, and this is generally the case with the products of the most highly developed industries.
If the capital in a certain sphere of production is of a lower composition than the social average capital, then this is primarily an expression of the fact that the productive power of the social labor in this particular sphere of production is below the average; for the prevailing degree of productive power shows itself in the relative preponderance of the constant over the variable capital, or in the continual decrease of the portion used in a certain capital for wages. On the other hand, if the capital in a certain sphere of production is of a higher composition, then it expresses a development of the productive power above the average.
Leaving aside the work of artists, which is naturally excluded from our discussion, it is a matter of course that different spheres of production require different proportions of constant and variable capital according to their technical peculiarities, and that living labor must occupy more room in some, less room in others. For instance, in the extractive industries, which must be clearly distinguished from agriculture, raw material as an element of constant capital is wholly absent, and even the auxiliary material plays only rarely an important role in them. Nevertheless the progress of development may be measured also in them by the relative increase of the constant over the variable capital.
If the composition of the capital in agriculture proper is lower than that of the social average capital, then this would be on its face an expression of the fact that in countries with a developed production agriculture has not progressed as far as the industries which work up its products. This fact could be explained, aside from all other economic circumstances which are of paramount importance, from the earlier and more rapid development of mechanical sciences, and especially by their application, compared to the later and partly quite recent development of chemistry, geology and physiology, and particularly their application to agriculture. For the rest it is an indubitable and long known fact130 that also the progress of agriculture expresses itself steadily in a relative increase of the constant over the variable capital. Whether in a certain country with capitalist production, for instance in England, the composition of the agricultural capital is lower than that of the social average capital, is a question which can be decided only by statistics, and which need not be discussed in detail for the purposes of this inquiry. So much is theoretically accepted that the value of the agricultural products cannot be higher then their price of production unless this condition obtains. In other words, a capital of a certain size in agriculture produces more surplus-value, or what amounts to the same, sets in motion and commands more surplus-labor (and with it employs more living labor) than a capital of the same size in industry of social average composition.
This assumption, then, suffices for that form of rent which we are analyzing here, and which can take place only so long as this assumption holds good. Wherever this assumption falls, the form of rent corresponding to it falls likewise.
However, the mere fact of an excess of the value of agricultural products over their price of production would not suffice in itself for the explanation of the existence of a ground-rent, which is independent of differences of fertility or of successive investments of capital upon the same land, a rent which is to be clearly differentiated from differential rent, and which we way therefore call absolute rent. Quite a number of manufactured products have the peculiarity that their value is higher than their price of production, and yet they do not produce any excess above the average profit, a surplus profit, which might be converted into rent. On the other hand, the existence and meaning of the price of production and of the average rate of profit which it implies rest upon the fact that the individual commodities are not sold at their value. The prices of production arise from an equalization of the values of commodities. This equalization after restoring their respective capital values to the various spheres of production, in which they were consumed, distributes the entire surplus-value, not in proportion as it has been produced in the individual spheres of production and incorporated in their commodities, but in proportion to the magnitude of the capital invested in them. Only in this way is an average profit brought about and with it the price of production, whose characteristic element this average profit is. It is the continual tendency of the capitals to bring about this equalization in the distribution of the surplus-value produced by the total capital by means of competition, and to overcome all obstacles to this equalization. This implies the tendency to permit only such surplus profits as arise under all circumstances, not from differences between the values and the prices of production of the commodities, but rather from the general prices of production, which regulates the market and from the individual prices of production, which differ from it. In other words, only such surplus profits are tolerated, which occur within a certain sphere of production and not such as occur between two different spheres of production, so that they do not touch the general prices of production of the different spheres, or their general rate of profit, but which rather have for their basis the conversion of values into prices of production and into an average rate of profit for the whole. This condition rests, however, as previously explained, upon the continually changing proportional distribution of the total social capital among the various spheres of production, upon the unremitting emigration and immigration of capitals, upon their transfer from one sphere to another, in short upon their free movement between the various spheres of production, which represent so many available fields of investment for the independent constituents of the total capital of society. And the other assumption in this case is that no barrier, or at least only a temporary and accidental barrier, interferes with the competition of the capitals, for instance in some sphere of production, in which the value of the commodities is higher than their prices of production, or where the produced surplus-value is larger than the average profit, so that nothing prevents the reduction of value to a price of production and the proportional distribution of the excess of surplus-value of this sphere of production among all spheres exploited by capital. But if the reverse happens, if capital meets some foreign power, which it cannot overcome, or which it can but partially overcome, and which limits its investment it certain spheres, admitting it only under conditions which wholly or partly exclude that general equalization of surplus-value to an average profit, then it is evident that the excess of the value of commodities in such spheres of production over their prices of production would give rise to a surplus profit, which could be converted into rent and made independent as such compared to profit. Such a foreign power is private ownership of land, when it builds obstacles against capital in its endeavor to invest in land, such a power is the landlord in his relation to the capitalist.
Private property in land is then the barrier which does not permit any new investment of capital upon hitherto uncultivated or unrented land without levying a tax, in other words, without demanding a rent, although the land to be taken under new cultivation may belong to a class which does not produce any differential rent, and which, were it not for the intervention of private property in land, might have been cultivated at a small increase in the market price, so that the regulating market price would have netted to the cultivator of this worst soil nothing but his price of production. But on account of the barrier raised by private property in land, the market price must rise to a point, where the land can pay a surplus over the price of production, in other words, where it can pay a rent. Now, since the value of the commodities produced by agricultural capital is higher than their price of production, as we have assumed, this rent (with the exception of one case which we shall discuss immediately) forms the excess of the value over the price of production, or a part of it. Whether the rent consumes the entire difference between the value and the price of production, or only a greater or smaller part of it, will depend wholly upon the relation between supply and demand and upon the area of the new land taken in cultivation. So long as the rent is not equal to the excess of the value of agricultural products over their price of production, a portion of this excess would always enter into the general equalization and proportional distribution of all surplus-value among the various individual capitals. As soon as the rent is equal to the excess of the value over the price of production, this entire portion of the surplus-value over and above the average profit would be withdrawn from the equalization. But whether this absolute rent is equal to the whole surplus of value over the price of production, or only equal to a part of it, the agricultural products would always be sold at a monopoly price, not because their price would exceed their value, but because their price would be equal to their value, or because their price would be lower than their value but higher than their price of production. Their monopoly would consist in the fact that they are not, like other products of industry whose value is higher than the general price of production, leveled to the plane of the price of production. Since one portion of the value and of the price of production is an actually existing constant element, namely the cost price, representing the capital k consumed in production, their difference consists in the other, the variable, portion, the surplus-value, which amounts to p in the price of production, that is, to the profit which is equal to the total surplus-value calculated on the social capital and on every individual capital as an aliquot part of the social capital. This profit equals in the value of commodities the actual surplus-value created by this particular capital, and forms an integral part of the value of commodities created by this capital. If the value of commodities is higher than their price of production, then the price of production is k+p, the value k+p+d, so that p+d represents the surplus-value contained in it. The difference between the value and the price of production is, therefore, equal to d, the excess of the surplus-value created by this capital over the surplus-value assigned to it by the average rate of profit. It follows from this that the price of agricultural products may stand higher than their price of production, without reaching up to their value. It follows, furthermore, that up to a certain point a permanent increase in the price of agricultural products may take place, before their price reaches their value. It follows also that the excess in the value of agricultural products over their price of production can become a determining element of their general market price only because there is a monopoly in private ownership of land. If follows, finally, that in this case the increase in the price of the product is not the cause of the rent, but rather the rent is the cause of the increase in the price of the product. If the price of the product of the unit of the worst soil is equal to P+r, then all differential rents will rise by the corresponding multiples of r, since the assumption is that P+r becomes the regulating market price.
If the average composition of the non-agricultural capital were 85c+15v, and the rate of surplus-value 100%, then the price of production would be 115. If the composition of the agricultural capital were 75c+25v, and the rate of surplus-value the same, then the value of the agricultural product and the regulating market price would be 125. If the agricultural and the non-agricultural product should be leveled to the same average price (we assume for the sake of brevity that the total capital in both lines of production is equal), then the total surplus-value would be 40, or 20%, upon the 200 of capital. The product of the one as of the other would be sold at 120. In the equalization into the prices of production the average market prices of the non-agricultural capital would stand above, and those of the agricultural capital below their value. If the agricultural products were sold at their full value, they would stand higher by 5, and the industrial products lower by 5, than they do in the equalization. If the market conditions do not permit the sale of the agricultural products at their full value, at the full surplus above the price of production, then the result hangs between the two extremes; the industrial products would be sold a little above their value, and the agricultural products a little above their price of production.
Although the private ownership of land may drive the price of the products of the soil above their price of production, it does not depend upon this ownership, but upon the general condition of the market, to what extent the market price shall exceed the price of production and approach the value, and to what extent the surplus-value created in agriculture over and above the given average profit shall either be converted into rent or enter into the general equalization of the surplus-value to an average profit. At any rate this absolute rent, which arises out of the excess of value over the price of production, is but a portion of the agricultural surplus-value, a conversion of this surplus-value into rent, its appropriation by the landlord; so does the differential rent arise out of the conversion of surplus-profit into rent, its appropriation by the landlord, under an average price of production which acts as a regulator. These two forms of rent are the only normal ones. Outside of them the rent can rest only upon an actual monopoly price, which is determined neither by the price of production nor by the value of commodities, but by the needs and the solvency of the buyers. Its analysis belongs in the theory of competition, where the actual movement of market-prices is considered.
If all the land suitable for agriculture in a certain country were leased—assuming the capitalist mode of production and normal conditions to be general—then there would not be any soil that would not pay any rent; but there might be certain parts of some capitals invested in land that might not produce any rent. For as soon as the land has been rented, private property in land ceases to be an absolute barrier against the investment of the necessary capital. Still it continues to act as a relative barrier even after that, to the extent that the appropriation of the capital incorporated in the soil by the landlord draws very definite lines for the activity of the tenant. Only in this case would all rent be converted into a differential rent, although this would not be a differential rent determined by any differences in the fertility of the soil, but rather by differences between the surplus profits arising from the last investments of capital in a certain soil and the rent paid for the lease of the soil of the worst quality. Private property in land serves as an absolute barrier to the investment of capital only to the extent that it exacts a tribute for the permission of giving access to the land. As soon as this access has been gained, it can no longer set any absolute obstacles in the way of the size of any investment of capital in a certain soil. The building of houses meets a barrier in the private ownership of the land upon which the houses are to be built by people who do not own this land. But after this land has once been leased for the purpose of building houses on it, it depends upon the tenant whether he wants to build a large or a small house.
If the average composition of the agricultural capital were the same, or higher than that of social average capital, then absolute rent, in the sense in which we use this term, would disappear; that is, absolute rent which is different from differential rent as well as from the rent which rests upon an actual monopoly price. The value of agricultural capital would not stand above its price of production, in that case, and the agricultural capital would not set any more labor in motion, would not realize any more surplus labor, than the non-agricultural capital. The same would take place, if the composition of the agricultural capital would gradually become the same as that of the average social capital with the progress of civilization.
It looks at first glance like a contradiction, that we should assume that on the one hand the composition of the agricultural capital should become higher, in other words that its constant portion should increase faster than its variable one, and on the other hand that the price of the agricultural product should rise high enough to admit of the payment of a rent on the part of worse soil than that cultivated previously, a rent which in this case could come only from and excess of the market price over the value and the price of production, in short, a rent which could be due only to a monopoly price of the product.
It is necessary to make a clear distinction here.
In the first place, we saw in the discussion of the way, in which the rate of profit is formed, that capitals, which have the same composition, so far as their technological side is concerned, so that they set the same amount of labor in motion compared to machinery and raw materials, may nevertheless have different compositions owing to the different values of the constant portions of capital. The raw materials or the machinery may be dearer in one capital than in the other. In order to set the same quantity of labor in motion (and this would have to be the case, according to our assumption, in order that the same mass of raw materials might be worked up), a larger capital would have to be advanced in the one case than in the other, since I cannot set the same amount of labor in motion, if the raw material, which must be paid out of 100, costs 40 in one case and 20 in another. But it would become evident that these two capitals have the same technological composition, as soon as the price of the expensive raw material would fall to the level of the cheap. The proportions of value between constant and variable capital would become the same in that case, although no change would have taken place in the technical proportions between the living labor and the mass and nature of the material requirements or production employed by this capital. On the other hand, a capital of low organic composition might assume the appearance of being in the same class with one of a higher organic composition, as soon as the value of its constant parts would rise through changes in the composition of its values. For instance, one capital might be composed of 60 c + 40 v, because it employs much machinery and raw material compared to living labor, and another capital might be composed of 40 c + 60 v, because it employs 60% of living labor, 10% of machinery, and 30% of raw material. In this case a simple rise in the value of raw and auxiliary materials from 30 to 80 would wipe out the difference in composition, for then the second capital would be composed of 10 machinery, 80 raw materials, and 60 labor-power, or of 90 c + 60 v, which, in percentages, would also be equal to 60 c + 40 v, although no change would have taken place in the technical composition. In other words, capitals of the same organic composition may have a different value-composition, and capitals with the same percentages of value-composition may be at different levels of organic composition and thus express different steps in the development of labor's social productivity. The mere circumstance, then, that the agricultural capital might stand upon the general level, would not prove that the social productivity of labor is equally high-developed in it. Nothing would be shown thereby but that its own product, which itself forms one of the conditions of its own production, had become dearer, or that auxiliary materials, such as manure, which used to be close at hand, must now be brought from far distant places, etc.
