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Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume III: The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole [1894]

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Karl Marx, 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). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/967

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Vol. III of the major work of criticism of the capitalist system by one of the leading theorists of 19th century socialism. Only vol. 1 appeared in Marx’s lifetime; the other two vols. were published postumously by Engels. Marx prided himself on having discovered the “laws” which governed the operation of the capitalist system, laws which would inevitably lead to its collapse.

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The text is in the public domain.

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Table of Contents:

CONTENTS

  • PREFACE
    by Frederick Engels
  • Volume III. The Process of Capitalist Production As a Whole.
    Book III.The Process of Capitalist Production As a Whole.
  • PART I.
    THE CONVERSION OF SURPLUS-VALUE INTO PROFIT AND OF THE RATE OF SURPLUS-VALUE INTO THE RATE OF PROFIT.
  • Part I, Chapter I
    COST PRICE AND PROFIT.
  • Part I, Chapter II
    THE RATE OF PROFIT.
  • Part I, Chapter III
    THE RELATION OF THE RATE OF PROFIT TO THE RATE OF SURPLUS-VALUE.
  • I. s' constant, v/C variable.
  • 1. s' and C constant, v variable.
  • 2) s' constant, v variable, C changed by the variation of v.
  • 3) s' and v constant, c and C variable.
  • 4) s' constant, v, c, and C variable.
  • II. s' variable.
  • 1) s' variable, v/C constant.
  • 2) s' and v variable, C constant.
  • 3) s', v and C variable.
  • Part I, Chapter IV
    THE EFFECT OF THE TURN-OVER ON THE RATE OF PROFIT.
  • Part I, Chapter V
    ECONOMIES IN THE EMPLOYMENT OF CONSTANT CAPITAL.
  • I. General Economies.
  • II. Economies in the conditions of labor at the expense of the laborers.
  • Coal Mines. Neglect of the most indispensable Expenditures.
  • III. Economies in the Generation of Power, Transmission of Power, and Buildings.
  • IV. Utilisation of the Excrements of Production.
  • V. Economies Due to Inventions.
  • Part I, Chapter VI
    THE EFFECT OF FLUCTUATIONS IN PRICE.
  • I. Fluctuations in the Price of Raw Materials, and their Direct Effects on the Rate of Profit.
  • II. Appreciation, Depreciation, Release, and Tie-up of Capital.
  • III. General Illustration. The Cotton Crisis of 1861-1865.
  • Preliminary History, 1845-1860
  • 1861-64. American Civil War. Cotton Famine. The Greatest Illustration of an Interruption in the Process of Production through Scarcity and Dearness of Raw Material.
  • Cotton Waste. East Indian Cotton. (Surat.) Influence on the Wages of Laborers. Improvement of Machinery. Substitution of Starch Flour and Minerals for Cotton. Effect of this Starch Flour Ingredient on the Laborers. Manufacturers of Fine Grades of Yarn. Fraud on the Part of the Manufacturers.
  • Trying it on the Dog
  • Part I, Chapter VII
    ADDITIONAL REMARKS.
  • PART II.
    CONVERSION OF PROFIT INTO AVERAGE PROFIT.
  • Part II, Chapter VIII.
    DIFFERENT COMPOSITION OF CAPITALS IN DIFFERENT LINES OF PRODUCTION AND RESULTING DIFFERENCES IN THE RATES OF PROFIT.
  • Part II, Chapter IX
    FORMATION OF A GENERAL RATE OF PROFIT (AVERAGE RATE OF PROFIT) AND TRANSFORMATION OF THE VALUES OF COMMODITIES INTO PRICES OF PRODUCTION
  • Part II, Chapter X
    COMPENSATION OF THE AVERAGE RATE OF PROFIT BY COMPETITION. MARKET PRICES AND MARKET VALUES. SURPLUS-PROFIT.
  • Part II, Chapter XI
    EFFECTS OF GENERAL FLUCTUATIONS OF WAGES ON PRICES OF PRODUCTION.
  • Part II, Chapter XII
    SOME AFTER REMARKS.
  • I. Causes Implying a Variation of the Price of Production.
  • II. Price of Production of Commodities of Average Composition.
  • III. Fluctuations for which the Capitalist makes Allowance.
  • PART III.
    THE LAW OF THE FALLING TENDENCY OF THE RATE OF PROFIT.
  • Part III, Chapter XIII
    THE THEORY OF THE LAW.
  • Part III, Chapter XIV.
    COUNTERACTING CAUSES.
  • I. Raising the Intensity of Exploitation.
  • II. Depression of Wages Below their Value.
  • III. Cheapening of the Elements of Constant Capital.
  • IV. Relative Overpopulation.
  • V. Foreign Trade.
  • VI. The Increase of Stock Capital.
  • Part III, Chapter XV
    UNRAVELING THE INTERNAL CONTRADICTIONS OF THE LAW.
  • I. General Remarks.
  • II. Conflict between the Expansion of Production and the Creation of Values.
  • III. Surplus of Capital and Surplus of Population.
  • IV. Supplementary Remarks.
  • PART IV.
    TRANSFORMATION OF COMMODITY-CAPITAL AND MONEY-CAPITAL INTO COMMERCIAL CAPITAL AND FINANCIAL CAPITAL (MERCHANT'S CAPITAL).
  • Part IV, Chapter XVI
    COMMERCIAL CAPITAL.
  • Part IV, Chapter XVII
    COMMERCIAL PROFIT.
  • Part IV, Chapter XVIII.
    THE TURN-OVER OF MERCHANT'S CAPITAL. THE PRICES.
  • Part IV, Chapter XIX
    FINANCIAL CAPITAL.
  • Part IV, Chapter XX
    HISTORICAL DATA CONCERNING MERCHANTS' CAPITAL.
  • PART V.
    DIVISION OF PROFIT INTO INTEREST AND PROFITS OF ENTERPRISE. THE INTEREST-BEARING CAPITAL.
  • Part V, Chapter XXI
    THE INTEREST-BEARING CAPITAL.
  • Part V, Chapter XXII
    DIVISION OF PROFIT. RATE OF INTEREST. NATURAL RATE OF INTEREST.
  • Part V, Chapter XXIII
    INTEREST AND PROFIT OF ENTERPRISE.
  • Part V, Chapter XXIV
    EXTERNALISATION OF THE RELATIONS OF CAPITAL IN THE FORM OF INTEREST-BEARING CAPITAL.
  • Part V, Chapter XXV
    CREDIT AND FICTITIOUS CAPITAL.
  • Part V, Chapter XXVI
    ACCUMULATION OF MONEY-CAPITAL. ITS INFLUENCE ON THE RATE OF INTEREST.
  • Part V, Chapter XXVII
    THE ROLE OF CREDIT IN CAPITALIST PRODUCTION.
  • Part V, Chapter XXVIII
    THE MEDIUM OF CIRCULATION (CURRENCY) AND CAPITAL. TOOKE'S AND FULLARTON'S CONCEPTION.
  • I. Confounding the Definite Distinctions.
  • II. Introducing the Question of the Quantity of Money Circulating Together in Both Functions.
  • III. Introduction of the Question of the Relative Proportions of the Quantities of Currency Circulating in Both Functions and Thus in Both Spheres of the Process of Reproduction.
  • Part V, Chapter XXIX
    THE COMPOSITION OF BANKING CAPITAL.
  • Part V, Chapter XXX
    MONEY-CAPITAL AND ACTUAL CAPITAL, I.
  • Part V, Chapter XXXI
    MONEY-CAPITAL AND ACTUAL CAPITAL. II.
    (Continued.)
  • 1. Conversion of Money into Loan Capital.
  • Conversion of Capital or Revenue into Money that is Transformed into Loan Capital.
  • Part V, Chapter XXXII
    MONEY-CAPITAL AND ACTUAL CAPITAL. III.
    (Concluded.)
  • Part V, Chapter XXXIII
    THE CURRENCY UNDER THE CREDIT SYSTEM.
  • Part V, Chapter XXXIV
    THE CURRENCY PRINCIPLE AND THE ENGLISH BANK LAWS OF 1844.
  • Part V, Chapter XXXV
    PRECIOUS METALS AND RATES OF EXCHANGE.
  • I. The Movements of the Gold Reserve.
  • II. The Rate of Exchange.
  • III. Rate of Exchange with Asia.
  • IV. England's Balance of Trade.
  • Part V, Chapter XXXVI
    PRECAPITALIST CONDITIONS.
  • Interest in the Middle Ages.
  • Advantage of the Prohibition of Interest for the Church.
  • PART VI.
    TRANSFORMATION OF SURPLUS PROFIT INTO GROUND-RENT.
  • Part VI, Chapter XXXVII
    PRELIMINARIES.
  • Part VI, Chapter XXXVIII
    DIFFERENTIAL RENT. GENERAL REMARKS.
  • Part VI, Chapter XXXIX
    THE FIRST FORM OF DIFFERENTIAL RENT.
    (Differential Rent I.)
  • Part VI, Chapter XL.
    THE SECOND FORM OF DIFFERENTIAL RENT.
    (Differential Rent II.)
  • Part VI, Chapter XLI.
    DIFFERENTIAL RENT II.—FIRST CASE: CONSTANT PRICE OF PRODUCTION.
  • Part VI, Chapter XLII.
    DIFFERENTIAL RENT II.—SECOND CASE: FALLING PRICE OF PRODUCTION.
  • I. The Productivity of the Additional Investment of Capital Remains the Same.
  • II. The Rate of Productivity of the Additional Capitals Decreases.
  • III. The Rate of Productivity of the Additional Capitals Increases.
  • Part VI, Chapter XLIII.
    DIFFERENTIAL RENT NO. II.—THIRD CASE:  RISING PRICE OF PRODUCTION.
  • Part VI, Chapter XLIV.
    DIFFERENTIAL RENT EVEN UPON THE WORST SOIL UNDER CULTIVATION.
  • Differential Rent and Rent as a mere interest on capital invested in the soil.
  • Part VI, Chapter XLV.
    ABSOLUTE GROUND-RENT.
  • Part VI, Chapter XLVI.
    BUILDING LOT RENT. MINING RENT. PRICE OF LAND.
  • Part VI, Chapter XLVII.
    GENESIS OF CAPITALIST GROUND-RENT.
  • I. Introductory Remarks.
  • II. Labor Rent.
  • III. Rent in Kind.
  • IV. Money Rent.
  • V. Share Farming (Metairie System) and Small Peasants' Property.
  • PART VII.
    THE REVENUES AND THEIR SOURCES.
  • Part VII, Chapter XLVIII.
    THE TRINITARIAN FORMULA.
  • I.
  • II.
  • III.
  • Part VII, Chapter XLIX.
    A CONTRIBUTION TO THE ANALYSIS OF THE PROCESS OF PRODUCTION.
  • Part VII, Chapter L.
    THE SEMBLANCE OF COMPETITION.
  • Part VII, Chapter LI.
    CONDITIONS OF DISTRIBUTION AND PRODUCTION.
  • Part VII, Chapter LII.
    THE CLASSES.
Edition: current; Page: [9]

PREFACE
by Frederick Engels

AT last I have the pleasure of making public this third volume of the main work of Marx, the closing part of his economic theories. When I published the second volume, in 1885, I thought that the third would probably offer only technical difficulties, with the exception of a few very important sections. This turned out to be so. But that these exceptional sections, which represent the most valuable parts of the entire work, would give me as much trouble as they did, I could not foresee at that time any more than I anticipated the other obstacles, which retarded the completion of the work to such an extent.

In the first place it was a weakness of my eyes which restricted my time of writing to a minimum for years, and which permits me even now only exceptionally to do any writing by artificial light. There were furthermore other labors which I could not refuse, such as new editions and translations of earlier works of Marx and myself, revisions, prefaces, supplements, which frequently required special study, etc. There was above all the English edition of the first volume of this work, for whose text I am ultimately responsible and which absorbed much of my time. Whoever has followed the colossal growth of international socialist literature during the last ten years, especially the great number of translations of earlier works of Marx and myself, will agree with me in congratulating myself that there is but a limited number of languages in which I am able to assist a translator and which compel me to accede to the request for Edition: current; Page: [10] a revision. This growth of literature, however, was but an evidence of a corresponding growth of the international working class movement itself. And this imposed new obligations on me. From the very first days of our public activity, a good deal of the work of negotiation between the national movements of socialists and working people in the various countries had fallen on the shoulders of Marx and myself. This work increased to the extent that the movement as a whole gained in strength. Up to the time of his death, Marx had borne the brunt of this burden. But after that the ever swelling amount of work had to be done by myself alone. Meanwhile the direct intercourse between the various national labor parties has become the rule, and fortunately it is becoming more and more so. Nevertheless my assistance is still in demand a good deal more than is agreeable to me in view of my theoretical studies. But if a man has been active in the movement for more than fifty years, as I have, he regards the work connected with it as a duty, which must not be shirked, but immediately fulfilled. In our stirring times, as in the 16th century, mere theorizers on public affairs are found only on the side of the reactionaries, and for this reason these gentlemen are not even theoretical scientists, but simply apologists of reaction.

The fact that I live in London implies that my intercourse with the party is limited in winter to correspondence, while in summer time it largely takes place by personal interviews. This fact, and the necessity of following the course of the movement in a steadily growing number of countries and a still more rapidly increasing number of party organs, compelled me to reserve matters which brooked no interruption for the winter months, preferably the first three months of the year. When a man is past seventy, his brain's fibers of association work with a certain disagreeable slowness. He Edition: current; Page: [11] does not overcome interruptions of difficult theoretical problems as easily and quickly as formerly. Thus it came about that the work of one winter, if it was not completed, had to be largely done over the following winter. And this took place particularly in the case of the most difficult section, the fifth.

The reader will observe by the following statements that the work of editing the third was essentially different from that of the second volume. Nothing was available for the third volume but a first draft, and it was very incomplete. The beginnings of the various sections were, as a rule, pretty carefully elaborated, or even polished as to style. But the farther one proceeded, the more sketchy and incomplete was the analysis, the more excursions it contained into side issues whose proper place in the argument was left for later decision, the longer and more complex became the sentences, in which the rising thoughts were deposited as they came. In several places, the handwriting and the treatment of the matter clearly revealed the approach and gradual progress of those attacks of ill health, due to overwork, which at first rendered original work more and more difficult for the author and finally compelled him from time to time to stop work altogether. And no wonder. Between 1863 and 1867, Marx had not only completed the first draft of the two last volumes of Capital and made the first volume ready for the printer, but had also mastered the enormous work connected with the foundation and expansion of the International Workingmen's Association. The result was the appearance of the first symptoms of that ill health which is to blame for the fact that Marx did not himself put the finishing touches to the second and third volumes.

I began my work on these volumes by first dictating the entire manuscript of the original, which was often hard to decipher even for me, into readable copy. This required considerable Edition: current; Page: [12] time to begin with. It was only then that the real work of editing could proceed. I have limited this to the necessary minimum. Wherever it was sufficiently clear, I preserved the character of the first draft as much as possible. I did not even eliminate repetitions of the same thoughts, when they viewed the subject from another standpoint, as was Marx's custom, or at least expressed the same thought in different words. In cases where my alterations or additions are not confined to editing, or where I used the material gathered by Marx for independent conclusions of my own, which, of course, are made as closely as possible in the spirit of Marx, I have enclosed the entire passage in brackets and affixed my initials. My footnotes may not be inclosed in brackets here and there, but wherever my initials are found, I am responsible for the entire note.

It is natural for a first draft, that there should be many passages in the manuscript which indicate points to be elaborated later on, without being followed out in all cases. I have left them, nevertheless, as they are, because they reveal the intentions of the author relative to future elaboration.

Now as to details.

For the first part, the main manuscript was serviceable only with considerable restrictions. The entire mathematical calculation of the relation between the rate of surplus-value and the rate of profit (making up the contents of our chapter III) is introduced in the very beginning, while the subject treated in our chapter I is considered later and incidentally. Two attempts of Marx at rewriting were useful in this case, each of them comprizing eight pages in folio. But even these were not consecutively worked out. They furnished the substance of what is now chapter I. Chapter II is taken from the main manuscript. There were quite a number of incomplete mathematical elaborations of chapter Edition: current; Page: [13] III, and in addition thereto an entire and almost complete manuscript, written in the seventies and dealing with the relation of the rate of surplus-value to the rate of profit, in the form of equations. My friend Samuel Moore, who had done the greater portion of the translation of the first volume, undertook to edit this manuscript for me, a work for which he was certainly better fitted than I, since he graduated from Cambridge in mathematics. By the help of his summary, and with an occasional use of the main manuscript, I completed chapter III. Nothing was available for chapter IV but the title. But as the point of issue, the effect of the turn-over on the rate of profit, is of vital importance, I have elaborated it myself. For this reason the whole chapter has been placed between brackets. It was found in the course of this work, that the formula of chapter III for the rate of profit required some modification, in order to be generally applicable. Beginning with chapter V, the main manuscript is the sole basis for the remainder of Part I, although many transpositions and supplements were needed for it.

For the following three parts I could follow the original manuscript throughout, aside from editing the style. A few passages, referring mostly to the influence of the turn-over, had to be brought into agreement with my elaboration of chapter IV; these passages are likewise placed in brackets and marked with my initials.

The main difficulty was presented by Part V, which treated of the most complicated subject in the entire volume. And it was just at this point that Marx had been overtaken by one of those above-mentioned serious attacks of illness. Here, then, we had no finished draft, nor even an outline which might have been perfected, but only a first attempt at an elaboration, which more than once ended in a disarranged mass of notes, comments and extracts. I tried at first to complete Edition: current; Page: [14] this part, as I had the first one, by filling out vacant spaces and fully elaborating passages that were only indicated, so that it would contain at least approximately everything which the author had intended. I tried this at least three times, but failed every time, and the time lost thereby explains most of the retardation. At last I recognized that I should not accomplish my object in this way. I should have had to go through the entire voluminous literature of this field, and the final result would have been something which would not have been Marx's book. I had no other choice than to cut the matter short, to confine myself to as orderly an arrangement as possible, and to add only the most indispensable supplements. And so I succeeded in completing the principal labors for this part in the spring of 1893.

As for the single chapters, chapters XXI to XXIV were, in the main, elaborated by Marx. Chapters XXV and XXVI required a sifting of the references and an interpolation of material found in other places. Chapters XXVII and XXIX could be taken almost completely from the original manuscript, but chapter XXVIII had to be arranged differently in several places. The real difficulty began with chapter XXX. From now on the task before me was not only the arrangement of the references, but also a connecting of the line of reasoning, which was interrupted every moment by intervening clauses, deviations from the main point, etc., and taken up incidentally in quite another place. Thus chapter XXX came into existence by means of transpositions and eliminations utilized in other places. Chapter XXXI, again, was worked out more connectedly. But then followed a long section in the manuscript, entitled "The Confusion," consisting of nothing but extracts from the reports of Parliament on the crises of 1848 and 1857, in which the statements of twenty-three business men, and writers on economics, especially Edition: current; Page: [15] relative to money and capital, gold exports, over-speculation, etc., are collected and accompanied here and there with short and playful comments. In this collection, all the current views of that time concerning the relation of money to capital are practically represented, either by answers or questions, and Marx intended to analyze critically and satirically the confusion revealed by the ideas as to what was money, and what capital, on the money-market. I convinced myself after many experiments that this chapter could not be composed. I have used its material, particularly that criticized by Marx, wherever I found a connection for it.

Next follows in tolerable order the material which I have placed in chapter XXXII. But this is immediately followed by a new batch of extracts from reports of Parliament on every conceivable subject germane to this part, intermingled with comments of the author. Toward the end these comments are mainly directed toward the movement of money metals and the quotations of bills of exchange, and they close with miscellaneous remarks. On the other hand, chapter XXXV, entitled "Precapitalist Conditions," was fully elaborated.

Of all this material, beginning with the "Confusion," and using as much of it as had not been previously placed otherwise, I made up chapters XXXIII to XXXV. Of course this could not be done without considerable interpolations on my part in order to complete the connections. Unless these interpolations are of a merely formal nature, they are expressly marked as belonging to me. In this way I have succeeded in placing all the relevant statements of the author in the text of this work. Nothing has been left out but a small portion of the extracts, which either repeated statements already made previously, or touched on points which the original manuscript did not treat in detail.

Edition: current; Page: [16]

The part dealing with ground-rent was much more fully elaborated, although not properly arranged. This is apparent from the fact that Marx found it necessary to recapitulate the plan of the entire part in chapter XLIII, which was the last portion of the section on rent in the manuscript. This was so much more welcome to the editor, as the manuscript began with chapter XXXVII, which was followed by chapters XLV to XLVII, whereupon chapters XXXVIII to XLIV came next in order. The greatest amount of labor was involved in getting up the tables for the differential rent, II and in the discovery that the third case of this class of rent, which belonged in chapter XLIII, had not been analyzed there.

Marx had made entirely new and special studies for this part on ground rent, in the seventies. He had studied for years the originals of the statistical reports and other publications on real estate, which had become inevitable after the "reform" of 1861 in Russia. He had made extracts from these originals, which had been placed at his disposal to the fullest extent by his Russian friends, and he had intended to use these notes for a new elaboration of this part. Owing to the variety of forms represented by the real estate and the exploitation of the agricultural producers of Russia, this country was to play the same role in the part on ground rent that England did in volume I in the case of industrial wage-labor. Unfortunately he was prevented from carrying out this plan.

The seventh part, finally, was fully written out, but only as a first draft, whose endlessly involved periods had to be dissected, before they could be presented to the printer. Of the last chapter, only the beginning existed. In it the three great classes of developed capitalist society, land owners, capitalists and wage laborers, corresponding to the three great forms of Edition: current; Page: [17] revenue, and the class-struggle necessarily arising with their existence, were to be presented as the actual outcome of the capitalist period. It was a habit of Marx to reserve such concluding summaries for the final revision, so that the latest historical developments furnished him with never failing regularity with the proofs of the correctness of his theoretical analyses.

The quotations and extracts corroborating his statements are considerably less numerous than in the first volume, as they already were in the second. Wherever the manuscript referred to statements of earlier economists, only the name was given as a rule, and the quotations were to be added later. Of course, I had to leave this as it was. Of reports of parliament only four have been used, but these were abundantly exploited. They are the following:

1) Reports from Committees (of the Lower House), Volume VIII, Commercial Distress, Volume II, Part I, 1847-48. Minutes of Evidence. Quoted as "Commercial Distress, 1847-48."

2) Secret Committee of the House of Lords on Commercial Distress, 1847. Report printed 1848. Evidence printed 1857 (because it was considered too hazardous in 1848).—Quoted as "Commercial Distress, 1848-57."

3) 8 4) Report, Bank Acts, 1857.—The same, 1858.—Reports of the Committee of the Lower House on the Effect of the Bank Acts of 1844 and 1845. With evidence.—Quoted as "Bank Acts," or "Bank Committee," 1857 or 1858.

I hope to start on the fourth volume, the history of theories of surplus-value, as soon as conditions will permit me.

In the preface to the second volume of Capital I had to square accounts with those gentlemen, who were making much Edition: current; Page: [18] ado over the alleged fact that they had discovered in the person of Rodbertus the "Secret source and a superior predecessor to Marx." I offered them an opportunity to show what the economics of Rodbertus could accomplish. I asked them to demonstrate the way "in which an equal average rate of profit can and must come about, not only without a violation of the law of value, but by means of it." These same gentlemen, who were then celebrating the brave Rodbertus as an economist star of the first magnitude, either for subjective or objective reasons which were as a rule anything but scientific, have without exception failed to answer the problem. However, other people have thought it worth their while to occupy themselves with this problem.

In his critique of the second volume (Conrad's Jahrbücher, XI, 1885, pages 452-65), Professor Lexis takes up this question, although he does not pretend to give a direct solution of it. He says: "The solution of that contradiction" (namely the contradiction between the law of value of Ricardo-Marx and an equal average rate of profit) "is impossible, if the various classes of commodities are considered individually, if their value is to be equal to their exchange-value, and this again equal or proportional to their price." According to him this solution is possible only, if "the determination of value for the individual commodities according to labor is relinquished, the production of commodities viewed as a whole, and their distribution among the aggregate classes of capitalists and laborers regarded from the same point of view....The laboring class receives but a certain portion of the total product,...the other portion falls to the share of the capitalists and represents the surplus-product, as understood by Marx, and accordingly...the surplus-value. The members of the capitalist class divide this entire surplus-value among themselves, not in proportion to the Edition: current; Page: [19] number of laborers employed by them, but in proportion to the amount of capital invested by each one. The land is thereby regarded as belonging in the class of capital-value." The Marxian ideal values determined by the units of labor incorporated in the commodities do not correspond to the prices, but may be "regarded as points of departure of a movement, which leads to the actual prices. These are conditioned on the fact that capitals of equal magnitude demand equal profits." In consequence some capitalists will secure higher prices for their commodities than the ideal values, and others will secure less. "But since the losses or gains of surplus-value mutually balance one another in the capitalist class, the total amount of the surplus-value is the same as though all prices were proportional to the ideal values."

It is evident that the problem has not been solved by any means through these statements, but it has been at least correctly formulated, although in a somewhat loose and shallow manner. And this is, indeed, more than we had a right to expect from a man who prides himself somewhat on being a "vulgar economist." It is even surprising when compared with the handiwork of some other vulgar economists, which we shall discuss later. The vulgar economy of Lexis is of a rather peculiar nature. He says that the gains of the capitalist may be derived in the way indicated by Marx, but there are no reasons that would compel us to accept this view. On the contrary, vulgar economy is said to have a simpler explanation, namely the following: "The capitalist sellers, such as the producer of raw materials, the manufacturer, the wholesale dealer, the retail dealer, all make a profit on their transactions, each selling his product at a higher price than the purchase price, each adding a certain percentage to the price paid by him. The laborer alone is unable to raise the price of his commodity, he is compelled, by his oppressed condition, Edition: current; Page: [20] to sell his labor to the capitalist at a price corresponding to its cost of production, that is to say, for the means of his subsistence....Therefore the capitalist additions to the prices strike the laborer with full force and result in the transfer of a part of the value of the total product to the capitalist class."

Now it does not require much thought to show that this explanation of vulgar economy for the profits of capital amounts to the same thing as the Marxian theory of surplus-value. For Lexis thus admits that the laborers are in just that forced condition of oppression which Marx has described; that they are just as much exploited here as they are according to Marx, because every idler can sell commodities above their value, while the laborer alone cannot do so; and that it is just as easy to build up a plausible vulgar socialism on this theory, as it was to build up another kind of socialism in England on the foundation of Jevons' and Menger's theory of use-value and marginal profit. I strongly suspect that Mr. George Bernard Shaw, were he familiar with this theory of profit, would eagerly extend both hands for it, discard Jevons and Karl Menger, and build on this rock the Fabian church of the future.

In reality, this theory is merely a transcript of the Marxian. What is the fund out of which all these additions to the prices are paid? The "total product" of the working class. And it is due to the fact that the commodity "labor," or, as Marx has it, "labor-power," must be sold below its price. For if it is a common quality of all commodities to be sold at a price above their cost of production, with the sole exception of labor, then labor is sold below the price which is the rule in this world of vulgar economy. The extra profit thus accruing to the capitalist, or to the capitalist class, then arises in the last analysis from the fact that the laborer, after he has made Edition: current; Page: [21] up for the price of his labor-power by reproducing it, must produce a surplus-product for which he is not paid, in other words, he produces surplus-value representing unpaid labor. Lexis is very careful in the choice of his terms. He does not say anywhere outright that this is his own conception. But if it is, then it is evident that he is not one of those vulgar economists, every one of whom is, as he says himself, "a hopeless idiot in the eyes of Marx," but that he is a Marxian disguised as a vulgar economist. Whether this disguise is consciously or unconsciously adopted, is a psychological question which does not interest us at this point. The man who can find this out may also be able to discover how it is that some time ago a man of Lexis' intellectual endowments could defend such nonsense as bimetallism.

The first one who really attempted to answer this question was Dr. Conrad Schmidt in his pamphlet entitled, The Average Rate of Profit, Based on Marx's Theory of Value, Stuttgart, Dietz, 1889. Schmidt seeks to reconcile the details of the formation of commodity prices with the theory of value and with an average rate of profit. The industrial capitalist receives in his product, first, an equivalent for the capital advanced by him, and second, a surplus-product for which he has not paid anything. But in order to earn his surplus-product, he must advance capital for its production. He must employ a certain quantity of materialized labor for the purpose of appropriating this surplus-product. For the capitalist, the capital advanced by him represents the quantity of materialized labor which is socially necessary for the production of his surplus-product. This applies to every industrial capitalist. Now, since commodities, according to the theory of value, are exchanged for one another in proportion to the social labor required for their production, and since the labor necessary for the manufacture Edition: current; Page: [22] of the capitalist's surplus-product is accumulated in the capital of the capitalist, it follows that surplus-products are exchanged in proportion to the capitals required for their production, and not in proportion to the labor actually incorporated in them. Hence the share of each unit of capital is equal to the sum of all produced surplus-values divided by the sum of the capitals employed in production. Accordingly, equal capitals yield equal profits in equal times, and this is accomplished by adding the cost price of the surplus-product figured on the basis of the average profit to the cost price of the paid product and selling both the paid and unpaid product at this increased price. Thus the average rate of profit arises in spite of the fact that, according to Schmidt, the average prices of commodities are determined by the law of value.

This is a very ingenious construction. It is made entirely after the Hegelian model, but it has this in common with the majority of the Hegelian constructions that it is not correct. It makes no difference whether the surplus-product or the paid product is considered. If the theory of value is to be applied directly to the average profit both of these products must be sold in proportion to the socially necessary labor incorporated in them. The theory of value is aimed at the very outset against the idea, derived from the capitalist mode of thought, that the accumulated labor of the past, which is embodied in capital, could be anything else but a certain quantity of finished values, namely also a creator of values greater than itself, seeing that it is an element in production and in the formation of profit. The theory of value demonstrates that living labor alone has this faculty of creating surplus-values. It is well known that the capitalists expect to reap profits in proportion to the magnitude of their capitals, looking upon their advances of capital as a sort of cost price of their profits. But if Edition: current; Page: [23] Schmidt utilizes this conception for the purpose of harmonizing by means of it the prices calculated according to the average rate of profit and those based on the theory of value, he thereby repudiates this theory of value, for he embodies in it as one of its factors a conception which is wholly at variance with it.

Either accumulated labor creates values the same as living labor, and in that case the law of value does not apply.

Or, it is not a creator of values, and in that case Schmidt's demonstration is irreconcilable with the law of value.

Schmidt was misled into straying into this bypath when being quite close to the solution, because he believed that he would have to find as mathematical a formula as possible, by which the agreement of the average price of every individual commodity with the law of value could be demonstrated. But while he has followed a wrong path in this instance, close to the real goal, he shows by the rest of his booklet that he has very understandingly drawn other conclusions from the first two volumes of Capital. His is the honor of having found by independent effort the correct answer given by Marx in the third part of the third volume of his work for the hitherto inexplicable sinking tendency of the rate of profit; and of having furthermore correctly shown the genesis of commercial profit out of industrial surplus-value, and of having made a series of statements concerning interest and ground rent, by which he has anticipated things developed by Marx in the fourth and fifth part of the third volume of his work.

In a subsequent article (Neue Zeit, 1892-93, Nos. 4 and 5), Schmidt tries another way to solve the problem. It amounts to the statement that competition brings about an average rate of profit by causing the emigration of capital from lines of production with profit below the average to Edition: current; Page: [24] lines with profit above the average. There is nothing new in the statement that competition is the great equalizer of profits. But Schmidt tries to prove that this leveling of profits is identical with a reduction of the selling price of commodities produced in excess to a measure in keeping with a price which society can pay for it according to the law of value. The analyses of Marx in this work show sufficiently why this way could not lead to any solution.

After Schmidt, it was P. Fireman who attempted a solution of the problem (Conrad's Jahrbücher, dritte Folge, III, page 793). I shall not discuss his remarks on some of the other aspects of the Marxian analyses. He starts out from the mistaken assumption that Marx wishes to define where he is only analyzing, or that one may look in Marx's work at all for fixed and universally applicable definitions. It is a matter of course that when things and their mutual interrelations are conceived, not as fixed, but as changing, that their mental images, the ideas concerning them, are likewise subject to change and transformation; that they cannot be sealed up in rigid definitions, but must be developed in the historical or logical process of their formation. From this it will be understood why Marx starts out in the beginning of his first volume, where he makes the simple production of commodities his historical premise and then proceeds from this basis to capital, from a simple commodity instead of its ideologically and historically secondary form, a capitalistically modified commodity. Fireman cannot understand that at all. I prefer to pass over these and other side-issues and proceed at once to the gist of the matter. While the author is taught by the theory that surplus-value is proportional to the labor-powers employed, provided a certain rate of surplus-value is given, he learns from experience that profit is proportional to the magnitude of the total capital employed, provided a Edition: current; Page: [25] certain average rate of profit is given. Fireman explains this by saying that profit is merely a conventional phenomenon (which means, in his language, that it belongs to a definite social formation with which it stands and falls). Its existence is simply dependent on capital. If this is strong enough to secure a profit for itself, it is also compelled by competition to bring about the same rate of profit for all capitals. In other words, capitalist production is impracticable without an equal rate of profit. Assuming this to be the mode of production, the quantity of profit for the individual capitalist can depend only on the magnitude of his capital, if the rate of profit is given. On the other hand, profit consists of surplus-value, of unpaid labor. And how is the transformation of surplus-value, determined in quantity by the degree of labor exploitation, into profit, determined in quantity by the magnitude of the employed capital, accomplished? "Simply by selling commodities above their value in all lines of production in which the ratio between...constant and variable capital is greatest, and this implies on the other hand that the commodities are sold below their value in all lines of production in which the ratio between constant and variable capital is smallest, so that commodities are sold at their true value only in lines of production in which the ratio of c:v represents a definite medium magnitude....Is this discrepancy between the prices and values of commodities a refutation of the principle of value? By no means. For since the prices of some commodities rise above value to the same extent that the prices of others fall below it, the total sum of prices remains equal to the total sum of values...the incongruity disappears in the last instance." This incongruity is a "disturbance"; and "in the exact sciences it is not the custom to regard a calculable disturbance as a refutation of a certain law."

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On comparing the relevant passages of chapter IX with these statements, it will be seen that Fireman has indeed placed his finger on the salient point. But the undeservedly cool reception given to his able article proves that Fireman still needed many interconnecting links, even after this discovery of his, before he would have been enabled to work out a full and comprehensible solution. Although many were interested in this problem, they were all afraid of burning their fingers with it. And this is due not only to the incomplete form in which Fireman left his discovery, but also to the undeniable faultiness of his conception of the Marxian analyses and his critique of them based on his misconception.

Whenever there is an opportunity to make himself ridiculous by attempting a difficult feat, professor Julius Wolf of Zürich never fails to exhibit himself. He tells us (Conrad's Jahrbücher, neue Folge, II, pages 352 and following) that the entire problem is solved by the relative surplus-value. The production of relative surplus-value rests on the increase of the constant capital as compared to the variable capital. "A plus in constant capital has for its premise a plus in the productive power of the laborers. Since this plus in productive power (by way of cheapening the necessities of life) produces a plus in surplus-value, the direct relation between an increase of surplus-value and an increasing share of the constant capital in the total capital is revealed. A plus in constant capital indicates a plus in the productive power of labor. Therefore, if the variable capital remains the same and the constant capital increases, surplus-value must also increase, and we are in agreement with Marx. This was the problem which we were to solve."

Now Marx says the direct opposite in a hundred passages of the first volume. Furthermore, the assertion that, according to Marx, relative surplus-value increases in proportion Edition: current; Page: [27] as the constant capital is augmented while the variable capital decreases, is so astounding that it defies all parliamentarian language. And finally Mr. Julius Wolf demonstrates in every line that he has neither relatively nor absolutely the least understanding of relative or absolute surplus-value. Truly he says that "at first glance one seems to be in a nest of incongruities," which, by the way, is the only true statement in his whole article. But what does that matter? Mr. Julius Wolf is so proud of his brilliant discovery that he cannot refrain from bestowing posthumous praise on Marx for it and advertising his own fathomless nonsense as a "renewed proof of the acuteness and farsightedness with which Marx has drawn up his critical system of capitalist economy."

But that is not the worst. Mr. Wolf says: "Ricardo likewise claimed that an equal investment of capital yielded equal surplus-values (profit), and that the same expenditure of labor created the same amount of surplus-value. And the question was: How does the one agree with the other? But Marx did not acknowledge this form of the problem. He has doubtless shown (in the third volume), that the second statement is not necessarily a consequence of the law of value, or that it even contradicts his law of value and must, therefore,...be directly repudiated." And thereupon Wolf seeks to find out whether Marx or I made a mistake. Of course, it does not occur to him that he is the one who is wandering in darkness.

It would be an insult to my readers, and a total disregard for the humor of the situation, were I to lose one word about this gem of a passage. I merely wish to add this: With the same boldness, which enabled him to foretell even then what Marx "has doubtless shown" in the third volume, he avails himself of this opportunity to report an alleged gossip among the professors to the effect that Konrad Schmidt's above-named Edition: current; Page: [28] work was "directly inspired by Engels." Mr. Julius Wolf! In the world in which you live it may be customary for a man to challenge others publicly for the solution of some problem and to acquaint his private friends clandestinely with this solution. That you are capable of such a thing is not hard to believe. But that a man need not stoop to such mean tricks in the world in which I live, is shown by the present preface.