But aside from this, the peculiar character of agriculture must be taken into consideration.
Even though labor saving machinery, chemical helps, etc., may occupy more space in agriculture, so that the constant capital increases not merely in value, but also in mass, as compared to the mass of the employed labor-power, the question in agriculture (as in mining) is not only one of the social, but also of the natural productivity of labor which depends upon natural conditions. It is possible that the increase of the social productivity in agriculture barely balances or does not even make up for, the decrease in natural power—and compensation through social productivity will always be effective for a short time only—so that in spite of the technical development there is no cheapening of the product, and that at best a greater increase in its price is prevented. It is also possible that the absolute mass of products decreases with a rising price of cereals, while the relative surplus product increases. This could take place, if the constant capital, consisting chiefly of machinery or animals, which require only a reproduction of their wear and tear, would increase relatively, and if the variable capital invested in wages, which must always be reproduced in full out of the product, should decrease correspondingly.
On the other hand it is possible, that only a moderate rise of the market price above the average is necessary, in order to cultivate and draw a rent from soil, which would have required a greater rise of the market prices so long as the technical helps were less developed.
The fact that, say in cattle raising on a large scale, the mass of the employed labor-power is very small compared with the constant capital represented by the cattle, might be considered as a refutation of the claim that the percentage of labor-power set in motion by agricultural capital is larger than that employed by the average social capital outside of agriculture. But it should be noted here that we have taken for our basis in the analysis of rent that portion of the agricultural capital, which produces the principal vegetable food, which is the chief means of subsistence among civilized nations. Adam Smith—and this is one of his merits—has already demonstrated that quite a different method of determining prices is observed in cattle raising, and for that matter generally in the production of agricultural capitals not engaged in raising the principal means of subsistence, say of cereals. For in this case the price of cattle is determined by the fact that the price of the product of the soil used for cattle raising, say as an artificial pasture, but which might just as well be transformed into cereal fields of a certain quality, must rise high enough to produce the same rent as cereal land of the same quality. In other words, the rent of cereal lands becomes a determining element in the price of cattle. For this reason Ramsay has justly remarked that the price of cattle is artificially raised by the rent, by the economic expression of private ownership of land, in short by the private ownership of land.
Adam Smith says in Book I, Chapter XI, Part I, of his Wealth of Nations, that in consequence of the extension of cultivation the uncultivated fallow land no longer suffices to supply the demand for cattle. A large portion of the cultivated lands must be used for breeding and fattening cattle, the price of which must be high enough to pay not merely for the labor spent upon them, but also for the rent which the landlord and the profit which the tenant might have drawn out of this land, had it been cultivated as a field. The cattle raised upon the least tilled peat bogs are sold according to their weight and quality in the same market and at the same price as those raised upon the best cultivated land. The owners of peat bogs profit thereby and raise the rent of their lands in proportion to the prices of cattle.
In this case, likewise, Smith represents the differential rent in favor of the worst soil as distinguished from grain rent.
The absolute rent explains some phenomena, which seem to make a mere monopoly price responsible for the rent, at first sight. Take, for instance, the owner of some forest, which exists without any human assistance, say in Norway. This will do to make a connection with Adam Smith's example. If this owner of the forest receives a rent from some capitalist, who has timber cut, perhaps on account of some demand from England, or if this owner has the timber cut in his own capacity as a capitalist, then a greater or smaller rent will accrue to him in the timber, aside from the profit on the invested capital. This looks like a pure increment from monopoly in the case of this product of nature. But as a matter of fact the capital consists here almost exclusively of variable elements invested in labor-power, and therefore it sets more surplus labor in motion than another capital of the same size. The value of the timber contains a greater surplus of unpaid labor, or of surplus-value, than that of a product of some capital of higher organic composition. For this reason the average profit can be drawn from this timber, and a considerable surplus in the form of rent can fall into the hands of the owner of the forest. On the other hand it may be assumed that, owing to the case with which the felling of timber as a line of production may be extended, the demand must rise very considerably, in order that the price of timber should equal its value, so that the entire surplus of unpaid labor (over and above that portion which falls into the capitalist's hands as an average profit) may accrue to the landlord in the form of rent.
We have assumed that the newly cultivated soil is of a still lesser quality than the worst previously cultivated one. If it is better, it pays a differential rent. But here we are analyzing precisely that case, in which the rent does not appear as a differential rent. There are only two cases possible under these circumstances. Either the newly cultivated soil is inferior to the previously cultivated soil, or it is just as good. If it is inferior, then we have already analyzed the question. Nothing remains for us to analyze but the case in which it is just as good.
We have already stated in our analysis of differential rent, that the progress of cultivation may just as well take equally good, or even better soil under new treatment as worse soil.
First. In differential rent (or any rent, generally speaking, since even in the case of differential rent the question comes up, whether on the one hand the fertility of the soil in general, and on the other hand its location, admit of its cultivation at the regulating market price in such a way as to produce a profit and a rent) two conditions work in different directions, now paralyzing each other, now alternately exerting the determining influence. The rise of the market price—provided that the cost price of cultivation has not fallen, in other words, provided that no technical progress becomes a new impetus to further cultivation—may bring more fertile soil under cultivation, which was formerly excluded from competition by its location. Or it may, in the case of inferior soil, enhance the advantage of location to such an extent, that its lesser fertility is balanced thereby. Or, without any rise in the market price, the location may carry better soils into competition through the improvement of means of communication, as we have seen on a large scale in the prairie states of North America. The same takes place also in the older civilized countries, continually if not to the same extent as in the colonies, in which, as Wakefield correctly states, the location determines the case. To sum up, then, the contradictory effects of location and fertility, and the variableness of the factor of location, which is continually balanced and passes perpetually through progressive changes tending towards a balance, carry alternately better or worse classes of soil into new competition with the older ones under cultivation.
Second. With the development of natural history and agronomics the fertility of the soil is also changed, by changing the means through which the elements of the soil may be rendered immediately serviceable. In this way light kinds of soil in France and in the eastern counties of England, which were considered inferior at one time, have recently risen to first place. (See Passy.) On the other hand soil, which was considered inferior, not for the reason that its chemical composition was bad, but that it placed certain mechanical and physical obstacles in the way of cultivation, is turned into good land, as soon as the means for overcoming such obstacles have been discovered.
Third. In all old civilized countries old historical and traditional conditions, for instance in the form of government lands, community lands, etc., have accidentally withdrawn large tracts of land from cultivation, and these come back into it very gradually. The succession, in which they are taken under cultivation, depends neither upon their good quality nor upon their location, but upon wholly external circumstances. In following up the history of English communal lands, as they were successively turned into private property through the Enclosure Bills and cultivated, nothing would be more ridiculous than the phantastic assumption, that a modern agricultural chemist like Liebig had indicated the selection of land in this succession, had designated certain fields for cultivation on account of their chemical peculiarities and excluded others. What decided the point in this case was the opportunity which tempted the thieves, it was the more or less plausible pretenses offered by the great landlords to excuse their appropriation of such lands.
Fourth. Aside from the fact that the stage of development reached at any time by the increased population and capital sets a certain barrier to the extension of cultivation, even though it be an elastic barrier, and aside from the effects of accidents, which temporarily influence the market price, such as a series of good or bad seasons, the extension of agriculture over a larger area depends upon the entire condition of the market in capitals and upon the business condition of the whole country. In periods of stringency it will not be enough that uncultivated soil may produce the average profit for the tenant—no matter whether he pays any rent or not—in order that additional capital be invested in agriculture. On the other hand, in periods with a plethora of capital it will flow into agriculture, even without any rise in market prices, so long as only the other normal conditions are present. Better soil than that hitherto cultivated would be excluded from competition for the sole reason that its location would be unfavorable, or that it would present insurmountable obstacles to its employment for the time being, or that it was kept out by accident. For this reason we must occupy ourselves with soils which are just as good as those last cultivated. Now there is always the difference in the cost of clearing for cultivation between the new soil and the last cultivated one. And it depends upon the stand of market prices and of credit whether new land is cleared or not. As soon as this soil actually enters into competition, the market price falls once more to its former level, assuming other conditions to be equal, and the new soil will then produce the same rent as the corresponding soil formerly cultivated as the last. The theory that it does not produce any rent is proved by its champions by assuming what they are precisely called upon to prove, namely that the soil which used to be the last did not pay any rent. One might prove in the same way that the houses which were built last do not produce any rent except the house rent proper, although they are leased. In fact, however, they do produce a rent even before they yield any house rent, for they often stand vacant for a long time. Just as successive investments of capital in a certain piece of land may bring a proportional surplus and thereby the same rent as the first investment, so fields of the same quality as those last cultivated may bring the same yield at the same cost. Otherwise it would be altogether inexplicable, how fields of the same quality could ever be taken successively under cultivation, and not all of them at the same time, or rather not a single one of them in order to avoid their coming into competition at all. The landlord is always ready to draw a rent, in other words, to receive something for nothing. But capital requires certain conditions before it can comply with this wish of the landlord. The competition of the lands among themselves does not, therefore, depend upon the wish of the landlord that they should, but upon the opportunities offered to capital for competition with other capitals upon the new fields.
To the extent that the agricultural rent proper is purely a monopoly price, such a price can only be small, just as the absolute rent can only be small under normal conditions, whatever may be the surplus of the product's value over its price of production. The nature of absolute rent, therefore, consists in this: Equally large capitals in different spheres of production produce, according to their different average composition, so long as the rate of surplus-value, or the degree of labor exploitation, is the same, different amounts of surplus-value. In industry these different masses of surplus-value are leveled into an average profit and distributed among the individual capitals uniformly and as aliquot parts of the social capital. Private property in land prevents such an equalization among capitals invested in the soil, whenever production requires real estate, either for agriculture or for the extraction of raw materials, and catches a portion of the surplus value which would otherwise assist in the formation of the average rate of profits. The rent, then, forms a portion of the value, or more specifically of the surplus-value, of commodities and instead of falling into the hands of the capitalists, who extract it from their laborers, it is captured by the landlords, who extract it from the capitalists. The assumption is in this case that the agricultural capital sets more labor in motion than an equally large portion of the non-agricultural capital. How far the difference goes, or whether it exists at all, depends upon the relative development of agriculture as compared to industry. In the nature of the case this difference must decrease with the progress of agriculture, unless the proportion, in which the variable capital decreases as compared to the constant, is still greater in the industrial than in the agricultural capital.
This absolute rent plays an even more important role in the extractive industry, properly so-called, where one element of constant capital, the raw material, is wholly missing, and where, with the exception of those lines, in which the capital consisting of machinery and other fixed capital is very considerable, by far the lowest composition of capital exists. Precisely here, where the rent seems wholly due to a monopoly price, extraordinarily favorable market conditions are necessary in order that commodities may be sold at their value, or that rent may become equal to the entire excess of surplus-value in a commodity over its price of production. This applies, for instance, to rent in fishing waters, stone quarries, naturally grown forests, etc.131
BUILDING LOT RENT. MINING RENT. PRICE OF LAND.
DIFFERENTIAL rent appears every time and follows the same laws as the agricultural differential rent, wherever rent exists at all. Wherever natural forces can be monopolized and thereby guarantee a surplus profit to the industrial capitalist using these forces, whether it be waterfalls, or rich mines, or waters teeming with fish, or a favorably located building lot, there the person who by his or her title to a portion of the globe has been privileged to own these things will capture a part of the surplus profit of the active capital by means of rent. Concerning mining lands, Adam Smith has explained that the basis of their rent, like that of all land not employed in agriculture, is regulated by the agricultural rent (Book I, Chapter, XI, 2 and 3). This form of rent is distinguished, first, by the overwhelming influence exerted by location upon differential rent (an influence which is very considerable in vineyards and in building lots of large cities); secondly, by the palpable passiveness of the owner, whose sole activity consists (especially in mines) in exploiting the progress of social development, toward which he contributes nothing and for which he risks nothing, unlike the industrial capitalist; and finally by the preponderance of the monopoly price in many cases, particularly by the most shameless exploitation of poverty (poverty is for house rent a more lucrative source than the mines of Potosi ever were for Spain132 and by the tremendous power wielded by private property in land when united with industrial capital in the same hand and used for the purpose of practically excluding the laborers in their struggle for wages from the earth as a place of domicile.133 . One section of society thus exacts from another a tribute for the permission of inhabiting the earth. Private property in land implies the privilege of the landlord to exploit the body of the globe, the bowels of the earth, the air, and with them the conservation and development of life. Not only the increase of population, and with it the growing demand for shelter, but also the development of fixed capital, which is either incorporated in the soil or takes root in it and is based upon it, such as all industrial buildings, railroads, warehouses, factory buildings, docks, etc., necessarily increase the building rent. A mistake between the house rent, to the extent that it is an interest and mortgage upon the capital invested in a house, and the rent for the mere land is not possible in this case, even with all the good will of a Carey, particularly when the landlord and the building speculator are different persons, as they are in England. Two elements should be considered here: On the one hand, the exploitation of the earth for the purpose of reproduction or extraction, on the other hand the space required as an element of all production and all human activity. Private property in land demands its tribute in both directions. The demand for building lots raises the value of the land as a building ground and foundation, and the simultaneous demand for elements of the terrestrial globe serving as building material grows with it.134
That it is the ground-rent, and not the house, which forms the actual object of building speculation in rapidly growing cities, especially when building is carried on as an industry, as it is in London, we have already shown in Volume II, Chapter XII, pages 266-267, of the present work, where we quoted from the testimony of a large London building speculator, Edward Capps, given before the Select Committee on Bank Acts. The same man said on that occasion, No. 5435: I believe that a man who wants to get on in the world can hardly expect to get along by sticking to a fair trade....He must of necessity build also on speculation, and that on a large scale; for the contractor makes very little profit out of the buildings themselves, he makes his principal profits out of the rise of ground-rents. He takes up, for instance, a piece of land and pays 300 pounds sterling annually for it. If he erects the right class of houses upon it after a careful building plan, he may succeed in making 400 or 500 pounds sterling out of it, and his profit would consist much more of the increased ground-rent of 100 or 150 pounds sterling annually than of the profit from the buildings, which in many cases he does not consider at all.
And it should not be forgotten that after the lapse of the lease, at the end of 99 years, as a rule, the land with all the buildings upon it and with the ground-rent, generally increased to twice or thrice its original amount, reverts from the building speculator or from his legal successor to the original landlord who was the last to rent it.
The mining rent, in its strict meaning, is determined in the same way as the agricultural rent.
There are some mines, the product of which barely suffices to pay for the labor and to reproduce the capital invested in it together with the ordinary profit. They yield some profit to the contractor, but no rent to the landlord. They can be worked to advantage only by the landowner, who in his capacity of a contractor makes the ordinary profit out of his invested capital. Many coal mines in Scotland are operated in this way, and cannot be operated in any other way. The landowner does not permit anybody to work them without the payment of rent, but no one can pay any rent for them. (Adam Smith, Book I, Chapter XI, 2.)
It is necessary to distinguish, whether the rent flows from a monopoly price, because a monopoly price of the product or of the soil exists independently of it, or whether the products are sold at a monopoly price, because a rent exists. When we speak of a monopoly price, we mean in a general way a price which is determined only by the eagerness of the purchasers to buy and by their solvency, independently of the price which is determined by the general price of production and by the value of the products. A vineyard producing wine of very extraordinary quality, a wine which can be produced only in a relatively small quantity, carries a monopoly price. The winegrower would realize a considerable surplus profit from this monopoly price, the excess of which over the value of the product would be wholly determined by the wealth and the fine appetite of the rich wine drinkers. This surplus profit, which flows from a monopoly price, is converted into rent and in this form falls into the hands of the landlord, thanks to his title to this piece of the globe, which is endowed with peculiar properties. Here, then, the monopoly price creates the rent. On the other hand, the rent would create a monopoly price, if grain were sold not merely above its price of production, but also above its value, owing to the barrier erected by the private ownership of the land against the investment of capital upon uncultivated soil without the payment of rent. That it is only the title of a number of persons to the possession of the globe which enables them to appropriate a portion of the surplus labor of society to themselves, and to do so to an increasing extent with the development of production, is concealed by the fact that the capitalized rent, this capitalized tribute, appears as the price of the land, and that the land may be sold like any other article of commerce. The buyer, therefore, does not feel that his title to the rent is obtained gratis, and without the labor, the risk, and the spirit of enterprise of the capitalist, but rather that he has paid for it with an equivalent. To the buyer, as we have previously remarked, the rent appears merely as interest on the capital, with which he has bought the land and consequently his title to the rent. In the same way, the slave-holder considers a negro, whom he has bought, his property, not because slavery as such entitles him to that negro, but because he has acquired him just as he does any other commodity, by means of sale and purchase, but the title itself is only transferred, not created by sale. The title must exist, before it can be sold, and a series of sales cannot create this title by repetition any more than one single sale can. It was created in the first place by the conditions of production. As soon as these have arrived at a point, where they must shed their skin, the material source of the title, justified economically and historically and arising from the process which creates the material requirements of life, falls to the ground, and with it all transactions based upon it. From the point of view of a higher economic form of society, the private ownership of the globe on the part of some individuals will appear quite as absurd as the private ownership of one man by another. Even a whole society, a nation, or even all societies together, are not the owners of the globe. They are only its possessors, its users, and they have to hand it down to the coming generations in an improved condition, like good fathers of families.
In the following analysis of the price of land we leave out of consideration all fluctuations of competition, all land speculation, and small landed property, in which the land is the principal instrument of the producers and must, therefore, be bought by them at any price.
I. The price of land may rise, although the rent may not rise with it. This may take place,
1) by a mere fall of the rate of interest, which may cause the rent to be sold more dearly, so that the capitalized rent, the price of land rises;
2) because the interest of the capital incorporated in the land rises.
II. The price of land may rise, because the rent increases.
The rent may increase, because the price of the product of the land rises, in which case the rate of differential rent always rises, whether the rent upon the worst cultivated soil be large, small or nonexistent. But by the rate we mean the ratio of that portion of surplus-value, which is converted into rent, to the invested capital, which produces the product of the soil. This differs from the ratio of the surplus product to the total product, for the total product does not comprise the entire invested capital, namely not the fixed capital, which continues to exist by the side of the product. But it includes the fact that upon the soils carrying a differential rent an increasing portion of the product is converted into an overplus of a surplus product. Upon the worst soil the increase in the price of the product of the soil first creates a rent and consequently a price of land.
But the rent may also increase without a rise in the price of the product of the soil. This price may remain unaltered, or may even decrease.
If the price remains constant, the rent can grow only (aside from monopoly prices) because, on the one hand, the same amount of capital remains invested in the older lands, while new lands of a better quality are cultivated, which, however, suffice only to cover the increased demand, so that the regulating market price remains unchanged. In this case the price of the old lands does not rise, but the price of the newly cultivated lands rises above that of the older lands.
Or, on the other hand, the rent rises because the mass of the capital exploiting the land increases, while the relative productivity and the market price remain the same. Although the rent remains the same in this case, compared to the invested capital, still its mass, for instance, may be doubled, because the capital itself has doubled. Since no fall in the price has occurred, the second investment of capital yields a surplus profit as well as the first, and it likewise is converted into rent after the expiration of the lease. The mass of the rent rises here, because the mass of capital producing a rent increases. The contention that different investments of capital in succession upon the same piece of land can produce a rent only to the extent that their yield is unequal, so that a differential rent arises, amounts to the contention that when two capitals of 1,000 pounds sterling each are invested upon fields of equal productivity, only one of them can produce a rent, although these fields belong to the better class of soil, which produces a differential rent. (The mass of the rental, the total rent of a certain country, grows therefore with the mass of capital invested, although the price of the individual pieces of land, or the rate of rent, or the mass of rent upon the individual pieces of land, does not necessarily increase; the mass of the rental grows in this case with the extension of cultivation over a wider area. This may even be combined with a fall of the rent upon the individual holdings.) On the other hand, this contention would lead to another, to the effect that the investment of capital upon two different pieces of land side by side follows different laws than the successive investment of capital upon the same piece of land, whereas differential rent is precisely derived from the identity of the law in both cases, that is, from the increased productivity of investments of capital either upon the same field or upon different fields. The only modification which exists here and is overlooked is that successive investments of capital, when invested upon different pieces of land, meet the barrier of private ownership of land, which is not the case with successive investments of capital upon the same piece of land. This accounts for the opposite effects, by which these two forms of investments keep each other in check in practice. Whatever difference appears here is not due to capital. If the composition of the capital remains the same, and with it the rate of surplus-value, then the rate of profit remains unaltered, so that the mass of profits is doubled when the capital is doubled. In like manner the rate of rent remains the same under the conditions assumed by us. If a capital of 1,000 pounds sterling produces a rent of x, then a capital of 2,000 pounds sterling, under the assumed conditions, produces a rent of 2 x. But calculated with reference to the area of land, which has remained unaltered, since the doubled capital works upon the same field, according to our assumption, the level of the rent has risen together with its mass. The same acre, which brought a rent of 2 pounds sterling, now brings 4 pounds sterling.135
The relation of a portion of the surplus-value, of money rent—for money is the independent expression of value—to the land is in itself absurd and irrational. For the magnitudes, which are here measured by one another, are incommensurable, a certain use-value, a piece of land of so and so many square feet on the one hand, and of so much value, especially surplus-value, on the other. This expresses in fact nothing else but that, under the existing conditions, the ownership of so and so many square feet of land enables the landowner to catch a certain quantity of unpaid labor, which capital wallowing in square feet like a hog in potatoes has realized [The manuscript here has in brackets, but crossed out, the name "Liebig."] But on first sight the expression is the same as though some one were to speak of the relation of a five-pound note to the diameter of the earth. However, the reconciliation of the irrational forms, in which certain economic conditions appear and assert themselves in practice, does not concern the active agents of these relations in their every day life. And as they are accustomed to moving about in them, they do not find anything strange about them. A complete contradiction has not the least mystery for them, They are as much at home among the manifestations which, separated from their internal connections and isolated by themselves, seem absurd, as a fish in the water. The same thing that Hegel says with reference to certain mathematical formulæ applies here. The thing which seems irrational to ordinary common sense is rational, and what seems rational to it is irrational.
When considered in connection with the land area itself, a rise in the mass of the rent expresses itself in the same way that a rise in the rate of the rent does, and this accounts for the embarrassment caused to some thinkers when the conditions, which would explain the one case, are absent in the other.
Finally, the price of land may also rise, even when the price of the products of the soil decreases.
In this case, the differential rent and with it the price of land of the better classes may have risen, owing to further differentiations. Or, if this should not be the case, the price of the products of the soil may have fallen through a greater productivity of labor, but in such a way that the increased productivity more than balances this. Let us assume that one quarter cost 60 shillings. Now, if the same acre, with the same capital, should produce two quarters instead of one, and the price of one quarter should fall to 40 shillings, then two quarters would cost 80 shillings, so that the value of the product of the same capital upon the same acre would have risen by one-third, although the price per quarter would have fallen by one-third. How this is possible without selling the product above its price of production or above its value, has been shown in the analysis of differential rent. As a matter of fact it is possible only in two ways. Either some bad soil is placed outside of competition, but the price of the better soil increases with the increase of differential rent, owing to the fact that the general improvement affects the various kinds of soil differently. Or, the same price of production (and the same value, in case absolute rent should be paid) expresses itself upon the worst soil through a larger mass of products, when the productivity of labor has become greater. The product represents the same value as before, but the price of its aliquot parts has fallen, while their number has increased. This is impossible, when the same capital has been employed; for in this case the same value always expresses itself through any portion of the product. It is possible, on the other hand, when additional capital has been used for gypsum, guano, etc., in short for improvements which extend their effects over several years. The premise is that the price of the individual quarter falls, but not to the same extent that the number of quarters increases.
III. These different conditions under which rent may rise and with it the price of land in general, or of particular kinds of land, may partly exist side by side and compete, or the one may exclude the other, so that they act alternately. But it follows from the foregoing that it will not do to conclude offhand that a rise in the price of land signifies also a rise of rent, or that a rise of rent, which always carries with it a rise in the price of land, also signifies a rise in the price of the products of the land.136
Instead of tracing to their source the natural causes which lead to an exhaustion of the soil, and which, by the way, were unknown to all economists who have written anything on differential rent, owing to the condition of agricultural chemistry in their day, the shallow conception has been advanced, that any amount of capital cannot be invested in a limited space of land. For instance, the "Westminister Review" maintained against Richard Jones, that all England could not be fed by cultivating Soho Square. If this is considered a special disadvantage of agriculture, it is precisely the opposite which is true. It is possible to invest capital successively with good results, because the soil itself serves as a means of production, which is not the case with a factory, or is true of it only to a limited extent, since there the land serves only as a basis, as a space, as a foundation for operations upon a certain area. It is true that, compared to scattered handicrafts, great industries may concentrate large productive plants in a small space. But even so, a definite space is always required at any stage of development, and the building of high structures has its practical limits. Beyond these limits any expansion of production demands also an extension of the land area. The fixed capital invested in machinery, etc., does not improve through use, but on the contrary, it wears out. New inventions may, indeed permit some improvement in this respect, but with any given development of the productive power the machine will always deteriorate. If the productive power is rapidly developed, the entire old machinery must be replaced by a better one, so that the old is lost. But the soil, if properly treated, improves all the time. The advantage of the soil is that successive investments of capital may bring gains without losing the older ones, and this implies the possibility of differences in the yields of these successive investments of capital.
GENESIS OF CAPITALIST GROUND-RENT.