Marx had hardly died, when Mr. Achille Loria hastily published an article about him in the Nuova Antologia (April, 1883). He starts out with a biography of Marx full of misinformation, and follows it up with a critique of Marx's public, political and literary activity. He misrepresents the materialist conception of history of Marx and twists it with an assurance which indicates a great purpose. And this purpose was later accomplished. In 1886, the same Mr. Loria published a book entitled La teoria economica delta costituzione politica (The Economic Foundations of Society), in which he announced to his admiring contemporaries that the materialist conception of history, so completely and purposely misrepresented by him in 1883, was his own discovery. True, the Marxian theory is reduced to a rather Philistine level in this book. And the historical illustrations and proofs abound in mistakes which would not be pardoned in a high school boy. But what does that matter? He thinks he has established his claim that the discovery that always and everywhere the political conditions and events are explained by corresponding economic conditions was not made by Marx in 1845, but by Mr. Loria in 1886. At least this is what he has tried to make his countrymen believe, and also some Frenchmen, for his book has been translated into French. And now he can pose in Italy as the author of a new and epoch-making Edition: current; Page: [29] theory of history, until the Italian socialists will find time to strip the illustre Loria of his stolen peacock feathers.

But this is only an insignificant sample of Mr. Loria's style of doing things. He assures us that all of Marx's theories rest on conscious sophistry (un consaputo sofisma); that Marx was not above using false logic, even though he knew it to be so (sapendolitali), etc. And after thus biasing his readers by a whole series of such contemptible insinuations, in order that they may regard Marx as just such an unprincipled upstart as Loria, accomplishing his effects by the same shameless and foul means as this professor from Padua, he has a very important secret for the readers, and incidentally he touches upon the rate of profit.

Mr. Loria says: According to Marx, the amount of surplus-value (which Mr. Loria here mistakes for profit) produced in an industrial establishment under capitalism depends on the variable capital employed in it, since the constant capital does not yield any profit. But this is contrary to fact. For in practice the profit is not measured by the variable, but by the total capital. And Marx himself recognizes this (Vol. I, chapter XI) and admits that the facts seem to contradict his theory. But how does he get over this contradiction? He refers his readers to a subsequent volume which has not yet been published. Loria had previously told his readers with reference to this unpublished volume, that he did not believe that Marx had ever thought for a moment of writing it. And now he exclaims triumphantly: "Not without good reason did I contend that this second volume, which Marx always flings into the teeth of his adversaries without ever publishing it, might very well be a shrewd expedient, to which Marx always resorted whenever scientific arguments failed him (un ingegnoso spediente ideato dal Edition: current; Page: [30] Marx a sostituzione degli argomenti scientifici). And whoever is not convinced after this that Marx stood on the same level of scientific swindle with the illustre Loria, is past all redemption.

We have at least learned this much: According to Mr. Loria, the Marxian theory of surplus-value is absolutely irreconcilable with the fact of a general and equal rate of profit. But at last the second volume of Capital appeared. It contained my public challenge referring to this point. If Mr. Loria had been one of us diffident Germans, he would have felt a certain embarrassment. But he is a bold southerner, he comes from a hot climate and can claim that a cool nerve is a natural requirement for him. The question concerning the rate of profit has been publicly put. Mr. Loria has publicly declared that it is insoluble. And for this very reason he is now going to outshine himself by publicly solving it.

This miracle is accomplished in Conrad's Jahrbücher, N. F., vol. XX, pages 272 and following, in an article dealing with Konrad Schmidt's above-cited pamphlet. After Loria has learned from Schmidt how the commercial profit is made, he sees everything clearly. "Since a determination of value by means of labor-time gives an advantage to those capitalists who invest a greater portion of their capital in wages, the unproductive" (he means commercial) "capital can extort from these privileged capitalists a higher interest" (he means profit) "and thus bring about an equalization between the individual industrial capitalists....For instance, if each of the industrial capitalists A, B, C, use 100 working days and 0, 100, and 200 constant capital respectively in production, and if the wages for 100 working days amount to 50 working days, then every capitalist receives a surplus-value of 50 working days, and the rate of profit is 100% Edition: current; Page: [31] for the first 33.3% for the second, and 20% for the third capitalist. But if a fourth capitalist D accumulates an unproductive capital of 300, which extorts an interest" (profit) "equal in value to 40 working days from A, and an interest of 20 working days from B, then the rate of profit of the capitalists A and B will sink to 20% the same as that of C, and D with his capital of 300 will receive a profit of 60, or a rate of profit of 20%, the same as the other capitalists."

With such astonishing dexterity l'illustre Loria solves sleight of hand fashion the same question which he had declared insoluble ten years previously. Unfortunately he did not betray to us the secret of the way in which the owners of the "unproductive capital" obtain the power to extort from those industrials their extra-profit exceeding the average rate of profit and to keep it in their own pockets in the same way in which the land owner pockets the surplus-profit of the capitalist farmer as ground rent. For according to this the commercial capitalists would be levying upon the industrials a tribute analogous to ground rent and thereby bring about an equalization of the rate of profit. Now, the commercial capital is indeed a very essential factor in the equalization of the rate of profit, as nearly everybody knows. But only a literary adventurer, who in the bottom of his heart cares naught for political economy, can venture the assertion that commercial capital has the magic power to absorb all profits above the average rate of profit, even before this average rate has become established, and to convert it into ground-rent for itself without even requiring any real estate for this purpose. Nor is the assertion less astonishing that commercial capital has the gift of discovering those industrials, whose surplus-value just covers the average rate of profit, and that it considers it an honor to mitigate the Edition: current; Page: [32] fate of those luckless victims of the Marxian law of value by selling its products to them free of charge, without asking as much as a commission for it. What a mountebank a man must be in order to imagine that Marx had to have recourse to such miserable tricks!

But Mr. Loria does not shine in his full glory, until we compare him with his northern competitors, for instance with Mr. Julius Wolf, who was not born yesterday, either. What a small coyote Mr. Wolf seems to be, even in his big volume on Socialism and the Capitalist Order of Society, compared to that Italian! How clumsily, I am almost tempted to say modestly, does he stand forth beside the noble check of the maestro who pretends as a matter of course that Marx is just such a sophist, poor logician, liar and mountebank as Mr. Loria himself, that Marx bamboozles the public with a promise of completing his theory in some future volume which he neither will nor can write, as he very well knows, whenever he gets into a tight place! Unlimited nerve coupled to the smoothness of an eel when slipping through impossible situations, a heroic imperviousness to kicks received by him, a hasty appropriation of the accomplishments of others, an importunate charlatanry of advertising, an organization of fame by the help of a clique of friends—who can equal him in all these?

Italy is the land of classic lore. Since the great time when the morning glow of the modern world rose over it, it produced magnificent characters of unequalled classic perfection, from Dante to Garibaldi. But the time of its degradation under the rule of strangers also bequeathed classic character-masks to it, among them two especially sharply chiseled types, that of Sganarelli and Dulcamara. The classic unity of both is embodied in our illustre Loria.

In conclusion I must take my readers across the Atlantic. Edition: current; Page: [33] Dr. (med.) George C. Stiebeling, of New York, also found a solution of the problem, and a very simple one at that. It was so simple that no one on either side of the ocean cared to take him seriously. This aroused his ire, and he complained about this outrage in an endless number of pamphlets and newspaper articles, on both sides of the great water. He was told in the Neue Zeit that his solution was based entirely on an error in his calculation. But this did not disturb him in the least. Marx had also made many errors of calculation, and yet he was right. Let us, then, take a closer look at Dr. Stiebeling's solution.

"Take two factories working with equal capitals for an equal length of time, but with different proportions of their constant and variable capitals. The total capital (c + v) will be regarded as equal to y, and the difference in the proportion of the constant to the variable capital equal to x. In the first factory, y is equal to c + v, in the second y is equal to (c - x) + (v + x). The rate of surplus-value is therefore in the first factory equal to m/v, and in the second factory equal to m/v-x. I designate as profit (p) the total surplus-value (m), by which the total capital y, or c + v, is augmented in the given time, in other words, p is equal to m. Hence the rate of profit in the first factory is equal to p/y, or m/c+v, and in the second factory likewise equal to p/y, or m/(c-x)-(v+x), that is to say, it is also equal to m/c+v. The...problem solves itself in such a way that, on the basis of the law of value, equal capitals employing unequal quantities of living labor in equal lengths of time, a change in the rate of surplus-value brings about the equalization of an average rate of profit." (G. C. Stiebeling, The Law of Value and the Rate of Profit, New York, John Heinrich.)

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In spite of the beautiful clearness of the above calculation, we cannot refrain from asking Dr. Stiebeling this question: How does he know that the sum of surplus-values produced by the first factory is exactly equal to the sum of surplus-values produced in the second factory? He states explicitly that c, v, y and x, that is to say, all the other factors in the calculation, are equal in both factories, but not a word about m. It follows by no means that these two quantities of surplus-value are equal simply because he designates them both by m. On the contrary, this is precisely what must be proved, especially since Dr. Stiebeling also identifies the profit p without further ceremony with the surplus-value m. Now, only two possibilities present themselves. Either the m's are equal, both factories produce equal quantities of surplus-value, and therefore, since both capitals are equal, also equal quantities of profit. If so, then Dr. Stiebeling has taken for granted at the outset what he was called upon to prove. Or, one factory produces more surplus-value than the other, and in that case his entire calculation falls to the ground.

Mr. Stiebeling spared neither pains nor money in building upon this erroneous calculation of his mountains of other calculations and exhibiting them to the public. I can assure him, for his own peace of mind, that nearly all of his calculations are equally wrong, and whenever they are not, they prove something entirely different from what he set out to prove. He proves, for instance, by a comparison of the U. S. census figures for 1870 and 1880 that the rate of profit has actually fallen, but explains this fact wrongly, assuming that he has to correct Marx for working his theory with a never changing, stable, rate of profit. But the third part of the third volume of Capital shows that this "stable rate of profit" in Marxian economics is purely a figment of Dr. Edition: current; Page: [35] Stiebeling's brain, and that the falling rate of profit is due to causes which are just the reverse of those indicated by Dr. Stiebeling. No doubt Dr. Stiebeling has the best intentions, but a man who undertakes to discuss scientific questions should learn above all to read the works of the author, whom he wishes to study, just as they have been written, and especially not to find anything in them which they do not contain.

The outcome of the entire investigation, also in this question, shows once more that the Marxian school is the only one which has accomplished something in this line. When Fireman and Konrad Schmidt read this third volume, they will have good reasons for being well satisfied with the work done by each of them.

FREDERICK ENGELS.
London,
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VOLUME III.
THE PROCESS OF CAPITALIST
PRODUCTION AS A WHOLE.

PART I.: THE CONVERSION OF SURPLUS-VALUE INTO
PROFIT AND OF THE RATE OF SURPLUS-VALUE INTO
THE RATE OF PROFIT.

CHAPTER I.: COST PRICE AND PROFIT.

IN the first volume we analyzed the phenomena presented by the process of capitalist production, considered by itself as a mere productive process without regard to any secondary influences of conditions outside of it. But this process of production, in the strict meaning of the term, does not exhaust the life circle of capital. It is supplemented in the actual world by the process of circulation, which was the object of our analysis in the second volume. We found in the course of this last-named analysis, especially in part III, in which we studied the intervention of the process of circulation in the process of social reproduction, that the capitalist process of production, considered as a whole, is a combination of the processes of production and circulation. It cannot be the object of this third volume to indulge in general reflections relative to this combination. We are rather interested in locating Edition: current; Page: [38] the concrete forms growing out of the movements of capitalist production as a whole and setting them forth. In actual reality the capitals move and meet in such concrete forms that the form of the capital in the process of production and that of the capital in the process of circulation impress one only as special aspects of those concrete forms. The conformations of the capitals evolved in this third volume approach step by step that form which they assume on the surface of society, in their mutual interactions, in competition, and in the ordinary consciousness of the human agencies in this process.

The value of every commodity produced by capitalist methods is represented by the formula: C = c + v + s. If we subtract the surplus-value s from this value of the product, there remains only an equivalent for the value of the capital c + v expended for the elements used in the production of this commodity.

Take it that the production of a certain article requires the expenditure of a capital of 500 p.st., of which 20 p.st. are consumed by the wear and tear of instruments of production, 380 p.st. spent for materials of production, and 100 p.st. for labor-power. And let the rate of surplus-value be 100%. In that case the value of this product is equal to 400 c + 100 v + 100 s, or 600 p.st.

After deducting the surplus-value of 100 p.st., we have a remaining commodity-capital of 500 p.st., which is only an equivalent for the consumed capital of 500 p.st. This portion of the value of the commodity, which makes good the price of the consumed means of production and the price of the employed labor-power, replaces only the amount paid by the capitalist himself for this commodity and represents, therefore, from his point of view the cost price of this commodity.

However, the cost of this commodity to the capitalist, and the actual cost of this commodity, are two vastly different amounts. That portion of the value of the commodity which consists of surplus-value does not cost the capitalist anything for the reason that it costs the laborer unpaid labor. But on Edition: current; Page: [39] the basis of capitalist production, the laborer plays the role of an ingredient of productive capital as soon as he has been incorporated in the process of production. Under these circumstances the capitalist poses as the actual producer of the commodity. For this reason the cost price of the commodity to the capitalist necessarily appears to him as the actual cost of the commodity. If we designate the cost-price by k, we can transcribe the formula C = c + v + s into the formula C = k + s, that is to say, the value of a commodity is equal to the cost price plus the surplus-value.

In this way the classification of the various values making good the value of the capital consumed in the production of the commodity under the term of cost price expresses, on the one hand, the specific character of capitalist production. The capitalist cost of the commodity is measured by the expenditure of capital, while the actual cost of the commodity is measured by the expenditure of labor. The capitalist cost-price of the commodity, then, is a quantity different from its value, or its actual cost-price. It is smaller than the value of the commodity. For since C = k + s, it is evident that k = C - s. On the other hand, the cost-price of a commodity is by no means a mere heading in capitalist bookkeeping. The actual existence of this portion of value continually exerts its practical influence in the actual production of the commodity, because it must be ever reconverted from its commodity-form, by way of the process of circulation, into the form of productive capital, so that the cost-price of the commodity must always buy anew the elements of production consumed in its creation.

However, the cost-price as a heading in bookkeeping has nothing to do with the formation of the value of a commodity, or with the process of self-expansion of capital. When I know that five-sixths of the value of a commodity worth 600 p.st., or 500 p.st., represent but an equivalent for the capital consumed in its production and suffice only for the purchase of new material elements of the same capital, I know nothing as yet of the way in which these five-sixths representing the cost-price of the commodity are produced, nor do I know anything Edition: current; Page: [40] about the production of the last sixth which constitutes its surplus-value. Nevertheless we shall see in the course of our analysis that the cost-price plays in capitalist economics the false role of a category in the actual production of values.

Let us return to our example. Take it that the value produced by one laborer in an average social working day is represented by 6 shillings in money. In that case the advanced capital of 500 p.st. consisting of 400 c + 100 v represents the values produced in 1666 2/3 working days of ten hours each. Of this amount 1333 1/3 working days are crystallized in the value of the means of production amounting to 400 p.st. (400 c), and 333 1/3 working days are crystallized in the value of labor-power amounting to 100 p.st. (100 v). Having assumed a rate of surplus-value of 100%, the production of the new commodity costs an expenditure of labor-power amounting to 100 v + 100 s, or 666 2/3 working days of ten hours each.

We know, then, as shown in volume I, chapter VII, that the value of the newly created product of 600 p.st. is composed, 1), of the reappearing value of the constant capital of 400 p.st. expended for means of production, and 2), of a newly produced value of 200 p.st. The cost-price of the commodity, or 500 p.st., comprises the reappearing 400 c and one-half of the newly produced value of 200 p.st., that is to say 100 v. In other words, it comprises two elements of the value of the commodity which are of widely different origin.

Owing to the appropriate character of the labor expended during 666 2/3 working days of ten hours each, the value of the means of production consumed in this process, to the amount of 400 p.st., is transferred to the product. This previously existing value thus reappears as an element of the value of the product, but is not created in the process of production of this commodity. It exists as an element of the value of this commodity only for the reason that it previously existed as an element of the invested capital. The expended constant capital, then, is replaced by that portion of the value of the commodity which this capital transfers to the commodity of its own accord in the labor-process. This element of the cost-price, therefore, has an ambiguous meaning. On the one Edition: current; Page: [41] hand it passes into the cost-price of the commodity, because it is an element of that portion of the value of the commodity which replaces consumed capital. And on the other hand it forms an element of the value of the commodity only for the reason that it is the value of consumed capital, or because the means of production cost a certain sum.

It is different with the other element of the cost-price. The 666 2/3 working days expended in the production of the commodity create a new value of 200 p.st. One portion of this new value replaces only the advanced variable capital of 100 p.st., which is the price of the labor-power employed. But this advanced capital-value does not participate in the creation of the new value. So far as the advance of capital is concerned, labor-power counts as a value. But in the process of production, labor-power performs the function of creating value. The place of the mere value of labor-power in the advance of capital is taken in the actual process of productive capital by living labor-power which creates value.

This difference of the various elements of the value of a commodity which constitute the cost-price becomes evident whenever a change takes place either in the amount of the value of the expended constant capital or in that of the expended variable capital. For instance, let the price of the same means of production, or of the constant portion of capital, rise from 400 p.st. to 600 p.st., or fall to 200 p.st. In the first case it is not only the cost-price of the commodity which rises from 500 p.st. to 600 c + 100 v, or 700 p.st., but also the value of the commodity which rises from 600 p.st. to 600 c + 100 v + 100 s, or 800 p.st. In the second case, it is not only the cost-price which falls from 500 p.st. to 200 c + 100 v, or 300 p.st., but also the value of the commodity which falls from 600 p.st. to 200 c + 100 v + 100 s, or 400 p.st. Because the expended constant capital transfers its own value to the product, therefore the value of the product rises or falls with the absolute magnitude of that capital-value, other circumstances remaining the same. But on the other hand let us assume that, other circumstances remaining the same, the price of the same amount of labor-power rises from 100 p.st. Edition: current; Page: [42] to 150 p.st., or falls from 100 p.st. to 50 p.st. In the first case, the cost-price rises indeed from 500 p.st. to 400 c + 150 v, or 550 p.st., and in the second case it falls from 500 p.st. to 400 c + 50 v, or 450 p.st. But in either case, the value of the commodity remains unchanged at 600 p.st. In the first case it is 400 c + 150 v + 50 s, in the second 400 c + 50 v + 150 s, but in either case it is 600 p.st. The advanced variable capital does not transfer its own value to the product. The place of its value is taken in the product by a new value created by labor. Therefore a change in the value of the absolute magnitude of the variable capital, to the extent that it expresses merely a change in the price of labor-power, does not alter the absolute magnitude of the value of the commodity in the least, because it does not alter anything in the absolute magnitude of the new value created by living labor. Such a change influences only the relative proportion of the magnitudes of the two elements of the new value, one of which forms surplus-value, and the other of which makes good the variable capital and passes into the cost-price of the commodity.

The two elements of the cost-price, in the present case 400 c + 100 v, have only this in common that they are both of them elements of the value of the commodity replacing advanced capital.

But this actual condition of things must necessarily look reversed from the point of view of capitalist production.

The capitalist mode of production is distinguished from a mode of production based on slavery by this fact among others that in the former the value, or the price, as the case may be, of labor-power assumes the form of the value, or price, of labor itself, that is to say, the form of wages. (Volume I, chapter XIX.) The variable portion of the advanced capital, therefore, presents itself as a capital advanced in wages, as a capital-value paying for the value, or price, of all labor expended in production. Take it, for instance, that an average social working day of ten hours is represented by 6 shillings of money. In that case the advance of a variable capital of 100 p.st. expresses in money Edition: current; Page: [43] the value of a product created in 333 1/3 ten-hour days. But this value, being an element of the advance of capital for the purchase of labor-power, is not an element of the productive capital in the actual performance of its function. Its place in the process of production is taken by living labor-power. If the degree of exploitation of this labor-power is 100%, as it is in our illustration, then it is expended during 666 2/3 ten-hour days, and thereby adds to the product a new value of 200 p.st. On the other hand, the variable capital of 100 p.st. figures in the advance of capital as a capital invested in wages, or as the price of labor performed in 666 2/3 ten-hour days. Dividing 100 p.st. by 666 2/3, we obtain 3 shillings as the price of a working day of ten hours, equal in value to the product of five hours' labor.

Now, if we compare the advance of capital on one side with the value of commodities on the other, we find the following condition of things:

I. Capital advanced 500 p.st., consisting of 400 p.st. of capital expended in means of production (price of means of production) plus 100 p.st. of capital expended in wages (price of 666 2/3 working days, or wages for the same).
II. Value of commodities 600 p.st. of which 500 p.st. represent the cost-price (400 p.st. price of expended means of production plus 100 p.st. price of expended 666 2/3 working days) plus 100 p.st. surplus-value.

In this formula, the portion of capital invested in labor-power differs from that invested in means of production (such as cotton or coal) only by serving for the payment of a substantially different element of production. But it does not differ by serving in a different function in the process of creating the value of the commodities, and thereby in the process of self-expansion of capital. The price of the means of production reappears in the cost-price of the commodities, just as it figured in the advance of capital, and it does so for the reason that the means of production have been appropriately consumed. The cost-price of the commodities also contains the price, or wages, for the 666 2/3 working days consumed in the production of these commodities, which wages Edition: current; Page: [44] figured also in the advance of capital, likewise for the reason that this amount of labor has been appropriately expended. We see only finished and existing values, representing portions of the value of advanced capital which have passed into the value of the product, but no element representing newly created values. The distinction between constant and variable capital has disappeared. The entire cost-price of 500 p.st. now has the ambiguous meaning that it is that portion of the value of commodities worth 600 p.st. which makes good the capital of 500 p.st. expended in the production of these commodities, and that it owes its existence as a portion of the value of these commodities only to the fact of having previously existed as the cost-price of the consumed elements of production, namely means of production and labor, in other words, of having existed as an advance of capital. The capital-value reappears as the cost-price of commodities, because it had been expended as a capital-value.

The fact that the various elements of the value of the advanced capital have been expended for substantially different elements of production, namely for instruments of labor, raw materials, auxiliary substances, and labor, requires only that the cost-price of the commodities should buy a new supply of these substantially different elements of production. So far as the formation of this cost-price is concerned, only one distinction is appreciable, namely that between fixed and circulating capital. In our example we had set down 20 p.st. for wear and tear of instruments of labor (400 c being composed of 20 p.st. for wear and tear of instruments of labor and 380 p.st. for materials of production). Supposing the value of those instruments of labor to have been 1200 p.st. before the productive process began, it will exist after the production of the commodities in two forms, one of them being represented by 20 p.st. of the value of the commodities, and the other by 1200—20, or 1180 p.st., the remaining value of the instruments of labor in the possession of the capitalist, in other words, an element of his productive, not of his commodity-capital. On the other hand, the materials of production and wages, differ from the instruments of labor by being entirely consumed Edition: current; Page: [45] in the production of the commodities and transferring their entire value to that of the produced commodities. We have seen that the turn-over bestows upon these different elements of the advanced capital the forms of fixed and circulating capital.

The advance of capital, according to this, is 1680 p.st., consisting of 1200 p.st. of fixed capital plus 480 p.st. of circulating capital (380 p.st. of which are materials of production and 100 p.st. of which are wages).

But the cost-price of the commodities is only 500 p.st., namely 20 p.st. for the wear and tear of the fixed capital, and 480 p.st. for circulating capital.

This difference between the cost-price of the commodities and the advance of capital merely proves that the cost-price of the commodities is formed exclusively by the capital actually consumed in their production.

In the production of the commodities, instruments of production valued at 1200 p.st. are employed, but only 20 p.st. of this advanced capital are consumed in production. The employed fixed capital, then, passes only partially into the cost-price of commodities, because it is consumed only by degrees in their production. The employed circulating capital passes entirely into the cost-price of commodities, because it is entirely consumed in production. But what else does this prove than that the consumed portions of fixed and circulating capital, in the ratio of the magnitude of their values, pass uniformly into the cost-price of the commodities, and that this portion of the value of commodities originates solely with the capital consumed in their production? If this were not the case, it would be inexplicable why the advanced fixed capital of 1200 p.st. should not add, aside from the 20 p.st. which it loses in the productive process, also the other 1180 p.st. which it does not lose therein.

This difference between fixed and circulating capital with reference to the calculation of the cost-price affirms, we repeat, the apparent origin of the cost-price in the expended capital-value, or in the price paid by the capitalist himself for the expended elements of production, including labor. Edition: current; Page: [46] On the other hand, the variable portion of capital invested in labor-power is explicitly identified, under the head of circulating capital, with that portion of the constant capital which consists of materials of production, so far as the formation of value is concerned. And by this means the mystification of the process of self-expansion of capital is accomplished.1

Hitherto we have considered only one element of the value of commodities, namely the cost-price. We must now occupy ourselves also with the other element of the value of commodities, namely the excess over the cost-price, or the surplus-value. In the first place, then, surplus-value is an excess of the value of a commodity over its cost-price. But since the cost-price is equal to the value of the consumed capital, into whose substantial elements it is continually reconverted, the additional value is an accretion to the capital expended in the production of the commodities and returning by way of the circulation.

We have seen previously that the surplus-value s owes its origin in point of fact to a change in the value of the variable capital v and is, therefore, really but an increment of variable capital. Nevertheless it is also an increment of the expended total capital c + v after the process of production has been completed. The formula c + (v + s), which indicates that s is produced by the conversion of a definite capital-value v, a constant magnitude, into a fluctuating magnitude by means of the labor-power paid by it, may also be represented as (c + v) + s. Before production began, we had a capital of 500 p.st. After production is completed, we have the same capital of 500 p.st. plus an increment of value amounting to 100 p.st.2

Edition: current; Page: [47]

However, the surplus-value is an increment, not only of that portion of the advanced capital which is assimilated by the process of production, but also of that portion which is not assimilated. In other words, it is an accretion, not only to the consumed capital which is made good by the cost-price of commodities, but also to the aggregate capital invested in production. Before the beginning of the production we had a capital valued at 1680 p.st., namely 1200 p.st. of fixed capital invested in instruments of production, only 20 p.st. of which are assimilated in the process by the commodities through wear and tear, plus 480 p.st. of circulating capital invested in materials of production and wages. At the close of the process of production we have 1180 p.st. remaining of the value of the productive capital plus a commodity-capital of 600 p.st. By adding these two amounts, we find that the capitalist now has values amounting to 1780 p.st. After deducting his invested total capital of 1680 p.st., the capitalist pockets a surplus of 100 p.st. In short, the 100 p.st. of surplus-value form as much an increment of the invested 1680 p.st. as of the 500 p.st., or that part of it which was assimilated by the production.

The capitalist understands well enough that this increment of value has its genesis in the productive manipulations of capital, that it is generated out of the capital. For this increment exists at the close of the productive process, while it did not exist at its beginning. So far as the capital assimilated in production is concerned, the surplus-value seems to arise equally from all its different elements consisting of means of production and labor. For all these elements contribute equally to the formation of the cost-price. All of them add their values, which are advanced as capital, to the value of the product, and they are not distinguished as constant and variable magnitudes. This becomes obvious, when we assume for a moment that all assimilated capital consisted either of wages exclusively, or of the values of means of production alone. In the first case, we should then have in place of the commodity-values 400 c + 100 v + 100 s the commodity-values 500 v + 100 s. The capital of 500, invested Edition: current; Page: [48] in wages, represents the value of all labor assimilated in the production of the commodity-value of 600 p.st., and therefore it constitutes the cost-price of this entire product. But the way in which this cost-price is formed, and in which the value of the expended capital is reproduced as a portion of the value of the product, is the only process in the formation of the value of this product known to us. We do not know anything of the way in which its surplus-portion of 100 p.st. is formed. It is the same in the second case, in which the value of the commodities would be equal to 500 c + 100 s. We know in either case that the surplus-value arises from a given value, because this value was advanced in the form of productive capital, no matter whether in the form of labor or of means of production. On the other hand, this advanced capital-value cannot form any surplus-value for the sole reason that it has been expended and constitutes the cost-price of the commodities. For the fact that it forms the cost-price of the commodities accounts precisely for the circumstance that it constitutes no surplus-value, but merely an equivalent replacing the expended capital. To the extent that it forms surplus-value it does so not in its specific capacity of expended, but of advanced and invested capital. In short, the surplus-value arises as much out of that portion of the advanced capital which makes good the cost-price of the commodities as out of that portion which is not made up by the cost-price. In other words, it arises equally out of the fixed and circulating components of the invested capital. The total capital serves substantially as the creator of values, the instruments of labor as well as the materials of production and labor. The total capital passes substantially into the actual labor-process, even though only a portion of it is assimilated by the process of self-expansion. This is, perhaps, the very reason why it contributes only in part to the formation of the cost-price, but totally to the formation of the surplus-value. However that may be, the outcome is that surplus-value arises simultaneously from all portions of the invested capital. This deduction may be materially abbreviated, by saying pointedly and briefly in the words of Malthus: "The Edition: current; Page: [49] capitalist expects equal returns on all parts of the capital advanced by him."3

In its alleged capacity of an offspring of the advanced total capital, the surplus-value assumes the change of form known as profit. Hence a certain value is capital when it is advanced with a view to generating profit,4 or profit results from the investment of a value as capital. If we designate profit by p, we may convert the formula C = c + v + s, or k + s, into the formula C = k + p, in other words, the value of a commodity is equal to the cost-price plus the profit.

The profit, such as it presents itself here, is the same as the surplus-value, only it has a mystified form, which is a necessary outgrowth of capitalist modes of production. The genesis of the mutation of values must be transferred from the variable portion of capital to the total capital, because no distinction is noticeable between the constant and variable capital in the assumed formation of the cost-price. Because the price of labor-power assumes on one pole the form of wages, surplus-value appears at the other pole in the form of profit.

We have seen that the cost-price of a commodity is smaller than its value. Since C equals k + s, it follows that k equals C - s. The formula C = k + s reduces itself to C = k, or commodity-value equal to cost-price, only when s is zero, a case which never occurs on the basis of capitalist production, although peculiar market combinations may reduce the selling price of commodities to the level of their cost-price, or even below it.

Hence, if a commodity is sold at its value, a profit is realized, which is equal to the excess of its value over its cost-price, or equal to the entire surplus-value incorporated in the value of the commodity. But the capitalist may sell a commodity at a profit even when selling it below its value. For so long as its selling price exceeds its cost-price, even though Edition: current; Page: [50] it may be below its value, a portion of the surplus-value incorporated in it is always realized and thus a profit made. The value of the commodities in our illustration is 600 p.st., their cost-price 500 p.st. If the commodities are sold at 510, 520, 530, 560 or 590, p.st., they are sold respectively at 90, 80, 70, 40, or 10 p.st. below their value, and yet a profit of respectively 10, 20, 30, 60, or 90 p.st. is realized by their sale. It is evident that selling prices may fluctuate considerably between the value of a commodity and its cost-price. The greater the surplus-element of the value of commodities, the greater is the practical playroom of these fluctuating intermediate prices.

This explains such phenomena of daily occurrence in competition as underselling, abnormally low prices in certain lines of industry, etc.5 The fundamental law of capitalist competition, which political economy has not understood up to the present time, the law which regulates the general rate of profit and the prices of production determined by it, rests, as we shall see later, on this difference between the value and the cost-price of commodities, and on the resulting possibility to sell a commodity at a profit even below its value.

The minimum limit of the selling price of commodities is indicated by their cost-price. If they are sold below their cost-price, then the consumed elements of productive capital cannot be fully reproduced out of the selling price. If this sort of thing continues, then the value of the advanced capital disappears. This point of view is sufficient to incline the capitalist toward the opinion that the cost-price is essentially the inmost value of commodities, because it is the price required for the bare conservation of his capital. Furthermore, the cost-price of a commodity is the purchase price paid by the capitalist himself for its production, in other words, the purchase price determined by the process of production itself. For this reason, the surplus-value realized by the sale of a certain commodity appears to the capitalist as an excess of its selling price over its value, instead of an excess of its value over its cost-price, so that accordingly the surplus-value Edition: current; Page: [51] incorporated in a commodity is not realized by its sale, but arises out of the sale itself. We have thrown more light on this illusion in volume I, chapter V, under the head of "Contradictions in the General Formula of Capital." We merely revert at this point to that form in which it was reaffirmed by Torrens, among others, as an advance of political economy beyond Ricardo.

"The natural price consisting of the cost of production, or in other words, of the expenditure of capital in the production or manufacture of a commodity, cannot possibly include any profit....If a farmer advances 100 quarters of corn in the cultivation of his fields, and receives in return 120 quarters, the 20 quarters, being a surplus of the product above the investment, form his profit; but it would be absurd to call this surplus, or profit, a part of his expenditure....The manufacturer advances a certain quantity of raw materials, tools, and subsistence for labor, and receives in return a quantity of finished products. This finished product must contain a greater exchange-value than the raw materials, tools, and means of subsistence, by whose advance it was acquired." Torrens concludes, therefore, that the excess of the selling price over the cost-price, or the profit, is due to the fact that the consumers, "by a direct or circuitous exchange yield a certain larger portion of all ingredients of capital than it cost to produce them."6

In fact, the excess over a certain magnitude cannot form a part of this magnitude. Therefore the profit, the excess of the value of a commodity over the expenditure of the capitalist, cannot form a part of this expenditure. Hence, if no other element than the advance of the capitalist enters into the formation of the value of a commodity, it is inexplicable that more value should come out of production than went into it, for something cannot come out of nothing. Torrens, however, dodges this creation out of nothing only by transferring it from the sphere of commodity-production to that of commodity-circulation. Profit cannot come out of the production Edition: current; Page: [52] of commodities, says Torrens, for otherwise it would already be contained in the cost of production, and that would not be a surplus over this cost. Profit cannot come out of the exchanges of commodities, replies Ramsay, unless it existed before this exchange. The sum of their values of the exchanged products is evidently not altered by their exchange. It remains the same as before this exchange. Incidentally we remark at this point, that Malthus invokes expressly the authority of Torrens,7 although he himself explains the sale of commodities above their value differently, or rather does not explain it, since all arguments of this sort ultimately amount to the same thing as the one-time famous negative weight of phlogiston.

In a society ruled by capitalist production, even the non-capitalist producer is dominated by capitalist conceptions. In his last novel, Les Paysans, Balzac, who is generally remarkable for his profound grasp of actual conditions, aptly describes how the little peasant, in order to retain the good will of his usurer, performs many small tasks gratuitously for him and fancies that he does not give him anything for nothing, because his own labor does not cost him any cash outlay. The usurer, on the other hand, thereby kills two flies at one stroke. He saves a cash outlay for wages and gets the farmer more and more tangled in the net of the spider of usury, by gradually ruining him through the deviation of his labor from his own fields.

The thoughtless conception that the cost-price of a commodity constitutes its actual value, and that surplus-value arises by selling the product above its value, so that commodities would be sold at their value, if their selling price were equal to their cost-price, that is to say, equal to the price of the means of production plus wages incorporated in them, has been heralded to the world as a newly discovered secret of socialism by Proudhon with his customary charlatanry in the guise of science. In fact, this reduction of the value of commodities to their cost-price constitutes the basis of his People's Bank. We have demonstrated in a preceding chapter Edition: current; Page: [53] that the various elements of the value of the product may be materialized in proportional parts of the product itself. (Volume I, chapter IX, 2.) For instance, if the value of 20 lbs. of yarn is 30 shillings, containing 24 shillings of means of production, 3 shillings of labor-power, and 3 shillings of surplus-value, then this surplus-value may be represented by 1/10 of the product, or 2 lbs. of yarn. Now, if these 20 lbs. of yarn are sold at their cost-price, at 27 shillings, then the purchaser receives 2 lbs. of yarn for nothing, or the article is sold 1/10 below its value. But the laborer has performed the same amount of surplus-labor, only in this case it accrues to the benefit of the purchaser of the yarn, not to its capitalist producer. It would be a mistake to assume that if all commodities were sold at their cost-price the result would be the same as if they had all been sold above their cost-price, at their real value. For even if the value of labor-power, the length of the working day, and the degree of exploitation of labor were the same everywhere, the quantities of surplus-value contained in the values of the various kinds of commodities would be unequal, according to the different organic composition of the capitals advanced for their production.8

CHAPTER II.: THE RATE OF PROFIT.

THE general formula of capital is M—C—M'. In other words, a certain quantity of values is thrown into circulation for the purpose of drawing a larger quantity out of it. The process by which this larger quantity is produced is capitalist production. The process by which this larger quantity is realized is the circulation of capital. The capitalist does not produce a commodity on its own account, he does not Edition: current; Page: [54] care for its use-value, nor does he consume it personally. The product in which the capitalist is really interested is not the tangible product itself, but the excess of the value of the product over the value of the capital assimilated by it. The capitalist advances the total capital without regard to the different roles played by its components in the production of surplus-value. He advances all these components uniformly, not merely for the purpose of reproducing the advanced capital, but rather with a view to producing a surplus-value in excess of it. He cannot convert the value of the variable capital advanced by him into a greater value except by its exchange for living labor and by the exploitation of this labor. But he cannot exploit this labor unless he advances at the same time the material requirements for the incorporation of this labor, namely instruments and materials of labor, machinery and raw materials. This he can do only by converting a certain amount of value in his possession into requirements of production. He could not be a capitalist at all, nor undertake to exploit labor, unless he enjoyed the privilege of owning the material requirements of production and finding at hand a laborer who owns nothing but his labor-power. We have already shown in the first volume that it is precisely the ownership of means of production by idlers which converts laborers into wage-workers and idlers into capitalists.