I. Introductory Remarks.
WE must be clear in our minds about the real difficulty in the analysis of ground-rent from the point of view of modern economics, to the extent that it is a theoretical expression of the capitalist mode of production. Even many of the more modern writers have not grasped this yet, as is shown by every renewed attempt to find a "new" explanation of ground-rent. The novelty consists almost always in a relapse into long outgrown conceptions. The difficulty is not to explain the surplus product and the surplus-value produced by agricultural capital. This question is solved by the general analysis of the surplus-value produced by all productive capital, no matter in what sphere it may be invested. The difficulty consists rather in demonstrating the source of the surplus over and above the general surplus-value paid by capital invested in the soil to the landlord in the form of rent after the general surplus-value has been distributed among the various capitals by means of the average profit, in other words, after the various capitals have shared in the total surplus-value produced by the social capital in all spheres of production in proportion to their relative size. Quite aside from the practical motives, which urged the modern economists as spokesmen of the industrial capitalists against the landlords to investigate this question, motives which we shall indicate more clearly in the chapter on the history of ground-rent, the question was of paramount interest for them as a theory. To admit that the rising of rent for capital invested in agriculture was due to some particular effect of the sphere of investment, to peculiar qualities of the land itself, was equivalent to giving up the conception of value as such, equivalent to abandoning all attempts at a scientific understanding of this field. Merely the simple observation that the rent is paid out of the price of the products of the soil, a thing which takes place even where rent is paid in kind, provided that the tenant is to get his price of production out of the land, showed the absurdity of the attempt to explain the excess of this price over the ordinary price of production, in other words, to explain the relative dearness of the products of agriculture out of the excess of the natural productivity of agricultural industry over the productivity of the other lines of industry. For the reverse is true. The more productive labor is, the cheaper is every aliquot part of its product, because the mass of use-values is so much greater, in which the same quantity of labor and with it the same value is incorporated.
The entire difficulty in the analysis of rent, therefore, consists in the explanation of the excess of agricultural profit over the average profit. It is not a question of surplus-value as such, but of the peculiar surplus of surplus-value found in this sphere of production, not a question of the "net product," but of the excess of this net product over the net product of the other lines of industry. The average profit itself is a product, formed under very definite historical conditions of production by the movement of the process of social life, a product which requires very far-reaching interrelations, as we have seen. In order that we may be able to speak at all of a surplus over the average profit, this average profit itself must already exist as a standard and as a regulator of production, such as it is under capitalist production. For this reason there can be no such thing as a rent in the modern sense, a rent consisting of a surplus over the average profit, over and above the proportional share of each individual capital in the total surplus-value produced by the entire social capital, so long as capital does not perform the function of enforcing all surplus-labor and appropriating at first hand all surplus-value, so long as capital has not yet brought under its control the social labor, or has done so only sporadically. It shows the naiveté of a man like Passy (see further along) that he speaks of a rent, a surplus over the profit, in primitive society, a surplus over and above a historically defined form of surplus-value, which, according to Passy, might almost exist without any society.
For the older economists, who make the first beginning in an analysis of the capitalist mode of production, which was still undeveloped in their day, the analysis of rent either offers no difficulty, or a difficulty of another sort. Petty, Cantillon, and in general the writers who are closer to feudal times, assume that ground-rent is the normal form of surplus-value, whereas profit to them is still vaguely combined with wages, or at best looks to them like a portion of surplus-value filched by the capitalist from the landlord. These writers take their departure from a condition, in which the agricultural population still constitutes the overwhelming majority of the nation, and in which the landlord still appears as the individual, who appropriates at first hand the surplus labor of the direct producers through his land monopoly, in which land therefore still appears as the chief requisite of production. These writers could not yet face the question, which, contrary to them, seeks to investigate from the point of view of capitalist production, how it happens that private ownership in land manages to wrest from capital a portion of the surplus-value produced by it at first hand (that is, filched by it from the direct producers) and first appropriated by it.
The physiocrats are troubled by a difficulty of another kind. Being in fact the first systematic spokesman of capital, they try to analyze the nature of surplus-value in general. This analysis coincides for them with the analysis of rent, the only form of surplus-value that exists for them. Therefore the rent-paying, or agricultural capital, is to them the only capital which produces any surplus-value, and the agricultural labor set in motion by it the only labor which makes for surplus-value, which quite correctly is considered the only productive labor from a capitalist point of view. They are right in considering the production of surplus-value as the essential thing. Aside from other merits set forth by us in the volume dealing with "Theories of Surplus-Value," they have the great merit of going back from the merchants' capital, which performs its functions wholly in the sphere of circulation, to the productive capital. In this they are opposed to the mercantile system, which, with its crude realism, constitutes the dominating vulgar economy of that time pushing the beginnings of scientific analysis by Petty and his successors into the background by means of its practical interests. By the way, in this critique of the mercantile system we aim only at its conceptions of capital and surplus-value. We have already indicated previously that the monetary system correctly proclaims production for the world market and the transformation of the product into commodities, and thus into money, as the prerequisite and condition of capitalist production. In the further development of this system into the mercantile system, it is no longer the transformation of the value of commodities into money, but the production of surplus-value, which decides the point, but merely from the meaningless point of view of the sphere of circulation and with the understanding that this surplus-value must present itself as surplus money in the surplus of the balance of trade. The characteristic mark of the interested merchants and manufacturers of that time, which is adequate to the period of capitalist development represented by them, is found in the fact that their principal aim in the transformation of the feudal and agricultural societies into industrial ones and in the corresponding industrial struggle of the nations upon the world market is a hastened development of capital, which is not supposed to take place in the so-called natural way, but by means of forced measures. It makes a tremendous difference, whether the national capital is gradually and slowly transformed into industrial capital, or whether the time of this development is hastened by means of a tax which they impose through protective duties mainly upon the real estate owners, the middle class and small farmers, and the handicraftsmen, by the accelerated expropriation of the independent direct producers, by a violently hastened accumulation and concentration of capitals, in short by a hastened introduction of the conditions of capitalist production. It makes at the same time an enormous difference in the capitalist and industrial exploitation of the natural powers of national production. Hence the national character of the mercantile system is not a mere phrase in the mouths of its spokesmen. Under the pretense of occupying themselves merely with the wealth of the nation and the resources of the state, they practically proclaim the interests of the capitalist class and the gathering of riches to be the ultimate end of the state, and so they proclaim bourgeois society against the old supernatural state. But at the same time they are conscious of the fact that the development of the interests of capital and of the capitalist class, of capitalist production, is the foundation of the national power and of the national preponderance in modern society.
The physiocrats are, furthermore, correct in stating that the production of surplus-value, and with it all development of capital, has for its natural basis the productivity of agricultural labor. If human beings are not capable of producing by one day's labor more means of subsistence, which signifies in its strictest sense more products of agriculture, than every laborer needs for his own reproduction, if the daily expenditure of his entire labor-power suffices only to produce the means of subsistence indispensable for his own individual needs, then there can be no mention of any surplus product nor of any surplus-value. A productivity of agricultural labor exceeding the individual requirements of the laborer is the basis of all societies, and is above all the basis of capitalist production, which separates a continually increasing portion of society from the production of the immediate requirements of life and transforms them into "free heads," as Steuart has it, making them available for exploitation in other spheres.
But what are we to say of more recent writers on economics, such as Daire, Passy, etc., who repeat the most primitive conceptions concerning the natural requirements of surplus labor and surplus-value in general, at a time when classic economy is in its declining years, or even on its deathbed, and who imagine that they are thus saying something new and convincing on ground-rent, after this ground-rent has long developed a peculiar form and has become a specific part of surplus-value?
It is precisely characteristic of vulgar economy that it repeats things which were new, original, deep and justified during a certain outgrown stage of development, at a time when they have become platitudinous, stale, false. In this way it confesses that it has not the slightest suspicion of the problems which used to occupy the attention of classic economy. It confounds them with questions that could be posed only on a low level in the development of bourgeois society. It is the same with its restless and self-complacent rumination of the physiocratic phrases concerning free trade. These phrases have long lost all theoretical interest, no matter how much they may engage the practical attention of this or that modern state.
In natural economy, properly so-called, when no part of the agricultural product, or but a very insignificant part of it, enters into the process of circulation, or even but a relatively small portion of that part of the product which represents the revenue of the landlord, as it did in many Roman latifundiæ, or upon the villae of Charlemagne, or more or less during the entire Middle Ages (see Vincard, Histoire du Travail), the product and the surplus product of the large estates consists by no means purely of the products of agricultural labor. Domestic handicrafts and manufacturing labor, as side issues to agriculture, which forms the basis, is the prerequisite of that mode of production upon which natural economy rests, in European antiquity and Middle Ages as well as in the Indian commune of the present day, in which the traditional organization has not yet been destroyed. The capitalist mode of production completely dissolves this connection. This process may be studied on a large scale during the last third of the 18th century, in England. Brains that had grown up in more or less semi-feudal societies, for instance Herrenschwand, still consider this separation of manufacture from agriculture as a foolhardy social adventure, as an unthinkably risky mode of existence, even as late as the close of the 18th century. And even in the agricultural societies of antiquity, which show the greatest analogy to capitalist agriculture, namely Carthage and Rome, the similiarity with plantation management is greater than with that form which really corresponds to the capitalist mode of exploitation.137
There existed at one time a formal analogy, which, however, appears as a deception in all essential points to a man familiar with the capitalist mode of production, and who does not, like Mr. Mommsen,138 discover a capitalist mode of production in every monetary economy. This formal analogy did not exist at all in continental Italy during antiquity, but at best only in Sicily, because this island served as an agricultural tributary for Rome, so that its agriculture was chiefly aimed at export. It was there that tenants of the modern kind existed.
An incorrect conception of the nature of rent is based upon the fact that rent in a natural form, either as tithes to the church, or as a curiosity perpetuated by old contracts, has dragged itself into modern times out of the natural economy of feudal days, quite contrary to the conditions of the capitalist mode of production. This creates the impression that rent does not arise from the price of the agricultural product, but from its mass, not from social conditions, but from the soil. We have shown previously that a surplus product, representing a mere increase in the mass of products, does not constitute any surplus-value, although surplus-value represents itself in a surplus product. A surplus product may represent a minus in value. Otherwise the cotton industry of 1860, compared to that of 1840, would represent an enormous surplus-value, whereas on the contrary the price of the yarn has fallen. The rent may increase enormously through a succession of crop failures, because the price of cereals rises, although this surplus-value is represented by an absolutely decreasing mass of dearer wheat. Vice versa, the rent may fall through a succession of fertile years, because the price falls, although the fallen rent is represented by a greater mass of cheaper wheat.
With regard to rent in kind it should be noted that it is a mere tradition dragged over from an outgrown mode of production and eking out an existence as a ruin. Its contradiction to the capitalist mode of production is shown by the fact that it disappeared from private contracts of its own accord, and that it was shaken off by force as an inconsistency in such instances as the church tithes in England, where legislation was able to step in. Furthermore, where rent in kind continued to exist on the basis of capitalist production, it was nothing else, and could be nothing else, but an expression of money rent in medieval garb. For instance, wheat is quoted at 40 shillings per quarter. One portion of this wheat has to reproduce the wages contained in it, and must be sold in order to be available for renewed expenditure. Another portion must be sold in order to pay its share of the taxes. Seeds and even a part of the manure enter as commodities into the process of reproduction, wherever the capitalist mode of production and division of labor are developed, and they must be bought for the purposes of reproduction. Therefore another portion of this quarter must be sold, in order to get money for these things. To the extent that they do not have to be bought as actual commodities, but are taken in their natural form out of the product, in order to enter once more as means of production into its reproduction—which is done, not only in agriculture, but in many other lines of production which create constant capital—they figure in the accounts as money of account and are thus deducted as component parts of the cost-price. The wear and tear of machinery, and of fixed capital in general, must be made good in money. And finally comes the profit, which is calculated on the basis of this sum of costs expressed either in real or in accounting money. This profit is represented by a definite portion of the gross product, which is determined by its price. The portion which then remains is the rent. If the rent in kind stipulated by contract is greater than this remainder determined by the price, then it is not a rent, but a deduction from the profit. On account of this possibility alone rent in kind is an old form, to the extent that it does not follow the price of the product, but may amount to more or less than the real rent, so that it may not only contain a deduction from the profit, but also from elements required for the reproduction of the capital. In fact, this rent in kind, so far as it is a rent, not merely in name but in essence, is exclusively determined by the excess of the price of the product over, its cost of production. Only it assumes this variable magnitude to be a constant one. But it is such a comforting reflection that the natural product should suffice, in the first place, to maintain the laborer, in the second place, to leave for the capitalist tenant more food than he needs, and finally, that the remainder should form a natural rent. The same fancy is indulged in when a manufacturer of cotton goods produces 200,000 yards of them. These yards are supposed to suffice for the purpose of clothing his laborers, his wife and all his offspring, together with himself abundantly, to leave over some cotton for sale, and besides to pay an enormous rent with cotton goods. The matter is so simple! Deduct the cost of production from 200,000 yards of cotton goods, and a surplus must remain for rent. But it is indeed a naïve conception, to deduct the cost of production of, say, 10,000 pounds sterling from 200,000 yards of cotton, without knowing the selling price, to deduct money from cotton goods, to deduct from a natural use-value an exchange-value, and thus to determine the surplus of yards of cotton goods over pounds of sterling. It is worse than the squaring of the circle, which is at least based upon the conception that there is a boundary at which straight lines and curves flow imperceptibly into each other. But such is the recipe of Mr. Passy. Deduct money from cotton goods, before the cotton goods have been converted into money, either in your head or in reality! What remains is the rent, which, however, is to be grasped tangibly (see for instance, Karl Arnd) and not by deviltries of sophistry. The entire restoration of rent in kind amounts really to this foolishness, to this deduction of the price of production from so and so many bushels of wheat, the subtraction of a sum of money from a cubic measure.