It is immaterial for the capitalist whether he is supposed to advance constant capital in order to make a profit out of his variable capital, or whether he advances variable capital in order to make a profit out of the constant capital; whether he invests money in wages in order to make his machinery and raw materials more valuable, or whether he invests money in machinery and raw materials in order to be able to exploit labor. Although it is only the variable portion of capital which creates surplus-value, it does so only on condition that the other portions, the material requirements of production, are likewise advanced. Seeing that the capitalist can exploit labor only by advancing constant capital, and that he can utilize his constant capital only by advancing variable Edition: current; Page: [55] capital, he lumps them all together in his imagination, and he is all the more apt to do so as the actual rate of his gain is not calculated on its proportion to the variable, but on its proportion to the total capital, in other words, that it is calculated on the rate of profit, not on the rate of surplus-value. And we shall see that the rate of profit may remain unchanged and yet may express different rates of surplus-value.

The cost of the product includes all those elements of its value which the capitalist has paid, or for which he has thrown an equivalent into circulation. This cost must be made good in order that the capital may merely be preserved, or reproduced in its original magnitude.

The value contained in a certain commodity is equal to the labor-time required for its production, and the sum of this labor consists of paid and unpaid portions. But the expenses of the capitalist consist only of that portion of materialized labor which he paid for the production of the commodity. The surplus-value contained in this commodity does not cost the capitalist anything, while it cost the laborer his labor just as well as that portion for which he is paid, and although it creates value and is embodied in the value of the commodity quite as well as the paid labor. The profit of the capitalist is due to the fact that he offers something for sale for which he has not paid anything. The surplus-value, or the profit, consists precisely of the excess of the value of the commodity over its cost-price, in other words, it consists of the excess of the total amount of labor embodied in the commodity over the paid labor contained in it. The surplus-value, whatever be its genesis, is a surplus above the advanced total capital. The proportion of this surplus to the total capital is expressed by the fraction s/C, in which C stands for the total capital. Thus we obtain the rate of profit s/C = s/(c+v), as distinguished from the rate of surplus-value s/V.

The rate of surplus-value measured by the variable capital is called rate of surplus-value. The rate of surplus-value measured by the total capital is called rate of profit. These Edition: current; Page: [56] two modes of measuring the same magnitude express different conditions or relations of this magnitude, owing to the difference of the two standards of measurement.

The transformation of surplus-value into profit must be deduced from the transformation of the rate of surplus-value into the rate of profit, not vice versa. And the rate of profit is indeed that from which historical research takes its departure. The surplus-value and the rate of surplus-value are, relatively, the invisible and unknown essence, while the rate of profit and the resulting appearance of surplus-value in the form of profit are phenomena which show themselves on the surface.

So far as the individual capitalist is concerned, it is evident that the only thing which interests him is the relation of surplus-value, of the excess of value at which he sells his articles, to the total capital advanced for the production of commodities. On the other hand, the definite relation of this surplus, and its internal connection, with the various components of capital does not interest him, for it is rather to his interest to indulge in vague notions relative to this definite relation and this internal connection.

Although the excess in the value of a commodity over its cost-price is created in the process of production, strictly so called, it is realized in the process of circulation. And it assumes so much more easily the semblance of arising from the process of circulation, as it depends in reality on the market conditions under competition whether any surplus is realized or not, or how much of it. It is not necessary to lose any words at this point about the fact that it is merely a different way of dividing the surplus-value, when a commodity is sold above or below its value, and that this different division, this change of proportions in which different persons share in the surplus-value, does not alter in the least the magnitude or the nature of that value. It is not alone the metamorphoses discussed by us in volume II which take place in the process of circulation, but they are accompanied by actual competition, the sale and purchase of commodities above or below their value, so that the surplus-value realized Edition: current; Page: [57] by the individual capitalist depends as much on the outcome of the mutual endeavor to outwit one another as on the direct exploitation of labor.

Aside from the working time, the time of circulation exerts its influence in the process of circulation and limits the amount of surplus-value realizable within a certain period. Still other elements arise in the process of circulation and influence the strict process of production. Both the strict process of production and the process of circulation continually intermingle, interpenetrate one another, and thereby incessantly falsify their characteristic marks of distinction. The production of surplus-value, and of value in general, receives new directions in the process of circulation, as we have previously shown. Capital passes through the cycle of its metamorphoses. Finally it steps, so to say, forth out of the internal organism of its life and enters into external conditions of existence, into conditions in which the opposites are not capital and labor, but capital and capital in one case, and individual buyers and sellers in another. The time of circulation and the working time cross one another's paths and seem to determine equally the amount of surplus-value. The original form in which capital and wage-labor meet one another is disguised by the interference of conditions which seem to be independent of them. The surplus-value itself does not appear to be the result of the appropriation of labor-time, but an excess of the selling price of commodities over their cost-price, so that this last named price is easily regarded as their intrinsic value, while profit appears as an excess of the selling price of commodities over their immanent value.

It is true, that the nature of the surplus-value impresses itself incessantly upon the consciousness of the capitalist during the process of production. This is shown, among other indications, by his greed for the labor-time of others, to which we called attention in the analysis of surplus-value. But in the first place, the strict process of production is but a fleeting stage passing continually into the process of circulation, just as this does into it, so that the more or less vague inkling of Edition: current; Page: [58] the source of the gains made in the process of production, the source of the surplus-value, stands at best on the same ground with the idea that the realized surplus is due to a movement of capital in the process of circulation and independent of the process of production, a movement of capital independent of its relation to labor. These phenomena of circulation are quoted by modern economists like Ramsay, Malthus, Senior, Torrens, etc., as direct proofs of the alleged fact that capital, in its mere material existence, independent of any social relation to labor which makes capital of it, may be a source of surplus-value quite as well as labor itself and without its help. In the second place, under the head of expenses, among which wages are classed the same as the price of raw materials, wear and tear of machinery, etc., the appropriation of unpaid labor figures only as a saving in the payment of an article added to the expense, only as a smaller payment for a certain quantity of labor. A saving is recorded in the same way, whenever raw materials are bought more cheaply, or the wear and tear of machinery decreases. In this way the appropriation of surplus-labor loses its specific character. Its characteristic relation to the surplus-value is obscured. And this is greatly facilitated, as shown in volume I, part VI, by the representation of the value of labor-power in the form of wages.

By posing equally as sources of an excess of value (profit), all elements of capital mystify the nature of the capitalist relation.

The way in which surplus-value is transformed into profit via the rate of profit is but a continued development of the perversion of subject and object taking place in the process of production. We have already seen that all subjective forces of labor in that process appeared as productive forces of capital. On the one hand, the value of past labor, which dominates living labor, is incarnated in the capitalist. On the other hand the laborer appears as materialized labor-power, as a commodity. This perverted relationship necessarily produces even under simple conditions of production certain correspondingly perverted conceptions, which represent Edition: current; Page: [59] a transposition in consciousness, that is further developed by the transformations and modifications of the circulation process proper.

We can see by the example of the Ricardian school that it is a mistake to attempt a development of the laws of the rate of profit directly out of the laws of the rate of surplus-value, or vice versa. In the head of the capitalist they are naturally not distinguished. In the formula s/C the surplus-value is measured by the value of the total capital advanced for its production and partly consumed in it, partly merely invested in it. Indeed, the formula s/C expresses the degree of self-expansion of the total capital advanced, or, to state it in conformity with the conception of the internal organic connection and nature of surplus-value, it indicates the proportion of the variation of the variable capital to the magnitude of the advanced total capital.

The magnitude of the value of the total capital has no direct internal relation to the magnitude of the surplus-value. So far as its material elements are concerned, the total minus the variable capital, in other words, the constant capital, consists of the material ingredients, the instruments and materials of production, required for the materialization of labor. In order that a certain quantity of labor may be incorporated in commodities and thereby produce value, a certain quantity of instruments and materials of production is required. According to the peculiar character of the incorporated labor, a definite technical relation is established between the quantity of labor and the quantity of means of production in which this labor is to be incorporated. To that extent there is also a definite relation between the quantity of surplus-value, or surplus-labor, and the quantity of means of production. For instance, if the necessary labor for the production of wages amounts to 6 hours daily, then the laborer must work 12 hours in order to perform 6 hours of surplus-labor, or produces a surplus-value of 100%. He uses up twice as many means of production in 12 hours as he does in 6. But nevertheless the surplus-value incorporated by him in 6 hours is not directly related to the value of the means of production Edition: current; Page: [60] used up in those 6, or in those 12 hours. This value is here immaterial. It is only the technically required mass which is important. It does not matter whether the raw materials or instruments of labor are cheap or dear, so long as they have the required use-value and are available in quantities proportioned to the technical demands of the labor to be incorporated in them. Now, if I know that x lbs. of cotton are consumed by one hour's spinning and cost a shillings, then I also know that 12 hours' spinning will consume 12 x lbs. of cotton costing 12 a shillings. And in that case I can calculate the proportion of the surplus-value to the value of the 12 as well as to that of the 6. But the relation of the living labor to the value of the means of production enters here only to the extent that a shillings serve as a name for x lbs. of cotton. For a definite quantity of cotton has a definite price, and therefore a definite price may also serve as an index to a definite quantity of cotton, so long as the price of cotton is not changed. If I know that I must let the laborer work for 12 hours, in order to appropriate for my own 6 hours of surplus-labor, and if I know the price of this quantity of cotton needed for 12 hours, then I have a circuitous means of determining the proportion between the price of cotton (as an index of the required quantity) and the surplus-value. But on the other hand, I can never make any conclusions from the price of the raw material as to the quantity that may be consumed by one hour's spinning, but not by 6 hours'. There is, then, no necessary internal connection between the value of the constant capital, nor the value of the total capital c + v, and the surplus-value.

If the rate of surplus-value is known and its magnitude given, then the rate of profit expresses nothing else but what it actually is, namely a different way of measuring surplus-value, this being measured by the value of the total capital, instead of the value of that portion of capital from which surplus-value directly originates by way of an exchange with labor. But in reality, in the world of phenomena, the conditions are reversed. Surplus-value is given, but only as an excess of the selling price of commodities over their cost-price. Edition: current; Page: [61] And it remains a mystery where this surplus is originated, whether it is due to the exploitation of labor in the process of production, or to overcharging the purchaser in the process of circulation, or to both. There is also given the proportion of the surplus-value to the value of the total capital, or the rate of profit. The calculation of this excess of the selling price over the cost-price of commodities on the value of the advanced total capital is very important and natural, because by its means the ratio is actually determined in which the total capital has been expanded, the ratio of its self-expansion. If the rate of profit is made the point of departure, there is no basis on which to make any conclusions regarding the specific relations between the surplus and the variable capital invested in wages. We shall see in a subsequent chapter what funny somersaults Malthus made in trying to get in this way at the secret of the surplus-value and of its specific relation to the variable capital. What the rate of profit actually shows is a uniform relation of the surplus to equal portions of the total capital, which from this point of view does not show any internal differences at all, unless it be that between fixed and circulating capital. And this difference is shown only because the surplus is calculated in two ways. In the first place it is calculated as a simple magnitude, as an excess of the selling price over the cost-price. In this form, the entire circulating capital enters into the cost-price, while of the fixed capital only the wear and tear enters into it. In the second place, the relation of this excess in value to the total value of the advanced capital is calculated. In this case, the value of the fixed capital is taken into the calculation entirely, the same as that of the circulating capital. In other words, the circulating capital enters both times in the same way, while the fixed capital enters the first time in a different, the second time in the same way as the circulating capital. Under these circumstances, the difference between the fixed and circulating capital is the only one which obtrudes itself.

The excess in value, then, if determined by the rate of profit, appears as a surplus generated annually, or during a Edition: current; Page: [62] definite period of circulation, by the total capital above its own value.

While the rate of profit differs numerically from the rate of surplus-value, the profit and the surplus-value are actually the same thing and numerically equal. However, the profit is a transformed kind of surplus-value, a form in which its origin and the secret of its nature are obscured and extinguished. Profit is, therefore, that disguise of surplus-value which must be removed before the real nature of surplus-value can be discovered. In the surplus-value, the relation between capital and labor is laid bare. But in the relation of capital and profit, that is to say, the relation between capital and that form of surplus-value which appears on one hand as an excess over the cost-price of commodities realized in the process of circulation, and on the other hand as a surplus determined by its relation to the total capital, the capital appears as a relation to itself, a relation in which it, as the original amount of value, is distinguished from a new value generated by itself. It is dimly recognized, that capital generates this new value by its movement in the processes of production and circulation. But the way in which this is done is surrounded by mystery, and thus surplus-value seems to be due to hidden qualities inherent in capital itself.

To the extent that we follow up the process of self-expansion of capital, the nature of the relation of surplus-value to capital becomes more and more mystified, and it becomes increasingly difficult to discover the secret of its internal organism.

In this first part, we shall consider the rate of profit as numerically different from the rate of surplus-value, while profit and surplus-value will be treated as the same numerical magnitude having only a different form. In the second part we shall see that the transformation continues and that profit presents itself as a magnitude differing also numerically from surplus-value.

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CHAPTER III.: THE RELATION OF THE RATE OF PROFIT TO THE RATE OF SURPLUS-VALUE.

WE have stated at the conclusion of the preceding chapter, and repeat it here, that we consider in this entire first part the amount of profit made by a certain capital to be equal to the full amount of surplus-value produced by means of this capital during a certain period of circulation. In other words, we leave aside for the present the fact that this surplus-value is split up into various secondary forms, such as interest on capital, ground-rent, taxes, etc., and that surplus-value is not identical, as a rule, with profit as appropriated on the basis of an average rate of profit, which will be discussed in part II.

So far as the quantity of profit is assumed to be equal to that of surplus-value, its magnitude, and that of the rate of profit, is determined by the relations of simple numerical magnitudes given or ascertainable in every individual case. The analysis, therefore, is first carried on purely on the field of mathematics.

We retain the terms used in volumes I and II. The total capital C consists of constant capital c and variable capital v, and produces a surplus-value s. The ratio of this surplus-value to the advanced variable capital, or s/v, is called the rate of surplus-value and designated by s'. Therefore s/v = s', and s = s'v. If this surplus-value is calculated on the total capital instead of the variable capital, it is called profit, p, and the ratio of the surplus-value s to the total capital C, or s/C, is called the rate of profit, p'. Accordingly, p' = s/C = s/(c+v). Now, substituting for s its equivalent s'v, we find p' = S'v/C = S'v/(c+v). And this equation may be expressed by the proportion p' : s' = v : C, or in words, the Edition: current; Page: [64] rate of profit is proportioned to the rate of surplus-value as the variable capital is to the total capital.

This proportion shows that the rate of profit, p', is always smaller than the rate of surplus-value, s', because the variable capital, v, is always smaller than the total capital, C, which is the sum of v + c, the variable plus the constant capital. The only exception to this rule is the practically impossible case, in which v = C, that is to say, in which no constant capital, no means of production, are advanced by the capitalist, but only wages.

However, our analysis must take into account a few other elements, which have a determining influence on the magnitude of c, v, and s. We shall mention them briefly.

There is, first, the value of money. We may assume this to be constant, throughout our analysis.

In the second place, there is the turn-over. We leave this element entirely out of consideration for the present, since its influence on the rate of profit will be treated later on in a special chapter. [We anticipate here only one point, namely that the formula p' = s' v/C is strictly correct only for one period of turn-over of the variable capital. But we may make it correct for an annual turn-over by substituting for s', the simple rate of surplus-value, the factor s'n, meaning the annual rate of surplus-value. The factor n in this term expresses the number of turn-overs of the variable capital during one year. (See chapter XVI, I, volume II.)—F. E.]

In the third place, the productivity of labor must be considered. Its influence on the rate of surplus-value has been thoroughly discussed in volume I, part V. The productivity of labor may also exert a direct influence on the rate of profit, at least of an individual capital. It has been demonstrated in volume I, chapter XII, that an individual capital may realize an extra profit, if it operates with a greater productivity than that of the social average and thereby produces its commodities at a lower value than the social average value of the same commodities. However, this case will not be considered for the present, since our premise in this part of the work Edition: current; Page: [65] is that the commodities are produced under normal social conditions and sold at their values. Hence we assume in each case that the productivity of labor remains constant. Under these circumstances the composition of the values of any capital invested in any line of industry, in other words, the proportion between the variable and constant capital, expresses a definite degree in the productivity of labor. As soon as this proportion is altered by other means than a mere change in the value of the material elements of the constant capital, or a change in the value of wages, it follows that the productivity of labor must likewise undergo a corresponding change. We shall see frequently, for this reason, that alterations affecting the factors c, v, and s imply also changes in the productivity of labor.

The same applies to the three remaining factors. namely the length of the working day, the intensity of labor, and the wages. Their influence on the mass and rate of surplus-value has been discussed in detail in volume I. It will be understood, therefore, that notwithstanding our assumption that these three factors remain constant there may be changes in v and s which may imply changes in the magnitude of these determining elements. In this respect we have but to remember that wages influence the quantity of surplus-value and the degree of the rate of surplus-value inversely from the length of the working day and the intensity of labor; that an increase of wages reduces the surplus-value, while a prolongation of the working day and an increase in the intensity of labor add to it.

Take it that a capital of 100 produces with 20 laborers by a working day of 10 hours and a total weekly wage of 20 a surplus-value of 20. Then we have 80 c + 20 v + 20 s, which implies that s' equal 100% and p' 20%.

Now let the working day be prolonged to 15 hours without an increase of wages. The total value produced by the 20 laborers is thereby increased from 40 to 60, since 10 : 15 = 40: 60. Seeing that v, the wages paid to the laborers, remains the same, the surplus-value rises from 20 to 40, and we have 80 c + 20 v + 40 s, implying that s' equals 200% Edition: current; Page: [66] and p' 40%. If, on the other hand, the working day remains unchanged at 10 hours, while wages fall from 20 to 12, the total value produced amounts to 40, but it is differently distributed. For v falls to 12, leaving a remainder of 28 for s. Then we have 80 c + 12 v + 28 s, whereby s' is raised to 233 1/3%, while the rate of profit, p', is as 28 to 92, or 30 10/23%.

We see, then, that both a prolongation of the working day (or a corresponding increase in the intensity of labor) and a fall in wages increase the mass, and thus the rate, of surplus-value. On the other hand, a rise in wages, other circumstances remaining the same, would lower the rate of surplus-value. Hence, if v rises through an increase of wages, it does not mean a greater, but only a dearer quantity of labor, and in that case s' and p' do not rise, but fall.

This indicates that a change in the working day, in the intensity of labor, and in wages cannot take place without at the same time altering v and s and their proportion, and therefore also p', which expresses the proportion of s to the total capital c + v. And it is also evident that a change in the proportion of s to v implies a corresponding change in at least one of the three determining elements of labor.

It is precisely this fact which reveals the specific organic relationship of variable capital to the movement of the total capital and its self-expansion, and also its difference from the constant capital. So far as it is a question of the generation of value, the constant capital is significant only for its value. It is immaterial for this question, whether a constant capital of, say, 1,500 p.st. represents 1,500 tons of iron at 1 p.st. each, or 500 tons of iron at 3 p.st. each. The quantity of the actual material, in which the value of the constant capital is incorporated, is immaterial for the question of the formation of value and the rate of profit. This rate varies inversely to the value of the constant capital, no matter what may be the proportion of the increase or decrease of the value of constant capital to the mass of its material elements.

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It is different with the variable capital. Not its own value, not the labor incorporated in this capital, are of prime importance, but the fact that its own value implies the setting in motion of a grand total of labor whose quantity it does not express. This grand total of labor differs from the labor expressed in the value of the variable capital and paid by it in that it contains a certain amount of surplus-labor, which is so much greater, the smaller the value of the labor contained in the variable capital. Take it that a working day of 10 hours is equal to 10 shillings. If the necessary labor, which pays for the wages, or makes good the variable capital, is worth 5 shillings, then the surplus-labor amounts to 5 hours, or the surplus-value to 5 shillings. If the necessary labor amounts to 4 hours and is worth 4 shillings, then the surplus-labor is 6 hours and the surplus-value 6 shillings.

Hence, as soon as the value of the variable capital ceases to be an index of the amount of labor actually set in motion by it, as soon as the measure of this index is altered, the rate of surplus-value will vary inversely and at an inverse ratio.

Now let us pass on and apply the previously found equation of the rate of profit, p' = s' v/C, to the various cases possible. We shall change the value of the individual factors of s' v/C one after another and ascertain the effect of these changes on the rate of profit. In this way we obtain a number of different cases, which we may regard either as successively altered determinants of one and the same capital, or as different capitals existing side by side and compared with one another, no matter whether they exist in different lines of industry or different countries. In cases where the conception of some of our examples as successive conditions of the same capitals seems forced or impracticable, this objection is set aside by regarding them as illustrations of independent capitals.

We now separate the product s' v/C into its two factors s' and v/C. In the first place, we treat s' as a constant factor and analyze the effects of the possible variations of v/C. After that we treat the fraction v/C as constant and let s' go through Edition: current; Page: [68] its possible variations. Finally we treat all factors as variable magnitudes and thereby exhaust all cases from which rules concerning the rate of profit may be derived.

I. s' constant, v/C variable.

We make a general formula for this case, which comprises a number of sub-cases. Take two capitals C and C1, with their respective variable proportions v and v1, with equal rates of surplus-value s', and the rates of profit p' and p1'. Then p' = s' v/C and p1' = s' v1/C1.

Now let us make a proportion of C and C1, and v and v1, for instance let the value of the fraction C1/C = E, and that of v1/v = e. Then C1 = EC, and v1 = ev. Substituting in the above equation these values for p1', C1 and v1, we obtain P1' = s' ev/EC. Again, we may deduct a second formula from the above two equations, by transforming them into the equation p' : p1' = s' v/C: S' v1/C1 = v/C : v1/C1. Since the value of a fraction remains the same, if we multiply or divide its numerator or denominator by the same number, we may reduce v/C and v1/C1, to percentages, that is to say we may make both C and C1 equal to 100. Then we have v/C = v/100 and v1/C1 = v1/100. We may then drop the denominators in the above proportion and say that p' : p1' = v : v1. In other words, with any two capitals operating with the same rate of surplus-value the rates of profit are proportioned to one another as the variable capitals are to one another, calculated in percentages on their respective total capitals.

These two formulæ comprise all cases of variation of v/C.

Before we analyze these various cases, we make another remark. Since C is the sum of c plus v, of the constant and variable capital, and since the rates of surplus-value and of profit are generally expressed in percentages, it is convenient to assume that the sum of c plus v is also equal to 100, that is to say, to express c and v in percentages. It is immaterial for the determination, not of the mass, but of the rate of profit, whether we say that a capital of 15,000, composed of 12,000 of constant and 3,000 of variable capital, produces a surplus-value of 3,000, or whether we reduce this capital to percentages. So we may say that 15,000 C = 12,000 c + 3,000 Edition: current; Page: [69] v + (3,000 s), or that 100 C = 80 c + 20 v + (20 s). In either case the rate of surplus-value, s', equals 100% and the rate of profit, p', 20%.

The same is true in the comparison of two capitals. For instance, if we compare the foregoing capital with another, such as 12,000 C = 10,800 c + 1,200 v + (1,200 s), or 100 C = 90 c + 10 v + (10 s). In the last case, s' is 100% and p', 10%. And its comparison with the foregoing capital is easier by percentages.

On the other hand, if it is a question of changes taking place in the same capital, the expression by percentages is rarely convenient, because these peculiar alterations are almost always obliterated thereby. If a capital, expressed in percentages of 80 c + 20 v + 20 s assumes the percentages of 90 c + 10 v + 10 s, we cannot tell whether the change in the composition of percentages is due to an absolute decrease of v or an absolute increase of c, or to both. In order to ascertain this, we must have the absolute magnitudes in figures. But in the analysis of the following individual cases, everything depends on the question of the way in which the variations have been accomplished. Has 80 c + 20 v been changed into 90 c + 10 v by an increase of the constant capital without any change in the variable capital, for instance by changing 12,000 c + 3,000 v into 27,000 c + 3,000 v? Or has the same result been accomplished by leaving the constant capital untouched and reducing the variable capital, for instance by changing the above capital into 12,000 c + 1,333 1/3; v (corresponding to a percentage of 90 c + 10 v)? Or have both of the original capitals been changed into 13,500 c + 1,500 v (corresponding once more to percentages of 90 c + 10 v)? It is precisely these cases which we shall have to analyze, and in so doing we must dispense with percentages, or at least employ them only in a minor degree.

1. s' and C constant, v variable.

If v changes its magnitude, then C can remain unaltered only by a change in the opposite direction of c, the other component of C. If C consists originally of 80 c + 20 v, and if v is reduced to 10, then C can remain 100 only by an increase Edition: current; Page: [70] of c to 90; for 90 c + 10 v = 100. Generally speaking, if v is transformed into v ± d, into v increased or decreased by d, then c must be transformed into c + d, into c decreased or increased by the same amount, into c varying in the opposite direction from v, in order that the conditions of the present case be fulfilled.

Again, if the rate of surplus-value, s', remains the same, while the variable capital, v, changes, then the mass of surplus-value must change, since s = s'v, and since one of the factors of s'v, namely v, is invested with a different value.

The assumptions of the present case produce, aside from the original equation p' = s' v/C, still another equation by the variation of v, namely p1' = s' v1/C, in which v has become v1 and p1', the corresponding rate of profit, is to be sought.

It is found by the corresponding proportion:

p' : p1' = s' v/C : s' v1/C = v : v1.

That is to say, if the rate of surplus-value and the total capital remain the same, then the original rate of profit is proportioned to the new rate of profit produced by a change in the variable capital as the original variable capital is to the changed variable capital.

If the original capital was I) 15,000 C = 12,000 c + 3,000 v + (3,000 s), and if it is now II) 15,000 C = 13,000 c + 2,000 v + (2,000 s), then C is 15,000 and the rate of surplus-value 100% in either case, and the rate of profit of I), 20%, is proportioned to that of II), 13 1/3%, as the variable capital of I), 3,000, is to the variable capital of II), 2,000, that is to say 20% : 13 1/3% = 3,000 : 2,000.

Now, the variable capital may either increase or decrease. Take first an example in which it increases. Let a certain capital be constituted and operated as follows: I) 100 c + 20 v + 10 s. Then C equals 120, s' equals 50%, and p' equals 8 1/3%. Now let the variable capital increase to 30. In that case the constant capital must fall to 90, according to our assumption, which requires that the total should remain unchanged at 120. The amount of surplus-value produced will then rise from 10 to 15, the rate of surplus-value Edition: current; Page: [71] remaining constant at 50%. Our capital then is constituted as follows:

II) 90 c + 30 v + 15 s. C equals 120, s' equals 50%, and p', 12½%.

Now let us start out with the assumption that the wages remain unchanged. Then the other factors of the rate of surplus-value, namely the working day and the intensity of labor, must also be unchanged. Therefore the increase of v from 20 to 30 can signify only that more laborers are employed. In that case the total product in values also increases by one-half, from 30 to 45, and is distributed, the same as before, to 2/3 for wages and 1/3 for surplus-value. Simultaneously with the increase in the number of laborers the constant capital, the value of the means of production, has fallen from 100 to 90. We have before us, then, a case of decreasing productivity of labor combined with a simultaneous decrease of constant capital. Is such a case economically possible?

In agriculture and industries engaged in the extraction of substances, where a decrease in the productivity of labor and, therefore, an increase in the number of laborers are readily understood, this process is accompanied on the basis and within the scope of capitalist production, by an increase of constant capital, not by a decrease. Even if our assumed decrease of c were due merely to a fall in prices, an individual capital would be able to accomplish the transition from I) to II) only under very exceptional circumstances. But in the case of two independent capitals invested in different countries, or in different lines of agriculture or extractive industry, it would not be strange if more laborers (and therefore more variable capital) were employed on less valuable or fewer means of production in the case of one than in the other.

But let us have done with the assumption that the wages remain the same, and let us explain the rise of the variable capital from 20 to 30 by a rise of wages by one-half. Then we have another case. The same number of laborers continue to work with the same or slightly reduced means of Edition: current; Page: [72] production. If the working day remains unchanged, say at 10 hours, then the total product also remains unchanged. It was and remains 30. But this amount of 30 is now required to make good the consumed variable capital. The surplus-value would have disappeared. But we had assumed that the rate of surplus-value should remain constant at 50%, the same as in I). This is possible only if the working day is prolonged by one-half, increased to 15 hours. In that case 20 laborers produce in 15 hours a total value of 45, and all conditions would be fulfilled. We should have

II). 90 c + 30 v + 15 s. C would be 120, s', 50% and p', 12½%.

Under these circumstances the 20 laborers do not require any more instruments, tools, machines, etc., than in the case of I). Only the raw materials or auxiliary substances would have to be increased by one-half. If there were a fall in the prices of these materials, then the transition from I) to II) under the conditions of our assumed case might very well be accomplished even by an individual capital. And the capitalist would be somewhat compensated by increased profits for any loss incurred through the depreciation of his constant capital.

Now let us assume that the variable capital were to be reduced instead of increased. Then we have but to reverse our example. We have but to assume that II) is the original capital and to pass from II) to I). Then II), or 90 c + 30 v + 15 s changes into I), or 100 c + 20 v + 10 s, and it is evident that this transposition does not alter any of the conditions which regulate the respective rates of profit and their mutual relations.

If v falls from 30 to 20 because the number of laborers is reduced by one-third while the constant capital increases, then we have before us the normal case of modern industry, namely an increasing productivity of labor, an operation of a larger mass of means of production by fewer laborers. That this process is necessarily connected with a simultaneous fall of the rate of profit, will be demonstrated in the third part of this volume.

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On the other hand, if v falls from 30 to 20 because the same number of laborers are employed at lower wages, while the working day remains the same, then the total product in values would remain 30 v + 15 s, or 45. Since wages have fallen to 20, the surplus-value would rise to 25, the rate of surplus-value from 50% to 125%, contrary to our assumption. In order to comply with the conditions of our case, the surplus-value, with its rate at 50%, must fall to 10. The total product must, therefore, fall from 45 to 30, and this is possible only by a reduction of the working day by one-third. Then we have, the same as before, 100 c + 20 v + 10 s. C equals 120, s', 50%, and p', 8 1/3%.

It need hardly be mentioned that this reduction of the working time with a fall in wages would not occur in practice. But this is immaterial. The rate of profit is a function of several variable magnitudes, and if we wish to know in what manner these variable magnitudes influence the rate of profit, we must analyze the individual effect of each seriatim, regardless of whether such an isolated effect is practicable with one and the same capital or not.

2) s' constant, v variable, C changed by the variation of v.

This case differs from the preceding one only in degree. Instead of c decreasing or increasing by as much as v increases or decreases, c remains constant. Under the modern conditions of great industry and agriculture the variable capital is but a relatively small part of the total capital. For this reason, the increase or decrease of the total capital, so far as either is due to variations of the variable capital, are likewise relatively small.

Let us start out again with a capital I) of 100 c + 20 v + 10 s. C equals 120, s' 50%, and p' 8 1/3%. This will then be transformed into II) 100 c + 30 v + 15 s, with C at 130, s' at 50%, and p' at 11 7/13%. The opposite case, in which the variable capital would decrease, would be symbolized by the transition from II) to I).

The economic conditions would be essentially the same as in the preceding case, and therefore require no reiteration. The transition from I) to II) implies a decrease in the productivity Edition: current; Page: [74] of labor by one-half. The assimilation of 100 c requires an increase of labor in II) by one-half over that of I). This case may occur in agriculture.9

While in the preceding case the total capital remained constant, owing to the conversion of constant capital into variable, or vice versa, there is in this case a tie-up of additional capital, if the variable capital is increased, and a release of previously employed capital, if the variable capital decreases.

3) s' and v constant, c and C variable.

In this case, the equation p' = s' v/C is changed into p1' = s' v/C1. After eliminating the same factors on both sides, we have p1': p' = C: C1. In other words, if the rates of surplus-value are the same and the variable capitals equal, the rates of profit are inversely proportioned to the total capitals.

Take it that we have three different capitals, or three different conditions of the same capital, for instance

I) 80 c + 20 v + 20 s; C = 100, s' = 100%, p' = 20%
II) 100 c + 20 v + 20 s; C = 120, s' = 100%, p' = 16 2/3%
III) 60 c + 20 v + 20 s; C = 80, s' = 100%, p' = 25%

Then we obtain the proportions:

20% : 16 2/3% = 120 : 100, and 20% : 25% = 80 : 100.

The general formula previously given for variations of v/C when s' remained constant was p1' = s' ev/EC. Now it becomes p' = s' v/EC. For since v remains unchanged, the factor e, or v1/v, becomes equal to 1.

Since s'v equals s, the mass of surplus-value, and since both s' and v remain constant, it follows that s is not affected by any variation of C. The mass of surplus-value is the same after the change that it was before.

If c were to fall to zero, p' would be equal to s', that is to say, the rate of profit equal to the rate of surplus-value.

The alteration of c may be due either to a mere change in the value of the material elements of constant capital, or to a change in the technical composition of the total capital, Edition: current; Page: [75] that is to say a change in the productivity of labor in that line of industry. In the last named case, the increase in the productivity of social labor due to the development of industry and agriculture on a large scale would bring about a transition, in the above illustration, from III to I and from I to II. A quantity of labor paid with 20 and producing a value of 40 would first work up means of production valued at 60. With a further increase in the productivity, and the same value, the means of production would be worked up to the amount of 80, and later on of 100. A reversion of this succession would imply a decrease in productivity. The same quantity of labor would work up a smaller quantity of means of production, the business would be cut down. This may occur in agriculture, mining, etc.

A saving in constant capital increases on the one hand the rate of profit, and on the other sets free some capital. It is, therefore, of great importance for the capitalist. We shall analyze this point later on, and likewise the influence of a change of prices of the elements of constant capital, particularly of raw materials.

We see once more, by this illustration, that a variation of the constant capital uniformly affects the rate of profit, no matter whether this variation is due to an increase or decrease of the material elements of c, or merely to a change in their value.

4) s' constant, v, c, and C variable.

In this case, the general formula indicated at the outset, namely p' = s' ev/EC, remains in force. It follows from this, assuming the rate of surplus-value to remain the same, that

a) the rate of profit falls, if E is greater than e, that is to say, if the constant capital increases to such an extent that the total capital grows at a faster rate than the variable capital. If a capital of 80 c + 20 v + 20 s is transformed so that it becomes 170 c + 30 v + 30 s, then s' remains at 100%, but v/C falls from 20/100 to 30/200, in spite of the fact that both v and C have augmented, and the rate of profit falls correspondingly from 20% to 15%.

b) The rate of profit remains unchanged only in the case Edition: current; Page: [76] that e equals E, that is to say, if the fraction v/C retain the same value even if the fraction is apparently changed, in other words, if its numerator and denominator are multiplied or divided by the same number. It is evident that the capital 80 c + 20 v + 20 s and the capital 160 c + 40 v + 40 s have the same rate of profit, namely 20%, because s' remains at 100% and v/C represents the same value, whether we write it 20/100 or 40/200.

c) The rate of profit arises, when e is greater than E, that is to say, when the variable capital grows at a faster rate than the total capital. If 80 c + 20 v + 20 s becomes 120 c + 40 v + 40 s, then the rate of profit rises from 20% to 25%, because s' has remained the same and v/C has risen from 20/100 to 40/160, or from 1/5; to ¼.

If the variation of v and C follows the same direction, we may look upon this change of magnitude up to a certain degree as though both of them varied in the same proportion, so that v/C would be regarded as unchanged to that extent. Beyond this point only one of them would then vary, and by this means we should reduce this complicated case to one of the preceding simpler ones.

For instance, if 80 c + 20 v + 20 s becomes 100 c + 30 v + 30 s, then the proportion of v to c, and also to C, remains the same up to the point of 100 c + 25 v + 25 s. Up to that point, the rate of profit remains likewise unchanged. We may then take our departure from 100 c + 25 v + 25 s. We find that later increased by 5 and became 30, so that C rose from 125 to 130. This is identical with the second case, that of the simple variation of v and the consequent variation of C. The rate of profit, which was originally 20%, rises by this addition of 5 v to 23 1/13, always assuming the rate of surplus-value to remain the same.

The same reduction to a simpler case can take place, whenever v and C change their magnitudes in opposite directions. For instance, let us start out once more from 80 c + 20 v + 20 s, and let this become 110 c + 10 v + 10 s. In that case, the rate of profit would have remained the same, if the Edition: current; Page: [77] variation had proceeded to the point of 40 c + 10 v + 10 s. It would still have been 20%. By adding 70 c to this intermediate form, the rate of profit is lowered to 8 1/3%. Thus we have reduced this case to a case of variation of one magnitude, namely of c.

Simultaneous variations of v, c, and C, do not, then, offer any new points of analysis. For they may be reduced in the last resort to cases in which only one factor is variable.

Even the only remaining case has actually been covered, namely that in which v and C are numerically unchanged, while their material elements experience a change of value, so that v stands for a changed quantity of assimilated labor and c for a changed quantity of assimilated means of production.