II. Labor Rent.
If we observe ground-rent in its simplest form, that of labor rent, which means that the direct producer cultivates during a part of the week, with instruments of labor (plow, cattle, etc.), actually or legally belonging to him, the soil owned by him in fact, and works during the remaining days upon the estate of the feudal lord, without any compensation from the feudal lord, the proposition is quite clear, for in this case rent and surplus-value are identical. The rent, not the profit, is here the form through which the unpaid surplus labor expresses itself. To what extent the laborer, the self-sustaining serf, can here secure for himself a surplus above his indispensable necessities of life, a surplus above the thing which we would call wages under the capitalist mode of production, depends, other circumstances remaining unchanged, upon the proportion, in which his labor time is divided into labor time for himself and forced labor time for his feudal lord. This surplus above the indispensable requirements of life, the germ of that which appears as profit under the capitalist mode of production, is therefore wholly determined by the size of the ground-rent, which in this case not only is unpaid surplus labor, but also appears as such. It is unpaid surplus labor for the "owner" of the means of production, which here coincide with the land, and so far as they differ from it, are mere accessories to it. That the product of the laboring serf must suffice to reproduce both his subsistence and his requirements of production, is a fact which remains the same under all modes of production. For it is not a result of its specific form, but a natural requisite of all continuous and reproductive labor, of any continued production, which is always a reproduction, including the reproduction of its own labor conditions. It is furthermore evident that in all forms, in which the direct laborer remains the "possessor" of the means of production and labor conditions of his own means of subsistence, the property relation must at the same time assert itself as a direct relation between rulers and servants, so that the direct producer is not free. This is a lack of freedom which may be modified from serfdom with forced labor to the point of a mere tributary relation. The direct producer, according to our assumption, is here in possession of his own means of production, of the material labor conditions required for the realization of his labor and the production of his means of subsistence. He carries on his agriculture and the rural house industries connected with it as an independent producer. This independence is not abolished by the fact that these small farmers may form among themselves a more or less natural commune in production, as they do in India, since it is here merely a question of independence from the nominal lord of the soil. Under such conditions the surplus labor for the nominal owner of the land cannot be filched from them by any economic measures, but must be forced from them by other measures, whatever may be the form assumed by them.139
This is different from slave or plantation economy, in that the slave works with conditions of labor belonging to another. He does not work as an independent producer. This requires conditions of personal dependence, a lack of personal freedom, no matter to what extent, a bondage to the soil as its accessory, a serfdom in the strict meaning of the word. If the direct producers are not under the sovereignty of a private landlord, but rather under that of a state which stands over them as their direct landlord and sovereign, then rent and taxes coincide, or rather, there is no tax which differs from this form of ground-rent. Under these circumstances the subject need not be politically or economically under any harder pressure than that common to all subjection to that state. The state is then the supreme landlord. The sovereignty consists here in the ownership of land concentrated on a national scale. But, on the other hand, no private ownership of land exists, although there is both private and common possession and use of land.
The specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus labor is pumped out of the direct producers, determines the relation of rulers and ruled, as it grows immediately out of production itself and reacts upon it as a determining element. Upon this is founded the entire formation of the economic community which grows up out of the conditions of production itself, and this also determines its specific political shape. It is always the direct relation of the owners of the conditions of production to the direct producers, which reveals the innermost secret, the hidden foundation of the entire social construction, and with it of the political form of the relations between sovereignty and dependence, in short, of the corresponding form of the state. The form of this relation between rulers and ruled naturally corresponds always with a definite stage in the development of the methods of labor and of its productive social power. This does not prevent the same economic basis from showing infinite variations and gradations in its appearance, even though its principal conditions are everywhere the same. This is due to innumerable outside circumstances, natural environment, race peculiarities, outside historical influences, and so forth, all of which must be ascertained by careful analysis.
So much is evident in the case of labor rent, the simplest and most primitive form of rent: The rent is here the original form of surplus-value and coincides with it. Furthermore, the identity of surplus-value with unpaid labor of others does not need to be demonstrated by any analysis in this case, because it still exists in its visible, palpable form, for the labor of the direct producer for himself is still separated by space and time from his labor for the landlord, and this last labor appears clearly in the brutal form of forced labor for another. In the same way the "quality" of the soil to produce a rent is here reduced to a tangibly open secret, for the nature which here furnishes the rent also includes the human labor-power bound to the soil, and the property relation which compels the owner of labor-power to exert this quality and to keep it busy beyond the measure required for the satisfaction of his own material needs. The rent consists directly in the appropriation, by the landlord, of this surplus expenditure of labor-power. For the direct producer pays no other rent. Here, where surplus-value and rent are not only identical, but where surplus-value obviously has the form of surplus labor, the natural conditions, or limits, of rent lie on the surface, because those of surplus-value do. The direct producer must, 1), possess enough labor-power, and 2), the natural conditions of his labor, which means in the first place the soil cultivated by him, must be productive enough, in one word, the natural productivity of his labor must be so great that the possibility of some surplus labor over and above that required for the satisfaction of his own needs shall remain. It is not this possibility which creates the rent. The rent is not created until compulsion makes a reality of this possibility. But the possibility itself is conditioned upon subjective and objective facts of nature. And there is nothing mysterious about it. If the labor-power is small, and the natural conditions of labor poor, then the surplus labor is small, but so are in that case the wants of the producers on one side and the relative numbers of the exploiters of surplus labor on the other, and so is finally the surplus product, by which this little productive surplus labor is represented for those few exploiting land owners.
Finally, labor rent implies in itself that, all other circumstances remaining equal, it will depend wholly upon the relative amount of surplus labor, or forced labor, to what extent the direct producer shall be enabled to improve his own condition, to acquire wealth, to produce a surplus over and above his indispensable means of subsistence, or, if we wish to anticipate the capitalist mode of expression, whether he shall be able to produce a profit for himself, and how much of a profit, meaning a surplus over the wages produced by himself. The rent is here the normal, all absorbing, one might say legitimate, form of surplus labor. So far from being a surplus over the profit, which means in this case in excess of any other surplus over the wages, it is rather the amount of profit, and even its very existence, which depends, other circumstances being equal, upon the amount of rent, or upon the forced surplus labor to be surrendered to the landlord.
Some historians have expressed astonishment that it should be possible for the forced laborers, or serfs, to acquire any independent property, or relatively speaking, wealth, under such circumstances, since the direct producer is not an owner, but only a possessor, and since all his surplus labor belongs legally to the landlord. However, it is evident that tradition must play a very powerful role in the primitive and undeveloped circumstances, upon which this relation in social production and the corresponding mode of production are based. It is furthermore clear that here as everywhere else it is in the interest of the ruling section of society to sanction the existing order as a law and to perpetuate its habitually and traditionally fixed limits as legal ones. Aside from all other matters, this comes about of itself in proportion as the continuous reproduction of the foundation of the existing order and of the relations corresponding to it gradually assume a regulated and orderly form. And such regulation and order are themselves indispensable elements of any mode of production, provided that it is to assume social firmness and an independence from mere accident and arbitrariness. It is just through them that society is rendered more firm and emancipated relatively from mere arbitrariness and mere accident. Society assumes this form by the repeated reproduction of the same mode of production, where the process of production stagnates and with it the corresponding social relations. If this continues for some time, this order fortifies itself by custom and tradition and is finally sanctioned as an expressed law. Since the form of this surplus labor, of forced labor, rests upon the imperfect development of all productive powers of society, and upon the crudeness of the methods of labor itself, it will naturally absorb a much smaller portion, relatively, of the total labor of the direct producers than under developed modes of production, particularly under the capitalist mode of production. Take it, for instance, that the forced labor for the landlord originally amounted to two days per week. These two days of forced labor are fixed, are a constant magnitude, legally regulated by laws of usage or written laws. But the productivity of the remaining days of the week, over which the direct producer has independent control, is a variable magnitude, which must develop in the course of his experience, together with the new wants he acquires, together with the expansion of the market for his product, together with the increasing security which guarantees independence for this portion of his labor-power. These things will spur him on to a greater exertion of his labor-power, and it must not be forgotten that the employment of his labor-power is by no means confined to agriculture, but includes rural house industry. The possibility of a certain economic development, depending, of course, upon the favor of circumstances, upon inborn race characteristics, etc., is open in this case.
III. Rent in Kind.
The transformation of labor rent into rent in kind does not change anything in the nature of rent, economically speaking. This nature, in the forms of rent considered here, is such that rent is the sole prevailing and normal form of surplus labor, or surplus-value. This, again, expresses the fact that rent is the only surplus labor, or the only surplus product which the direct producer, being in possession of the labor conditions needed for his own reproduction, must give up to the owner of the land, which under this state of things is the one condition of labor embracing everything. And furthermore it expresses the fact that land is the only labor condition, which stands opposed to the direct producer as a property independent of him and held in the hands of another, being personified by the landlord. To the extent that rent in kind is the prevailing and dominant form of ground-rent, it is always more or less in the company of survivals of the preceding form, that is of rent paid directly by labor, forced labor, no matter whether the landlord be a private person or the state. Rent in kind requires a higher state of civilization for the direct producer, a higher stage of development of his labor and of society in general. And it is distinguished from the preceding form by the fact that the surplus labor is no longer performed naturally, is no longer performed under the direct supervision and compulsion of the landlord or of his representatives. The direct producer is rather driven by the force of circumstances than by direct coercion, rather by legal enactment than by the whip, to perform surplus labor on his own responsibility. Surplus production, in the sense of a production beyond the indispensable needs of the direct producer, and within the field of production actually in his own possession, upon the soil exploited by himself and no longer upon the lord's estate outside of his own land, has become a matter of fact rule here. In this relation the direct producer is more or less master of the employment of his whole labor time, although a part of this labor time, at first practically the entire surplus portion of it, belongs to the landlord without any compensation. Only, the landlord does not get this surplus labor any more in its natural form, but rather in the natural form of the product in which it is realized. The burdensome interruption by the labor for the landlord (see Volume I, chapter X, 2, Manufacturer and Boyard), which disturbs the reproduction of the serf more or less, according to the way in which forced labor is regulated, disappears, wherever rent in kind has its pure form, or at least it is reduced to a few short intervals during the year, which demand a continuation of rent by forced labor by the side of rent in kind. The labor of the producer for himself and his labor for the landlord are no longer palpably separated by time and space. This rent in kind, in its pure form, while it may drag itself along sporadically into more highly developed modes of production and conditions of production, nevertheless requires for its existence a natural economy, that is an economy in which the conditions of production are either wholly or for the overwhelming part produced by the system itself in such a way that they are reproduced directly out of its gross product. It furthermore requires the combination of domestic rural industry with agriculture. The surplus product, which forms the rent, is the product of this combined agricultural and industrial family labor, no matter whether rent in kind contains more or less of the industrial product, as it often does in the middle ages, or whether it is paid only in the form of actual products of the soil. In this form of rent it is by no means necessary that rent in kind, which represents the surplus labor, should fully exhaust the entire surplus labor of the rural family. Compared to labor rent, the producer rather has more elbow room to gain time for some surplus labor whose product shall belong to himself, as does that of the labor which produces his indispensable means of subsistence. This form will also give rise to greater differences in the economic situation of the individual direct producers. At least the possibility for such a differentiation exists, and so does the possibility that the direct producer may have acquired the means to exploit other laborers for himself, but this does not concern us here, since we are dealing with rent in its pure form. Neither can be pay any heed to the endless variety of combinations, by which the various forms of rent may be united, adulterated and amalgamated.
Owing to the peculiar form of rent in kind, by which it is bound to a definite kind of products and of production, owing furthermore to the indispensable combination of agriculture and domestic industry attached to it, also to the almost complete selfsufficiency in which the peasant family supports itself and to its independence from markets and from the movement of production and history in the social spheres outside of it, in short owing to the character of natural economy in general this form is quite suitable for becoming the basis of stationary conditions of society, such as we see in Asia. Here, as previously in the form of labor rent, ground-rent is the normal form of surplus-value, and thus of surplus labor, that is of the entire surplus labor performed without any equivalent by the direct producer for the benefit of the owner of his essential means of production, the land, a labor which is still performed under compulsion, although no longer in the old brutal form. The profit, if, falsely anticipating, we may so call that portion of the direct producer's labor which exceeds his necessary labor and which he keeps for himself, has so little to do with determining the rent in kind, that this profit rather grows up behind the back of the rent and finds its natural limit in the size of the rent in kind. This rent may assume dimensions which seriously threaten the reproduction of the conditions of labor, of the means of production. It may render an expansion of production more or less impossible, and grind the direct producers down to the physical minimum of means of subsistence. This is particularly the case, when this form is met and exploited by a conquering industrial nation, as India is by the English.