For instance, in the capital 80 c + 20 v + 20 s, let 20 v indicate originally the wages of 20 laborers working 10 hours daily. Then let the wages of each laborer increase from 1 to 1¼. In that case 20 v pay only 16 laborers instead of 20. Now, if 20 laborers produce in 200 working hours a value of 40, then 16 laborers will produce in 160 working hours a value of only 32. After deducting 20 v for wages, only 12 would remain for surplus-value. The rate of surplus-value would have fallen from 100% to 60%. But since our assumption is that the rate of surplus-value shall remain constant, the working day would have to be prolonged by one-quarter, from 10 hours to 12½ hours. If 20 laborers, working 10 hours daily, or 200 hours, produce a value of 40, then 16 laborers, working 12½ hours daily, or 200 hours, will produce the same value, and the capital of 80 c + 20 v produces the same surplus-value of 20.

Vice versa, if wages fall to such an extent that 20 v indicates the wages of 30 laborers, then s' can remain unchanged only in the case that the working day is reduced from 10 to 6 2/3 hours. For 20 × 10 = 30 × 6 2/3 = 200 working hours.

We have discussed previously in these diverging assumptions, to what extent c may express the same value in money, and yet represent different quantities of means of production corresponding to different conditions. In reality this case Edition: current; Page: [78] will very rarely be practicable in its purely theoretical form.

As for the change of value of the elements of c, by which their mass is increased or decreased, it touches neither the rate of surplus-value nor the rate of profit, so long as it does not imply a change of magnitude in v.

We have now exhausted all possible cases of variation of v, c, and C in our equation. We have seen that the rate of profit may fall, rise, or remain unchanged, while the rate of surplus-value remains the same, for the least variation in the proportion of v to c, or to C, is sufficient to change the rate of profit.

We have seen, furthermore, that there is everywhere a certain limit in the variation of v where the constancy of s' becomes economically impossible. Since every one-sided variation of c must also arrive at a certain limit where v can no longer remain unchanged, we find that every possible variation of v/C has certain limits, beyond which s' must likewise become variable. In the variations of s', which we shall now discuss, this interaction of the different variable magnitudes of our equation will become still plainer.

II. s' variable.

We obtain a general formula for the rates of profit with variable rates of surplus-value, no matter whether v/C remains constant or not, by converting the equation p' = s' v/C into p1' = s1' v1/C1. Here p1', s1', C1, and v1 indicate the changed values of p', s', C, and v. Then we have p': p1' = s'v/C: s1' v1/C1. This may be manipulated into

p1' = s1'/s' × v1/v × c/c1 × p'.

1) s' variable, v/C constant.

In this case we have the equations p' = s' v/C and p1' = S1' v/C. In both of them v/C is equal. Therefore p': p1' = s': s1. That is to say, the rates of profit of two capitals of the same composition are proportioned as the corresponding two rates of surplus-value. Since it is not a question, in the fraction v/C, of the absolute magnitude of v and C, but only of their proportion to one another, this applies to all capitals Edition: current; Page: [79] of equal composition, whatever may be their absolute magnitude.

80 c + 20 v + 20 s; C = 100, s' = 100% p' = 20%.
160 c + 40 v + 20 s; C = 200, s' = 50%, p' = 10%.
100% : 50% = 20% : 10%.

If the absolute magnitudes of v and C are the same in both cases, then the rates of profit are also proportioned to one another as the masses of surplus-value: p': p1' = s'v: s1'v = s: s1. For instance:

80 c + 20 v + 20 s; s' = 100%, p' = 20%.
80 c + 20 v + 10 s; s' = 50%, p' = 10%.
20%: 10% = 100 × 20: 50 × 20 = 20 s: 10 s.

Now, it is evident that with capitals of equal absolute composition, or equal percentages of composition, the rates of surplus-value can differ only when either the wages, or the length of the working day, or the intensity of labor are different. Take the following three cases:

I. 80 c + 20 v + 10 s; s' = 50%, p' = 10%.
II. 80 c + 20 v + 20 s; s' = 100%, p' = 20%.
III. 80 c + 20 v + 40 s; s' = 200%, p' = 40%.

In the case of I, the total product in values is 30, namely 20 v + 10 s, in II it is 40, in III it is 60. This may come about in three different ways.

First, if the wages are different, so that 20 v expresses in every individual case a different number of laborers. Take it that capital I employs 15 laborers for 10 hours per day at a wage of 1 1/3 p.st. and that these laborers produce a value of 30 p.st, of which 20 p.st. make good the wages and 10 p.st. are surplus-value. If wages fall to 1 p.st., then 20 laborers may be employed for 10 hours, and they will produce a value of 40 p.st., of which 20 p.st. make good wages and 20 p.st. are surplus-value. If wages fall still more, for instance to 2/3 p.st., then 30 laborers may be employed for 10 hours, and they will produce a value of 60 p.st., 40 p.st. of which will represent surplus-value after deducting 20 p.st. for wages.

This case, in which the percentages of composition of the capital, the working day, the intensity of labor, are constant, while the rate of surplus-value varies on account of the variation Edition: current; Page: [80] of wages, is the only one in which Ricardo's assumption is correct, to-wit, that "profits would be high or low, exactly in proportion as wages would be low or high." (Principles, chapter I, section III, page 18 of the "Works of D. Ricardo," edited by MacCulloch, 1852.)

Secondly, if the intensity of labor varies. In that case 20 laborers produce with the same means of production in 10 hours of daily labor 30 pieces of a certain commodity in I, 40 pieces in II, and 60 pieces in III. Every piece represents, aside from the value of the means of production incorporated in it, a new value of 1 p.st. Since every 20 pieces make good the wages of 20 p.st., there remain 10 pieces at 10 p.st. for surplus-value in I, 20 pieces at 20 p.st. in II, and 40 pieces at 40 p.st. in III.

Thirdly, the working day may vary in length. If 20 laborers work with the same intensity for 9 hours in I, 12 hours in II, and 18 hours in III, then their total products, 30:40: 60 vary in the proportions 9: 12: 18. And since wages are 20 in every case, the surplus-value is 10, or 20, or 40 respectively.

An increase or decrease in wages, then, influences the rate of surplus-value, and, since v/C was assumed as constant, also the rate of profit, inversely, while an increase or decrease in the intensity of labor, a lengthening or shortening of the working day, influence them in the same direction.

2) s' and v variable, C constant.

In this case the following proportion applies: p': p1' = s' v/C: s1' v1/C = s'v: s1'v1 = s: s1.

The rates of profit are proportioned to one another as the corresponding masses of surplus-value.

A variation of the rate of surplus-value, while the variable capital remains constant, signifies a change in the magnitude and distribution of the product in values. A simultaneous variation of v and s' also implies always a change in the distribution, but not always a change in the magnitude of the product in values. Three cases are possible.

a) The variation of v and s' takes place in opposite directions, but by the same amount, for instance:

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80 c + 20 v + 10 s; s' = 50%, p' = 10%.
90 c + 10 v + 20 s; s' = 200%, p' = 20%.

The product in values is equal in both cases, hence the quantity of labor performed likewise: 20 v + 10 s = 10 v + 20 s = 30. The difference is only that in the first case 20 are paid for wages and 10 remain for surplus-value, while in the second case wages are 10 and surplus-value 20. This is the only case in which the number of laborers, the intensity of labor, and the length of the working day remain unchanged, while v and s' vary.

b) The variation of s' and v takes place in opposite directions, but not by the same amount. In that case the variation of either v or s' is the greater.

I. 80 c + 20 v + 20 s; s' = 100%, p' = 20%.
II. 72 c + 28 v + 20 s; s' = 71 3/7%, p' = 20%.
III. 84 c + 16 v + 20 s; s' = 125%, p' = 20%.

Capital I pays for a product in values amounting to 40 with 20 v, II a value of 48 with 28, and III a value of 36 with 16. Both the product in values and the wages have changed. But a change in the product in values means a change in the amount of labor performed, and this implies a change either in the number of laborers, the hours of labor, or the intensity of labor, or in more than one of these.

c) The variation of s' and v takes place in the same direction. In that case it intensifies the effect of either.

90 c + 10 v + 10 s; s' = 100%, p' = 10%.
80 c + 20 v + 30 s; s' = 150%, p' = 30%.
92 c + 8 v + 6s; s' = 75%, p' = 6%.

In these cases the three products in value are also different namely 20, 50, and 14. And this difference in the magnitude of the respective quantities of labor reduces itself once more to a difference in the number of laborers, the hours of labor, and the intensity of labor, or of several or all of these factors.

3) s', v and C variable.

This case offers no new points of view and is solved by the general formula given under II, in which s' is variable.

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The effect of a change in the magnitude of the rate of surplus-value on the rate of profit is summed up, according to the foregoing, by the following cases:

1) p' increases or decreases in the same proportion as s', if v/C remains constant.

80 c + 20 v + 20 s; s' = 100%, p' = 20%.
80 c + 20 v + 10 s; s' = 50%, p' = 10%.
100%: 50% = 20%: 10%.

2) p' rises or falls at a greater rate than s', if v/C moves in the same direction as s', that is to say, if v/C increases or decreases when s' increases or decreases.

80 c + 20 v + 10 s; s' = 50%, p' = 10%.
70 c + 30 v + 20 s; s' = 66 2/3%, p' = 20%.
50%: 66 2/3% 8lt; 10%: 20%.

3) p' rises or falls at a smaller rate than s', if v/C changes in the opposite direction from s', but at a smaller rate.

80 c + 20 v + 10 s; s' = 50%, p' = 10%.
90 c + 10 v + 15 s; s' = 150%, p' = 15%.
50%: 150% > 10%: 15%.

4) p' rises, while s' falls, or falls while s' rises, if changes in the opposite direction and at a greater rate than s'.

80 c + 20 v + 20 s; s' = 100%, p' = 20%.
90 c + 10 v + 15 s; s' = 150%, p' = 15%.

s' has risen from 100% to 150%, p' has fallen from 20% to 15%.

5) Finally, p' remains constant, while s' rises or falls, if v/C changes in the opposite direction, but at exactly the same rate, as s'.

It is only this last case which requires some further explanation. We observed in the variations of v/C that the same rate of surplus-value may be an expression of different rates of profit. We see now that the same rate of profit may be based on different rates of surplus-value. So long as s' is constant, any change in the proportion of v to C is sufficient to call forth a difference in the rate of profit. But if s' varies in magnitude, it requires a corresponding inverse change of v/C in order that the rate of profit may remain the same. This happens but exceptionally in the case of one and the same Edition: current; Page: [83] capital, or of two capitals in one and the same country. Take it that we have a capital 80 c + 20 v + 20 s; C = 100, s' = 100%, p' = 20%. And let us assume that wages fall to such an extent that the same number of laborers may be bought for 16 v instead of 20 v. Then we have released 4 v, and other circumstances remaining the same, our capital will have the composition 80 c + 16 v + 24 s; C = 96, s' = 150%, p' = 25%. In order that p' may be 20%, as before, the total capital would have to increase to 120, the constant capital, therefore, to 104, thus, 104 c + 16 v + 24 s; C = 120, s' = 150%, p' = 20%.

This would be possible only if the fall in wages were accompanied by a change in the productivity of labor, which would require such a change in the composition of capital. Or, it might be that the money-value of the constant capital would increase from 80 to 104. In short, it would require an accidental coincidence of conditions such as occurs very rarely. In fact, a variation of s' which does not imply a simultaneous variation of v, and thus of v/C is practicable only under very definite conditions. It may happen in lines of industry in which only fixed capital and labor are employed, while the materials of labor are supplied by nature.

But this is not so in the comparison of the rates of profit of two different countries. For in that case the same rate of profit is based as a rule on different rates of surplus-value.

It follows from all of these five cases that a rising rate of profit may be the companion of a falling or rising rate of surplus-value; a falling rate of profit go hand in hand with a rising or falling rate of surplus-value; a constant rate of profit exist by the side of a rising or falling rate of surplus-value. And we have seen under No. I that a rising, falling, or constant rate of profit may be based on a constant rate of surplus-value.

The rate of profit, then, is determined by two main factors, namely the rate of surplus-value and the composition of the value of capital. The effects of these two factors may be briefly summed up in the manner stated hereafter. We may, in this summing up, express the composition of capital in percentages, Edition: current; Page: [84] for it is immaterial for this point which one of the two portions of capital is the cause of variation.

The rates of profits of two different capitals, or of one and the same capital in two different successive conditions, are equal

1) If the percentages of composition of capital are the same and the rates of surplus-value equal.

2) If the percentages of composition are not the same, and the rates of surplus-value unequal, provided that the products of the multiplication of the rates of surplus-value by the percentages of the variable portions of capital (s' and v) are the same, that is to say, the masses of surplus-value (s = s'v) calculated in percentages on the total capital; in other words, if the factors s' and v are inversely proportioned to one another in both cases.

They are unequal

1) If the percentages of composition are equal and the rates of surplus-value unequal, in which case the rates of profit are proportioned as the rates of surplus-value.

2) If the rates of profit are the same and the percentages of composition unequal, in which case the rates of profit are proportioned as the variable portions of capital.

3) If the rates of profit are unequal and the percentages of composition not the same, in which case the rates of profit are proportioned as the products s'v, that is to say, as the masses of surplus-value calculated in percentages on the total capital.10

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CHAPTER IV.: THE EFFECT OF THE TURN-OVER ON THE RATE OF PROFIT.

THE effect of the turn-over on the production of surplus-value, and consequently of profit, has been discussed in volume II. It may be briefly summarized in the statement that the entire capital cannot be employed all at once in production, because the turn-over requires a certain lapse of time; for this reason a portion of the capital is always lying fallow, either in the form of money-capital, of a supply of raw materials, of finished but still unsold commodity-capital, or of outstanding bills not yet due; hence the capital active in the production and appropriation of surplus-value is always short by this amount, and the production and appropriation of surplus-value is curtailed to that extent. The shorter the period of turn-over, the smaller is the fallow portion of capital as compared with the whole, and the larger will be the appropriated surplus-value, other conditions remaining the same.

It has been shown explicitly in the second volume to what extent the mass of the produced surplus-value is augmented by the reduction of the period of turn-over, or of one of its two sections, the time of production and the time of circulation. But it is evident that any such reduction increases the rate of profit, since this rate expresses but the mass of surplus-value produced in proportion to the total capital employed in production. Whatever has been said in the second part of the second volume in regard to surplus-value, applies just as well to profit and the rate of profit, and requires no repetition at this place. We shall touch only upon a few of the principal points.

A reduction of the time of production is mainly due to an increase in the productivity of labor, a thing commonly called the progress of industry. If this does not require at once a Edition: current; Page: [86] considerable extra-outlay of capital for expensive machinery, etc., and thus a reduction of the rate of profit, which is calculated on the total capital, this rate must rise. And this is decidedly the case with many of the latest improvements in metallurgy and chemical industry. The recently discovered methods of making iron and steel, such as the processes of Bessemer, Siemens, Gilchrist-Thomas, etc., shorten formerly tedious processes to a minimum with relatively small expense. The making of alizarin, a red coloring substance extracted from coal-tar, produces in a few weeks, by the help of already existing installations for the manufacture of coal-tar colors, the same results which formerly required years. It took at least one year to mature the plants from which this coloring matter was formerly extracted, and it was customary to let them grow a few years before the roots were used for the purpose of making color.

The time of circulation is reduced principally by improved means of communication. In this respect the last fifty years have brought about a revolution, which can be compared only with the industrial revolution of the last half of the eighteenth century. On land the macademized road has been displaced by the railroad, on sea the slow and irregular sailing vessel by the rapid and regular steamboat line, and the entire globe has been circled by telegraph wires. The Suez Canal has fully opened Eastern Asia and Australia for steamer traffic. The time of circulation of a shipment of commodities to Eastern Asia was at least twelve months as late as 1847, and it has now been reduced to almost as many weeks. The two large centers of commercial crises, 1825-1857, America and India, have been brought from 70 to 90 per cent. nearer to Europe by this revolution of the means of communication, and have thereby lost a good deal of their explosive nature. The period of turn-over of the world's commerce has been reduced to the same extent, and the productive capacity of the capital engaged in it has been doubled or trebled. It goes without saying that this has not been without effect on the rate of profit.

In order to view the effect of the turn-over of the total Edition: current; Page: [87] capital on the rate of profit in its purest form, it is necessary to assume all other conditions of two compared capitals as equal. Aside from the rate of surplus-value and the working day it is especially the percentages of composition which we assume to be the same. Now let us select a capital A composed of 80 c + 20 v = 100 C. Let this have a rate of surplus-value of 100%, and let it be turned over twice per year.

The annual product is then 160 c + 40 v + 40 s. But for the purpose of ascertaining the rate of profit we do not calculate the 40 s on the turned-over capital-value of 200. We calculate it on the advanced capital of 100, and we obtain thus a rate of profit of 40%.

Now let us compare this with a capital B composed of 160 c + 40 v = 200 C, which has the same rate of surplus-value, 100%, but which is turned over only once a year.

The annual product of this capital is the same as that of A, namely 160 c + 40 v + 40 s. But the 40 s in this case are to be calculated on an advance of capital amounting to 200, so that the rate of profit of B is only 20%, or one-half that of A.

We find, then, that with capitals with equal percentages of composition, equal rates of surplus-value, and equal working days, the rates of profit are proportioned inversely as their periods of turn-over. If either the composition, or the rates of surplus-value, or the working day, or the wages, are unequal in the two compared cases, then other differences are naturally produced in the rates of profit. But these are not directly dependent on the turn-over, and do not concern us at this point. They have already been discussed in chapter III.

The direct effect of a reduced period of turn-over on the production of surplus-value, and consequently of profit, consists in the increased effectiveness given thereby to the variable portion of capital, as shown in volume II, chapter XVI, The Turn-Over of Variable Capital. It was demonstrated in that chapter that a variable capital of 500, which is turned over ten times per year, produces during this time as much surplus-value as a variable capital of 5,000 with the same Edition: current; Page: [88] rate of surplus-value and the same wages, turned over once a year.

Take a capital (I) consisting of 10,000 fixed capital, with an annual wear and tear of 10%, or 1,000, furthermore of 500 circulating constant and 500 variable capital. Let the rate of surplus-value be 100%, and let the variable capital be turned over ten times per year. For the sake of simplicity we assume in all following examples that the circulating constant capital is turned over in the same time as the variable, which is generally the case in practice. Then the product of one such period of turn-over will be

100 c (wear) + 500 c + 500 v + 500 s = 1,600.

And the product of one entire year, with ten such turn-overs, will be

1,000 c (wear) + 5,000 c + 5,000 v + 5,000 s = 16,000.

Then C is 11,000, s is 5,000, p' is 5000/11000, or 45 5/11%.

Now let us take another capital (II), composed of 9,000 fixed capital, with an annual wear and tear of 1,000, circulating constant capital 1,000, variable capital 1,000, rate of surplus-value 100%, number of annual turn-overs of variable capital 5. Then the product of each one of these turn-overs of the variable capital will be

200 c (wear) + 1,000 c + 1,000 v + 1,000 s = 3,200.

And the annual product (of all five turn-overs) will be

1,000 c (wear) + 5,000 c + 5,000 v + 5,000 s = 16,000.

Then C is 11,000, s is 5,000, and p' is 5000/11000, or 45 5/11%.

Take furthermore a third capital (III) with no fixed capital, 6,000 circulating constant capital, and 5,000 variable capital. Let the rate of surplus-value be 100%, and let there be one turn-over per year. Then the total product of one year is

6,000 c + 5,000 v + 5,000 s = 16,000.

C is 11,000, s is 5,000, and p' is 5000/11000, or 45 5/11%.

In other words, we have in all three of these cases the same annual mass of surplus-value, namely 5,000, and since the total capital is likewise the same in all three cases, namely 11,000, the rate of profit is also the same, namely 45 5/11%.

But now let us assume that capital (I) has only 5 instead Edition: current; Page: [89] of 10 turn-overs of its variable capital per year. In that case the outcome is different. The product of one turn-over is then 200 c (wear) + 500 c + 500 v + 500 s = 1,700. And the product of one year is

1,000 c (wear) + 2,500 c + 2,500 v + 2,500 s = 8,500.

C is 11,000, s is 2,500, p' is 2500/11000, or 22 8/11%. The rate of profit has fallen by one-half, because the time of turn-over has been doubled.

The amount of surplus-value appropriated during one year is therefore equal to the mass of surplus-value appropriated during one turn-over of the variable capital multiplied by the number of such turn-overs per year. If we call the surplus-value, or profit, appropriated during one year S, the surplus-value appropriated during one period of turn-over of the variable capital s, the number of turn-overs of the variable capital in one year n, then S = sn, and the annual rate of surplus-value S' = s'n, as demonstrated in Volume II, chapter XVI, I.

It is understood that the formula p' = s' v/c = s' v/c+v is correct only so long as the v of the numerator is the same as that of the denominator. In the denominator v stands for the entire portion of the total capital used on an average as variable capital for the payment of wages. In the numerator, v is determined in the first place by the fact that a certain amount of surplus-value s is produced and appropriated by it. The proportion of this surplus-value to the variable capital, s/v, constitutes the rate of surplus-value. It is only in this way that the formula p' = s/c+v is transformed into p' = s' v/c+v. Now the v of the numerator is more definitely described by stating that it must be equal to the v of the denominator, that is to say equal to the entire variable capital of C. In other words, the equation p' = s/C can be transformed into the equation p' = s' v/c+v only in the case that s stands for the surplus-value produced in one turn-over of the variable capital. If s stands for only a portion of this surplus-value, then s = s'v is still correct, but this v is then smaller than the v in C = c + v, because less than the entire variable capital has been Edition: current; Page: [90] employed in the payment of wages. On the other hand, if s stands for more than the surplus-value of one turn-over of v, then a portion of this v, or perhaps the whole, serves twice, namely in the first and in the second turn-over, and eventually it may serve in the subsequent turn-overs. The v which produces the surplus-value, and which represents the sum of all paid wages, is then greater than the v in c + v and the calculation becomes wrong.

In order that the formula for the annual rate of profit may be exact, we must substitute the annual rate of surplus-value for the simple rate of surplus-value, we must substitute S' or s'n for s'. In other words, we must multiply the rate of surplus-value, s', or, what amounts to the same, the variable capital v contained in C, with n, the number of turn-overs of this variable capital in one year. Thus we obtain p' = s'n v/C, which is the formula for the calculation of the annual rate of profit.

In most cases the capitalist himself does not know the amount of variable capital invested in his business. We have seen in chapter VIII of volume II, and shall see further along, that the only distinction which forces itself upon the capitalist within his capital is that of fixed and circulating capital. From the cash-box containing the money-part of the circulating capital in his hands, so far as it is not deposited in a bank, he takes the money to pay wages, and from the same cash-box he takes the money for raw and auxiliary materials. And he credits both expenditures to the same cash account. And even if he should keep a separate account for wages, it would show at the end of the year the amounts paid out for wages, that is vn, but not the variable capital v itself. In order to ascertain this, he would have to make a special calculation, of which we propose to give an illustration.

We select for this purpose the cotton spinnery of 10,000 mule spindles described in volume I. We assume that the data there given for one week of April, 1871, are in force during the whole year. The fixed capital incorporated in the machinery was valued at 10,000 p.st. The circulating capital was not given. We assume it to have been 2,500 p.st. Edition: current; Page: [91] This is a rather high estimate, but it is justified by the assumption, which we must always make in this discussion, that no credit was in force, in other words, no permanent or temporary employment of other people's capital. The value of the weekly product was composed of 20 p.st. for wear of machinery, 358 p.st. of circulating constant capital (rent 6 p.st., cotton 342 p.st., coal, gas, oil, 10 p.st.), 52 p.st. of variable capital paid out for wages, and 80 p.st. of surplus-value. The formula was, therefore

20 c (wear) + 358 c + 52 v + 80 s = 510.

The weekly advance of circulating capital consisted therefore of 358 c + 52 v = 410, and its percentages of composition were 87.3 c + 12.7 v. Calculating the entire circulating capital of 2,500 p.st., on this basis, we obtain 2,182 p.st. of constant and 318 p.st. of variable capital. Since the total expenditure for wages in one year was 52 times 52 p.st., or 2,704 p.st., it follows that the variable capital of 318 p.st. was turned over almost exactly 8½ times in one year. The rate of surplus-value was 80/52, or 153 11/13%. We calculate the rate of profit from these elements by inserting the above values in the formula p' = s'n v/C. Since s' is 153 11/13, n is 8½ v is 318, and C is 12,500, we have

p' = 153 11/13 × 8½ × 818/12,500 = 33.27%.

We test this result by means of the simple formula p' = s/C. The total surplus-value or profit, of one year amounts to 52 times 80 p.st., or 4,160 p.st. Dividing this by the total capital of 12,500, we obtain 33.28%, or almost the identical result. This is an abnormally high rate of profit, due to the extraordinarily favorable conditions of the moment (very low prices of cotton and very high prices of yarn). In reality this rate was certainly not maintained throughout the year.

The term s'n in the formula p' = s'n v/c stands for the same thing which was called the annual rate of surplus-value in volume II. In the above case it is 153 11/13% multiplied by 8½, or in exact figures 1,307 9/13%. A certain brave soul was shocked to the point of speechlessness over the abnormity of an annual rate of profit of 1,000%, which had been used as Edition: current; Page: [92] an illustration in that volume. Perhaps he will now settle down peacefully and contemplate this annual rate of surplus-value of more than 1,300% taken from the practical life of Manchester. In times of greatest prosperity, such as we have not seen for a long time, a similar rate is by no means rare.

By the way, this is an illustration of the actual composition of capital in modern great industry. The total capital is divided into 12,182 p.st. of constant and 318 p.st. of variable capital, a total of 12,500 p.st. In percentages this is 97½ c + 2½ v = 100 C. Only one-fortieth of the total capital serves for the payment of wages, but it is turned over eight times during the year.

Since very few capitalists take the trouble of making similar calculations with reference to their own business, the science of statistics is almost completely silent regarding the proportion of the constant portion of the total social capital to its variable portion. Only the American Census gives what is possible under modern conditions, namely the amount of wages paid in each line of business and the profits realized. These data are, of course, very doubtful, because they are based on uncontrollable statements of the capitalists, but they are nevertheless very valuable, and the only records available on this subject. In Europe we are far too delicate to expect such revelations from our great capitalists.—F. E.]

CHAPTER V.: ECONOMIES IN THE EMPLOYMENT OF CONSTANT CAPITAL.

I. General Economies.

THE increase of absolute surplus-value, or the prolongation of surplus-labor and thus of the working day, while the variable capital remains the same and employs the same number of laborers at the same nominal wages, no matter whether overtime is paid for or not, reduces relatively the value of the constant capital as compared to the total and the variable Edition: current; Page: [93] capital, and thereby increases the rate of profit even aside from the growth and mass of surplus-value and a possibly rising rate of surplus-value. The volume of the fixed portion of constant capital, such as factory buildings, machinery, etc., remains the same, no matter whether they serve for 16 or for 12 hours in the labor-process. A prolongation of the working day does not require any new expenditures for this most expensive portion of the constant capital. Furthermore, the value of the fixed capital is thereby reproduced in a smaller number of periods of turn-over, so that the time for which it must be advanced in order to make a certain profit is abbreviated. A prolongation of the working day therefore increases the profit, even if overtime is paid, or even if it is paid better, up to a certain limit, than the normal hours of labor. The ever more pressing necessity for the increase of fixed capital in modern industry was therefore one of the main reasons which induced profit-loving capitalists to prolong the working day.11

The same conditions do not obtain if the working day is constant. In that case it is necessary either to increase the number of laborers and with them to a certain extent the mass of fixed capital (buildings, machinery, etc.), in order to exploit a greater quantity of labor (for we leave aside the question of deductions from wages or depression of wages below their normal level), or, if the intensity of labor and the productivity of labor are to be augmented and more relative surplus-value produced, the quantity of the circulating portion of constant capital increases in those lines which use raw materials, since more raw material is worked up within a certain time. And in the second place, the mass of machinery set in motion by the same number of laborers also increases, in other words, both portions of constant capital increase. An increase in surplus-value, then, is accompanied by a growth of the constant capital, the growing exploitation of labor goes hand in hand with a heightened expenditure of the means of Edition: current; Page: [94] production by which labor is exploited, in other words, a greater investment of capital. The rate of profit is therefore reduced on one side while it increases on the other.

Quite a number of running expenses remain almost or entirely the same, whether the working day is long or short. The cost of supervision is smaller for 500 working men during 18 working hours than for 750 working men during 12 working hours. "The running expenditures of a factory at ten hours of labor are almost as high as at twelve hours." (Report of Factory Inspectors, October, 1848, page 37.) State and municipal taxes, fire insurance, wages of various permanent employes, depreciation of machinery, and various other expenses of a factory, run on just the same, whether the working time is long or short. To the extent that production decreases, these expenses rise as compared to the profit. (Reports of Factory Inspectors, October, 1862, page 19.)

The period in which the value of machinery and of other components of fixed capital is reproduced is practically determined, not by the mere duration of time, but by the duration of the entire labor-process during which it serves and wears out. If the laborers must work 18 hours instead of 12, it makes a difference of three days per week, so that one week is stretched into one and a half, and two years into three. If this overtime is not paid for, then the laborers supply the capitalists not only with the normal surplus-labor without receiving an equivalent, but also give one week out of every three, and one year out of every three, for nothing. In this way the reproduction of the value of the machinery is speeded up by 50% and accomplished in two-thirds of the time which would be ordinarily required.

We start in this analysis, and in that of the fluctuations of the prices of raw materials (chapter VI), from the assumption that the mass and rate of surplus-value are given quantities, in order to avoid useless complications.

We have already shown in our presentation of co-operation, of division of labor and machinery, that economies in the conditions of production, such as are found in production on a large scale, are mainly due to the fact that these conditions Edition: current; Page: [95] are social ones growing out of the combination of labor-processes. The means of production are worked up by the aggregate laborer, a co-operation of many laborers on an immense scale, instead of by laborers operating in a disconnected way or co-operating at best on a small scale. In a large factory with one or two central motors the cost of these motors does not increase at the same rate as their horse-powers and their resulting extension of activity. The cost of transmission of power does not grow at the same rate as the number of working machines set in motion by it. The frame of any individual machine does not become dearer at the same rate as the number of tools which it employs as its organs. And so forth. The concentration of means of production furthermore saves buildings of various sorts, not only for actual working rooms, but also for storage sheds, etc. It is the same with expenses for fuel, light, etc. Other conditions of production remain the same, whether used by many or by few.

This entire line of economies arising from the concentration of means of production and their use on a large scale has for its fundamental basis the accumulation and co-operation of working people, the social combination of labor. Hence it has its source quite as much in the social nature of labor as the surplus-value considered individually has its source in the surplus-labor of the individual laborer. Even the continual improvements possible and necessary in this line are due solely to the social experiences and observations made in production on a large scale through the combination of social labor.

The same is true of the second great branch of economies in the conditions of production. We refer to the reconversion of the excrements of production, the so-called offal, into new elements of production, either of the same, or of some other line of industry; the processes by which these so-called excrements are thrown back into the cycle of production and consequently of consumption, whether productive or individual. This line of economies, which we shall examine more closely later on, is likewise the result of social labor on a large scale. It is the abundance of these excrements due to large scale production Edition: current; Page: [96] which renders them available for commerce and turns them into new elements of production. It is only as excrements of combined production on a large scale that they become valuable for the productive process as bearers of new exchange-values. These excrements, aside from the services which they perform as new elements of production, reduce the cost of raw material to the extent that they are saleable. For a normal loss is always calculated as a part of the cost of raw material, namely the quantity ordinarily wasted in its consumption. The reduction of the cost of this portion of constant capital increases to that extent the rate of profit, assuming the amount of the variable capital and the rate of surplus-value to be given quantities.

If the surplus-value is given, then the rate of profit can be increased only by a reduction of the value of the constant capital required for the production of commodities. To the extent that the constant capital enters into the production of commodities, it is not its exchange-value, but its use-value, which is taken into consideration. The quantity of labor which the flax can absorb in a spinnery does not depend on its exchange-value, but on its quantity, assuming the degree of productivity of labor, that is to say, the stage of technical development, to be given. In like manner the assistance rendered by a machine to, say, three laborers does not depend on its exchange-value, but on its use-value as a machine. In one stage of technical development a bad machine may be expensive, in another a good machine may be cheap.

The increased profit gathered by a capitalist through the cheapening of such things as cotton, spinning machinery, etc., is the result of a heightened productivity of labor. Of course, this improvement was not introduced in the spinnery, but in the cultivation of cotton and the building of machinery. There it required a smaller expense for the fundamentals of production in order to materialize a certain quantity of labor and secure possession of a certain amount of surplus-labor. This means a reduction of the expense required for the appropriation of a certain quantity of surplus-labor.

We mentioned in the foregoing the savings realized in the Edition: current; Page: [97] process of production by the co-operative use of the means of production by socially combined laborers. Other economies, resulting in the expenditure of constant capital from the shortening of the time of circulation (a result brought about largely by the development of the means of communication) will be discussed later on. At this point we shall mention the economies due to progressive improvements of machinery, namely 1) of its substance, such as iron for wood; 2) the cheapening of machinery by the improvement of methods of manufacture, so that the value of the fixed portion of constant capital, while continually increasing with the development of labor on a large scale, does not grow at the same rate;12 3) the special improvements enabling the existing machinery to work more cheaply and effectively, for instance, improvements of steam boilers, etc., which will be further discussed later on; 4) the reduction of waste through better machinery.

Whatever reduces the wear of machinery, and of the fixed capital in general, for any given period of production, cheapens not only the individual commodity, seeing that every individual commodity reproduces in its price its share of this wear and tear, but reduces also the aliquot portion of the invested capital for this period. Repair work, etc., to the extent that it becomes necessary, is figured in with the original cost of the machinery. A reduction of the expense for repairs, due to a greater durability of the machinery, reduces the price of this machinery correspondingly.

It may be said also of these economies, at least of most of them, that they are possible only through the combination of labor and are often not realized until production is carried forward on a still larger scale, so that they are due to an even greater combination of laborers in the direct process of production.

On the other hand, the development of the productive power of labor in any one line of production, for instance in the production of iron, coal, machinery, buildings, etc., which may be in part connected with improvements on the field of intellectual production, especially in natural science and its Edition: current; Page: [98] practical application, appears to be the premise for a reduction of the value, and consequently of the cost, of means of production in other lines of industry, for instance in the textile business or in agriculture. This follows naturally from the fact that a commodity, which issues as a product from a certain line of production, enters into another as a means of production. Its dearness or cheapness depends on the productivity of labor in that line of production from which it issues as a product. Thus it is at the same time a basic condition, not only for the cheapening of commodities into whose production it enters as a means of production, but also for the reduction of the value of constant capital, whose element it becomes, and thereby for the increase of the rate of profit.

The characteristic feature of this kind of economies in the constant capital due to the progressive development of industry is that the rise in the rate of profit in one line of industry is the result of the increase of the productive power of labor in another. That which the capitalist appropriates in this case is once more a gain which is the product of social labor, although not a product of the laborers directly exploited by him. Such a development of the productive power is traceable in the last instance to the social nature of the labor engaged in production; to the division of labor in society; to the development of intellectual labor, especially of the natural sciences. The capitalist thus appropriates the advantages of the entire system of the division of social labor. It is the development of the productive power of labor in its exterior department, in that department which supplies it with means of production, which relatively lowers the value of the constant capital employed by the capitalist and consequently raises the rate of profit.

Another raise in the rate of profit is produced, not by economies in the labor creating the constant capital, but by economies in the operation of this capital itself. On one hand, the concentration of laborers, and their co-operation on a large scale, saves constant capital. The same buildings, appliances for fuel and light, etc., cost relatively less for large scale than for small scale production. The same is true of power and Edition: current; Page: [99] working machinery. Although their absolute value increases, it falls relatively in comparison to the growing extension of production and the magnitude of the variable capital, or to the mass of labor-power set in motion. The economy realized by a certain capital within its own line of production is first and foremost an economy in labor, that is to say, a reduction of the paid labor of its own laborers. The previously mentioned economy is distinguished from this one by the fact that it accomplished the greatest possible appropriation of the unpaid labor in other lines in the most economical way, that is to say, with as little expense as a certain scale of production will permit. To the extent that this economy does not rest on the previously mentioned exploitation of the productivity of the social labor employed in the production of constant capital, or in an economy arising from the operation of the constant capital itself, it is due either directly to the co-operation and social nature of labor within a certain line of production, or to the production of machinery, etc., on a scale in which its value does not grow at the same rate as its use-value.

Two points must be kept in view here: First, if the value of c were zero, then p' would be equal to s', and the rate of profit would be at its maximum. In the second place, the most important thing for the direct exploitation of labor is not the exchange-value of the employed means of exploitation, whether they be fixed capital, raw materials or auxiliary substances. In so far as they serve as means to absorb labor, as media in and by which labor and surplus-labor are materialized, the exchange-value of buildings, raw materials, etc., is quite immaterial. That which is ultimately essential is on the one hand the quantity of them technically required for their combination with a certain quantity of living labor, and on the other hand their fitness; in other words, not only the machinery, but also the raw and auxiliary materials must be good. The good quality of the raw material determines in part the rate of profit. Good material leaves less waste. A smaller mass of raw materials is then needed for the absorption of the same quantity of labor. The resistance to be overcome by the working machine is also less. This affects in part even Edition: current; Page: [100] the surplus-value and the rate of surplus-value. The laborer consumes more time with bad raw materials than he would with the same quantity of good material. Wages remaining the same, this implies a reduction of the surplus-labor. Furthermore this affects materially the reproduction and accumulation of capital which depend more on the productivity than on the mass of labor employed, as shown in volume I.

The fanatic hankering of the capitalist after economies in means of production is therefore intelligible. That nothing is lost or wasted, that the means of production are consumed only in the manner required by production itself, depends partly on the skill and intelligence of the laborers, partly on the discipline exerted over them by the capitalist. This discipline will become superfluous under a social system in which the laborers work for their own account, as it has already become practically superfluous in piece-work. This fanatic love of the capitalist for profit is expressed, on the other hand, by the adulteration of the elements of production, which is one of the principal means of reducing the value of the constant capital in comparison with the variable capital, and thus of raising the rate of profit. In addition to this, the sale of these elements of production above their value, so far as this value reappears in the product, plays a considerable role in cheating. This practice plays an essential part particularly in German industry, whose maxim seems to be: People will surely appreciate getting first good samples and then inferior goods from us. However, these matters belong in a discussion of competition, and do not further concern us here.

It should be noted that this raising of the rate of profit by means of a depreciation in the value of the constant capital, in other words, by a reduction of its expensiveness, is entirely independent of the fact whether the line of industry, in which this takes place, produces articles of luxury, necessities of life for the individual consumption of laborers, or means of production. This circumstance would be of material importance only in the case that it would be a question of the rate of surplus-value, which depends essentially on the Edition: current; Page: [101] value of labor-power, and consequently on the value of the customary necessities of the laborer. But in the present case the surplus-value and the rate of surplus-value have been assumed as given. The proportion of the surplus-value to the total capital, which determines the rate of profit, depends under these circumstances exclusively on the value of the constant capital, and in no way on the use-value of the elements of which this capital is composed.

A relative cheapening of the means of production does not, of course, exclude the absolute increase of their aggregate values. For the absolute scope of their application grows extraordinarily with the development of the productive power of labor and the parallel extension of the scale of production. The economies in the use of constant capital, from whatever point of view they may be considered, are the result, either exclusively of the fact that the means of production serve as co-operative materials for the combined laborers, so that the resulting economies appear as products of the social nature of directly productive labor itself; or, in part, of the fact that the productivity of labor is developed in those spheres which supply capital with means of production, and in that case these economies present themselves once more as products of the development of the productive forces of social labor, provided only that the total labor is compared with the total capital, and not simply with the laborers employed by the individual capitalist owning this particular constant capital. The difference in this case is merely that the capitalist takes advantage not only of the productivity of labor in his own establishment, but also of that in other establishments. Nevertheless, the capitalist presumes that the economies of his constant capital are wholly independent of his laborers and have nothing at all to do with them. On the other hand, the capitalist is always well aware that the laborer has something to do with the fact whether the employer buys much or little labor with the same amount of money (for this is the form in which this transaction between the laborer and the capitalist appears in the mind of the latter). The economies realized in the application of constant capital, this method of getting Edition: current; Page: [102] a certain result out of the means of production with the smallest possible expense, is regarded more than any other power inherent in labor as a peculiar gift of capital and as a method characteristic of the capitalist mode of production.

This conception is so much less surprising as it seems to be borne out by facts. For the conditions of capitalist production conceal the internal connection of things by the utter indifference, alienation, and expropriation practiced against the laborer in the matter of the material means in which his labor must be incorporated.

In the first place, the means of production constituting the constant capital represent only the money of the capitalist (just as the body of the Roman debtor represented the money of his creditor, according to Linguet). The laborer comes in contact with them only in the direct process of production, in which he handles them as use-values of production, as instruments of labor and materials of production. The increase or decrease of the value of these things are matters which affect his relation to the capitalist no more than the fact that he may be working up either copper or iron. Occasionally, however, the capitalist likes to profess a different conception of the matter, as we shall indicate later on. He does so whenever the means of production become dearer and thereby reduce his rate of profit.

In the second place, so far as these means of production in the capitalist process of labor are at the same time means of exploiting labor, the laborer is no more concerned in the relative dearness or cheapness of these means of exploitation than a horse is concerned in the dearness or cheapness of the bit and bridle by which it is steered.

In the third place, we have seen previously that the social nature of labor, the combination of the labor of a certain individual laborer with that of other laborers for a common purpose, stands opposed to that laborer and his comrades as a foreign power, as the property of a stranger which he would not care particularly to save if he were not compelled to economize with it. It is entirely different in the factories owned by the laborers themselves, for instance, in Rochdale.

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It requires hardly any special mention, then, that the general interconnection of social labor, so far as it expresses the productivity of labor in one line of industry by a cheapening and improvement of the means of production in another line, and thereby a raising of the rate of profit, affects the laborers as a matter foreign to them and concerning only the capitalists, since they are the ones who buy and own these means of production. The fact that the capitalist buys the product of the laborers of another line of industry with the product of the laborers in his own line, and that he disposes of the product of the laborers of another capitalist by virtue of having appropriated the unpaid products of his own laborers, is mercifully concealed for him by the process of circulation and its attending circumstances.

This state of things is further complicated by the fact that these economies in the employment of constant capital assume the guise of being due to the peculiar nature of the capitalist mode of production, and to the special function of the capitalist in particular. The thirst for profits and the demands of competition tend toward the greatest possible cheapening of the production of commodities, just as production on a large scale first develops in its capitalistic form.

Capitalist production promotes on the one hand the development of the productive powers of social labor, and on the other it enforces economies in the employment of constant capital.

However, capitalist production does not stop at the alienation and expropriation of the laborer, the bearer of living labor, from his interest in the economical, that is to say, rational and thrifty, use of the material requirements of his labor. In conformity with its contradictory and antagonistic nature, capitalist production proceeds to add to the economies in the use of constant capital, and thus to the means of increasing the rate of profit, a prodigality in the use of the life and health of the laborer himself.

Since the laborer passes the greater portion of his life in the process of production, the conditions of this productive process constitute the greater part of the fundamental conditions of his vital activity, his requirements of life. Economies Edition: current; Page: [104] in these requirements constitute a method of raising the rate of profit, just as we observed on previous occasions that overwork, the transformation of the laborers into laboring cattle, constitutes a means of self-expanding capital, of speeding up the production of surplus-value. Such economies are: The overcrowding of narrow and unsanitary rooms with laborers, or, in the language of the capitalist, a saving in buildings; a crowding of dangerous machinery into one and the same room without means of protection against this danger; a neglect of precautions in productive processes which are dangerous to health or life, such as mining, etc.; not to mention the absence of all provisions to render the process of production human, agreeable, or even bearable, for the laborer. From the capitalist point of view, such measures would be quite useless and senseless. No matter how economical capitalist production may be in other respects, it is utterly prodigal with human life. And its saving in one direction is offset by a waste in another, owing to the distribution of its products through trade and the competitive method. Capitalism loses on one side for society what it gains on another for the individual capitalist.

Just as capital endeavors to reduce the direct application of living labor to necessary labor, and to abbreviate the labor required for the production of any commodity by the exploitation of the social productiveness of labor and thus to use as little living labor as possible, so it has also the tendency to apply this minimized labor under the most economical conditions, that is to say, to reduce the value of the employed constant capital to its minimum. While the value of commodities is determined by the necessary labor-time contained in them, not by all of the labor-time incorporated in them, it is the capital which gives reality to this determination and at the same time reduces continually the labor-time socially necessary for the production of a certain commodity. The price of that commodity is thereby lowered to its minimum, since every portion of the labor required for its production is reduced to its minimum.

It is necessary to make a distinction in the economies realized Edition: current; Page: [105] in the employment of constant capital. If the mass, and consequently the amount of the value, of the employed capital increases, it means primarily a concentration of more capital in one hand. Now, it is precisesly this greater mass in one hand, going hand in hand, as a rule, with an absolute increase but relative decrease of the number of employed laborers, which permits economies in constant capital. From the point of view of the individual capitalist the volume of the necessary investment of capital, especially of its fixed portion, increases. But compared to the mass of the worked-up materials and of the exploited labor the value of the invested capital relatively decreases.

This will now be briefly illustrated by a few examples. We begin at the end, with economies in the conditions of production which are at the same time the living conditions of the laborer.

II. Economies in the conditions of labor at the expense of the laborers.

Coal Mines. Neglect of the most indispensable Expenditures.

"Owing to the competition between the proprietors of coal mines, expenses are kept down to the minimum required for overcoming the most palpable physical difficulties; and owing to the competition among the miners, whose numbers generally exceed the demand, they are glad to expose themselves to considerable danger and to the most injurious influences for a wage which is little above that of the day laborers in the neighboring country districts, more especially since mining permits them to utilize their children profitably. This double competition is fully sufficient...to effect the operation of a large portion of the mines with the most imperfect drainage and ventilation; very often with badly built shafts, bad piping, incapable machinists, with badly planned and badly constructed galleries and tracks and this causes a destruction of life, limb, and health, the statistics of which would present an appalling picture." (First Report on Children's Employment in Mines and Collieries, etc., April 21, 1829, page 129.) Edition: current; Page: [106] About 1860, the average of fatal accidents in the English collieries amounted to 15 men per week. According to the report on Coal Mines Accidents (February 6, 1862), the total deaths from accidents during the ten years from 1852-61 amounted to 8,466. But the report itself admits that this number is far too low, because in the first years, when the inspectors had just been installed and their districts were far too large, a great many accidents and deaths were not reported. The very fact that the number of accidents has decreased since the installation of the inspectors, in spite of their insufficient numbers and limited powers, shows the natural tendencies of capitalist production. Still the number of the killed is very large. These sacrifices of human beings are mostly due to the groveling greed of the mine owners. Very often they had only one shaft dug, so that there was not only no effective ventilation but also no escape if this shaft became clogged.

Looking upon capitalist production in its details, aside from the process of circulation and the excrescences of competition, we find that it is very economical with materialized labor incorporated in commodities. But it is more than any other mode of production prodigal with human lives, with living labor, wasting not only blood and flesh, but also nerves and brains. Indeed, it is only by dint of the most extravagant waste of individual development that human development is safeguarded and advanced in that epoch of history which immediately precedes the conscious reorganisation of society. Since all the economies here mentioned arise from the social nature of labor, it is just this social character of labor which causes this waste of the lives and health of the laborers. The following question suggested by factory inspector B. Baker is characteristic in this respect: "The whole question is one for serious consideration, in what way this sacrifice of infant life occasioned by congregational labor can be averted?" (Report Fact., October 1863, page 157.)

Factories. Under this head belongs the disregard for all precautions for the security, comfort, and health of the laborers, also in the factories. A large portion of the bulletins of casualties enumerating the wounded and slain of the industrial Edition: current; Page: [107] army belong here (see the annual factory reports). Furthermore lack of space, ventilation, etc.

As late as October, 1855, Leonard Horner complained about the resistance of numerous manufacturers against the legal requirements concerning protective appliances on horizontal shafts, although the dangerous character of these shafts was continually proved by accidents, many of them fatal, and although the appliance for protection against this danger was neither expensive nor interfered with the work. (Rep. Fact., October, 1855, page 6.) In their resistance against this and other legal requirements, the manufacturers are ably seconded by the unpaid justices of the peace, who are themselves manufacturers or their friends, and who render their verdicts accordingly. What sort of verdicts those gentlemen rendered was revealed by Superior Judge Campbell, who said with reference to one of them, against which an appeal was made to him: "This is not an interpretation of an act of parliament, it is simply its abolition." (L. c., page 11.) Horner says in the same report that in many factories machinery is started up without warning the laborers. Since there is always something to look after, even when the machinery is at a standstill, there are always many hands and fingers busy on it, and accidents happen continually from the omission of a mere signal. (L. c., page 44.) The manufacturers of that period had formed a union opposing the factory legislation, the so-called "National Association for the Amendment of the Factory Laws" in Manchester, which collected, in March, 1855, more than 50,000 p.st. by an assessment of 2 shillings per horse-power. This sum was to pay for lawsuits of the members of the association against court proceedings instigated by factory inspectors, all cases of this kind being fought by the union. The issue was to prove that killing is no murder when done for profit. The factory inspector for Scotland, Sir John Kincaid, relates of a certain firm in Glasgow that it used the old iron of its factory to make protective appliances for all its machinery, the cost being 9 p.st. 1 shilling. If this firm had joined the manufacturers' union, it would have had to pay an assessment of 11 p.st. on its 110 horse powers. This Edition: current; Page: [108] would have been more than the cost of all its protective appliances. But the National Association had been organized in 1854 for the express purpose of opposing the law which prescribed such protection. The manufacturers had paid no attention whatever to this law during all the time from 1844 to 1854. At the instruction of Palmerston the factory inspectors then informed the manufacturers that the law would hence-forth be enforced. The manufacturers immediately founded their union. Many of its most prominent members were justices of the peace who were supposed to carry out this law. When the new Minister of the Interior, Sir George Grey, offered a compromise, in April, 1855, to the effect that the government would be content with practically nominal appliances for protection, the Association declined even this, with indignation. In various lawsuits, the famous engineer Thomas Fairbairn permitted the manufacturers to throw the weight of his name into the scale in favor of economies and in defense of the violated liberty of capital. The chief of factory inspectors, Leonard Horner, was persecuted and maligned by the manufacturers in every conceivable manner.

But the manufacturers did not rest until they had obtained a writ of the Queen's Bench, which interpreted the Law of 1844 to the effect that no protective appliances were prescribed for horizontal shafts installed more than seven feet above the ground. And finally they succeeded in 1856 in securing an act of parliament entirely satisfactory to them, by the help of the hypocrite Wilson Patten, one of those pious souls whose ostentatious religion is always ready to do dirty work for the knights of the money-bag. This act practically deprived the laborers of all special protection and referred them to the common courts for the recovery of damages in cases of accident by machinery (which amounted practically to a mockery, on account of the excessive cost of lawsuits). On the other hand, this act made it almost impossible for the manufacturers to lose a lawsuit, by providing in a very nicely worded clause for expert testimony. As a result, the accidents increased rapidly. In the six months from May to October, 1858, Inspector Baker reported an increase of accidents exceeding that Edition: current; Page: [109] of the preceding six months by 21%. He was of the opinion that 36.7% of these accidents might have been avoided. It is true, that the number of accidents in 1858 and 1859 was considerably below that of 1845 and 1846. It was 29% less, although the number of laborers had increased by 20% in the industries subject to inspection. But what was the reason for this? So far as the moot question was settled in 1865, it was due mainly to the introduction of new machinery which was provided with protective appliances from the start and to which the manufacturer did not object because they required no extra expense. A few laborers had also succeeded in securing heavy damages for their lost arms and having this sentence upheld even by the highest courts. (Rep. Fact., April 30, 1861, page 31, and April 1862, page 17.)

This may suffice to illustrate the economies in appliances by which life and limb of laborers (also children) are to be protected against dangers arising in the handling and operating of machinery.

Work in Closed Rooms. It is well known to what extent economies of space, and thus of buildings, crowd the laborers into narrow rooms. This is intensified by economies in appliances for ventilation. These two economies, coupled with an increase of the labor time, produce a large increase in the diseases of the respiratory organs, and consequently an increase of mortality. The following illustrations have been taken from the Reports on Public Health, 6th report, 1863. This report was compiled by Dr. John Simon, well-known from our volume I.

Just as the combination of co-operative labor permits the operation of machinery on a large scale, the concentration of means of production, and economies in their employment, so it is the co-operation of large numbers of laborers in closed rooms and under conditions determined by the ease of manufacture, not by the health of the laborer, which is on the one hand the source of increased profits for the capitalist and on the other the cause of the waste of the lives and health of the laborers, unless it is counteracted by a reduction of the hours of labor and by special precautions.

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Dr. Simon formulates the following rule and backs it up with abundant statistics: "To the extent that the population of a certain district is made dependent upon co-operative labor in close rooms, to the same extent, other conditions remaining the same, increases the rate of mortality in that district through pulmonary diseases." (Page 23.) The cause of this is bad ventilation. "And there is probably in all England not a single exception from the rule that in every district, which has an important industry carried on in closed rooms, the increased mortality of its laborers suffices to color the mortality statistics of the entire district with a decided excess of pulmonary diseases." (Page 24.)

The mortality statistics of industries carried on in closed rooms, as examined by the Board of Health in 1860 and 1861, show the following facts: The same number of men between the ages of 15 and 55, having a rate of 100 deaths from consumption and other pulmonary diseases in English agricultural districts, has a rate of 163 deaths from consumption in Coventry, 167 in Blackburn and Skipton, 168 in Congleton and Bradford, 171 in Leicester, 182 in Leek, 184 in Macclesfield, 190 in Bolton, 192 in Nottingham, 193 in Rochdale, 198 in Derby, 203 in Salford and Ashton-under Lyne, 218 in Leeds, 220 in Preston, and 263 in Manchester. (Page 24.) The following table gives a still more convincing illustration.

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It shows the deaths from pulmonary diseases separately for both sexes, between the ages of 15 to 25, computed on every 100,000. The districts selected are those in which only the women are employed in the industry carried on in closed rooms, while the men are employed in all possible lines of work.

In the districts with silk-industries, in which the participation of men in factory work is greater, their death-rate is also higher. The death rate from consumption, etc., in both sexes reveals, according to the report, the atrocious sanitary conditions under which a large portion of our silk-industry is carried on." And this is the same silk-industry whose manufacturers, boasting of the exceptionally favorable and sanitary conditions in their establishments, demanded an exceptionally long labor-time for children under 13 years of age, and were granted permission in several instances. (Volume I, chapter X, 6.)

"None of the hitherto investigated industries will have presented a worse picture than that given by Dr. Smith of tailoring. The work rooms, he says, differ considerably in the matter of sanitation; but nearly all of them are overcrowded, badly ventilated, and to a high degree injurious to health...Such rooms are necessarily hot, as it is; but if the gas is lighted, for instance during a fog in the daytime, or in winter in the evening, the heat rises to 80 or even 90 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 33 degrees C.) and causes a dripping perspiration and a precipitation of vapor on the glass panes, so that water is continually trickling down or dropping down from the skylight, and the laborers are compelled to keep some windows open, although they inevitably catch cold thereby.—He gives the following description of 16 of the most important shops of the West end of London: The largest cubic space alloted in these badly ventilated rooms to one laborer is 270 cubic feet; the smallest is 105 feet, the average being 156 feet per man. In a certain shop, which has a gallery running all around its sides and which receives light only from above, from 92 to 100 people are employed and a large number of gas jets lighted; the toilets are next door, and the Edition: current; Page: [112] room does not give above 150 cubic feet to each man. In another shop, which can be called only a dog kennel in a yard lighted from above and which can be ventilated only by one small window in the roof, from 5 to 6 people work in a room of 112 cubic feet per man." And "in these atrocious work rooms, described by Dr. Smith, the tailors work generally from 12 to 13 hours per day, and at certain periods work is continued for 14 to 16 hours." (Pages 25, 26, 28.)

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(Page 30.) It must be noted, and has in fact been noted by John Simon, the chief of the Medical Department, who issued the report, that the mortality of the tailors, typesetters, and printers of London, for the ages from 25 to 35 years, has been reported too low, because the London employers in both lines have a large number of young people (probably up to 30 years of age) from the country engaged as apprentices and "improvers," that is to say, men who are being trained. These increase the number of employed on which the deathrates of London are computed. But they do not contribute at the same rate to the number of deaths in London, because their stay there is only temporary. If they get sick during this period, they return to their homes in the country to get well, and if they die there, they are registered in their own district. This fact affects the earlier ages still more and renders the death-rate figures of London for these ages completely valueless as standards of industrial violations of sanitary laws. (Page 30.)

The case of the typesetters is similar to that of the tailors. In addition to lack of ventilation, poisoned air, etc., their condition is aggravated by night-work. Their regular working time lasts from 12 to 13 hours, sometimes from 15 to 16. Edition: current; Page: [113] "Great heat and suffocating air as soon as the gas is lighted....It is not a rare occurrence that the fumes of a foundry, or the smell of machinery or of cesspools, rise from lower floors and aggravate the evils of the upper floors. The hot air of the lower rooms heats the upper ones by warming the floors, and if the rooms are low and much gas is burned in them, it is a great nuisance. It is still worse in places where steam engines are installed in the lower rooms and fill the whole house with undesirable heat...In general it may be said that the ventilation is defective throughout and totally insufficient to remove the heat and the products of combustion of the gas after sundown, and that conditions in many shops, especially if they were formerly living rooms, are most deplorable." In some shops, particularly for weekly papers, where boys of 12 to 16 years are also employed, work is carried on almost uninterruptedly for two days and one night; while in other printing shops, which make a specialty of job work, the laborer does not get a rest even on Sunday, so that his days of work are 7 instead of 6 per week. (Page 26, 28.)

The milliners and dress makers occupied our attention also in volume I, chapter X, 3, so far as overwork was concerned. Their work rooms are described in the present report by Dr. Ord. Even if they are better during the day, they become overheated, foul, and unhealthy during the hours in which gas is burned. Dr. Ord found in 34 shops of the better sort that the average number of cubic feet per worker was as follows: "In four cases more than 500; in four other cases 400-500; in five cases 200-250; in four cases 150-200; and finally in nine cases only 100-150. Even the most favorable of these cases barely suffices for continued work, when the room is not perfectly ventilated...Even with good ventilation the workshops become very hot and stuffy after dark on account of the many gas jets needed." And here follows a remark of Dr. Ord concerning one of the minor workshops operated for the account of a middleman: "One room, containing 1,280 cubic feet; persons present, 14; space for every person, 91.5 cubic feet. The girls looked haggard and neglected. There wages were said to be from 7 to 15 sh. per week, aside from Edition: current; Page: [114] tea...The hours of labor from 8 A. M. to 8 P. M. The small room, in which these 14 persons were crowded together, was badly ventilated. There were two movable windows and a fireplace, which was, however, closed. There were no special appliances of any kind for ventilation." (Page 27).

The same report states with reference to the overwork of the milliners and dress makers: "The overworking of young women in fashionable millinery stores prevails only for about 4 months in that monstrous degree which has elicited on many occasions the momentary surprise and indignation of the public. But during these months work is as a rule continued in the shop for fully 14 hours per day, and on accumulated rush-orders for days from 17 to 18 hours." In other seasons work in the shop is carried on probably for 10 to 14 hours; those working at home are regularly engaged for 12 to 13 hours. In the making of ladies' cloaks, capes, shirts, etc., including work with a sewing machine, the hours passed in the common work room are fewer, generally not more than 10 to 12, but, says Dr. Ord, "the regular hours of labor in certain houses, at various times, are subject to considerable extension by means of extra paid overtime, and in others work is taken home in order to be finished after the regular working time. We may add that either one of these methods of over-work is often compulsory." (Page 28). John Simons remarks in a footnote to this page: "Mr. Redcliffe, the secretary of the Epidemiological Society, who had especially frequent opportunities to examine the health of milliners and dressmakers of the first firms, found among 20 girls who said of themselves that they were "quite well" only one in good health; the others showed different degrees of physical exhaustion, nervous debility, and numerous functional troubles arising therefrom. He names as causes, in the first instance, the length of the working hours, which he estimates at a minimum of 12 hours per day even in the dull season, and secondly, 'overcrowding and bad ventilation of workrooms, air poisoned by gas lights, insufficient or bad food, and lack of provision for domestic comfort.'"

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The conclusion at which the chief of the English Board of Health arrived, is that "it is practically impossible for laborers to insist on that which is theoretically their first sanitary right: the right of having their common labor freed from all needless conditions injurious to health, so far as may lie in the power of their employer, and at his expense, whatever may be the work to be accomplished by them for their employer. And while the laborers themselves are actually not in a position to enforce this sanitary justice, neither can they expect any effective assistance from the officials responsible for the enforcement of the Nuisance Removal Acts, in spite of the presumable intention of the legislator." (Page 29.)—"There will no doubt be some small technical difficulties in the way of determining the lowest limit where the employers shall be subject to regulation. But...in principle the claim to the protection of health is universal. And in the interest of myriads of working men and working women, whose lives are needlessly stunted and shortened by the infinite physical ills caused by their occupations, I venture to express the hope that the sanitary conditions of labor will just as universally be placed under fitting legal protection; at least sufficiently to safeguard an effective ventilation of all closed work rooms, and to restrict as much as possible the particular unsanitary influences naturally inherent in every dangerous line of industry." (Page 63.)

III. Economies in the Generation of Power, Transmission of Power, and Buildings.

In his report for October, 1852, L. Horner quotes a letter of the famous engineer James Nasmyth of Patricrofit, the inventor of the steam hammer, which contains substantially the following statements.

The public is little acquainted with the immense increase of motive power obtained through such changes of system and improvements (of steam engines) as he is mentioning. The machine power of the district of Lancashire was for almost forty years under the pressure of timid and prejudiced traditions. But now the engineers have been happily emancipated. Edition: current; Page: [116] During the last 15 years, but particularly in the course of the last 4 years (since 1848) a few important changes have taken place in the operation of condense steam engines. The result was that the same machines accomplished far more work, and that the consumption of coal was considerably decreased at the same time. For many years, since the introduction of steam power in the factories of this district, the velocity which was considered safe for condense steam engines, was about 220 feet of piston lift per minute, that is to say, a machine with a piston lift of 5 feet was limited by regulation to 22 revolutions of the shaft. It was not considered appropriate to drive the machine faster. And since the entire installation was adapted to this velocity of 220 feet of piston lift per minute, this slow and senselessly restricted motion prevailed in the factories for many years. But finally, either through a lucky unfamiliarity with this regulation, or for better reasons of some daring innovator, a greater velocity was tried, and, since the result was very favorable, this example was followed by others. The machine was given full rein, as the saying was, and the main wheels of the transmission gear were changed in such a way that the steam engine could make 300 feet per minute and more, while the machinery was kept at its former speed. This acceleration of the steam engine had become general, because it had been demonstrated that more available power was gained from the same machine, and that the movements were much more regular on account of the greater impetus of the driving wheel. The same steam pressure and the same vacuum in the condenser produced more power by means of a simple acceleration of the piston lift. For instance, if by appropriate changes we can accomplish that a machine yielding 40 horse power with 200 feet per minute makes 400 feet with the same steam pressure and vacuum, we shall secure exactly double that power, and since the steam pressure and the vacuum are the same in both cases, the strain on the various individual parts of the machine, and thus the danger of accidents, will not materially increase with an increase of speed. The whole difference is that we consume more steam in comparison to the accelerated movement of the piston, or at least Edition: current; Page: [117] approximately so; and furthermore, there is a somewhat more rapid wear of the bearings, or friction parts, but this is hardly worth mentioning. But in order to obtain more power with the same machine by speeding up the piston, more coal must be burned under the same steam boiler, or a boiler of a larger volume of evaporation must be employed, in short, more steam must be generated. This was accomplished, and boilers with a greater volume were installed with the old "accelerated" machines. These accomplished consequently as much as 100% more work. About 1842, the extraordinarily cheap generation of power with steam engines in the mines of Cornwall began to attract attention. The competition in cotton spinning compelled the manufacturers to seek the main source of their profits in economies. The remarkable difference in the consumption of coal per hour and horse-power shown by the Cornish machines, and likewise the extraordinarily economical performances of the Woolf Double Cylinder Machines, brought the question of fuel into the foreground, also in Nasmyth's district. The Cornish and the double cylinder machines furnished one horse-power per hour for every 3½ or 4 pounds of coal, while the machines in the cotton districts generally consumed 8 or 12 pounds per horse-power an hour. Such a marked difference induced the manufacturers and machine builders of Nasmyth's district to accomplish by similar means just such extraordinary economies as were then the rule in Cornwall and France, where the high prices of coal had compelled the manufacturers to restrict this expensive branch of their business as much as possible. This led to some very important results. In the first place, many boilers, one-half of whose surface remained exposed to the cold outer air in the time of high profits, were then covered with thick layers of felt, or bricks and mortar, and other material, by which the radiation of the heat, which had been generated at such high cost, was prevented. Steam pipes were protected in the same way, and the cylinders were also surrounded by felt and wood. In the second place, high pressure came into use. Hitherto the safety-valve had been weighted only so slightly that it opened at 4, 6, or 8 pounds of steam pressure per square inch. Edition: current; Page: [118] Then it was discovered that considerable coal could be saved by raising the pressure to 14 or 20 pounds. In other words, the work of a factory was accomplished by a considerably lower consumption of coal. Those who had the means and the enterprise carried the system of increased pressure to its full extension and employed judiciously constructed steam-boilers, which furnished steam at a pressure of 30, 40, 60, or 70 pounds per square inch, which would have scared an engineer of the old school to death. But as the economic result of this increased steam-pressure soon made itself felt in the unmistakable form of so many pounds sterling, shillings, and pence, the high pressure boilers for condensing machines became very common. Those who carried out the reform radically used the Woolf machines, and this took place in most of the recently built machines. These were the Woolf machines with two cylinders, in one of which the steam from the boiler furnishes power by means of the excess of pressure over that of the atmosphere, whereupon, instead of escaping as formerly after each stroke of the piston into the open air, it passes into a low pressure cylinder of about four times the volume of the other and, after accomplishing there some more expansion, goes to the condenser. The economic result obtained by such a machine is the performance of one horse-power per hour for every 3½ or 4 pounds of coal, while the machines of the old style required from 12 to 14 pounds for this purpose. A clever device permitted the adaption of the Woolf system with double cylinders, that is to say, the high and low pressure machine, to already existing machines and thus the increase of their performance and at the same time a reduction in the consumption of coal. The same result was obtained during the last 8 or 10 years by a combination of a high pressure machine with a condensing machine in such a way that the steam used in the former passed into the latter and drove it. This system is useful for many purposes. It would not be easily possible to obtain any accurate statistics of the increased performances of the same identical steam-engines supplied with some or all of these new improvements. But it is certain that the same weight of steam machinery now Edition: current; Page: [119] performs 50% more service on an average, and that in many cases the same steam-engine, which yielded 50 horse-powers at the time of the limited speed of 220 feet per minute, yields now more than 100 horse-powers. The highly economical results of the employment of high pressure steam in condensing machines, and the far greater demands made upon the old machines for the purposes of business expansion, have led in the last three years to the introduction of pipe boilers, by which the cost of steam generation is again considerably reduced. (Rep. Fact., Oct., 1852, pages 23 to 27.)

What applies to power generating, also applies to power transmitting and working machinery. According to Redgrave's report, on page 58 of the above-cited document, the rapid steps made in the development of improvements in machinery during the last years have enabled the manufacturers to expand production without additional motive power. The more economical employment of labor has become necessary through the shortening of the working day, and in most well-managed factories means are always considered by which production may be increased, and expenses decreased. Redgrave has before him a calculation, which he owes to the courtesy of a very intelligent gentleman in his district, referring to the number and age of the laborers employed in his factory, the machines operated in it, and the wages paid from 1840 to date. In October, 1840, his firm employed 600 laborers, of whom 200 were less than 13 years old. In October, 1852, they employed only 350 laborers, of whom only 60 were less than 13 years old. The same number of machines, with very few exceptions, were in operation, and the same amounts were paid in wages, in both years...

These improvements of machinery do not show their full effects until they are used in new and judiciously built factories.

According to the testimony of a cotton spinner in the factory reports for 1863, page 110, great progress has been made in the building of factories in which such improved machinery is to be installed. In the basement of his factory he twines all his yarn, and for this purpose alone he installs 29,000 Edition: current; Page: [120] doubling spindles. In this room and in the shed alone he saves at least 10% in labor. This is not so much the result of improvements in the doubling system, as of the concentration of machinery under one gearing. He can drive the same number of spindles with one single driving shaft, and thus he saves from 60 to 80% for gearing as compared to other firms. This furthermore results in a great saving of oil, grease, etc. In short, with perfected installations in his factory and improved machinery he had saved at least 10% in labor, not to mention great economies in power, coal, oil, grease, transmission belts and shafts.

IV. Utilisation of the Excrements of Production.

With the advance of capitalist production the utilisation of the excrements of production and consumption is extended. We mean by the former the refuse of industry and agriculture, and by the latter either the excrements, such as issue from the natural circulation of matter in the human body, or the form in which objects of consumption are left after being used. Excrements of production, for instance in chemical industries, are such by-products as are wasted in production on a smaller scale; iron filings collected in the manufacture of machinery and carried back into the production of iron as raw material, etc. Excrements of consumption are the natural discharges of human beings, remains of clothing in the form of rags, etc. The excrements of consumption have the most value for agriculture. So far as their utilisation is concerned, the capitalist mode of production wastes them in enormous quantities. In London, for instance, they find no better use for the excrements of four and a half million human beings than to contaminate the Thames with it at heavy expense.

The raising of the price of raw materials naturally leads to the utilisation of waste products.

The general requirements for the re-employment of these excrements are: A great quantity of such excrements, such as is only the result of production on a large scale; improvements in machinery by which substances formerly useless in Edition: current; Page: [121] their prevailing form are given another useful in reproduction; progress of science, especially of chemistry, which discovers the useful qualities of such waste. It is true, that great economies of this sort are also observed in small agriculture carried on like gardening, for instance in Lombardy, southern China, and Japan. But on the whole the productivity of agriculture under this system is obtained by great prodigality in human labor-power, which is drawn from other spheres of production.

The so-called waste plays an important role in almost every industry. The factory report for December, 1863, mentions as one of the principal reasons why farmers in many parts of England and Ireland do not like to grow flax, or do so but rarely, the great waste occurring in the preparation of flax by small scutch-mills driven by water. The waste is relatively small in cotton, but very considerable in flax. Good treatment in soaking and mechanical scutching may reduce this disadvantage considerably. In Ireland flax is frequently scutched in a very slovenly manner, so that from 28 to 30% are lost. All this might be avoided by the use of better machinery. So much tow fell by the side in the preparation of flax that the factory inspector reports having heard it said of some of the scutching mills in Ireland that the laborers carry the waste home and burn it in their fire-places, although it is very valuable. (Page 140 of the above report.) We shall speak of cotton later, in discussing the fluctuations of prices of raw materials.

The wool industry was carried on more intelligently than the preparation of flax. The same report states on page 107 that it was formerly the custom to veto the preparation of waste wool and woolen rags for renewed use, but this prejudice has been entirely dropped so far as the shoddy trade is concerned, which has become an important branch of the wool district of Yorkshire. It is doubtless expected that the trade with cotton waste will soon occupy the same rank as a line of business meeting a long felt want. Thirty years previous to 1863, woolen rags, that is to say pieces of all-wool cloth, etc., were worth on an average about 4 p.st. 4 sh. per ton. But Edition: current; Page: [122] a few years before 1863 they had become worth as much as 44 p.st. per ton. And the demand for them had risen to such an extent that mixed stuffs of wool and cotton were also used, means having been found to destroy the cotton without injuring the wool. And thousands of laborers were employed in 1863 in the manufacture of shoddy, and the consumer benefited thereby, being enabled to buy cloth of good quality at very reasonable prices. The shoddy so rejuvenated constituted in 1862 as much as one-third of the entire consumption of wool in English industry, according to the factory report of October, 1862, page 81. The truth about the "benefit" for the "consumer" is that his shoddy clothes wear out in one-third of the time which good woolen clothes used to last, and become threadbare in one-sixth of this time.

The English silk industry moved on the same inclined plane. From 1839 to 1862 the consumption of genuine raw silk had somewhat decreased, while that of silk waste had doubled. By the help of improved machinery it was possible to make this otherwise rather worthless stuff into a silk useful for many purposes.

The most striking instance of the utilisation of waste was furnished by the chemical industry. It utilises not only its own waste in new ways, but also that of many other industries. For instance it converts the formerly almost useless gas-tar into aniline colors, alizarin, and more recently even into drugs.

This economy through the re-employment of excrements of production must be distinguished from economies through the prevention of waste, that is to say, the reduction of excrements of production to a minimum and the maximum utilisation at first hand of all raw and auxiliary materials required in production.

The reduction of waste depends in part on the quality of the machinery in use. Oil, soap, etc., are saved to the extent that the parts of a machine are constructed accurately and polished. This refers to auxiliary materials. In part, however, and this is the most important part, it depends on the quality of the employed machines and tools whether a large or Edition: current; Page: [123] small portion of raw material is converted into waste in the process of production. Finally it depends on the quality of the raw material itself. This in turn is conditioned on the development of the extract industry and agriculture producing the raw material (the progress of civilisation strictly so called), and on the improvement of processes through which the raw materials pass before their entry into manufacture.

"Parmentier proved that the art of grinding grain was very materially improved in France in recent times, for instance since the time of Louis XIV, so that the new mills, compared to the old, can make as high as twice as much bread from the same amount of grain. In fact, the annual consumption of an inhabitant of Paris was at first placed at 4 setiers of grain, then at 3, finally at 2, while nowadays it is only 1½ setier, or about 342 lbs. per capita....In the Perche, in which I lived for a long time, the crude mills of granite and trap rock have been rebuilt according to the rules of advanced mechanics as understood for the last 30 years. They have been provided with good mill stones from La Ferté, the grain has been ground twice, the milling sack has been given a circular motion, and the output of flour has increased by one-sixth for the same amount of grain. I can easily explain the enormous discrepancy between the daily consumption of grain among the Romans and among us. It is due simply to the imperfect method of milling and bread making. In this connection I must explain a peculiar fact mentioned by Pliny, XVIII, c. 20, 2:...'The flour was sold in Rome, according to quality, at 40, 48, or 96 as per modius.' These prices, so high in proportion to the contemporaneous prices of grain, are due to the imperfect state of the mills of that period, and the resulting heavy cost of milling." (Dureau de la Malle, Economie Politique des Romains. Paris, 1840, I, page 280.)