IV. Money Rent.
By money rent we mean here—for the sake of distinction from the industrial and commercial ground-rent resting upon the capitalist mode of production, which is but a surplus over the average profit—that ground-rent which arises from a mere change of form of rent in kind, just as this rent in kind, in its turn, is but a modification of labor rent. Under money rent, the direct producer no longer turns over the product, but its price, to the landlord (who may be either the state or a private individual). A surplus of products in their natural form is no longer sufficient; it must be converted from its natural form into money. Although the direct producer still continues to produce at least the greater part of his means of subsistence himself, a certain portion of this product must now be converted into commodities, must be produced as commodities. The character of the entire mode of production is thus more or less changed. It loses its independence, it remains no longer detached from the social connections. The proportion of the cost of production, which now is more and more complicated with the expenditure of money, now becomes a determining factor. At any rate, the excess of that portion of the gross product, which must be converted into money, over that portion, which has to serve either as means of reproduction or as means of direct subsistence, assumes a determining role. However, the basis of this rent remains the same as that of the rent in kind, from which it starts, although money rent likewise approaches its dissolution. The direct producer still is the possessor of the land, either by inheritance or by some other traditional right, and he has to perform for his landlord, who is the owner of the land, of his most essential instrument of production, forced surplus labor, that is, unpaid labor for which no equivalent is returned, and this forced surplus labor is now paid in money obtained by the sale of the surplus product. The property in requirements of labor separate from the land, such as agricultural implements and other movable things, is transformed into the property of the direct producer even under the preceding form of rent, first in fact, then legally, and this is the condition even more under money rent. The transformation of rent in kind into money rent, taking place first sporadically, then on a more or less national scale, requires a considerable development of commerce, of city industries, of the production of commodities in general, and with them of the circulation of money. It furthermore requires that products should have a market price, and that they are sold more or less approximately at their values, which need not necessarily be the case under the preceding forms. In the East of Europe we may still see in a certain measure this transformation with our own eyes. How little it can be carried through without a certain development of the social productivity of labor, is proved by various unsuccessful attempts to carry it through under the Roman emperors, and by relapses into rent in kind after the attempt had been made to convert at least that portion of rent in kind into a money rent which had to be paid as a state tax. The same difficulties of transition are shown, for instance, by the prerevolutionary time in France, when money rent was combined and adulterated by survivals of the forms preceding it.
Money rent, as a converted form of rent in kind and as an antagonist of rent in kind, is the last form, and the dissolving form, of that form of ground-rent, which we have considered so far, namely of ground-rent, which we have considered so far, namely of ground-rent as the normal form of surplus-value and of the unpaid surplus labor to be performed for the owner of the means of production. In its pure form, this rent, like labor rent and rent in kind, does not represent any surplus above the profit. It absorbs the profit, as it is understood. To the extent that profit arises in fact as a separate portion of the surplus labor by the side of the rent, money rent as well as rent in its preceding forms still is the normal barrier of such embryonic profit, which can only develop in proportion as the possibility of exploitation grows, whether it be the producer's own surplus labor or the surplus labor of another, which remains after the surplus represented by money rent has been paid. If any profit actually arises along with this rent, this profit is not a barrier of rent, but the rent is rather a barrier of this profit. However, we repeat that money rent is at the same time the disappearing form of the rent which we have considered so far, of that rent which is identical with surplus-value and surplus labor, of ground-rent as the normal and prevailing form of surplus-value.
In its further development money rent must lead—aside from all intermediate forms, such as that of the small peasant who is a tenant—either to the transformation of land into independent peasants' property, or into the form corresponding to the capitalist mode of production, that is, to rent paid by the capitalist tenant.
With the coming of money rent the traditional and customary relation between the landlord and the subject tillers of the soil, who possess and cultivate a part of the land, is turned into a pure money relation fixed by the rules of positive law. The cultivating possessor thus becomes virtually a mere tenant. This transformation serves on the one hand, provided that other general conditions of production permit such a thing, to expropriate gradually the old peasant possessors and to put in their place capitalist tenants. On the other hand it leads to a release of the old possessors from their tributary relation by buying themselves free from their landlord, so that they become independent farmers and free owners of the land tilled by them. The transformation of rent in kind into money rent is not only necessarily accompanied, but even anticipated by the formation of a class of propertyless day laborers, who hire themselves out for wages. During the period of their rise, when this new class appears but sporadically, the custom necessarily develops among the better situated tributary farmers of exploiting agricultural laborers for their own account, just as the wealthier serfs in feudal times used to employ serfs for their own benefit. In this way they gradually acquire the ability to accumulate a certain amount of wealth and to transform themselves even into future capitalists. The old selfemploying possessors of the land thus give rise among themselves to a nursery for capitalist tenants, whose development is conditioned upon the general development of capitalist production outside of the rural districts. This class grows very rapidly, when particularly favorable circumstances come to its aid, as they did in England in the 16th century, where the progressive depreciation of money made them rich, under the customary long leases, at the expense of the landlords.
Furthermore: As soon as rent assumes the form of money rent, and with it the relation between rent paying peasants and landlords becomes a relation fixed by contract—a development which is not possible unless the world market, commerce and manufacture have reached a relatively high level—the leasing of land to capitalists necessarily also puts in its appearance. These men, having stood outside of the rural barrier so far, now transfer to the country and to agriculture some capital acquired in the cities and with it the capitalist mode of production as developed in those cities, which implies the creation of the product in the form of a mere commodity and as a mere means of appropriating surplus-value. This form can become the general rule only in those countries, which dominate the world market in the period of transition from the feudal to the capitalist mode of production. When the capitalist tenant steps between the landlord and the actually working tiller of the soil, all conditions have been dissolved, which arose from the old rural mode of production. The capitalist tenant becomes the actual commander of these agricultural laborers and the actual exploiter of their surplus labor, whereas the landlord has any direct relations only with this capitalist tenant, the relation being a mere money relation fixed by contract. This transforms also the nature of the rent, not merely in fact and accidentally, as it did sometimes even under the preceding forms, but normally, by transforming its acknowledged and prevailing mode. Instead of continuing as the normal form of surplus-value and surplus labor, it becomes a mere surplus of this surplus labor over that portion of it, which is appropriated by the exploiting capitalist in the form of profit. And now the total surplus labor, both profit and surplus above the profit, are extracted by him directly, appropriated in the form of the surplus product, and turned into money. It is only the surplus portion of the surplus-value extracted by him from the agricultural laborer by direct exploitation, by means of his capital, which he turns over to the landlord as rent. How much or how little he gives away to him depends, as a rule, upon the limits set by the average profit which is realized by the capital in the non-agricultural spheres of production, and by the non-agricultural prices of production regulated by this average profit. From a normal form of surplus-value and surplus labor the rent has now transformed itself into a surplus peculiar to the agricultural sphere of production, exceeding that portion of the surplus labor, which is claimed at first hand by capital as its legitimate and normal share. Profit, instead of rent, has now become the normal form of surplus-value, and rent exists only as a form, not of surplus-value in general, but of one of its offshoots, called surplus profit, which assumes an independent existence only under very peculiar circumstances. It is not necessary to dwell any further upon the way in which this transformation is accompanied by a gradual transformation of the mode of production itself. This is shown by the mere fact that it is the normal thing for the capitalist tenant to produce the products of the soil as commodities, and that, while formerly only the surplus over his means of subsistence was converted into commodities, now but a relatively small part of these commodities is directly used as means of subsistence for him. It is no longer the land, but the capital, which has now brought under its direct sway and under its own productivity the labor of the agriculturalist.
The average profit and the price of production regulated by it are formed outside of the conditions of the rural country within the circles of city commerce and manufacture. The profit of the rent-paying farmers does not enter into it as a balancing element, for their relation to the landlord is not a capitalist one. To the extent that he makes profits, that is, realizes a surplus above his necessary means of subsistence, either by his own labor or by the exploitation of other people's labor, it is done behind the back of the normal relationship. Other circumstances being equal, the size of this profit does not determine the rent, but on the contrary, it is determined by the limits set by the rent. The high rate of profit in the Middle Ages is not entirely due to the low composition of the capital, in which the variable capital, invested in wages, predominates. It is due also to the robbery committed against the land, the appropriation of a portion of the landlord's rent and of the income of his vassals. While the country exploits the town politically in the Middle Ages, wherever feudalism has not been broken down by an exceptional development of the towns, the town, on the other hand, everywhere and without exception exploits the land economically by its monopoly prices, its system of taxation, its guild organizations, its direct mercantile fraud and its usury.
One might imagine that the mere advent of the capitalist tenant in agricultural production would prove that the price of those products of the soil, which had always paid a rent in one form or another, must stand above the prices of production of manufacture, at least at the time of this advent. And this for the reason that the price of such products of the soil had reached the level of a monopoly price or that it had risen as high as the value of the products of the soil, and that this value actually stood above the price of production regulated by the average profit. Unless this were so, the capitalist tenant could not very well realize first the average profit out of the price of these products, at the existing prices of the products of the soil, and then pay out of this same price a surplus above his profit in the form of rent. One might conclude from this that the average rate of profit, which guides the capitalist tenant in his contract with the landlord, had been formed without including the rent, and that as soon as this average rate of profit assumes a regulating part in agricultural production it finds this surplus ready at hand and turns it over to the landlord. It is in this traditional manner that, for instance, Rodbertus explains this matter.
But several points must be considered here.
1) This advent of capital as an independent and leading power in agriculture does not take place generally all at once, but gradually and separately in various lines of production. It seizes at first, not agriculture proper, but such lines of production as cattle raising, especially sheep raising, whose principal product, wool, offers a steady surplus of the market price over the price of production during the rise of industry, and this is not balanced until later. This was the case in England during the 16th century.
2) Since this capitalist production appears at first but sporadically, nothing can be argued against the assumption, that it takes hold in the beginning only of such groups of land as are able, through their particular fertility, or their exceptionally favorable location, to pay a differential rent in the long run.
3) Even assuming that at the time of the advent of this mode of production, which indeed requires an increasing preponderance of the demand in the towns, the prices of the products of the soil stood higher than the price of production, as was doubtless the case during the last third of the 17th century in England, nevertheless, as soon as this mode of production will have worked its way somewhat out of the mere subordination of agriculture to capital, and as soon as the improvement of agriculture and the reduction of its cost of production, which accompany its development, will have taken place, the balance will be restored by a reaction, a fall in the price of the products of the soil, as happened in the first half of the 18th century in England.
In this traditional way, then, rent as a surplus above the average profit cannot be explained. Whatever may be the historical circumstances of the time in which rent appears at first, once that it has taken root it cannot exist under any other modern conditions than those previously explained.
Finally, it should be noted in the transformation of rent in kind into money rent, that with it capitalized rent, or the price of land, and its salableness and sale become essential elements, and that with them not only the formerly rent-paying tenant may be transformed into an independent peasant proprietor, but also urban and other moneyed people may buy real estate, in order to lease them either to peasants or to capitalists and thus to enjoy rent in the form of interest on capital so invested; that, therefore, this likewise assists in the transformation of the former mode of exploitation, of the relation between the owner and the actual tiller of the land, and of the rent itself.
V. Share Farming (Metairie System) and Small Peasants' Property.
We have now arrived at the end of our line of development of ground-rent.
In all these forms of ground-rent, whether labor rent, rent in kind, or money rent (as a mere change of form of rent in kind), the rent-paying party is always supposed to be the actual tiller and possessor of the land, whose unpaid surplus labor passes directly into the hands of the landlord. Even in the last form, money rent—to the extent that it is "pure," in other words, a mere change of form of rent in kind—this is not only possible, but actually takes place.
As a form of transition from the original form of rent to capitalist rent, we may consider the metairie system, or share farming, under which the manager (tenant) furnishes not only labor (his own or that of others), but also a portion of the first capital, and the landlord furnishes, aside from the land, another portion of the first capital (for instance cattle), and the product is divided between the tenant and the landlord according to definite shares, which differ in various countries. In this case, the tenant lacks the capital required for a thorough capitalist operation of agriculture. On the other hand, the share thus appropriated by the landlord has not the pure form of rent. It may actually include interest on the capital advanced by him and a surplus rent. It may also absorb practically all the surplus labor of the tenant, or leave to him a greater or smaller portion of this surplus labor. But the essential point is that rent no longer appears here as the normal form of surplus-value in general. On the one hand, the tenant, whether he employ his own labor or another's, is supposed to have a claim upon a portion of the product, not in his capacity as a laborer, but as a possessor of a part of the instruments of labor, as his own capitalist. On the other hand, the landlord claims his share not exclusively in his capacity as the owner of the land, but also as a lender of capital.140
A remainder of the old community in land, which had been preserved after the transition to independent peasant economy, for instance in Poland and Roumania, served there as a subterfuge for accomplishing a transition to the lower forms of ground-rent. A portion of the land belongs to the individual farmers and is tilled independently by them. Another portion is tilled collectively and creates a surplus product, which serves either for the payment of community expenses, or as a reserve in case of crop failures, etc. These last two parts of the surplus product, and finally the whole surplus product together with the land, upon which it has been grown, are gradually usurped by state officials and private individuals, and by this means the originally free peasant proprietors, whose obligation to till this land collectively is maintained, are transformed into vassals, who are compelled to perform forced labor or pay rent in kind, while the usurpers are transformed into owners, not only of the stolen community lands, but of the lands of the peasants themselves.