V. Economies Due to Inventions.

These economies in the utilisation of fixed capital, we repeat, are due to the application of the requirements of labor Edition: current; Page: [124] on a large scale, in short, are due to the fact that these requirements serve as the first conditions of direct co-operative and social production, a co-operation within the primary process of production. On the one hand, this is the indispensable requirement for the application of mechanical and chemical inventions without increasing the price of commodities, and this is always the first consideration. On the other hand, only production on a large scale permits those economies which are derived from co-operative productive consumption. Finally, it is only the experience of combined laborers which discovers the where and how of economies, the simplest methods of applying the experience gained, the way to overcome practical frictions in carrying out theories, etc.

Incidentally it should be noted that there is a difference between universal labor and co-operative labor. Both kinds play their role in the process of production, both flow one into the other, but both are also differentiated. Universal labor is scientific labor, such as discoveries and inventions. This labor is conditioned on the co-operation of living fellow-beings and on the labors of those who have gone before. Co-operative labor, on the other hand, is a direct co-operation of living individuals.

The foregoing is corroborated by frequent observation, to-wit:

1) The great difference in the cost of the first building of a new machine and that of its reproduction, on which see Ure and Babbage.

2) The far greater cost of operating an establishment based on a new invention as compared to later establishments arising out of the ruins of the first one, as it were. This is carried to such an extent that the first leaders in a new enterprise are generally bankrupted, and only those who later buy the buildings, machinery, etc., cheaper, make money out of it. It is, therefore, generally the most worthless and miserable sort of money-capitalists who draw the greatest benefits out of the universal labor of the human mind and its co-operative application in society.

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CHAPTER VI.: THE EFFECT OF FLUCTUATIONS IN PRICE.

I. Fluctuations in the Price of Raw Materials, and their Direct Effects on the Rate of Profit.

THE assumption in this case, as in previous ones, is that no change takes place in the rate of surplus-value. This assumption is necessary in order that this case may be analysed in its pure state. However, it would be possible that a certain capital, whose rate of surplus-value remains unchanged, might employ an increasing or decreasing number of laborers, in consequence of contraction or expansion caused by fluctuations in the price of raw materials such as we are about to analyse here. In that case, the mass of surplus-value might vary, while the rate of surplus-value remained the same. Still, it will be convenient to set aside also such a case as a side-issue. If improvements of machinery and changes in the price of raw materials simultaneously influence either the number of laborers employed by a certain capital, or the level of wages, one has but to tabulate 1) the effect caused by the variations of constant capital in the rate of profit, and 2) the effect caused by variations in wages on the rate of profit. The result then becomes apparent of itself.

But in general, it should be noted here, as in previous cases: If variations take place, either in consequence of economies in the constant capital, or in consequence of fluctuations in the price of raw materials, they always affect the rate of profit, even though they may leave the wages, and therefore the mass and rate of surplus-value, untouched. They change the magnitude of the C in s' v/C, and thus the value of the whole fraction. It is therefore immaterial, in this case, in contradistinction to what we found to be the case in our analysis of surplus-value, in which sphere of production these variations Edition: current; Page: [126] take place, whether the lines of production affected by them produce articles of food for laborers, or constant capital for the production of such articles, or not. The deductions made here apply just as well if these variations occur in the production of articles of luxury, and by the production of articles of luxury I mean all production not serving for the reproduction of labor-power.

In the raw materials we include here also the auxiliary substances, such as indigo, coal, gas, etc. Furthermore, so far as machinery falls under this head, its own substance consists of iron, wood, leather, etc. Its own price is therefore affected by fluctuations in the prices of raw materials used in its construction. To the extent that its price is raised through fluctuations, either in the price of the raw materials of which it consists, or of the auxiliary substances consumed in its operation, the rate of profit is lowered. And vice versa.

In the following analysis it will be necessary to confine ourselves to fluctuations in the price of raw materials, not so far as they go to make up the raw materials of machinery serving as means of production, or as raw materials in auxiliary substances applied in the operation of machinery, but in so far as they are raw materials contributing to the process in which commodities are produced. We make only this remark: The wealth of nature in iron, coal, wood, etc., which are the principal elements used in the construction and operation of machinery, presents itself here as a natural fertility of capital and becomes an element in determining the rate of profit, independently of the highness or lowness of wages.

Since the rate of profit is represented by s/C, or s/(c+v), it is evident that everything which causes a variation of the magnitude of c, and thereby of C, must also bring about a variation in the rate of profit, even if s and v, and their mutual proportions, remain unaltered. Now, raw materials constitute one of the principal portions of constant capital. Even in industries which consume no raw material, in the strict meaning, it enters as auxiliary material, or as a component part of machinery, etc., and fluctuations in its price influence to that extent the rate of profit. If the price of raw material Edition: current; Page: [127] falls by the amount d, then s/C, or s/(c+v), become s/(C-d), or s/((c-d)+v), in other words, the rate of profit rises. On the other hand, if the price of raw material rises, then s/C, or s/(c+v), become s/(C+d), or s/((c+d)+v), in other words, the rate of profit falls. Other circumstances remaining unchanged, the rate of profit falls and rises, therefore, inversely as the price of raw material. This shows, among other things, how important the low price of raw material is for industrial countries, even if fluctuations in the price of raw materials were not accompanied by variations in the selling sphere of the product, that is to say, quite aside from the relation of demand to supply. It follows furthermore that foreign trade influences the rate of profit, even aside from its influence on wages through the cheapening of the necessities of life, for it affects the prices of raw or auxiliary materials consumed in industry or agriculture. It is due to the imperfect understanding of the nature of the rate of profit and its specific difference from the rate of surplus-value that economists (like Torrens) give a wrong explanation of the marked influence of the prices of raw material on the rate of profit, as demonstrated by experience, and that on the other hand economists like Ricardo, who cling to general principles, misapprehend the influence of such factors as the world's trade on the rate of profit.

We may realise, then, the great importance of the abolition or reduction of tariffs on raw materials for industry. Already the first rational development of the protective system made the utmost reduction of import duties on raw materials one of its cardinal principles. This, and the abolition of the duty on corn, was the main object of the English free traders, who took also, above all, care to have the duty on cotton abolished.

The use of flour in the cotton industry may serve as an illustration of the importance of a reduction in the price of an article, which, although not strictly raw material, is an auxiliary and, of course, at the same time one of the principal elements of food. As long ago as 1837, R. H. Greg13 Edition: current; Page: [128] calculated that the 100,000 power looms and 250,000 hand looms then operated in the cotton mills of Great Britain consumed 41 million lbs. of flour in the smoothing of chains. To this was added a third of this quantity for bleaching and other processes. The total value of the flour so consumed was placed by him at 342,000 p.st. per year for the preceding ten years. A comparison with the prices of flour on the continent showed that the raise in the price of flour forced upon the manufacturers by the corn-laws amounted alone to 170,000 p.st. per year. For 1837, Greg estimated it at a minimum of 200,000 p.st., and he mentions the fact that one firm had to pay 1,000 p.st. more per year for flour. In consequence of this "Large manufacturers, careful and calculated business men, declared that 10 hours of labor per day would be enough, if the corn-laws were repealed." (Rep. Fact., Oct. 1848, page 98.) The corn-laws were repealed. Also the duties on cotton and other raw materials. But no sooner had this been accomplished than the opposition of the manufacturers to the Ten Hours Bill became more violent than ever. And when the ten hour day in factories nevertheless became a law soon after, the first result was an attempt to reduce wages all around.

The value of the raw materials and auxiliary substances passes entirely, and all at one time, into the value of the product in whose creation they are consumed, while the elements of fixed capital transfer their value only gradually to the product in proportion as they are worn away. It follows that the price of the product is influenced to a far higher degree by the price of raw materials than by that of fixed capital, although the rate of profit is determined by the total value of the capital, regardless of how much of this capital is consumed in the product. But it is evident—although we mention this merely incidentally, since we are still assuming that commodities are sold at their values, so that fluctuations of price caused by competition do not concern us here—that the expansion or restriction of the market depends on the price of the individual commodity and is inversely proportioned to the rise or fall of this price. For this reason we note in reality Edition: current; Page: [129] that a rise in the price of raw material is not accompanied by a corresponding rise of the price of the product, nor a fall in the price of the raw material by a corresponding fall of that of the product. Consequently the rate of profit falls lower in one case, and rises higher in the other, than it would if products were sold at their value.

Furthermore, the mass and value of the employed machinery grows with the development of the productivity of labor, but not in the same proportion as this productivity, in other words, not in the same proportion as the machine increases its output. Those lines of industry, which consume raw materials, so that the objects on which they expend their labor are themselves products of previous labor, express the growing productivity of labor precisely by the proportion in which a certain increased portion of raw material absorbs a definite quantity of labor. In other words, this increasing productivity is measured by the increasing amount of raw material converted into products, worked up into commodities, for instance, in one hour. To the extent, then, that the productivity of labor is developed, the value of raw material forms an ever growing component of the value of the product in commodities, not only because it passes wholly into them, but also because every aliquot part of the aggregate product contains an ever decreasing share of that portion which represents the wear of machinery and that other which represents newly added labor. In consequence of this falling tendency the other portion of value which represents raw material increases correspondingly, unless this growth is counterbalanced by a proportionate decrease in the value of the raw material due to a growing productivity of the labor required for its production.

Again, we know that the raw materials and auxiliary substances, the same as wages, form parts of the circulating capital and must be continually reproduced in their entirety through the sale of the product, while the machinery is renewed only to the extent that it wears out, a reserve fund being accumulated for that purpose. And it is not so essential that each individual sale should contribute its share to this reserve fund, so long as the total annual sales contribute their Edition: current; Page: [130] annual share. We see, then, once more that a rise in the price of raw material can curtail or clog the entire process of reproduction, since the price realised by the sale of the commodities may not suffice to reproduce all the elements of these commodities. Or, it may render a continuation of the process on a scale fitting for its technical basis impossible, so that either a portion of the machinery remains idle, or the whole machinery works only a part of the usual time.

Finally, the expense due to waste varies in direct proportion to the fluctuations in the price of raw material, rises and falls with them. Of course, there is a limit also in this case. In 1850 it was still reported, in the factory reports for April, 1850, page 17, that one source of considerable losses through the raising of the price of raw material would hardly be noticed by any one who is not a practical spinner, namely losses through waste. The reporting inspector had been informed that a rise in the price of cotton implied a greater rise in the expenses of the spinner than is indicated by the difference in price. The waste in the spinning of coarse yarns amounts to fully 15%. If this percentage causes a loss of ½ d. per lb. when cotton is worth 3½ d., then the loss increases to 1 d. per lb. as soon as cotton rises to 7 d. per lb. But when, as a result of the American Civil War, cotton rose to a height not equalled in almost a century, the report read differently. We learn from the factory reports of October, 1863, page 106, that the price then paid for cotton waste, and the return of the waste to the factory as raw material, offered some compensation for the difference in the loss through waste between Indian and American cotton. This difference amounted to 12½%. The loss in working up Indian cotton is 25%, so that really this cotton costs the spinner one-fourth more than he paid for it. The loss through waste was not so important while American cotton was quoted at 5 or 6 d. per lb., for it did not exceed ¾ d. per lb. But it became a matter for serious consideration, when cotton cost 2 sh. per lb. and the loss through waste amounted to 6d.14

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II. Appreciation, Depreciation, Release, and Tie-up of Capital.

The phenomena analysed in this chapter require for their full development the credit-system and competition on the world-market, the latter being the basis and vital element of capitalist production. These more concrete forms of capitalist production can be comprehensively presented only after the general nature of capital is understood. Moreover, such a presentation lies outside of the scope of this work and belongs in its eventual continuation. Nevertheless, the phenomena mentioned in the title of this chapter may be discussed at this stage in a general way. They are interrelated among themselves, and at the same time touch upon the rate and mass of profits. They are entitled to consideration right here for the further reason that they create the impression that not only the rate, but also the mass of profit—which is actually identical with the mass of surplus-value—could increase or decrease independently of the movements of surplus-value, whether it be its mass or its rate.

Are we to consider the release and tie-up of capital on one side, its appreciation or depreciation on the other, as different phenomena?

The question is first: What do we mean by the release and tie-up of capital? Appreciation and depreciation explain themselves. They do not signify anything but that a certain given capital grows or declines in value as a result of general economic conditions of some sort, for we do not discuss any particular fate of some individual capital. They indicate, in short, that the value of the capital invested in production rises or falls, aside from the question of its self-expansion by means of the surplus-labor employed by it.

By the tie-up of capital we mean that a certain portion of the total value of the product must be reconverted into the elements of constant and variable capital, if production is to Edition: current; Page: [132] proceed on the same scale. By the release of capital we mean that a portion of that part of the total value of the product which had to be reconverted into constant or variable capital up to a certain time becomes disposable and superfluous, provided production is to continue on the same scale. This release or tie-up of capital is different from the release or tie-up of revenue. If the annual surplus-value of a certain capital C is equal to x, then a reduction in the price of commodities consumed by the capitalists would suffice to procure the same enjoyments as before by means of x - a. In other words, a portion of the revenue equal to a is released, and may serve either for the extension of consumption or the reconversion into capital (for the purpose of accumulation). Vice versa, if x + a is needed in order to continue the same scale of living, then this scale must either be reduced or a portion of revenue equal to a and previously accumulated must be drawn upon as revenue.

The appreciation or depreciation may strike either the constant, or the variable capital, or both. In the case of the constant capital it may affect either the fixed, or the circulating portion, or both.

In the case of the constant capital we have to consider the raw materials and auxiliary substances, including half-wrought articles, all of which we comprise here under the term raw materials, furthermore, machinery and other fixed capital.

We referred in the preceding analysis especially to variations in the price, or the value, of raw materials, and to their influence on the rate of profit. And we announced the general law that, other circumstances remaining the same, the rate or profit is inversely proportioned to the value of the raw materials. This is unconditionally true of a capital newly invested in any business enterprise, where the investment of capital, that is to say the conversion of money into productive capital, is just taking place.

But aside from this capital in process of new investment, a large portion of the already functioning capital is engaged in the sphere of circulation, while another portion is busy in the sphere of production. One portion exists on the market Edition: current; Page: [133] in the shape of commodities waiting to be converted into money; another exists in the shape of money of some kind waiting to be reconverted into elements of production, finally, a third portion exists in the sphere of production, either in the primitive form of means of production (raw materials, auxiliary substances, half-wrought articles purchased on the market, machinery and other fixed capital), or as products in process of manufacture. The effect of appreciation or depreciation of any of these depends in a large measure on the relative proportions of these things. Let us leave aside, for the sake of simplicity, all fixed capital, and let us consider only that portion of constant capital which consists of raw materials, auxiliary substances, partly wrought articles, and commodities in the making or in a finished state.

If the price of raw material, for instance of cotton, rises, then the price of those cotton goods which were made while cotton was cheaper—both half-wrought articles like yarn, and finished goods like cotton fabric—rises along with that of the rest. So does the value of the cotton held in stock and waiting to be worked up and that of the cotton in process of being worked. This last-named cotton then represents by indirection more labor-time than was incorporated in it, and consequently it adds more value than its own original one to the product which it goes to make up, and more than the capitalist paid for it.

If, then, a rise in the price of raw materials finds on the market a considerable quantity of finished commodities, whatever may be the state of their perfection, the value of these commodities rises, and consequently the value of the existing capital is enhanced. The same is true for the supply of raw materials in the hands of the producers. This appreciation of value may indemnify the individual capitalist, or even an entire sphere of capitalist production, for the loss caused by a fall in the rate of profit incidental to a rise in the price of raw materials, or it may even more than make good that loss. Without entering into the details of the effects of competition, we may state for the sake of completeness that, in the first place, when the supplies of raw material held in stock Edition: current; Page: [134] are considerable, they tend to oppose a rise in the price of raw materials at the place where they are produced; and in the second place, when the half-wrought articles and finished goods press very heavily upon the market, they prevent the price of these things from rising in proportion to the price of their raw materials.

The reverse takes place when there is a fall in the price of raw materials. Other circumstances remaining the same, it increases the rate of profit. The commodities on the market, the articles in the making, and the supplies of raw material depreciate in value and thereby counteract the accompanying rise in the rate of profit.

The effect of a variation in prices of raw materials becomes so much more marked, the smaller a quantity of supplies exists in the sphere of production and on the market, for instance at the close of a business year, when great masses of raw materials are delivered anew, as happens in agriculture after the harvest.

We start in this entire analysis from the supposition that a rise or a fall in prices are the expressions of actual variations in value. But since we are here concerned in the effects of such variations in price on the rate of profit, it matters little what is at the bottom of them. The present statements apply just as well in the case that prices rise or fall, not on account of variations in value, but of the influence of the credit-system, competition, etc.

Seeing that the rate of profit is the expression of the excess of the value of the product over the value of the total capital advanced, a rise of the rate of profit due to a depreciation of the advanced capital would be accompanied by a loss in the value of capital. And a lowering of the rate of profit due to an appreciation of the advanced capital might be accompanied by gains.

As for the other portion of constant capital, such as machinery, and fixed capital in general, the appreciation of values taking place in them, and referring mainly to buildings, real estate, etc., they cannot be discussed without an understanding of the theory of ground rent, and do not belong in Edition: current; Page: [135] this chapter, for this reason. But they have a general importance for the question of depreciation.

There are, in the first place, constant improvements which lower relatively the use-value, and therefore the exchange-value, of existing machinery, factory equipments, etc. This process has a dire effect especially during the first epoch of newly introduced machinery, before it has reached a certain stage of maturity, when it becomes continually antiquated before it has had time to reproduce its own value. This is one of the reasons for the irrational prolongation of the working time customary at such periods, of working with day and night shifts, in order that the value of the machinery may be reproduced in a shorter time without having to place the figures for wear and tear too high. On the other hand, if a short period of effectiveness of machinery (its short term of life compared to anticipated improvements) is not compensated in this way, then it yields too much of its value to the product by moral wear, so that it cannot compete even against hand-labor.15

When machinery, equipment of buildings, and fixed capital in general have reached a certain maturity, so that they remain unaltered in their basic construction, at least for an ordinary length of time, then a similar depreciation takes place in consequence of improvements in the methods of reproduction of this fixed capital. The value of machinery, etc., falls in that case, not because this machinery is rapidly crowded out and depreciated to a certain degree by new and more productive machinery, etc., but because it can be reproduced more cheaply. This is one of the reasons why large enterprises frequently do not flourish until they pass into the second hand, after their first proprietors have been bankrupted, so that their successors, who buy them cheaply, are enabled to begin with a smaller investment of capital at the very outset.

In the case of agriculture it is evident that the same causes which raise the price of the product or lower it must also raise or lower the value of capital, since this capital consists Edition: current; Page: [136] to a large degree of this product, such as grain, cattle, etc.

There still remains the variable capital for our consideration.

To the extent that the value of labor-power rises on account of a rise in the price of the means of existence required for its reproduction, or falls on account of a reduction of the value of these means of existence—and a rise or fall in the value of variable capital are but expressions of these two cases—a rise in surplus-value corresponds to such depreciation and a fall in surplus-value to such appreciation, assuming the length of the working-day to remain the same. But other circumstances—a release or tie-up of capital—may accompany such cases, and as we did not analyse them so far, we may briefly mention them now.

If wages fall in consequence of a depreciation of the value of labor-power (which may be accompanied even by a rise in the actual price of labor), then a portion of the capital hitherto invested in wages, is released. Variable capital is set free. For new investments of capital, this signifies a working with a higher rate of surplus-value. It takes less money than before to set in motion the same amount of labor, and in this way the unpaid portion of labor increases at the expense of the paid portion. But in the case of already invested capital not only the rate of surplus-value is raised, but a portion of the capital previously invested in wages is also released. It had been tied up until this time and formed a regular portion which had to be deducted from the proceeds of the product and advanced for wages, in order to perform the functions of variable capital, provided the business was to continue on its former scale. Now this portion becomes disposable and may be used for a new investment, either in the extension of the same business, or to perform a function in some other sphere of production.

Let us assume, for instance, that 500 p.st. were required at first to employ 500 laborers per week, and that now only 400 p.st. are needed for the same purpose. If the mass of value Edition: current; Page: [137] produced in either case was 1,000 p.st., then the mass of surplus-value produced per week in the first case was 500 p.st., and the rate of surplus-value 500/500, or 100%. But after the reduction of wages the mass of surplus-value will be 1,000-400, or 600 p.st., and its rate 600/400, or 150%. And this raising of the rate of profit is the only effect produced for any one who starts a new enterprise in this sphere of production with a variable capital of 400 p.st. and a corresponding constant capital. But in a business already existing when this takes place, the depreciation of the variable capital does not only increase the rate of surplus-value from 500 to 600 p.st., and the rate of surplus-value from 100 to 150%, but 100 p.st. of the variable capital are released and enabled to exploit more labor. The same amount of labor is then not alone advantageously exploited, but the release of 100 p.st. makes it possible to exploit more laborers with those 500 p.st. at the increased rate.

Now take the opposite case. Take it that the original proportion of division, with 500 laborers, was 400 v + 600 s, making 1,000, so that the rate of surplus-value was 150%. The laborer, in that case, received 4/5 p.st., or 16 shillings per week. Now, if in consequence of an appreciation of variable capital 500 laborers cost 500 p.st. per week, then each one of them will receive 1 p.st. per week, and 400 p.st. can employ only 400 laborers. If the same number of laborers as before is to be employed, then we must have 500 v + 500 s, or 1,000. The rate of surplus-value would have fallen from 150 to 100%, which is by one-third. If some new capital were now to be invested, the only effect felt by it would be this lower rate of surplus-value. Other circumstances remaining the same, the rate of profit would also have fallen, although not to the same extent. For instance, if c equals 2,000, we should have in the one case 2,000 c + 400 v + 600 s = 3,000. The rate of surplus-value would be 150%, the rate of profit 600/2400, or 25%. In the second case we should have 2,000 c + 500 v + 500 s = 3,000. The rate of surplus-value would be 100%, the rate of profit 500/2500, or 20%. However, for a capital already Edition: current; Page: [138] invested there would be a twofold effect. Only 400 laborers could be employed with 400 p.st., at a rate of surplus-value amounting to 100%. They would then produce only 400 p.st. of surplus-value. Furthermore, since a constant capital of 2,000 p.st. requires 500 laborers for its operation, 400 laborers could operate only a constant capital of 1,600 p.st. If production is to continue on the same scale as before and one-third of the machinery prevented from remaining idle, then the variable capital must be increased by 100 p.st., in order that 500 laborers may still be employed. And this can be accomplished only by tying up a hitherto disposable capital, so that a portion of the accumulation intended for an extension of production serves then merely for stopping a gap, or a portion reserved for revenue is added to the old capital. A variable capital increased by 100 p.st. produces then 100 p.st. less of surplus-value. More capital is required to employ the same number of laborers, and the surplus-value yielded up by each laborer is at the same time reduced.

The advantages resulting from a release, and the disadvantages resulting from a tie-up of variable capital, affect only capital already engaged and reproducing itself under certain determined conditions. So far as newly invested capital is concerned, the advantage on the one, or the disadvantage on the other side, are limited to a raising or lowering of the rate of surplus-value and a variation of the rate of profit accordingly, if not always in the same proportion.

The release and tie-up of variable capital, analysed in the foregoing, is the result of a depreciation or appreciation of the elements of variable capital, that is to say, of the cost of reproduction of labor-power. However, variable capital might also be released, if the development of the productivity, with the rate of wages unchanged, results in the possibility of getting along with fewer laborers for the operation of the same amount of constant capital. Vice versa, additional variable capital may be formed, if the productive power declines and more laborers are needed to operate the same mass of constant capital. On the other hand, if a portion of capital formerly employed in the capacity of variable capital is transferred Edition: current; Page: [139] to the constant capital, so that there is merely a different distribution between the components of the same capital, this has its influence on the rate of surplus-value and of profit, but does not belong in this discussion of the release and tie-up of capital.

We have already seen that constant capital may be released or tied up by a depreciation or appreciation of its component elements. Aside from this, it can be tied up only in the case that the productive power of labor increases (not to mention the case in which a portion of the variable is transferred to the constant capital), so that the same amount of labor creates a greater product and therefore operates a larger constant capital. The same may occur under certain circumstances when the productive power decreases, for instance in agriculture, so that the same quantity of labor requires more means of production, such as seeds, manure, drainage, etc., in order to produce the same output. Constant capital may be released without depreciation, when improvements, the harnessing of natural powers, etc., enable a constant capital of smaller value to perform the same technical services as those formerly performed by a constant capital of greater value.

We have seen in volume II that once that the commodities have been converted into money, sold, a certain portion of this money must be reconverted into the material elements of constant capital, and this in proportion to the technical nature of any given sphere of production. In this respect, the most important element in all lines—aside from wages, or variable capital—is the raw material, including the auxiliary substances, which are particularly important, in all lines of production that do not use any raw materials in the strict meaning of the term, for instance in mining and extractive industries in general. That portion of the price which has to make good the wear and tear of machinery plays mainly an ideal role in calculation, so long as the machine is at all in workable condition. It does not matter greatly whether it is paid and replaced by money to-day or to-morrow, or in any other section of the period of turn-over of the capital. It is different with the raw material. If the price of raw material Edition: current; Page: [140] rises, it may be impossible to make it good fully out of the price of the commodities after deducting the wages. Violent fluctuations of price therefore cause interruptions, great collisions, or even catastrophies in the process of reproduction. It is especially the products of agriculture, raw materials taken from organic nature, which are subject to such fluctuations of value in consequence of changing yields, etc., leaving aside altogether the question of the credit-system, for the present. The same quantity of labor may, in consequence of uncontrollable natural conditions, the favor or disfavor of seasons, etc., be incorporated in very different quantities of use-values, and a definite quantity of these use-values may have very different prices. If the value x is represented by 100 lbs. of the commodity a, then the price of one lb. of a equals x/100. If it is represented by 1,000 lbs., the price of one lb. is x/1000, etc. This is one of the elements in the fluctuations of the price of raw materials. A second element, which is mentioned at this point only for the sake of completeness, since competition and the credit-system are still outside of the scope of our analysis, is this: It is in the nature of the thing that vegetable and animal substances, which are dependent on certain laws of time for their growth and production, cannot be suddenly augmented in the same degree as, for instance, machines and other fixed capital, or coal, ore, etc., whose augmentation, assuming the natural requirements to be present, can be accomplished in a very short time in an industrial country. It is therefore impossible, and under a developed system of capitalist production even inevitable, that the production and augmentation of that portion of the constant capital which consists of fixed capital, machinery, etc., should run ahead of that portion which consists of organic raw materials, so that the demand for these last materials grows more rapidly than their supply, and their price rises in consequence. This rising of prices carries with it the following results: 1) A shipping of raw materials from great distances, seeing that the rising price covers greater freight rates; 2) an increase in their production, which, however, for natural reasons, will not be felt until the following year; 3) a using up of various Edition: current; Page: [141] hitherto unused accessories, and a better economising of waste. If this rise of prices begins to exert a marked influence on production and supply, the turning point has generally arrived at which the demand lets up on account of the protracted rise of the raw material and of all commodities made up of it, so that a reaction in the price of raw material takes place. Aside from convulsions due to the depreciation of capital in various forms, this reaction is also accompanied by other circumstances which will be mentioned immediately.

So much is evident from the foregoing: To the extent that capitalist production is developed, and with it the means of suddenly and permanently increasing that portion of the constant capital which consists of machinery, etc., and to the extent that accumulation is accelerated (as it is particularly in times of prosperity), to that extent does the relative over-production of machinery and other fixed capital increase, the relative underproduction of vegetable and animal raw materials become more frequent, the above described rise of their prices and the subsequent reaction more marked. And the revulsions increase correspondingly in frequency, so far as they are due to this violent fluctuation of one of the main elements of the process of reproduction.

Now, if these high prices collapse, because their rise had caused partly a falling off in the demand, partly an extension of production here, an importation of goods from remote and hitherto little noted or neglected regions of production in another place, and with them an excess of the supply over the demand, especially if this excess comes in with the old prices, then we have a result which offers various points of view. The sudden collapse of the price of raw materials checks their reproduction, and consequently the monopoly of the original producing countries, which are favored by the best conditions, is restored. It may be restored with certain limitations but still it is restored. The reproduction of the raw materials proceeds indeed, after the first impulse has been given, on an enlarged scale, especially in countries which have more or less of a monopoly of this production. But the basis on which production takes place after the extension of machinery, Edition: current; Page: [142] etc., and which, after some fluctuations, has to serve as the new point of departure, is very much enlarged by the occurrences of the last cycle of turn-over. At the same time the barely increased reproduction has been considerably checked in the secondary countries of supply. For instance, it can be easily shown by a reference to the export tables that, during the last thirty years (up to 1865) the production of cotton grows in India, whenever there has been a falling off in the American, and that there is after awhile a sudden drop and falling off in the Indian. During the period in which raw materials are high, the industrial capitalists get together in associations for the purpose of regulating production. So they did, for instance, after the rise of cotton prices in 1848, in Manchester, and a similar move was made in the production of flax in Ireland. But as soon as the immediate impulse has worn off, and the principle of competition reigns once more supreme, according to which one must "buy in the cheapest market" (instead of stimulating production in the most favored countries, as those associations attempt to do, without regard to the monetary price at which those countries may just happen to supply their product), the regulation of the supply is left once more to "prices." All thought of a common, far-reaching, circumspect control of the production of raw materials gives way once more to the belief that demand and supply will mutually regulate one another. And it must be admitted that such a control is on the whole irreconcilable with the laws of capitalist production, and remains for ever a platonic desire, or is limited to exceptional co-operation in times of great stress and helplessness.16 The Edition: current; Page: [143] superstition of the capitalists in this respect is so crude that even the factory inspectors lift their hands in surprise, in their reports. The variation of good and bad years, of course, leads at times to the production of cheaper raw materials. Aside from the direct effect of this on the extension of the demand, an added stimulant is found in the previously mentioned influence on the rate of profit. Thereupon the aforesaid process of a gradual overtaking of the production of raw materials by that of machinery, etc., is repeated on a larger scale. An actual improvement of raw materials in such a way that not only their quantity, but also their quality would come up to expectations, for instance supplying cotton of American quality from Indian fields, would necessitate a long continued, progressively growing, and steady European demand (quite aside from the economic conditions under which the Indian producer labors in his country). As it is, the sphere of production of raw materials is extended only convulsively, being now suddenly enlarged, and then violently contracted. All this, and the spirit of capitalist production in general, may be very well studied in the cotton crisis of 1861-65, which was further aggravated by the fact that raw materials were at times entirely missing which are one of the principal factors of reproduction. The price may also rise while there is an abundant supply, namely in the case that this abundance takes place under difficult conditions. Or, there may be an actual shortage of raw material. It was the last condition which originally prevailed in the cotton crisis.

The closer we approach in the history of production to our own times, so much more regularly do we find, especially in the essential lines of industry, the ever recurring fluctuation between a relative appreciation and the resulting depreciation of raw materials purloined from organic nature. The preceding statements will be verified by the following illustrations from reports of factory inspectors.

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The moral of this story, which may also be deduced from other observations in agriculture, is that the capitalist system works against a rational agriculture, or that a rational agriculture is irreconcilable with the capitalist system, although technical improvements in agriculture are promoted by capitalism. But under this system, agriculture needs either the hands of the self-employing small farmer, or the control of associated producers.

We present now the following illustrations from the English factory reports.

According to R. Baker, factory reports for October, 1858, pages 56-61, the condition of business was then better. But the cycle of good and bad times was shortened with the increase of machinery, and to the extent that the demand for raw materials increases, the fluctuation in the conditions of business occur more frequently. For the time being confidence had been restored after the panic of 1857, and the panic itself seemed almost forgotten. Whether this improvement would be lasting, depended, in Baker's opinion, to a large extent on the price of raw materials. He saw indications that the maximum had already been reached, beyond which manufacture becomes less and less profitable, and finally ceases altogether to yield any profits. Taking the prosperous years in the worsted business, 1849 and 1850, it will be seen that the price of English carded wool was 13 d., and of Australian, 14 to 17 d. per lb., and that the average price of English wool, for the decade from 1841 to 1850, never exceeded 14 d., nor that of Australian 17 d. But at the beginning of the disastrous year 1857, Australian wool was quoted at 23 d. It fell in December, at the time of the worst panic, to 18 d., but rose once more in the course of the year 1858 to 21 d. English wool likewise began in 1857 with 20 d., rose in April and September to 21 d., fell in January, 1858 to 14 d., and rose subsequently to 17 d., so that it stood 3 d. per lb. higher than the average of the aforementioned 10 years. This shows, in Mr. Baker's opinion, that either the failures of 1857, which were due to similar prices, have been forgotten, Edition: current; Page: [145] or that barely enough wool is produced to keep the existing spindles running. Or the prices of fabrics may experience a lasting rise. But he has seen in his experience that spindles and frames multiplied in an incredibly short time, not only in numbers, but also in speed; that the English wool export to France rose at almost the same rate, while the average age of sheep in England and other countries was steadily reduced, since the population was rapidly increasing and breeders were trying to turn their stock into money as quickly as possible. He often was seriously alarmed, when he saw people, ignorant of these facts, invest their ability and their capital in enterprises whose success depended on the supply of a product which can be increased only according to certain organic laws. The conditions of supply and demand of all raw materials seems to explain to Mr. Baker many fluctuations in the cotton business as well as the condition of the English wool market in the fall of 1857 and the subsequent commercial crisis.17

The most flourishing time of the worsted industry of the West-Riding of Yorkshire was from 1849 to 50. This industry employed 29,246 persons in 1838, 37,000 persons in 1843, 48,097 in 1845, 74,891 in 1850. (Factory Reports, 1850, page 60.) This prosperity of the carded wool industry began to excite certain forebodings in October, 1850. In his report for April, 1851, sub-inspector Baker says in regard to Leeds and Bradford that the condition of business is very unsatisfactory. The carded wool spinners are rapidly losing the profits of 1850, and the majority of the weavers do not make much progress. He believes that more wool machinery is momentarily standing idle than ever before, and the flax spinners are likewise discharging laborers and stopping machinery. The cycles of the textile industry are very uncertain, and he thinks that people will soon realise that no proportion is observed between the productivity of the spindles, the quantity of raw materials, and the increase of population. (Page 52.)

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The same is true of the cotton industry. In the same report for October, 1858, we read that, since the fixing of the hours of labor in factories, the amounts of raw material consumed, of production, and of wages in all textile industries have been reduced to a simple rule of three. The inspector quotes from a recent lecture by Mr. Payns, who was then mayor of Blackburn, on the cotton industry, in which the industrial statistics of that region were very accurately compiled. The mayor said in substance that every actual horse-power operates 450 self-actor spindles with preparatory spinning machinery, or 200 throstle spindles, or 15 looms for cloth 40 inches wide, with machinery for reeling, warping and smoothing. Every horse-power employs two and a half laborers in spinning, or 10 in weaving. Their average wages are fully 10½ shillings per capita per week. The worked up average numbers are Nos. 30-32 for the warp and Nos. 34-36 for the woof. Assuming the product of one week's spinning to be 13 ounces per spindle, the weekly output of yarn would be 824,700 lbs., which imply a consumption of 970,000 lbs., or 2,300 bales of cotton valued at 28,300 p.st. In a circle of five miles around Blackburn the weekly consumption of cotton amounted to 1,530,000 lbs., or 3,650 bales, at a cost-price of 44,625 p.st. This is one-eighteenth of the entire cotton spun in the United Kingdom, and one-sixteenth of the entire mechanical weaving.

The inspector says that according to the calculations of Mr. Payns the total number of cotton spindles in the United Kingdom would be 28,800,000, and it would require 1,432,080,000 lbs. of cotton to keep them going at full speed. But the cotton imports, after deducting the exports, amounted in 1856 and 1857 only to 1,022,576,832 lbs. so that there must have been a shortage of 409,503,168 lbs. Mr. Payns, who had the kindness to discuss this point with the inspector, held that a computation of the annual consumption of cotton, based on the consumption of the Blackburn district, would total up too high, on account of the difference, not only of the numbers spun, but also of the excellence of the machinery. He estimated the total consumption of cotton per year in the Edition: current; Page: [147] United Kingdom at 1,000 million lbs. But if he is correct, and there is actually a surplus-import of 22½ million lbs., then the inspector thinks that demand and supply are nearly balanced, without taking into account the additional spindles and looms which are about to be erected in Mr. Payns' own district, according to him, and the same applies probably to other districts as well. (Pages 59, 60.)

III. General Illustration. The Cotton Crisis of 1861-1865.

Preliminary History, 1845-1860

1845. Prosperity of cotton industry. Price of cotton very low. L. Horner says on this point that he has not witnessed a more active period of business than that of the last summer and fall. Especially in the spinning of cotton. Throughout the entire six months he received every week reports of new investments of capital in factories. Now new factories were being built, now the few vacant ones had found new renters, now factories which were in operation were extended, new and stronger steam engines installed and more working machinery added. (Factory Reports, November, 1845, page 13.)