We need not dwell upon actual slave economy (which likewise passes through a development from the patriarchal system, working pre-eminently for home use, to the plantation system, working for the world market) nor upon that management of estates, under which the landlords carry on agriculture for their own account, own all the instruments of production, and exploit the labor of free or unfree servants, who are paid in kind or in money. In this case, the landlord and the owner of the instruments of production, and thus the direct exploiter of the laborers counted among these instruments of production, are one and the same person. Rent and profit likewise coincide then, there being no separation of the different forms of surplus-value. The entire surplus labor of the workers, which is here represented by the surplus product, is extracted from them directly by the owner of all the instruments of production, to which the land and, under the original form of slavery, the producers themselves, belong. Where capitalist conceptions predominate, as they did upon the American plantations, this entire surplus-value is regarded as profit. In places where the capitalist mode of production does not exist, nor the conceptions corresponding to it have been transferred from capitalist countries, it appears as rent. At any rate, this form does not present any difficulties. The income of the landlord, whatever may be the name given to it, the available surplus product appropriated by him, is here the normal and predominating form, under which the entire unpaid labor is directly appropriated, and the property in land forms the basis of this appropriation.
There is, furthermore, the small peasants' property. Here the farmer is the free owner of his land, which appears as his principal instrument of production, the indispensable field of employment for his labor and his capital. No lease money is paid under this form. Rent, therefore, does not appear as a separate form of surplus-value here, although in countries, in which capitalist industry in other lines is developed, it appears as a surplus profit by comparison with other lines of production. But it is a surplus profit which, like all the rest of the product of his labor, falls into the hands of the farmer himself.
This form of property in land requires that, as was the case under the earlier forms, the rural population should have a great preponderance over the city population, so that, while capitalist production may generally prevail, it is nevertheless but relatively little developed, concentration of capitals moves in narrow circles in the other lines of production, and dissipation of capitals predominates. Under these conditions, the greater part of the rural product will have to be consumed, as a direct means of subsistence, by the producers, the farmers themselves, and only the surplus above that will pass as commodities into the commerce with the cities. Whatever may be the manner, in which the average market price of the products of the soil is regulated in this case, the differential rent, a surplus portion of the price of commodities from the superior or more favorably located lands, must evidently exist in this case just as it does under the capitalist mode of production. This differential rent would exist, even if this form should appear under social conditions, in which no general market price has as yet been developed. It appears then in the spare surplus product. Only it flows into the pocket of the farmer, whose labor realises itself under favorable natural conditions. It is precisely under this form that the assumption is correct, as a rule, that no absolute rent exists, so that the worst soil does not pay any rent. For under this form the price of land enters as an element into the actual cost of production for the farmer, since in the course of the further development of this form the price of land may have been figured, for instance in the case of a division of an estate, at a certain money value, or, in view of the continuous change in the ownership of the whole property, or of its parts, the land may have been bought by the tiller himself, largely by taking up money on a mortgage. In this way the price of land, which is nothing else but a capitalized rent, is a pre-existing condition and rent seems to exist independently of any differentiation in the fertility and location of the land. Absolute rent is conditioned either upon the realized surplus of the value of the product above its price of production, or a monopoly price exceeding the value of the product. But since agriculture is carried on here largely as an agriculture for direct subsistence, so that the land is an indispensable field of employment for the labor and capital of the majority of the population, the regulating market price of the product will come up to its value only under extraordinary circumstances. But its value will, as a rule, stand higher than its price of production on account of the predominance of the element of living labor, although this excess of its value over its price of production will be in its turn limited by the low composition of the capital, even of that of the industries outside of agriculture, in countries with a predominance of small farmers' property. For the small farmer the limit of exploitation is not set by the average profit of the capital, if he is a small capitalist, nor by the necessity of making a rent, if he is a landowner. Nothing appears as an absolute limit for him, as a small capitalist, but the wages which he pays to himself, after deducting his actual costs. So long as the price of the product covers these wages, he will cultivate his land, and will do so often down to the physical minimum of his wages. As for his capacity as a landlord, the barrier of property is eliminated in his case, since it can exert its influence only against a capital (including labor) separated from it, by erecting an obstacle against its investment. It is true that interest on the price of land, which generally has to be paid to another, the holder of the mortgage, also forms a barrier. But this interest can be paid out of that portion of the surplus labor, which would form the profit under capitalist conditions. The rent anticipated in the price of land, and in the interest paid for it, cannot be anything else but a portion of the capitalized surplus labor of the farmer, performed by him beyond the labor indispensable for his subsistence, without realising this surplus labor in a part of the value of commodities equal to the entire average profit, and still less in a surplus profit, which would constitute a surplus above the surplus labor realised in the average profit. The rent may be a deduction from the average profit, or even the only portion of it which is realised. In order that the small farmer may cultivate his land, or may buy land for cultivation, it is therefore not necessary, as it is under a normal capitalist production, that the market price of his products should rise high enough to allow him the average profit, and still less a surplus above this average profit fixed in the form of a rent. Therefore it is not necessary that the market price should rise, either as high as the value or as high as the price of production of his product. This is one of the causes which keeps the price of cereals lower in countries with a predominance of small farmers than in countries with a capitalist mode of production. One portion of the surplus labor of the farmers, who work under the least favorable conditions, is given to society without an equivalent and does not pass over into the regulation of the price of production or into the formation of values in general. This lower price is also a result of the poverty of the producers and by no means of the productivity of their labor.
This form of free farmers' property managing their own affairs, as the prevailing, normal, form constitutes on the one hand the economic foundation of society during the best times of classical antiquity, on the other hand it is found among modern nations as one of the forms arising from the dissolution of feudal landlordism. In this way we meet the yeomanry in England, the peasantry in Sweden, the farmers in France and Western Germany. We do not mention the colonies here, since the independent farmer there develops under different conditions.
The free ownership of the selfemploying farmer is evidently the most normal form of landed property for small scale production, that is, for a mode of production, in which the possession of the land is a prerequisite for the ownership of the product of his own labor by the laborer, and in which the agriculturist, whether he be a free owner or a vassal, always has to produce his own means of subsistence independently, as a single laborer with his family. The ownership of the soil is as necessary for the complete development of this mode of production as the ownership of the instrument is for the free development of handicraft production. This ownership forms here the basis for the development of personal independence. It is a necessary stage of transition for the development of agriculture itself. The causes which bring about its downfall show its limitations. These causes are: Destruction of rural house industries, which form its normal supplement, as a result of the development of great industries; a gradual deterioration and exhaustion of the soil subjected to this cultivation; usurpation, on the part of the great landlords, of the community lands, which form everywhere the second supplement of small peasants' property and alone enable them to keep cattle; competition, either of plantation systems or of great agricultural enterprises carried out on a capitalist scale. Improvements of agriculture, which on the one hand bring about a fall in the prices of the products of the soil, and on the other require greater investments and more diversified material conditions of production, also contribute towards this end, as they did in England during the first half of the 18th century.
Small peasants' property excludes by its very nature the development of the social powers of production of labor, the social forms of labor, the social concentration of capitals, cattle raising on a large scale, and a progressive application of science.
Usury and a system of taxation must impoverish it everywhere. The expenditure of capital in the price of the land withdraws this capital from cultivation. An infinite dissipation of means of production and an isolation of the producers themselves go with it. Also an enormous waste of human energy. A progressive deterioration of the conditions of production and a raising of the price of means of production is a necessary law of small peasants' property. Fertile seasons are a misfortune for this mode of production.141
One of the specific evils of small scale agriculture, when combined with the free ownership of the land, arises from the fact that the agriculturist invests a capital in the purchase of the land. (The same applies also to the form of transition, in which the great landlord invests capital, first, for the purpose of buying land, and secondly, for the purpose of managing it as his own tenant). Owing to the changeable nature, which the land here assumes as a mere commodity, the changes of ownership increase,142 so that the land, from the point of view of the farmer, passes again into the calculation as a new investment of capital with every new generation, every division of estates, in other words, that it becomes land bought by him. The price of land here forms an overwhelming element of the individual false cost of production, or of the cost price of the product for the individual producer.
The price of land is nothing but the capitalized, and therefore anticipated, rent. If agriculture is carried on by capitalist methods, so that the landlord receives only the rent, and the tenant pays nothing for the land except his annual rent, then it is evident that the capital invested by the owner of the land himself in the purchase of the land constitutes an interest-bearing investment of capital for him, but that it has nothing to do with the capital invested in agriculture itself. It forms neither a part of the fixed nor of the circulating capital employed here;143 it merely secures for the buyer a title to the annual rent, but has nothing to do with the production of the rent itself. For the buyer of land pays his capital out to the one who sells the land, and the seller relinquishes his ownership of the land for this consideration. This capital does not exist any more as the capital of the buyer after that. He has not got it any longer. Therefore it does not belong to the capital, which he can invest in any way in the land itself. Whether he bought the land at a high or a low price, or whether he received it for nothing, does not alter anything in the capital invested by the tenant in his establishment, and does not make any change in the rent, but merely changes the question, whether it appears to him as interest or not as interest, or as a high or a low interest.
Take, for instance, the slavery system. The price paid for a slave is nothing but the anticipated and capitalized surplus-value or profit, which is to be ground out of him. But the capital paid for the purchase of a slave does not belong to the capital, by which profit, surplus labor, is extracted from him. On the contrary. It is capital, which the slave holder gives away, it is a deduction from the capital, which he has available for actual production. It has ceased to exist for him, just as the capital invested in the purchase of land has ceased to exist for agriculture. The best proof of this is the fact, that it does not come back into existence for the slave holder or the land owner, until he sells the slave or the land once more. Then the same condition of things holds good for the buyer. The fact that he has bought the slave does not enable him to exploit the slave without further ceremony. He is not able to do so until he invests some other capital in production by means of the slave.
The same capital does not exist twice. It does not exist one time in the hands of the seller, and a second time in the hands of the buyer of the land. It passes from the hands of the buyer to those of the seller, and that settles the matter. The buyer has then no longer any capital, but in its stead he has a piece of land. The fact that the rent produced by a real investment of capital in this land is figured by the new owner of the land as interest on a capital, which he did not invest in the soil, but gave away as a purchase price for the land, does not alter the economic nature of the factor land in the least, any more than the fact that some one may have paid 1,000 pounds sterling for 3% consols has anything to do with the capital, out of whose revenue the interest on the national debt is paid.
In fact, the money expended in the purchase of land, like that spent for the purchase of national bonds, is merely capital in itself, just as any amount of values is capital in itself on the basis of capitalist production. It is potential capital. The thing paid for the land, like that paid for national bonds or any other purchased commodity, is a sum of money. This is capital in itself, because it may be converted into capital. It depends upon the use to which the seller puts it, whether the money obtained by him really becomes capital or not. For the buyer it can never again perform the functions of capital, any more than any other money which he has finally spent. It figures in his calculations as interest-bearing capital, because he considers the income, which he receives as rent from his land or as interest on his bonds, as interest on the money, which he paid for his title to this revenue. He cannot realise it as capital unless he sells his title again. If he does, then the new buyer assumes the same relationship in which the old one was, and the money spent in this transaction cannot transform itself into actual capital by any change of hands.
In the case of small property in land the illusion, that the land itself has value and may, therefore, pass as a capital into the price of production of the product, like a machine or raw materials, fortifies itself still more. But we have seen that the rent, and with it capitalised rent, or the price of land, can pass over into the price of the products of the soil in two cases only. The first case is that, in which the value of the products of the soil stands higher than their price of production and the market conditions enable the landlord to realise this difference; this condition of values and prices of production obtains, when the composition of the agricultural capital raises the value above the price of production. This agricultural capital has nothing to do with the capital invested in the purchase of the land. The second case is that in which a monopoly price exists. And both cases occur less under small peasants' property and small land ownership than under any other form, because production largely satisfies the producers' own wants in their case and is carried on independently of the regulation by the average rate of profit. Even where small peasants' economy is carried on upon leased land, the lease money comprises more than under any other conditions a portion of the profit and even a deduction from the wages; this money is then only a nominal rent, not a rent representing an independent category as compared to wages and profit.
The expenditure of money-capital for the purchase of land, then, is not an investment of agricultural capital. It is a proportionate deduction from the capital, which the small farmers can employ in their own sphere of production. It reduces to that extent the size of their means of production and thereby narrows the economic basis of their reproduction. It subjects the small farmer to the money lender's extortion, since credit, in the strict meaning of the term, occurs but rarely in this sphere. It is an obstacle to agriculture, even where such a purchase takes place in the case of large estates. In fact, it contradicts the capitalist mode of production, which is on the whole indifferent to the question whether the land-owner is in debt, no matter whether he inherited or bought his estate. The management of the leased estate itself is not altered in its nature, whether the landowner pockets the rent himself or whether he has to pay it over to the holder of his mortgage.
We have seen that the price of land is regulated by the rate of interest, if the ground-rent is a given magnitude. If the rate of interest is low, then the price of land is high, and vice versa. Normally, then, a high price of land and a low rate of interest would have to go hand in hand, so that if the farmer paid a high price for the land in consequence of a low rate of interest, the same low rate of interest should also secure for him his running capital on easy terms of credit. But in reality, things turn out differently under small peasants' property, as the prevailing form. In the first place, the general laws of credit do not apply to the farmer, since these laws rest upon the capitalist as a producer. In the second place, where small peasants' property predominates—we are not speaking of colonies here—and the small peasant forms the foundation of the nation, the formation of capital, that is social reproduction, is relatively weak, and the formation of loanable money-capital, in the sense in which we have previously analyzed this term, is still weaker. For this is conditioned upon concentration and the existence of a class of rich and idle capitalists (Massie). In the third place, where the ownership of the land is a necessary condition for the existence of the greater part of the producers, as it is here, and an indispensable field of investment for their capital, the price of land is raised independently of the rate of interest, and often in an inverse ratio to it, by the preponderance of the demand for land over its supply. If sold in small lots, the land in this case brings a far higher price than it does by its sale in large estates, because the number of small buyers is large and that of the large buyers small (Bandes Noires, Rubichon; Newman). For all these reasons the price of land rises here while the rate of interest is relatively high. The relatively low interest, which the farmer here derives from the capital invested in the purchase of land (Mounier), corresponds on the other hand to the high rate of interest exacted by usury, which he himself has to pay to his mortgage creditors. The Irish system shows the same thing, only in another form.