1845. The complaints are beginning. For some time the inspector hears general complaints among the manufacturers over the depressed state of their business. During the last six weeks, he says, various factories have begun working short time, generally 8 hours instead of 12. This seemed to become general. There had been a great rise in the price of cotton, while the price of the products had not alone not risen, but fallen to a lower figure than that before the rise in cotton. The great increase in the number of cotton factories during the preceding four years must have caused a strong increase in the demand for raw material and a large supply of products on the market. Both of these things must have operated to depress profits, so long as the supply of raw material and the demand for the product remained unchanged. But they actually had a far stronger influence, because the supply of cotton had recently been insufficient, and the demand Edition: current; Page: [148] for the product had let up in various inland and foreign markets. (Factory Reports, December, 1846, page 10.)

The rising demand for raw materials went, of course, hand in hand with the overstocking of the market with products. By the way, at that period the expansion of industry and the subsequent stagnation were not confined to the cotton districts. The carded wool district of Bradford contained in 1836 only 318 factories, but 490 in 1846. And these figures do not by any means express the actual extension of production, since the existing factories were at the same time considerably enlarged. This was especially true of the flax mills. According to the factory report, November, 1846, page 30, all of them had contributed more or less, during the preceding 10 years, to that overstocking of the market which was to blame for the stagnation of business at the time being. The depression in business followed naturally after such a rapid expansion of factories and machinery.

1847. In October, a money panic. Discount 8%. This was preceded by a collapse of railroad speculation, and of jobbing with East-Indian bills of exchange.

The factory report for October, 1847, page 30, states that Mr. Baker presented very interesting details concerning the rise in the demand for cotton, wool, and flax, in recent years, caused by the expansion of these industries. He held that the increased demand for these raw materials, particularly at a time when their supply had fallen far below the average, was sufficient to explain the prevailing depression in those lines of business, without reference to the insecurity of the money-market. This view was fully supported by the personal experience of the writer of the report, and by statements made to him by experts in business. All these various lines of business had been very much depressed, when discounts were still practicable at 5% and less. On the other hand, the supply of raw silk was abundant, prices reasonable, and the business correspondingly brisk until a few weeks previously, when doubtless the money-panic affected not only the dealers in raw silk, but still more their principal customers, the manufacturers of custom made goods. A glance at the published official Edition: current; Page: [149] reports showed that the cotton industry had increased by almost 27% during the preceding three years. As a result, cotton had risen in round figures from 4 d. to 6 d. per lb., while yarn, thanks to the increased supply, stood only a trifle above its former price. The wool industry commenced to expand in 1836. Since then it had grown by 40% in Yorkshire, and still more in Scotland. The increase in the worsted industry was still larger.18 The calculations showed in its case, for the same length of time, an expansion of more than 74%. The consumption of raw wool had, therefore, been very large. The linen industry showed since 1839 an increase of about 25% in England, 22% in Scotland, and almost 90% in Ireland,19 the consequence of this, and of the failure of flax crops, was that the price of the raw material rose by 10 p.st. per ton, while the price of yarn had fallen by 6 d. per bundle.

1849. Beginning with the last months of 1848, business revived. According to factory reports, 1849, pages 30, 31, the price of flax, which was so low that it guaranteed a reasonable profit under all possible future circumstances, induced manufacturers to push their business steadily. The wool manufacturers were very busy for a time in the beginning of the year. The writer of the report feared, however, that consignments of woolen goods often took the place of real demand, and that periods of seeming prosperity, that is to say, of full employment, did not always coincide with periods of legitimate demand. The worsted business was particularly good for some months. In the beginning of this period, wool stood especially low. The mill-owners had stocked them-selves at advantageous prices, and no doubt in considerable quantities. When the price of wool rose with the spring auctions, the mill-owners had the advantage, and they retained it, since the demand for goods became strong and irresistible.

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On page 42 of the factory report for April, 1849, we read that, considering the fluctuations in the conditions of business, which had taken place in the factory districts for three or four years, it must be admitted that there is somewhere some great disturbing cause. May not the productive power of the increased machinery have become a new element?

In November, 1848, in May, summer, and up to October, 1849, business became more and more flourishing. The same report states on pages 42 and 43, that this applies particularly to the manufacture of goods from worsted yarn, which centers in Bradford and Halifax. At no previous time did this business approximate the extension which it had then. The speculation in raw materials, and the uncertainty of its probable supply, has always caused greater excitement and more frequent fluctuations in the cotton industry than in any other line of business. For the time being there was an accumulation of supplies of the coarser grades of cotton goods, which worried the small mill-owners and placed them at a disadvantage, so that some of them were working short time.

1850. April. Business continued brisk. Exception, according to factory report, April, 1850, page 54: There is a great depression in a portion of the cotton industry as a result of insufficient supplies of raw material precisely for coarse grades of yarn and heavy textures. It is feared that the increased machinery lately installed in the worsted business may bring about a similar reaction. Mr. Baker calculates that alone in the year 1849, the product of the looms in this business has grown by 40%, and that of the spindles by 25 to 30%, and the expansion is still continuing at the same rate.

1850. October. The factory report for October states on page 15 that the price of cotton continues to cause considerable depression in this line of industry, especially for such goods as require a considerable portion of the cost of production to be spent for raw material. The great rise in the price of raw silk has led to an aggravation of the situation in many instances, also in this line. And on page 33 of the same report we learn that the committee of the Royal Association for Edition: current; Page: [151] Flax Culture in Ireland was of the opinion that the high price of flax, together with the low level of prices of other agricultural products, had safeguarded a considerable increase in the production of flax for the ensuing year.

1853. April. Great prosperity. L. Horner says in the factory report for April, 1853, page 19, that at no time during the 17 years, in which he took official notice of the condition of the factory districts of Lancashire, has he seen such general prosperity. The activity in all lines was extraordinary.

1853. October. Depression in the cotton industry. Overproduction. (Factory Report, October, 1853, page 15.)

1854. April. The factory report for 1854, page 37, states that the wool business, while not brisk, furnished full employment for all factories. The same held good of the cotton industry. The worsted business was irregular throughout the entire preceding half year. There was a disturbance in the linen industry in consequence of the reduced supply of flax and hemp from Russia, on account of the war in the Crimea.

1859. According to the factory report for April, 1859, page 19, business was still depressed in the Scotch linen industry, because the raw material was scarce and dear. The low quality of the preceding crop in the Baltic countries, from which came the main supply, was expected to exert an injurious influence on the business of this district. On the other hand, jute, which displaced flax for many coarse goods, was neither uncommonly dear nor scarce. About one-half of the machinery in Dundee was spinning jute. The factory report for October, 1859, states on page 30, that in consequence of the high price of raw material, flax spinning is not yet profitable, and while all other factories are running on full time, there are various instances of idle flax machinery. The jute mills are in a satisfactory condition, since recently this material has fallen to a reasonable figure.

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1861-64. American Civil War. Cotton Famine. The Greatest Illustration of an Interruption in the Process of Production through Scarcity and Dearness of Raw Material.

1860. April. The reporting inspector says in substance in factory report, April, 1860: I am pleased to be able to inform you that, in spite of the high price of raw materials, all textile industries, with the exception of silk, have been well employed during the last half year. In some of the cotton districts, laborers were advertised for, and secured by immigration from Norfolk and other rural counties. There seems to be a great lack of raw materials in all branches of industry. It is alone this lack which holds us back. In the cotton business, the number of factories erected, the extension of already existing ones, and the demand for laborers, has probably never been so great. Raw materials are sought on all sides.

1860. October. The factory report for October, 1860, states on page 37, that the condition of business in the cotton, wool, and flax districts has been good. It is reported to have been very good in Ireland, for more than a year, and would have been still better but for the high price of raw materials. The flax mills seem to be waiting with more impatience than ever for the opening of the resources of India by railroads, and for a corresponding development of its agriculture, in order to secure at last a supply of flax sufficient for their requirements.

1861. April. The factory report for April, 1861, states on page 33 that the condition of business for the time being was depressed. A few cotton goods factories were working short time, and many silk factories were running only a part of the time. Raw materials were dear. In almost every textile branch raw materials were quoted above the price at which they could be worked by the mass of the consumers.

It now became evident that the cotton industry had produced too much in 1860. The effect of this made itself felt for the next few years. The factory report for December, 1863, page 127, states that it took between two and three years Edition: current; Page: [153] for the world-market to absorb the overproduction of 1860. And the factory report for October, 1862, pages 28 and 29, says in so many words: The depressed condition of the markets for cotton goods in Eastern Asia, in the beginning of 1860, had a corresponding influence on the business in Blackburn, where on an average of 30,000 mechanical looms are almost exclusively engaged in the production of goods for this market. The demand for labor was, therefore, already restricted at this point many months before the effects of the blockade made themselves felt. Fortunately, many factories were thereby saved from ruin. The supplies rose in value so long as they were held in stock, and this prevented the appalling depreciation which is otherwise inevitable in such a crisis.

1861. October. According to the factory report for October, 1861, page 19, the business has been depressed for some time. It is not at all improbable that many factories will materially reduce their working time during the winter months. However, this was to be anticipated; quite aside from the causes which have interrupted the ordinary supply of cotton from America and the English exports, it would have been necessary to reduce the hours of labor during the coming winter, on account of the strong increase of production in the preceding three years, and the disturbance of the Indian and Chinese markets.

Cotton Waste. East Indian Cotton. (Surat.) Influence on the Wages of Laborers. Improvement of Machinery. Substitution of Starch Flour and Minerals for Cotton. Effect of this Starch Flour Ingredient on the Laborers. Manufacturers of Fine Grades of Yarn. Fraud on the Part of the Manufacturers.

An inspector writes in the factory report for October, 1863, page 63: A manufacturer thinks that, so far as the estimate of the cotton consumption per spindle is concerned, I did not sufficiently appreciate the fact that, when a cotton is dear, every manufacturer of ordinary yarns (say up to No. 40, mainly from 12 to 32) spins as fine grades as he possibly can, that is to say, he will spin No. 16 instead of 12, or 22 instead Edition: current; Page: [154] of 16, etc. And the weaver who works up these fine yarns, will raise his calico to the regular weight by adding so much more glue. This expedient is now used to a shameful degree. I have it on good authority that there are ordinary shirtings for export weighing 8 lbs. per piece, of which 2 lbs. were glue. Textures of other kinds are often given as much as 50% of glue, so that that manufacturer does not lie by any means who boasts of becoming a rich man by selling his fabrics at less money per pound than he paid for the yarn of which they are made.

We read furthermore in the same place: I have also been told that the weavers ascribe the growth of disease among themselves to the glue used in the woof of East-Indian Cotton and not merely consisting of flour, as heretofore. This substitute for flour is said to have the very great advantage of increasing the weight of fabrics considerably, so that 15 lbs. of yarn, after being woven, weigh 20 lbs. (This substitute was ground talcum, called China clay, or gypsum, called French chalk.) The wages of the weavers (meaning the laborers) have been very much reduced by the employment of substitutes for flour in the making of weaver's glue. This glue renders the yarn heavier, but also stiff and brittle. Every thread of the yarn passes in the loom through the bobbin, whose strong threads keep the woof in position. The stiffly glued woof continually causes breaks in the thread of the bobbin. Every break causes a loss of five minutes to the weaver for repairs. The weavers have to repair such breaks ten times as often as formerly, and the loom naturally turns out so much less during working hours. (Pages 42 and 43.)

In Ashton, Stalybridge, Oldham, etc., the working hours have been reduced by at least one-third, and are reduced still more every week. This reduction of the hours of labor is in many instances accompanied by a reduction of wages. (Page 13.) In the beginning of 1861, a strike took place among the mechanical weavers in some parts of Lancashire. Several manufacturers had announced a reduction of wages by 5 to 7.5%. The laborers insisted that the scale of wages should be maintained and the hours of labor reduced. This was Edition: current; Page: [155] not granted, and a strike was called. After one month, the laborers had to give in. But then they got both. Aside from a reduction of wages which the laborers finally accepted they also worked short time in many factories. (Factory Report, April, 1863, page 23.)

1862. April. The sufferings of the laborers had considerably increased since the last report was made. But at no time in the history of this industry have so sudden and so grievous ills been borne with so much quiet resignation and such patient self-respect. (Factory Report, April, 1862, page 10.) The proportion of the temporarily totally unemployed laborers does not seem to be much larger than in 1848, when there was an ordinary panic, which, however, was of sufficient force to induce the worried manufacturers to compile a similar statistics on the cotton industry as that now given out weekly. In May, 1848, 15% of all the cotton employes of Manchester were idle, 12% worked short time, while more than 70% worked on full time. On May 28, 1862, there were 15% idle, 35% working on short time, and 49% on full time. In the neighboring places, for instance at Stockport, the percentage of the idle and partly employed is higher, that of the fully employed lower, because coarser numbers are spun there than in Manchester. (Page 16.)

1862. October. According to the last official statistics, there were in the United Kingdom 2,887 cotton factories, of which 2,109 were in the districts of Lancashire and Cheshire. The reporting inspector knew well enough that a very large number of the 2,109 factories in his district were small establishments, which employed but a few laborers. But he was surprised when he found how large was the number of these. There were 392, or 19%, which had less than 10 horse-power motors (steam or water); 345, or 16%, had between 10 and 20 horse-powers; 1,372 had 20 horse-powers or more. A very large portion of the small manufacturers, more than one-third, had been laborers not very long ago. They are men without a command of capital. The main burden would fall upon the other two-thirds. (Factory Reports, October, 1862, pages 18, 19.)

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According to the same report, 40,146, or 11.3% of the cotton employes of Lancashire and Cheshire, were then working full time; 134,767, or 38%, were working a part of the time; 197,721, or 50.7%, were unemployed. If we deduct from these figures the data referring to Manchester and Bolton, where mainly fine numbers were spun, a line little affected by the cotton famine, then the matter looks still more unfavorable, namely fully employed 8.5%, partly employed 38%, unemployed 53.3%. (Pages 19 and 20.)

It makes an essential difference for the laborers whether good or bad cotton is worked up. In the first months of the year, when the manufacturers sought to keep their factories going by using up all the cotton bought at cheap prices, much bad cotton went into factories that usually worked only with good cotton. The difference in the wages of the laborers was so great that many strikes took place because no living wage could be made at the old piece wages. In a few instances the difference due to the employment of bad cotton amounted to one-half of the total wages, even at full time. (Page 27.)

1863. April. In the course of this year, not more than about one-half of the cotton employes will work on full time. (Factory Report, April, 1863, page 14.)

A very serious inconvenience in the employment of East-Indian cotton, such as the factories must use at this time, is that the speed of the machinery must be considerably reduced with it. During the last years, everything has been tried to increase the speed, so that the same machinery might do more work. However, the reduced speed hits the laborer as much as the manufacturer. For the majority of the laborers are paid by the piece, the spinners receiving so much per lb. of yarn spun, the weavers so much per piece woven. And even the others, who work on weekly wages, will suffer a reduction through the restriction of production. According to the researches of the inspector, and the data received by him, referring to the wages of the cotton employes during the year, there is an average reduction of 20% in some cases as much as 50%, compared to the wages which were in vogue in 1861. (Page 13.) The amount earned depends on the quality of Edition: current; Page: [157] the material worked up. The condition of the laborers, so far as earnings are concerned, is much better now (October, 1863) than at the same time last year. The machinery has been improved, the raw material is better known, and the laborers overcome the difficulties better with which they had to struggle in the beginning. In the previous spring, the inspector was in a sewing school in Preston (a charity institution for unemployed). Two young girls, who had been sent to a weaving establishment on the strength of a promise that they would be able to make 4 shillings per week, asked to be readmitted to the school and complained that they could not make 1 shilling per week. The inspector has had information concerning self-acting minders, that is to say, men who operate a few self-actors, who had earned 8 sh. 11d. after 14 days of full employment, and their house-rent was deducted from this sum. The manufacturer returned one-half of this rent to them as a gift. (How generous!) The minders carried home the amount of 6 sh. 11 d. In some places the self-acting minders earned from 5 to 9 sh. per week, the weavers from 2 to 6 sh. per week, during the last months of 1862. At the time of the report there was a healthier condition of things, although even then the earnings in most districts had decreased still more. Other conditions contributed to the scanty earnings, aside from the shorter staple of East-Indian cotton and its impurity. For instance, it had become the custom to mix plenty of cotton waste with the Indian cotton, and this increases, of course, the difficulties for the spinner. Owing to the shortness of the fiber, the threads break more easily in drawing out the mule and twisting the yarn, and the mule cannot be kept going so regularly. Furthermore, one girl frequently can watch but one loom, because she must pay more attention to the threads. But few of them have more than two looms. In many cases the wages of the laborers have been reduced by 5, 7.5, and 10%. In the majority of cases the laborer must handle his raw material as best he may, and try to make wages at the ordinary scale to the best of his power. Another difficulty with which the weavers have sometimes to struggle is that they are supposed to make good Edition: current; Page: [158] fabrics out of bad materials, and are fined by deductions from their wages, if the work is not all that is desired. (Factory reports, October, 1863, pages 41-43.)

Wages were miserable, even in places where full time was worked. The cotton employes willingly offered themselves for all public labors, drainage, road building, stone breaking, street paving, which they did in order to get their keep from the authorities (although this amounted practically to an assistance for the manufacturers. See volume I, chapter XXV, 3.) The whole bourgeoisie stood guard over the laborers. If the worst of a dog's wages were offered, and the laborer refused to accept them, then the Assistance Committee struck him from their list. It was in a way a golden age for the manufacturers, for the laborers had either to starve or work at any price profitable for the bourgeois. The Assistance Committees acted as watch-dogs. At the same time the manufacturers, in secret agreement with the government, hindered emigration as much as possible, either for the purpose of having their capital, invested in the flesh and blood of laborers, ready at hand, or of safeguarding the squeezing of rent out of the laborers.

The Assistance Committees acted with great severity in this matter. If work was offered, the laborers to whom it was offered were stricken from the lists and compelled to accept. If they refused to begin work, the reason was that their earnings were but nominal, while the work was extraordinarily hard. (Page 97.)

The laborers were willing to perform any work for which they were employed in consequence of the Public Work Acts. The principles according to which industrial occupations were assigned, varied considerably in different cities. But even in places where work in the open air was not absolutely regarded as a labor test, this labor was either compensated with the bare ordinary charity sum, or so insignificantly better that it actually became a labor test. (Page 69.) The Public Works Act of 1863 was to remedy this evil and to enable the laborer to earn his wages as an independent day laborer. The purpose of this Act was threefold: 1) To enable local Edition: current; Page: [159] authorities to borrow money from the loan treasury commissioners (with the consent of the president of the state's central poor boards; 2) to facilitate improvements in the cities of the cotton districts; 3) to secure work and remunerative wages for the unemployed laborers. Up to the end of 1863, loans to the amount of 883,700 p.st. had been granted under this Act. (Page 70.) The enterprises started were mainly canalisation, road building, street paving, reservoirs for water works, etc.

Mr. Henderson, president of the committee of Blackburn, wrote with reference to this to factory inspector Redgrave, that in his entire experience in the course of this period of suffering and misery nothing had struck him more emphatically or given him so much pleasure as the serene willingness with which the unemployed laborers of his district accepted the work offered to them by the city council of Blackburn pursuant to the Public Works Act. A greater contrast could hardly be imagined than that between the cotton spinner, who formerly worked as a skilled man in the factory, and the day-laborer, who now works in a depth of 14 or 18 feet on a drainage canal. (They earned thereby about 4 to 12 sh. per week, according to the size of their families, and this last enormous amount had to provide sometimes for a family of eight. The gentlemen of the bourgeoisie derived a double profit from this. In the first place, they secured money for the improvement of their smoky and neglected cities at exceptionally low interest. In the second place, they paid wages to the laborers at a scale far below the ordinary.) Mr. Henderson thinks that this ready willingness on the part of the laborers to accept the offered employment implied great self-denial and consideration, and deserved all honor, since they were accustomed to an almost tropical temperature, to work in which skill and accuracy counted for more than muscular strength, and to wages which were double, or sometimes treble, of what they could earn now. In Blackburn the men were tried at all possible kinds of labor in the open air. They dug through a stiff and heavy clay soil to a considerable depth, they did drainage work, broke stones, built roads, made excavations Edition: current; Page: [160] for street canals to a depth of 14, 16, and sometimes 20 feet. Frequently they stood in mud and water from 10 to 12 inches deep, and they were exposed to a climate whose wet cold was not exceeded, or perhaps not equalled, in any other district of England. (Pages 91 and 92.) The attitude of the laborers has been almost faultless, their willingness to accept work in the open air and to get along on it. (Page 69.)

1864. April. Occasionally complaints about lack of laborers are heard in various districts, especially in certain branches, for instance weaving. But these complaints are due as much to the low wages which the laborers may earn in consequence of the bad kinds of yarn as to an actual scarcity of laborers in this particular line. Numerous disputes over wages took place during the preceding month between some manufacturers and their laborers. The inspector regrets that strikes occurred far too frequently. The effect of the Public Works Act is now resented by the manufacturers as a competition, and as a result the local committee of Bacup has suspended its activity. For although all the factories are not yet running, there has already been a lack of laborers. (Factory Report, April, 1864, pages 9 and 10.) It was indeed high time for the manufacturers to act. In consequence of the Public Works Act the demand for laborers grew so much that many a factory hand was making 4 to 5 shillings per day in the quarries of Bacup. And so the public works were gradually suspended; this new edition of the Ateliers nationeaux of 1848, which had this time been opened in the interests of the bourgeoisie.

Trying it on the Dog

Although the very reduced wages (of the fully employed), the actual earnings of the laborers in the different factories, have been given, it does not follow that they earn the same amount week after week. The laborers are exposed to great fluctuations at this place, in consequence of the continual experiments made by the manufacturers with different kinds and proportions of cotton and waste in the same factory. The "Mixtures," as they are called, are frequently changed, and the Edition: current; Page: [161] earnings of the laborers rise and fall with the quality of cotton mixtures. At times they earned only 15% of their former wages, and in one or a couple of weeks wages fell to 50 or 60%. Inspector Redgrave, who makes this report, then proceeds to figures of wages selected from practical life. The following examples may suffice:

A, weaver, family of 6 persons, employed 4 days in the week, 6 sh. 8.5 d.; B, twister, 4.5 days per week, 6 sh.; C, weaver, family of 4, 5 days per week, 5 sh. 1 d.; D, slubber, family of 6, employed 4 days per week, 7 sh. 10 d.; E, weaver, family of 7, employed 3 days, 5 sh., etc. Redgrave continues in substance: These data deserve attention, for they prove that labor would become a misfortune in some families, since it reduces not only the earnings, but depresses them so low that they become totally insufficient to satisfy anything but a small part of a family's absolute necessities, unless additional assistance were given in cases where the earnings of a family do not reach the amount which would be granted to them if all of them were unemployed. (Factory Reports, October, 1863, pages 50-53.)

In no week since June 5, 1863, has the average total employment of all laborers been more than 7 hours and some minutes. (Page 121.)

From the beginning of the crisis to March 23, 1863, nearly three million pounds sterling were expended by the poor boards, the central committee of charity, and the London Mansion House committee. (Page 13.)

In one district, in which perhaps the finest yarn is spun, the spinners suffer an indirect reduction of wages of 15% as a result of passing from Sea Island to Egyptian cotton.

In one extended district, in which cotton waste is used in large quantities as an admixture to Indian cotton, the spinners have had their wages reduced by 5%, and lost besides from 20 to 30% by working up Surat and waste. The weavers have dropped from four looms to two. In 1860 they made 5 sh. 7 d. on each loom, but in 1863 only 3 sh. 4 d. The fines, which amounted to from 3 to 6 d. per spinner on American cotton, now run as high as 1 sh. to 3 sh. 6 d. In one Edition: current; Page: [162] district, in which Egyptian cotton was used, mixed with East-Indian, the average earnings of the mule spinners in 1860 was from 18 to 25 sh., while it is only from 10 to 18 sh. now. This not exclusively due to deteriorated cotton, but also to the decreased speed of the mule, in order to give to the yarn a stronger twist, for which extra payment according to the wage scale would have been made in ordinary times. (Pages 43, 44, 45-50.) Although East-Indian cotton may have been worked here and there at a profit for the manufacturers, the wage list on page 53 shows that the laborers suffer from it, compared with 1861. If the use of Surat becomes a settled fact, the laborers would demand the same wages as in 1857. But this would seriously affect the profits of the manufacturers, unless it would be balanced by the price of either the cotton or the products. (Page 105.)

House-Rent. The house-rent of the laborers living in cottages belonging to the manufacturers, is frequently deducted from their wages, even if only short time is worked. Nevertheless the value of these buildings has fallen, and the cottages are now from 25 to 50% cheaper than formerly. A cottage which formerly rented from 3 sh. 6 d. per week, may now be had for 2 sh. 4d., and sometimes for less. (Page 57.)

Emigration. The employers were, of course, opposed to the emigration of the laborers, in the first place because they wished, in the expectation of better times in the cotton industry, to keep the means at hand for the profitable operation of their factories. In the second place some employers are owners of cottages in which their employes are to live, and at least some of them calculate without fail to collect at least a portion of the rent due them. (Page 96.)

Mr. Bernall Osborne says in a speech to his parliamentary constituents, on October 22, 1864, that the laborers of Lancashire had behaved like ancient stoic philosophers. Perhaps they acted like sheep?

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CHAPTER VII.: ADDITIONAL REMARKS.

TAKE it, in accordance with the assumption on which this section is based, that the mass of profit appropriated in any particular sphere of production is equal to the sum of the surplus-values produced by the total capital invested in this sphere. Nevertheless the bourgeois will not consider his profit as identical with the surplus-value, that is to say, with unpaid surplus-labor. And he will do so, for the following reasons.

1) He forgets the process of production in the process of circulation. He is of the opinion that surplus-value is made by his realisation on the value of commodities, which includes realisation on their surplus-value. [There is a blank at this place, indicating that Marx intended to dwell in detail on this point.—F. E.]

2) Assuming a uniform degree of exploitation, we have seen that the rate of profit may differ considerably according to the relative cheapness or dearness of raw materials and the experience of the buyer, according to the relative productivity, efficacy, and cheapness of the machinery employed, according to the greater or lesser perfection of the general equipment of the various stages of the productive process, the simplicity and effectiveness of the management, etc.; all this without reference to any modifications due to the credit-system, to the mutual cheating of the capitalists among themselves, to any favorable choice of the market. In short, given the surplus-value for a certain capital, it depends still very much on the individual business ability of the capitalist, or of his managers and salesmen, whether this same surplus-value realises a greater or smaller rate of profit and thus yields a greater or smaller mass of profit. The same surplus-value of 1,000 Edition: current; Page: [164] p.st., a product of 1,000 p.st. of wages, may be calculated in the business of A on 9,000 p.st., in the business of B on 11,000 p.st. of constant capital. In the case of A we have then p' = 1000/10,000, or 10%. In the case of B we have p' = 1000/12,000, or 8 1/3%. The total capital produces relatively more profit in the business of A than in that of B, although the variable capital advanced in either case is 1,000 p.st., and the surplus-value produced by it likewise 1,000 p.st., so that there is in both cases the same degree of exploitation of the same number of laborers. This difference in the materialisation of the same mass of surplus-value, or the difference in the rates of profit, may also be due to other causes. Still, it may be due wholly to a difference in business ability in both establishments. And this fact leads the capitalist to the conviction that his profits are due, not to the exploitation of labor, but at least, in part, to other circumstances independent of that exploitation, particularly to his individual activity.

The analyses of this part of the work demonstrate the erroneousness of the view (Rodbertus) according to which (in distinction from ground-rent, in the case of which the area of real-estate is said to remain the same and yet to produce a higher rent) a change in the magnitude of a certain capital is said to have no influence on the proportion of profit to capital, and thus on the rate of profit, on the assumption that the mass of capital, on which profits are calculated, grows simultaneously with the mass of profits, and vice versa.

This is true only in two cases. In the first place, it is true, assuming all other circumstances, especially the rate of surplus-value, to remain unchanged, if there is a change in the value of that commodity which is a money-commodity. (The same occurs in the case of a merely nominal change of value, the rise or fall of mere tokens of value while other circumstances remain the same.) Take it that the total capital amounts to 100 p.st., with a profit of 20 p.st., so that the rate of profit is 20%. Now, if gold rises or falls by 50%, the same capital, in the first eventuality, will be worth 150 p.st., which was previously worth only 100 p.st., and the profit Edition: current; Page: [165] will be worth 30 p.st., that is to say, it will be worth that much in money instead of 20 p.st., as before. In the second eventuality, the capital of 100 p.st. will be worth only 50 p.st., and the profit will be represented by the value of 10 p.st. But in either case 150 : 30 = 50 : 10 = 100 : 20 = 20%. But in all these cases there would have been no actual change in the magnitude of capital-value, but only in the money-expression of the same value and the same surplus-value. For this reason s/C, or the rate of profit, could not be affected.

The second case is that in which an actual change of magnitude takes place in the value, but without being accompanied by a change in the proportion of v to c, in other words, when the rate of surplus-value remains the same and the proportion of the variable capital invested in labor-power (considered as an index of the amount of labor-power set in motion) to the constant capital invested in means of production remains the same. Under these circumstances, we may have C, or nC, or C/n, for instance 1,000, or 2,000, or 500. If the rate of profit is 20%, the profit will be 200 in the first case, 400 in the second, and 100 in the third. But 200 : 1,000 = 400 : 2,000 = 100 : 500 = 20%, that is to say the rate of profit remains unchanged, because the composition of capital remains the same and is not effected by its change of magnitude. An increase or decrease in the mass of profit shows therefore merely an increase or decrease in the magnitude of the invested capital.

In the first case, then, there is but seemingly a change in the magnitude of the employed capital, while in the second case there is an actual change of magnitude, but no change in the organic composition of the capital, that is to say, in the relative proportions of the variable and constant portions. With the exception of these two cases, a change in the magnitude of the employed capital is either the result of a preceding change of value in one of the components of capital, and therefore of a change in the relative magnitudes of these components (unless the surplus-value itself varies with the variable capital); or, this change of magnitude (for instance in the Edition: current; Page: [166] case of enterprises on a large scale, the introduction of new machinery, etc.) is the cause of a change in the relative magnitudes of the organic components of capital. In all these cases, other circumstances remaining unchanged, a change in the magnitude of the employed capital must be accompanied simultaneously by a change in the rate of profit.

An increase in the rate of profit is always due to a relative or absolute increase of the surplus-value in proportion to its cost of production, for instance to the advanced total capital, or to a decrease in the difference between the rate of profit and the rate of surplus-value.

Fluctuations in the rate of profit, independently of changes in the organic components of capital, or of the absolute magnitude of the capital, may occur through a rise or fall of the value of the advanced capital, whether it be fixed or circulating, caused by a prolongation or reduction of the working time required for its reproduction, this change in the working time taking place independently of already existing capital. The value of every commodity, including the commodities of which capital consists, is determined, not by the necessary labor-time contained in it individually, but by the social labor-time necessary for its reproduction. This reproduction may take place under aggravating or under propitious circumstances, which differ from the conditions of original production. If it takes under altered conditions double the time, or half as much time, to reproduce the same material capital, and if the value of money remained unchanged, then a capital formerly worth 100 p.st. would be worth 200 p.st. or 50 p.st. If this appreciation or depreciation were to affect all parts of capital uniformly, then the profit would also be expressed correspondingly in double, or half, the amount of money. But if appreciation or depreciation imply a change in the organic composition of capital, if they imply a raising or lowering of the proportion between the variable and constant portions of capital, then the rate of profit, other circumstances remaining the same, will grow with a relatively growing, and fall with a relatively falling, variable capital. If only the Edition: current; Page: [167] money-value of the advanced capital rises or falls (in consequence of a change in the valuation of money) then the money-value of the surplus-value rises or falls in the same proportion. The rate of profit remains unchanged.

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PART II.: CONVERSION OF PROFIT INTO AVERAGE PROFIT.

CHAPTER VIII.: DIFFERENT COMPOSITION OF CAPITALS IN DIFFERENT LINES OF PRODUCTION AND RESULTING DIFFERENCES IN THE RATES OF PROFIT.

IN the preceding part we demonstrated among other things that the rate of profit may vary, may rise or fall, while the rate of surplus-value remains the same. In the present chapter we assume that the intensity of exploitation, and therefore the rate of surplus-value and the length of the working day, are the same in all spheres of production into which the social labor of a certain country is divided. Adam Smith has already shown explicitly that many differences in the exploitation of labor in different spheres of production balance one another by many actual causes, or causes regarded as such by prevailing prejudices, so that they are mere evanescent distinctions and are of no moment in this calculation. Other differences, for instance those in the scale of wages, rest largely on the difference between simple and complicated labor, mentioned in the beginning of volume I, which do not affect the intensity of exploitation in the different spheres of production, although they render the conditions of the laborers in those spheres very unequal. For instance, if the labor of a goldsmith is paid better than that of a day-laborer, the surplus-labor of the goldsmith produces correspondingly more surplus-value than that of the day-laborer. And while the compensation of wages and working days, and thereby of the rates of surplus-value, between different spheres of production, or even different investments of capital in the same Edition: current; Page: [169] sphere of production, is checked by many local obstacles, it is nevertheless accomplished at an increasing degree with the advance of capitalist production and the subordination of all economic conditions under this mode of production. The study of such frictions, while quite important for any special work on wages, may be dispensed with as being accidental and unessential in a general analysis of capitalist production. In such a general analysis it is always assumed that the actual conditions correspond to the terms used to express them, or, in other words, that actual conditions are represented only to the extent that they are typical of their own case.

The difference in the rates of surplus-value in different countries, and consequently in the degree of national exploitation of labor, is immaterial for our present analysis. For we desire to analyse precisely the way in which a general rate of profit is brought about in a certain country. It is evident, however, that a comparison of the various national rates of profit requires but a collation of previous analyses with that which is to follow. First consider the differences in the national rates of surplus-value, then compare on this basis the differences in the national rates of profit. Those differences which are not due to differences in the national rates of surplus-value, must be due to circumstances in which the surplus-value is assumed to be universally the same, constant, as it is in the analysis of this chapter.

We demonstrated in the preceding chapter that, assuming the rate of surplus-value to be constant, the rate of profit may rise or fall in consequence of circumstances which raise or lower the value of one or the other parts of constant capital, and so affect the proportion between the variable and constant components of capital in general. We observed, furthermore, that circumstances which prolong or reduce the time of turn-over of a certain capital may also influence the rate of profit in a similar manner. Since the mass of profits is identical with the mass of surplus-value, the surplus-value itself, it was also seen that the mass of profits, in distinction from the rate of profits, was not touched by the aforementioned fluctuations of value. These fluctuations modified merely the rate through Edition: current; Page: [170] which a certain surplus-value, and therefore a profit of a given magnitude, express themselves, in other words, they indicate the relative magnitude of surplus-value, or profits, as compared with the magnitude of the advanced capital. To the extent that capital was released or tied up by such fluctuations of value, it was not only the rate of profit, but the profit itself, which could be affected by this indirect route. However, this always applied only to such capital as was already engaged, not to new investments about to be made. Besides, the increase or reduction of profit always depended on the extent to which the same capital could set in motion more or less labor in consequence of such fluctuations of value, in other words, the extent to which the same capital, with the same rate of surplus-value, could obtain a larger or smaller amount of surplus-value. So far from contradicting the general rule, or being an exception from it, this seeming exception was really but a special case in the application of the general rule.

It was seen in the preceding part, that the rate of profit varied, when the degree of exploitation was constant while the value of the component parts of constant capital, and the time of turn-over of capital, changed. The obvious conclusion from this was that the rates of profit of different spheres of production existing simultaneously side by side had to differ, when, other circumstances remaining unchanged, the time of turn-over of the invested capitals differed, or when the proportions of the values of the organic components of these capitals were different in the different lines of production. That which we previously regarded as changes occurring successively in the same capital will now be considered as simultaneous differences of contemporaneous investments of capital in different spheres of production.

Under these circumstances we shall have to analyse: 1) The differences in the organic composition of capitals. 2) The differences in their times of turn-over.

The natural premise in this entire analysis is that, in speaking of the composition, or of the turn-over, of a capital in a certain line of production, we always mean the average Edition: current; Page: [171] normal proportions of the capital invested in this line, or, more generally, of the average of the total capital invested in this sphere, not of the temporary differences of the individual capitals in it.

Since our assumption is, furthermore, that the rate of surplus-value and the working day are constant, and since this assumption implies also the constancy of wages, it follows that a certain quantity of variable capital expresses a definite quantity of exploited labor-power and therefore a definite quantity of materialised labor. In other words, if 100 p.st. represent the weekly wages of 100 laborers, indicating 100 actual labor-powers, then n times 100 p.st. indicates the labor-powers of n times 100 laborers, and 100/n p.st. those of 100/n laborers. The variable capital serves here, as is always the case when the wages are given, as an index of the amount of labor set in motion by a definite total capital. Differences in the magnitude of the employed variable capitals serve, therefore, as indices of the differences in the amount of labor-power set in motion. If 100 p.st. indicate 100 laborers per week, representing 6,000 working hours, if the weekly working time is 60 hours, then 200 p.st. indicate 12,000, and 50 p.st. indicate 3,000 working hours.

By the composition of capital we mean, as we have stated in volume I, the proportions of its active and passive parts, of variable and constant capital. Two proportions require consideration under this heading. They are not equally important, although they may produce the same effects under certain circumstances.