This price of land, an element foreign in itself to production, may here rise to such a point that it makes production impossible (Dombasle).
The fact that the price of land plays such a role, that the sale and purchase of land, the circulation of land as a commodity, develops to this degree, is a practical result of capitalist development, since a commodity is here the form generally assumed by all products and all instruments of production. On the other hand, this development takes place only wherever capitalist production develops but to a limited extent and does not bring forth all its peculiarities. For this condition rests precisely upon the fact that agriculture is no longer, or not yet, subject to the capitalist mode of production, but rather to a mode handed down from obsolete forms of society. The disadvantages of the capitalist mode of production, which makes the producers dependent upon the money price of their products, coincide here with the disadvantages due to the imperfect development of capitalist production. The farmer becomes a merchant and an industrial without the conditions which would enable him to produce his goods as commodities.
The conflict between the price of land, as an element in the cost price of the producers, but not an element in the price of production of the product (even though the rent should pass as a determining element into the price of the products of the soil, the capitalized rent, which is advanced for 20 years or more, does not pass into their price in this way), is but one of the forms through which the antagonism between private ownership of the land and between a rational agriculture, a normal social utilization of the soil, expresses itself. But on the other hand, the private ownership of the land, and with it the expropriation of the direct producers from the land—the private property of some, which implies lack of private property on the part of others—is the basis of the capitalist mode of production.
Here, in agriculture on a small scale, the price of the land a form and result of private ownership of the land, appears as a barrier of production itself. In agriculture on a large scale, and in the case of large estates resting upon a capitalist mode of production, private ownership likewise acts as a barrier, because it limits the tenant in his investment of productive capital, which in the last analysis benefits, not him, but the landlord. In both forms the exploitation and devastation of the powers of the soil takes the place of a consciously rational treatment of the soil in its role of an eternal social property, of an indispensable condition of existence and reproduction for successive generations of human beings. And besides, this exploitation is made dependent, not upon the attained degree of social development, but upon the accidental and unequal situations of individual producers. In the case of small property this happens from lack of means and science, by which the social productivity of labor-power might be utilized. In the case of large property, it is done by the exploitation of such means for the purpose of the most rapid accumulation of wealth for the tenant and proprietor. The dependence of both of them upon the market price is instrumental in accomplishing this result.
All critique of small property resolves itself in the last resort into a critique of private ownership as a barrier and obstacle of agriculture. And so does all counter-critique of large property. In either case, we leave aside, of course, all minor considerations of politics. This barrier and this obstacle, which are set up by all private property of land against agricultural production and against a rational treatment, conservation and improvement of the soil itself, develop on both sides merely in different forms. In the controversy over these specific forms of the evil its ultimate cause is forgotten.
Small property in land is conditioned upon the premise that the overwhelming majority of the population is rural, and that not the social, but the isolated labor predominates; that, therefore, in view of such conditions, the wealth and development of reproduction, both in its material and intellectual sides, are out of the question and with them the prerequisites of a rational culture. On the other hand, large landed property reduces the agricultural population to a continually decreasing minimum, and induces on the other side a continual increase of the industrial population crowded together in large cities. In this way it creates conditions, which cause an incurable break in the interconnections of the social circulation of matter prescribed by the natural laws of life. As a result the strength of the soil is wasted, and this prodigality is carried far beyond the boundaries of a certain country by commerce (Liebig).
While small property in land creates a class of barbarians standing half way outside of society, a class suffering all the tortures and all miseries of civilized countries in addition to the crudeness of primitive forms of society, large property in land undermines labor-power in the last region, in which its primal energy seeks refuge, and in it which stores up its strength as a reserve fund for the regeneration of the vital power of nations, the land itself. Large industry and large agriculture on an industrial scale work together. Originally distinguished by the fact, that large industry lays waste and destroys principally the labor-power, the natural power, of human beings, whereas large agriculture industrially managed destroys and wastes mainly the natural powers of the soil, both of them join hands in the further course of development, so that the industrial system weakens also the laborers of the country districts, and industry and commerce supply agriculture with the means by which the soil may be exhausted.
[119.] Nothing could be more comical than Hegel's development of private property in land. According to him, man as an individual must give reality to his will as the soul of external nature, and to this end he must take possession of nature and make her his private property. If this were the destiny of "the individual," of man as an individual, it would follow that every human being must be a land-owner, in order to materialise as an individual. Free private property in land, a very recent product, is not a definite social relation, according to Hegel, but a relation of man as an individual to "nature, an absolute right of man to appropriate all things." (Hegel, Philosophy of Law, Berlin, 1840, p. 79.) So much at least, is evident, that the individual cannot maintain himself as a landowner by his mere "will" against the will of another individual, who likewise wants to materialise himself in the same piece of land. It requires a good many other things besides the good will. Furthermore, it is absolutely beyond any one's ken to decide, where "the individual" should draw the line for the realisation of his will, whether the presence of his will should materialise in one whole country, or whether it should require a whole bunch of countries by whose appropriation I might "manifest the supremacy of my will over the thing." Here Hegel breaks down. "The appropriation is of a very individual kind; I do not take possession of more than I touch with my body, but the second point is at the same time that external things have a greater extension than I can grasp. While I thus have possession of a thing, something else is likewise in touch with it. I exercise my appropriation by my hand, but its scope may be extended." (P. 90.) But this other thing is again in touch with still another, and so the boundary disappears, within which I might pour my will as the soul of the soil. "If I own anything, my reason at once passes on to the idea that not only this property, but also the thing it touches is mine. Here positive right must fix its boundaries, for nothing more can be deduced from the conception." (P. 91.) This is an extraordinarily naive confession of the "conception," and it proves that this conception, which makes at the outset the mistake of regarding a very definite legal conception of landed property belonging to bourgeois society as an absolute one, does not understand anything of the actual articulations of this property. This implies at the same time the confession, that the "positive" law may, and must, alter its decisions in proportion as the requirements of social, i.e. economic development, change.
[120.] Very conservative agricultural chemists, for instance Johnston, admit that a really rational agriculture meets everywhere insurmountable barriers through the existence of private property. So do writers, who are confessedly advocates of the monopoly of private property on the globe, for instance Charles Comte in his work of two volumes, which has for its special aim the defense of private property. "A nation," says he, "cannot attain to the degree of prosperity and power compatible with its nature, unless every portion of the soil nourishing it is assigned to that purpose which agrees best with the general interest. In order to give to its wealth a strong development, one sole and highly enlightened will should, if possible, take it upon himself to assign to each piece of his domain its task and make every piece contribute to the prosperity of all others. But the existence of such a will...would be incompatible with the division of the land into private plots...and with the ability of each owner to dispose of his property in an almost absolute manner, according to constitutional guarantees."—Johnston, Comte, and others, have in mind only the necessity of tilling the land of a certain country as a whole, when they speak of an antagonism of private property to a rational system of agronomics. But the dependence of the cultivation of particular products of the soil upon the fluctuations of market prices, and the continual changes of this cultivation with these fluctuations of prices, the whole spirit of capitalist production, which is directed toward the immediate gain of money, contradicts agriculture, which has to minister to the entire range of permanent necessities of life required by a network of human generations. A striking illustration of this is furnished by the forests, which are occasionally managed in a way befitting the interests of society as a whole, when they are not private property, but subject to the control of the state.
[121.] The Poverty of Philosophy, p. 148. There I have made a distinction between land-capital and material land. "By merely applying additional capital to land already transformed into means of production land-capital may be augmented without adding anything to the material land, that is to say, to the extent of the land....As capital, land is not more eternal than any other capital....Land-capital is fixed capital, but fixed capital is used up as well as circulating capital."
[122.] I say "may," because under certain circumstances this interest is regulated by the law of ground-rent and may disappear, for instance, in the case of competition between lands of great natural fertility.
[123.] See James Anderson and Carey.
[124.] See the anti-corn law prize essays. However, the corn laws always kept prices at an artificially higher level. For the better situated tenants this was favorable. They profited by the stationary condition, in which the protective duties kept the great mass of tenants, who relied with or without reason on the exceptional average price.
[125.] John C. Morton, The Forces Used in Agriculture. Lecture in the London Society of Arts, 1860, based upon authentic documents, collected by about 100 tenants from 12 Scotch and 35 English counties.
[126.] As to the extra profit, see the "Inquiry" (against Malthus).
[127.] [It is precisely the rapidly growing cultivation of such prairie or steppe districts which of late turns the renowned statement of Malthus, that the population "presses upon the means of subsistence," into ridicule, and has created the reverse of it in the complaints of the agrarians, who wail that agriculture and with it Germany will be ruined, unless the means of subsistence which are pressing upon the population are kept out by force. The cultivation of these steppes, prairies, pampas, Hanos, etc., is only in its beginnings; its revolutionising effect on European agriculture will, therefore, make itself felt later on even more than hitherto.—F. E.]
[128.] The above Tables IV a to IV d had to the figured over on account of an error of calculation which ran though all of them. While this did not affect the theoretical conclusions drawn from these Tables, it carried monstrous figures concerning the production per acre into them. Even these would not be objectionable on principle. In all maps showing geographical conditions in relief or giving a view of altitudes in profile it is customary to choose a much larger scale for the vertical then for the horizontal lines. Nevertheless, should any one feel that his agrarian heart is injured thereby, he is at liberty to multiply the number of acres with any figure that will satisfy him. One might also choose 10, 12, 14, 16 bushels (8 bushels = 1 quarter) per acre instead of 1, 2, 3, 4 quarters in Table I, and in that case the figures of the other Tables which are developed out of them would remain within the limits of probability; it will be found that the result, the proportion of increase in the rent compared to the increase in capital, comes to the same thing. This has been done in the following Tables, which were added by the editor.—F. E.
[129.] Wakefield, England and America, London, 1833. Compare also Capital Volume I, Chapter XXVII.
[130.] See Dombasle and R. Jones.
[131.] Ricardo passes over this very superficially. See his remarks against Adam Smith on Forest rent in Norway, in Principles, chapter II, in the beginning.
[132.] Laing, Newman
[133.] Crowlington Strike. Engels, The Condition of the Working Class In England, page 256, Swan Sonnenschein edition
[134.] The paving of the London streets has enabled the proprietors of some naked rocks on the Scotch coast to draw a rent out of formerly absolutely useless stone soil. Adam Smith, Book I, Chapter XI, 2.
[135.] It is one of the merits of Rodbertus whose important work on rent we shall discuss in volume IV ("Theories of Surplus-Value," volume II, Part I), to have enlarged upon this point. He commits the mistake, however, to assume, in the first place, that in the case of capital the increase in profits is always expressed by an increase of capital, so that the ratio remains the same, when the mass of the profits increase. But this is an error, since the rate of profit may increase when the composition of the capital is changed, even if the exploitation of labor remains the same, just because the proportional value of the constant portion of capital, compared to its variable portion, may fall. In the second place he commits the mistake of dealing with the ratio of the money rent to a quantitatively limited piece of land, for instance to an acre, as though it had been the general assumption of classic economics in its analysis of the rise or fall of rent. This, again, is wrong. Classic economics always treats the rate of rent, so far as it considers rent in its natural form, with reference to the product, and so far as it considers rent as money rent, with reference to the advanced capital, because these are in fact its rational expressions.
[136.] Concerning a fall in the price of land as a fact when the rent rises, see Passy.
[137.] Adam Smith emphasizes the fact that at his time (and this applies also to the plantations in tropical and subtropical countries in our own time) rent and profit were not yet separated, for the landlord was at the same time a capitalist, just as Cato, for instance, was upon his estates. But this separation is precisely the premise of the capitalist mode of production. Moreover, the basis of slavery stands in contradiction with the nature of capitalist production.
[138.] Mr. Mommsen, in his Roman history, does not use the term capitalist in the sense in which modern economics and modern society does, but rather in the way peculiar to popular conception, such as still continues to vegetate, not in England or America, but upon the European continent, as an ancient tradition of past conditions.
[139.] After a country had been conquered, the next step for the conquerer was always to take possession of the human beings also. Compare Linguet. See also Möser.
[140.] Compare Buret, Tocqueville, Sismondi.
[141.] See the speech of the king of France in Tooke.
[142.] See Mounier and Rubichon.
[143.] Dr. H. Maron (Extensive or Intensive?) [No further information given about this pamphlet]. He starts from the false assumption of those whom he combats. He assumes that the capital invested in the purchase of land is "first capital," and engages in a controversy about first capital and running capital that is, fixed and circulating capital. His wholly amateurish conceptions of capital, which may be excused in one who is not an economist in view of the condition of German political economy, conceal from him the fact that this capital is neither first nor running capital, any more than the capital, which some one may invest at the Stock Exchange in the purchase of consols or state bonds, and which represents a personal investment of capital for him, is "invested" in any productive line of industry.