The first proportion rests on a technical basis, and must be considered as existing at a certain stage of development of the productive forces. A definite quantity of labor-power, represented by a definite number of laborers, is required for the purpose of producing a definite quantity of products, for instance in one day, and thereby to consume productively, by setting in motion, a definite quantity of means of production, machinery, raw materials, etc. A definite number of laborers corresponds to a definite quantity of means of production, so that a definite quantity of living labor corresponds Edition: current; Page: [172] to a definite quantity of materialised labor in means of production. This proportion differs a great deal in different spheres of production, and frequently even in different branches of one and the same industry. On the other hand, it may occasionally be entirely or approximately the same in widely separated lines of industry.

This proportion forms the technical composition of capital and is the primary basis of its organic composition.

However, it is possible that this first proportion may be the same in different lines of industry, provided that the variable capital is merely an index of labor-power, and the constant capital merely an index of the mass of means of production set in motion by the labor-power. For instance, certain work in copper and iron may be conditioned on the same proportional composition between labor-power and the mass of means of production. But since copper is more expensive than iron, the proportion of value between variable and constant capital may be different in either case, and then the composition of the value of the total capitals is, of course, likewise different. The difference between the technical composition and the composition of values is manifested by each branch of industry by the fact that the proportion of the values of the two parts of capital may vary while the technical composition is constant, and the proportion of values may remain the same while the technical composition varies. This last eventuality will, of course, be possible only if the change in the proportion of the employed masses of means of production and labor-power is compensated by an opposite change in their values.

The composition of the values of capital, which is determined by, and reflects, its technical composition, is called the organic composition of capital.20

We assume, then, that the variable capital is the index of a definite quantity of laborers, or of labor-power, or a definite quantity of living labor set in motion. We saw in the preceding Edition: current; Page: [173] part that a change in the magnitude of the value of variable capital might eventually indicate nothing but a higher or lower price of the same mass of labor. But here, where the rate of surplus-value and the working day have been assumed to be constant, and the wages for a definite working time are given, this is out of the question. On the other hand, a difference in the magnitude of the constant capital may likewise be an index of a change in the mass of means of production set in motion by a definite quantity of labor-power. Still, it may also be due to a difference in value between the means of production set in motion in one sphere and those of another. Both points of view must be considered here.

Finally, the following essential facts must be taken into account:

Take it that 100 p.st. are the weekly wages of 100 laborers. Take it that the working hours are 60 per week. Take it, furthermore, that the rate of surplus-value is 100%. In that case, the laborers work 30 of the 60 hours for themselves, and 30 hours gratis for the capitalist. In fact, those 100 p.st. of wages represent only 30 working hours of those 100 laborers, or a total of 3,000 working hours, while the other 3,000 hours worked by the laborers are incorporated in the 100 p.st. of surplus-value, or as profit, pocketed by the capitalist. Although the wages of 100 p.st. do not express the value in which the weekly labor of those 100 laborers is materialised, still they indicate (since the length of the working day and the rate of surplus-value are given) that this capital set in motion 100 laborers for 6,000 working hours. The capital of 100 p.st. indicates this, first, because it indicates the number of laborers set in motion, since one pound sterling stands for one laborer per week, and 100 p.st. for 100 laborers per week; and in the second place, because every laborer set in motion performs twice the work for which his wages pay, at the given rate of surplus-value of 100%, so that one pound sterling, his wages, the expression of half a week of labor, actually set in motion one whole week's labor, and in the same way 100 p.st., although they pay only for 50 weeks of labor, set in motion 100 weeks of labor. There is, then, an essential Edition: current; Page: [174] difference between variable capital so far as its value, invested as a wages-capital, represents a certain sum of wages, a definite quantity of materialised labor, and variable capital so far as its value is a mere index of the quantity of living labor set in motion by it. This last-named labor is always greater than that incorporated in the variable capital, and is, therefore, represented by a greater value than that of the variable capital. This greater value is determined on one hand by the number of laborers set in motion by the variable capital, and on the other by the quantity of surplus-labor performed by them.

This mode of looking upon variable capital leads to the following conclusions:

When a capital invested in the sphere of production A expends only 100 in variable capital for each 700 of total capital, leaving 600 for constant capital, while a capital invested in the sphere of production B expends 600 for variable and only 100 for constant capital, then the capital of 700 in A will set in motion only 100 of labor-power, or, in terms of our previous assumption, 100 weeks of labor, or 6,000 hours of living labor, while the same amount of capital in B will set in motion 600 weeks of labor or 36,000 hours of living labor. The capital in A would then appropriate only 50 weeks of labor, or 3,000 hours of surplus-labor, while the same amount of capital in B would appropriate 300 weeks of labor, or 18,000 hours. The variable capital is the index, not only of the labor embodied in it, but also, when the rate of surplus-value is known, of the labor set in motion over and above that embodied in itself, in other words, of the surplus-labor. With the same intensity of exploitation, the profit in the first case would be 100/700, or 1/7, or 14 2/7%, and in the second case 600/700, or 6/7, or 85 5/7%, six times the rate of profit of the first. In this case, the profit itself would actually be six times that of A, 600 in B as against 100 in A, because the same capital set in motion six times the quantity of living labor, which, with the same degree of exploitation, means six times as much surplus-value and thus six times as much profit.

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If the capital invested in A were not 700, but 7,000 p.st., while that invested in B were only 700 p.st., and the organic composition of both were to remain the same, then the capital in A would expend 1,000 p.st. of the 7,000 as variable capital, that is to say, it would employ 1,000 laborers per week at 60,000 hours of living labor, of which 30,000 would be surplus-labor. But yet each 700 p.st. of the capital in A would continue to set in motion only one-sixth of the surplus-labor of the capital in B, and produce only one-sixth of the profit of this capital. If we consider the rate of profit, then 1000/7000, or 100/700, or 14 2/7%, would be the rate of the capital in A, compared with 600/700, or 85 5/7%, of the capital in B. Taking equal amounts of capital for comparison, the rates of profit differ here, because the masses of surplus-value, and thus of profits, differ, although the rates of surplus-value are the same, owing to the different masses of living labor set in motion.

The same result follows, if the technical conditions are the same in both spheres of production, while the value of the elements of constant capital is greater or smaller in the one than in the other. Let us assume that both invest 100 p.st. in variable capital and employ 100 laborers per week, which set in motion the same quantity of machinery and raw materials. But let the last-named elements of production be more expensive in B than in A. For instance, let the 100 p.st. of variable capital in A set in motion 200 p.st. of constant capital, and in B 400 p.st. of constant capital. With the same rate of surplus-value, 100%, the surplus-value produced is in either case 100 p.st. Hence the profit is also 100 p.st. But the rate of profit in A is 100/200 c 100 v, or 1/3, or 33 1/3%, while in B it is 100/400 c 100 v, or 1/5, or 20%. In fact, if we select a certain aliquot part of the total capital from either side, we find that every 100 p.st. in B sets aside only 20 p.st., or one-fifth, for variable capital, while every 100 p.st. in A sets aside 33 1/3% p.st., or one-third, for this purpose. B produces less profit to each 100 p.st., because it sets in motion less living labor than A. The difference Edition: current; Page: [176] in the rates of profits resolves itself once more, in this case, into a difference of the masses of surplus-value, and thus masses of profit, produced per each 100 of capital invested.

The difference of this second example from the first is just this: The compensation between A and B, in the second case, would require only a change in the value of the constant capital of either A or B, provided the technical basis remained the same. But in the first case, the technical basis itself is different, and would have to be revolutionised in order to consummate a compensation.

The different organic composition of various capitals, then, is independent of their absolute magnitude. It is always but a question of what part of every 100 is variable and what part constant.

Capitals of different magnitude, calculated in percentages, or, what amounts to the same in this case, capitals of the same magnitude, working with the same working time and the same degree of exploitation, may produce considerably different amounts of surplus-value, and thus of profit, for the reason that a difference in the organic composition of capital in different spheres of production implies a difference in their variable parts, and thus a difference in the quantities of living labor set in motion by them, which implies a difference in the quantities of surplus-labor appropriated by them. And this surplus-labor is the substance of surplus-value and of profit. Equal portions of the total capital in the various spheres of production comprise the sources of unequal portions of surplus-value, and the only source of surplus-value is living labor. With the same degree of labor-exploitation the mass of labor set in motion by a capital of 100, and consequently the mass of surplus-value appropriated by it, depend on the magnitude of its variable component. If a capital, consisting of percentages of 90 c + 10 v, produced as much surplus-value, or profit, with the same degree of exploitation, as a capital consisting of percentages of 10 c + 90 v, then it would be as plain as daylight that the surplus-value, and value in general, must have an entirely different source than labor, and that political economy would then be without Edition: current; Page: [177] a rational basis. If we assume continually that one pound sterling stands for the weekly wages of a laborer working 60 hours, and that the rate of surplus-value is 100%, then it is evident that the total product in values which one laborer can supply in one week, is 2 p.st. Then 10 laborers cannot supply more than 20 p.st. And since 10 p.st. of the 20 reproduce the wages, those 10 laborers cannot produce any more surplus-value than 10 p.st. On the other hand the 90 laborers, whose total product is 180 p.st., and whose wages amount to 90 p.st., produce a surplus-value of 90 p.st. The rate of profit in the one case would be 10%, in the other 90%. If matters were different, then value and surplus-value would be something else than materialised labor. Seeing, then, that capitals in different spheres of production, calculated in percentages—or capitals of equal magnitude—are differently divided into variable and constant capital, so that they set in motion unequal quantities of living labor and produce different surplus-values, and profits, it follows that the rate of profit, which consists precisely of the calculation of the percentage of surplus-value on the total capital, must also differ.

Now, if capitals in different spheres of production, calculated in percentages, in other words, capitals of equal magnitude, produce unequal profits in different spheres of production, in consequence of their different organic composition, then it follows that the profits of unequal capitals in different spheres of production cannot be proportional to the magnitude of their respective capitals, or, in slightly different words, profits in different spheres of production are not proportional to the magnitude of the respective capitals invested in them. For if profits were to grow at the rate of the investment of capital, it would mean that the percentage of profits was the same, so that capitals of equal magnitude in different spheres of production would have equal rates of profit, in spite of their different organic composition. Only within the same sphere of production, in which the organic composition of capital is known, or in different spheres of production with the same organic composition of capitals, do the masses of profits stand in direct ratio to the masses of capitals invested. Edition: current; Page: [178] To say that the profits of capitals of different magnitude are proportional to their magnitudes is only another way of saying that capitals of equal magnitude yield equal profits, or that the rate of profits is the same for all capitals, whatever may be their organic composition and their magnitude.

These statements hold good on the assumption that the commodities are sold at their values. The value of a commodity is equal to the value of the constant capital contained in it, plus the value of the variable capital reproduced in it, plus the increment of this variable capital, which increment is the surplus-value. With the same rate of surplus-value, its mass evidently depends on the mass of the variable capital. The value of the product of a capital of 100 is in the one case 90 c + 10 v + 10 s, or 110, in the other 10 c + 90 v + 90 s, or 190. If the commodities are sold at their values, then the first product is sold at 110, of which 10 represent surplus-value, or unpaid labor; the second product is sold at 190, of which 90 represent surplus-value, or unpaid labor.

This is especially important when international rates of profit are compared with one another. Let us assume that the rate of surplus-value in some European country is 100%, so that the laborer works one-half of the working day for himself and the other half for his employer. Let us assume, furthermore, that the rate of profit in some Asiatic country is 25%, so that the laborer works four-fifths of the working day for himself, and one-fifth for his employer. Let the composition of the national capital in the European country be 84 c + 16 v, that of the national capital of the Asiatic country, where little machinery, etc., is used, and a given quantity of labor-power consumes relatively little raw material productively in a given time, 16 c + 84 v. Then we have the following calculation:

In the European country: Value of product 84 c + 16 v + 16 s, or 116; rate of profit 16/100, or 16%.

In the Asiatic country: Value of product 16 c + 84 v + 21 s, or 121; rate of profit 21/100, or 21%.

The rate of profit in the Asiatic country is higher by more than 25% than in the European country, although the rate Edition: current; Page: [179] of surplus-value is four times smaller in the former than in the latter. Men like Carey, Bastiat, and others, would come to the opposite conclusion.

By the way, different national rates of profit will generally be based on different national rates of surplus-value. But we compare in this chapter unequal rates of profit resting on the same rate of surplus-value.

Aside from differences of organic composition of capitals, which imply different masses of labor, and consequently, other circumstances remaining the same, of surplus-labor, which set in motion capitals of the same magnitude in different spheres of production, there is still another source for the inequality of rates of profit. This is the different length of the time of turn-over of capital in different spheres of production. We have seen in chapter IV that, other circumstances being the same, the rates of profits of capitals of the same organic composition are proportioned inversely as their times of turn-over. We have also seen that the same variable capital, if turned over in different periods of time, produces unequal masses of annual surplus-value. The difference of the times of turn-over, then, is another reason why capitals of the same magnitude in different spheres of production do not produce equal profits in equal times, and why the rates of profit in these different spheres differ.

On the other hand, the proportional composition of capitals as to fixed and circulating capital does not in itself affect the rate of profit. It can affect this rate only in the case that this difference in composition either coincides with a different proportion of the variable and constant parts so that the difference in the rate of profit is due to this difference in organic composition, and not to the different proportions between fixed and circulating capital; or, if the difference in the proportion of fixed and circulating capital is responsible for a difference in the time of turn-over, during which a certain profit is realised. If capitals are divided into fixed and circulating capital in different proportions, it will, of course, always have an influence on the time of turn-over and cause differences in it. But this does not imply that the time of Edition: current; Page: [180] turn-over, in which the same capitals realise certain profits, is different. For instance, A may have to convert the greater part of its product continually into raw materials, etc., while B may use the same machinery, etc., for a longer time, and need less raw material, but both A and B have a part of their capital engaged so long as they are producing; the one in raw materials, that is to say circulating capital, the other in machinery, etc., or fixed capital. The capitalist in A continually converts a portion of his capital from commodities into money, and this into raw materials, while the capitalist in B employs a portion of his capital for a longer time as an instrument of labor without any such conversions. If both of them employ the same amount of labor, they will sell masses of products of unequal value during the year, but both masses of products will contain the same amount of surplus-value, and their rates of profit, calculated on the entire capital invested, will be the same, although their proportional composition of fixed and circulating capital, and their times of turn-over, are different. Both capitals realise equal profits in equal times, although they are turned over in different periods of time.21 The difference in the time of turn-over has in itself no importance except so far as it affects the mass of surplus-value which may be appropriated and realized by the same capital in a certain time. Seeing that a different distribution of the fixed and circulating capital of A and B does not necessarily imply a different time of turn-over, which would in its turn imply a different rate of profit, it is evident, if there is such a difference in the rates of profit of A and B, that it is not due to a difference in the proportions of Edition: current; Page: [181] fixed and circulating capital as such, but rather to the fact that these different proportions indicate an inequality in the times of turn-over affecting the rates of profit.

It follows, then, that a difference in the composition of capitals in various lines of production, referring to their fixed and circulating portions, has in itself no bearing on the rate of profit, since it is the proportion between the constant and variable capital which decides this question, and since the value of the constant capital, and its relative magnitude as compared to that of the variable, is quite independent of the fixed or circulating nature of its components. But it will be found—and this is one of the causes of wrong conclusions—that whenever fixed capital is considerably developed, it is but an expression of the fact that production is carried on at a large scale, so that the constant capital far outweighs the variable, or the living labor-power employed is trifling compared to the mass of the means of production set in motion by it.

We have demonstrated, that different lines of industry may have different rates of profit, corresponding to differences in the organic composition of capitals, and, within the limits indicated, also corresponding to different times of turn-over; the law (as a general tendency) that profits are proportioned as the magnitudes of the capitals, or that capitals of equal magnitude yield equal profits in equal times, applies only to capitals of the same organic composition, with the same rate of surplus-value, and the same time of turn-over. And these statements hold good on the assumption, which has been the basis of all our analyses so far, namely that the commodities are sold at their values. On the other hand there is no doubt that, aside from unessential, accidental, and mutually compensating distinctions, a difference in the average rate of profit of the various lines of industry does not exist in reality, and could not exist without abolishing the entire system of capitalist production. It would seem, then, as though the theory of value were irreconcilable at this point with the actual process, irreconcilable with the real phenomena of production, Edition: current; Page: [182] so that we should have to give up the attempt to understand these phenomena.

It follows from the first part of this volume that the cost-prices are the same for the products of different spheres of production, in which equal portions of capital have been invested for purposes of production, regardless of the organic composition of such capitals. The cost-price does not show the distinction between variable and constant capital to the capitalist. A commodity for which he must advance 100 p.st. in production cost him the same amount, whether he invests 90 c + 10 v, or 10 c + 90 v. He always spends 100 p.st. for it, no more, no less. The cost-prices are the same for investments of the same amounts of capital in different spheres, no matter how much the produced values and surplus-values may differ. The equality of cost-prices is the basis for the competition of the invested capitals, by which an average rate of profit is brought about.

CHAPTER IX.: FORMATION OF A GENERAL RATE OF PROFIT (AVERAGE RATE OF PROFIT) AND TRANSFORMATION OF THE VALUES OF COMMODITIES INTO PRICES OF PRODUCTION

THE organic composition of capital depends at each stage on two circumstances: First, on the technical relation of the employed labor-power to the mass of the employed means of production; secondly, on the price of these means of production. We have seen that this composition must be considered according to its percentages. We express the organic composition of a certain capital, consisting of four-fifths of constant, and one-fifth of variable capital, by the formula 80 c + 20 v. We furthermore assume in this comparison that the rate of surplus-value is unchangeable. Let it be, for instance, 100%. The capital of 80 c + 20 v then produces a surplus-value of 20 s, and this is equal to a rate of profit of 20% on the total capital. The magnitude of the actual value Edition: current; Page: [183] of the product of this capital depends on the magnitude of the fixed part of the constant capital, and on the amount of it passing by wear and tear over to the product. But as this circumstance is immaterial so far as the rate of profit and the present analysis are concerned, we assume for the sake of simplicity that the constant capital is transferred everywhere uniformly and entirely to the annual product of the capitals named. It is further assumed that these capitals realise equal quantities of surplus-value in the different spheres of production, proportional to the magnitude of their variable parts. In other words, we disregard for the present the difference which may be produced in this respect by the different lengths of the periods of turn-over. This point will be discussed later.

Let us compare five different spheres of production, and let the capital in each one have a different organic composition, as follows:

lf0445-03-0183-t0001.gif

Here we have considerably different rates of profit in different spheres of production with the same degree of exploitation, corresponding to the different organic composition of these capitals.

The grand total of the capitals invested in these five spheres of production is 500; the grand total of the surplus-value produced by them is 110; the total value of all commodities produced by them is 610. If we consider the amount of 500 as one single capital, and capitals I to V as its component parts (about analogous to the different departments of a cotton mill which has different proportions of constant and variable capital in its carding, preparatory spinning, spinning, and weaving rooms, on the basis of which the average proportion for the whole factory is calculated), then we should put down the average composition of this capital of Edition: current; Page: [184] 500 as 390 c + 110 v, or, in percentages, as 78 c + 22 v. In other words, if we regard each one of the capitals of 100 as one-fifth of the total capital, its average composition would be 78 c + 22 v; and every 100 would make an average surplus-value of 22. The average rate of profit would, therefore, be 22%, and, finally, the price of every fifth of the total product produced by the capital of 500 would be 122. The product of each 100 of the advanced total capital would have to be sold, then, at 122.

But in order not to arrive at entirely wrong conclusions, it is necessary to assume that not all cost-prices are equal to 100.

With a composition of 80 c + 20 v, and a rate of surplus-value of 100, the total value of the commodities produced by the first capital of 100 would be 80 c + 20 v + 20 s, or 120, provided that the whole constant capital is transferred to the product of the year. Now, this may happen under certain circumstances in some spheres of production. But it will hardly be the case where the proportion of c to v is that of four to one. We must, therefore, remember in comparing the values produced by each 100 of the different capitals, that they will differ according to the different composition of c as to fixed and circulating parts, and that the fixed portions of different capitals will wear out more or less rapidly, thus transferring unequal quantities of value to the product in equal periods of time. But this is immaterial so far as the rate of profit is concerned. Whether the 80 c transfer the value of 80, or 50, or 5, to the annual product, whether the annual product is consequently 80 c + 20 v + 20 s = 120, or 50 c + 20 v + 20 s = 90, or 5 c + 20 v + 20 s = 45, in all of these cases the excess of the value of the product over its cost-price is 20, and in every case these 20 are calculated on a capital of 100 in ascertaining the rate of profit. The rate of profit of capital I is, therefore, in every case 20%. In order to make this still plainer, we transfer in the following table different portions of the constant capital of the same five capitals to the value of their product.

lf0445-03-0185-t0001.gif

Now, if we consider capitals I to V once more as one single total capital, it will be seen that also in this case the composition Edition: current; Page: [185] of the sums of these five capitals amounts to 500, being 390c + 110 v, so that the average composition is once more 78 c + 22 v. The average surplus-value also remains 22%. If we allot this surplus-value uniformly to capitals I to V, we arrive at the following prices of the commodities:

lf0445-03-0185-t0002.gif

Summing up, we find that the commodities are sold at 2 + 7 + 17 = 26 above, and 8 + 18 + 26 below their value, so that the deviations of prices from values mutually balance one another by the uniform distribution of the surplus-value, or by the addition of the average profit of 22 per 100 of advanced capital to the respective cost-prices of the commodities of I to V. One portion of the commodities is sold in the same proportion above in which the other is sold below their values. And it is only their sale at such prices which makes it possible that the rate of profit for all five capitals is uniformly 22%, without regard to the organic composition of these capitals. The prices which arise by drawing the average of the various rates of profit in the different spheres of production and adding this average to the cost-prices of the different spheres of production, are the prices of production. They are conditioned on the existence of an average rate of profit, and this, again, rests on the premise that the rates of profit in every sphere of production, considered by itself, have previously been reduced to so many average rates of profit. Edition: current; Page: [186] These special rates of profit are equal to s/C in every sphere of production, and they must be deduced out of the values of the commodities, as shown in volume I. Without such a deduction an average rate of profit (and consequently a price of production of commodities), remains a vague and senseless conception. The price of production of a commodity, then, is equal to its cost-price plus a percentage of profit apportioned according to the average rate of profit, or in other words, equal to its cost-price plus the average profit.

Since the capitals invested in the various lines of production are of a different organic composition, and since the different percentages of the variable portions of these total capitals set in motion very different quantities of labor, it follows that these capitals appropriate very different quantities of surplus-labor, or produce very different quantities of surplus-value. Consequently the rates of profit prevailing in the various lines of production are originally very different. These different rates of profit are equalised by means of competition into a general rate of profit, which is the average of all these special rates of profit. The profit allotted according to this average rate of profit to any capital, whatever may be its organic composition, is called the average profit. That price of any commodity which is equal to its cost-price plus that share of average profit on the total capital invested (not merely consumed) in its production which is allotted to it in proportion to its conditions of turn-over, is called its price of production. Take, for instance, a capital of 500, of which 100 are fixed capital, and let 10% of this wear out during one turn-over of the circulating capital of 400. Let the average profit for the time of this turn-over be 10%. In that case the cost-price of the product created during this turn-over will be 10 c (wear) + 400 (c + v), circulating capital, or a total of 410, and its price of production will be 410 (cost-price) plus 10% of average profit on 500, or a total of 460.

While the capitalists in the various spheres of production recover the value of the capital consumed in the production of their commodities through the sale of these, they do not secure the surplus-value, and consequently the profit, created Edition: current; Page: [187] in their own sphere by the production of these commodities, but only as much surplus-value, and profit, as falls to the share of every aliquot part of the total social capital out of the total social surplus-value, or social profit produced by the total capital of society in all spheres of production. Every 100 of any invested capital, whatever may be its organic composition, draws as much profit during one year, or any other period of time, as falls to the share of every 100 of the total social capital during the same period. The various capitalists, so far as profits are concerned, are so many stockholders in a stock company in which the shares of profit are uniformly divided for every 100 shares of capital, so that profits differ in the case of the individual capitalists only according to the amount of capital invested by each one of them in the social enterprise, according to his investment in social production as a whole, according to his shares. That portion of the price of commodities which buys back the elements of capital consumed in the production of these commodities, in other words, their cost-price, depends on the investment of capital required in each particular sphere of production. But the other element of the price of commodities, the percentage of profit added to this cost-price, does not depend on the mass of profit produced by a certain capital during a definite time in its own sphere of production, but on the mass of profit allotted for any period to each individual capital in its capacity as an aliquot part of the total social capital invested in social production.22

A capitalist selling his commodities at their price of production recovers money in proportion to the value of the capital consumed in their production and secures profits in proportion to the aliquot part which his capital represents in the total social capital. His cost-prices are specific. But the profit added to his cost-prices is independent of his particular sphere of production, for it is a simple average per 100 of invested capital.

Let us assume that the five different investments of capital named I to V in the foregoing illustrations belong to one Edition: current; Page: [188] man. The quantity of variable and constant capital consumed for each 100 of the invested capitals in the production of commodities would be known, and these portions of the value of the commodities of I to V would make up a part of their price, since at least this price is required to recover the consumed portions of the invested capital. These cost-prices would be different for each class of the commodities I to V, and the owner would therefore mark them differently. But the different masses of surplus-value, or profit, produced by capitals I to V might easily be regarded by the capitalist as profits of his aggregate capital, so that each 100 would get its proportional quota. The cost-prices of the commodities produced in the various departments I to V would be different; but that portion of their selling price which comes from the addition of the profit for each 100 of capital would be the same for all these commodities. The aggregate price of the commodities of I to V would be equal to their aggregate value, that is to say, it would be equal to the sum of the cost-prices of I to V plus the sum of the surplus-values, or profits, produced in I to V. It would actually be the money-expression of the total quantity of past and present labor incorporated in the commodities of I to V. And in the same way the sum of all the prices of production of all commodities in society, comprising the totality of all lines of production, is equal to the sum of all their values.

This statement seems to be contradicted by the fact that under capitalist production the elements of productive capital are, as a rule, bought on the market, so that their prices include profits which have already been realised. Accordingly, the price of production of one line of production passes, with the profit contained in it, over into the cost-price of another line of production. But if we place the sum of the cost-prices of the whole country on one side, and the sum of its surplus-values, or profits, on the other, it is evident that the calculation must come out right. For instance, take a certain commodity A. Its cost-price may contain the profits of B, C, D, etc., or the cost-prices of B, C, D, etc., may contain the profits of A. Now, if we make our calculation, the Edition: current; Page: [189] profits of A will not be included in its cost-price, nor will the profits of B, C, D, etc., be figured in with their own cost-prices. No one figures his own profit in his own cost-price. If there are n spheres of production, and every one of them makes a profit of p, then the aggregate cost-price of all of them is equal to k-np. Taking the calculation as a whole we see that the profits of one sphere which pass into the cost-prices of another have been placed on one side of the account showing the total price of the ultimate product, and so cannot be placed a second time on the profit side. If any do appear on this side, it can be only because this particular commodity was itself the ultimate product, so that its price of production did not pass into the cost-price of some other commodity.

If an amount equal to p, expressing the profits of the producers of means of production, passes into the cost-price of a commodity, and if a profit equal to p' is added to this cost-price, then the aggregate profit P is equal to p + p'. The aggregate cost-price of a commodity, after deducting all amounts for profit, is in that case its own cost-price minus P. If this cost-price is called k, then it is evident that k + P = k + p + p'. We have seen in volume I, chapter IX, 2, that the product of every capital may be treated as though a part of it reproduced only capital, while the other part represented only surplus-value. Applying this mode of calculation to the aggregate product of society, it is necessary to make some rectifications. For, looking upon society as a whole, it would be a mistake to figure, say, the profit contained in the price of flax twice. It should not be counted as a portion of the price of linen and at the same time as the profit of the producers of flax.

To the extent that the surplus-value of A passes into the constant capital of B, there is no difference between surplus-value and profit. It is quite immaterial for the value of the commodities, whether the labor contained in them is paid or unpaid. We see merely that B pays for the surplus-value of A. But the surplus-value of A cannot be counted twice in the total calculation.

The essential difference is this: Aside from the fact that Edition: current; Page: [190] the price of a certain product, for instance the product of capital B, differs from its value, because the surplus-value realized in B may be greater or smaller than the profit of others contained in the product of B, the same fact applies also to those commodities which form the constant part of its capital, and which indirectly, as necessities of life for the laborers, form its variable part. So far as the constant part is concerned, it is itself equal to the cost-price plus surplus-value, which now means cost-price plus profit, and this profit may again be greater or smaller than the surplus-value in whose place it stands. And so far as the variable capital is concerned, it is true that the average daily wage is equal to the values produced by the laborers in the time which they must work in order to produce their necessities of life. But this time is in its turn modified by the deviation of the prices of production of the necessities of life from their values. However, this always amounts in the end to saying that one commodity receives too little of the surplus-value while another receives too much, so that the deviations from the value shown by the prices of production mutually compensate one another. In short, under capitalist production, the general law of value enforces itself merely as the prevailing tendency, in a very complicated and approximate manner, as a never ascertainable average of ceaseless fluctuations.

Since the average rate of profit is formed by the average of the various rates of profit for each 100 of the invested capital during a definite period of time, say one year, it follows that the difference brought about by the various periods of turn-overs of different capitals is also effaced by this means. But these differences play a leading role in the different rates of profit of the various spheres of production whose average forms the average rate of profit.

In the preceding illustration we assumed each capital in every sphere of production helping to make up the average rate of profit to be equal to 100, and we did so in order to show the differences in the rates of profit by percentages and incidentally the difference in the values of commodities produced by equal amounts of capital. But it is understood that Edition: current; Page: [191] the actual masses of surplus-value produced in each sphere of production depend on the magnitude of the invested capitals, since the composition of each capital is determined by each sphere of production. But the particular rate of profit of any individual sphere of production is not affected by the circumstance that a capital of 100, or m times 100, or xm times 100 may be invested. The rate of profit remains 10%, whether the total profit is as 10 to 100, or 1,000 to 10,000.

However, since the rates of profit differ in the various spheres of production, seeing that considerably different masses of surplus-value, or profit, are produced in them according to the proportion of the variable to the total capital, it is evident that the average profit per 100 of the social capital, and consequently the average, or general, rate of profit, will differ considerably according to the respective magnitudes of the capitals invested in the various spheres. Take, for instance, four capitals A, B, C, D. Let the rate of surplus-value be 100% for all of them. Let the variable capital for each 100 of total capital be 25 in A, 40 in B, 15 in C, and 10 in D. In that case every 100 of the total capital would make a surplus-value, or profit, of 25 in A, 40 in B, 15 in C, and 10 in D. This would make a total of 90, and if these four capitals are of the same magnitude, the average rate of profit would be 90/4, or 22.5%.

Now take it that the amounts of the total capitals are as follows: A equals 200, B, 300, C, 1,000, D, 4,000. The profits produced in that case would be 50, 120, 150, and 400. Lumping these four capitals together into one total capital of 5,500, its profit would be 720, and its average rate of profit 13 1/11%.

The masses of the total value produced differ according to the magnitudes of the total capitals invested in A, B, C, D, respectively. The question of the formation of an average rate of profit is therefore not merely a matter of drawing simply the average of the different rates of profit in the various spheres of production, but quite as much one of the relative weight which these different rates of profit carry in the formation of the average. This depends on the relative magnitude Edition: current; Page: [192] of the capital invested in each particular sphere, or on the aliquot part which the capital invested in each particular sphere forms in the aggregate social capital. There will naturally be a very great difference according to whether a large or a small part of the total capital yields more or less of a rate of profit. And this, again, depends on the fact whether much or little capital is invested in those spheres in which the variable capital is relatively small or large compared to the total capital. It is the same with the average interest which a usurer draws who lends different amounts of capital at different rates of interest; for instance at 4, 5, 6, 7%, etc. The average rate of his interest will depend entirely on the relative magnitudes of the various capitals put out by him at different rates of interest.

We see, then, that the average rate of profit is determined by two factors:

1) By the organic composition of the capitals in the different spheres of production, and consequently by the different rates of profit of the individual spheres.
2) By the allotment of the social total capital to these different spheres, in other words, by the relative magnitude of the capitals invested in each particular sphere and the special rate of profit attendant to it; or, to express it still differently, by the relative share of the total social capital absorbed by each sphere of production.

In volumes I and II we were dealing only with the values of the commodities. Now we have dissected this value on the one hand into a cost-price, and on the other we have developed out of it another form, that of the price of production of commodities.

Take it that the composition of the average social capital is 80 c + 20 v, and that the annual rate of surplus-value, s', is 100%. In that case the average annual profit for a capital of 100 would be 20, and the average annual rate of profit 20%. Whatever may be the cost-price k of the commodities annually produced by a capital of 100, their price of production will be k + 20. In those spheres of production, in which the composition of capital would be (80-x) c + Edition: current; Page: [193] (20 + x) V, the actually produced surplus-value, or the annual profit produced in this sphere, would be 20 + x, that is to say greater than 20, and the value of the produced commodities k + 20 + x, that is to say greater than k + 20, greater than their price of production. On the other hand, in those spheres, in which the composition of the capital would be (80 + x) c + (20-x) v, the annually produced surplus-value, or profit, would be 20-x, or smaller than 20, and consequently the value of the commodities k + 20-x, smaller than the price of production, which is k + 20. Aside from eventual differences in the periods of turn-over, the price of production of the commodities would be equal with their value only in those spheres, in which the composition would happen to be 80 c + 20 v.

The specific development of the social productivity of labor varies more or less in each particular sphere of production in proportion as the quantity of means of production set in motion in a given working day by a given number of laborers is large, and consequently the quantity of labor required for a definite quantity of means of production small. Hence we call capitals of higher composition such capitals as contain a larger percentage of constant and a smaller percentage of variable capital than the average social capital; and vice versa, capitals of lower composition those capitals which give relatively more room to the variable, and relatively less to the constant capital, than the average social capital. Finally, we call capitals of average composition those capitals which have the same composition as the average social capital. If the average social capital is composed of 80 c + 20 v, then a capital of 90 c + 10 v stands above, and a capital of 70 c + 30 v below the social average. Generally speaking, if the composition of the average social capital is mc + nv, m and n being constant magnitudes and m + n being equal to 100, the formula (m + x) c + (n-x) v represents the higher composition, and (m-x) c + (n + x) v the lower composition, of some individual capital or group of capitals. The following tabulation shows the way in which these capitals perform their functions after an average rate of profit has been Edition: current; Page: [194] established, assuming one turn-over per year. In this tabulation, I shows the average composition, in which the average rate of profit is 20%.

I). 80 c + 20 v + 20 s. Rate of profit 20%. Price of product 120. Value of product 120.
II). 90 c + 10 v + 10 s. Rate of profit 20%. Price of product 120. Value of product 110.
III). 70 c + 30 v + 30 s. Rate of profit 20%. Price of product 120. Value of product 130.

The value of the commodities produced by capital II would, therefore, be smaller than their price of production, while the price of production of the commodities of III would be smaller than their value. Value and price of production would be equal only in the case of capital I and others like it in the various lines of production. By the way, in applying these terms to any particular cases it must be borne in mind whether a deviation of the proportion between c and v is not due simply to a change in the value of the elements of constant capital, instead of a difference in the technical composition.

The foregoing statements are indeed a modification of our original assumption concerning the determination of the cost-price of commodities. We had originally assumed that the cost-price of a commodity is equal to the value of the commodities consumed in its production. Now, the price of production of a certain commodity is its cost-price for the buyer, and this price may pass into other commodities and become an element of their prices. Since the price of production may vary from the value of a commodity, it follows that the cost-price of a commodity containing this price of production may also stand above or below that portion of its total value which is formed by the value of the means of production consumed by it. It is necessary to remember this modified significance of the cost-price, and to bear in mind that there is always the possibility of an error, if we assume that the cost-price of the commodities of any particular sphere is equal to the value of the means of production consumed by it. Our present analysis does not necessitate a closer examination of this Edition: current; Page: [195] point. It remains true, nevertheless, that the cost-price of a commodity is always smaller than its value. For no matter how much the cost-price of a commodity may differ from the value of the means of production consumed by it, a previous mistake in this respect is immaterial for the capitalist. The cost-price of a certain commodity has been previously determined, it is a premise independent of the production of our capitalist, while the result of his production is a commodity containing surplus-value, which is an addition to its cost-price. For all other purposes, the statement that the cost-price is smaller than the value of a commodity is now practically changed into the statement that the cost-price is smaller than the price of production. So far as the total social capital is concerned, in the case of which the price of production is equal to the value, this statement is still identical with the former, namely that the cost-price is smaller than the value of a commodity. And while this state of things is modified in the individual spheres of production, still the fundamental fact always remains that, from the point of view of the total social capital, the cost-price of the commodities produced by it is smaller than their value, or smaller than their price of production, which in the case of the total mass of social commodities is identical with their value. The cost-price of a commodity refers only to the quantity of paid labor contained in it, while its value refers to all the paid and unpaid labor contained in it. The price of production refers to the sum of the paid labor plus a certain quantity of paid labor determined by conditions which are independent of the individual sphere in which this particular commodity was produced.

The formula that the price of production of a commodity is equal to k + p, equal to its cost-price plus profit, is now more precisely modified by the explanation that p equals kp' (p' meaning the average rate of profit), so that the price of production is equal to k + kp'. If k is 300 and p', 15%, then the price of production, being k + kp', is 300 + 300 × 15/100, or 345.

The price of production of the commodities in any particular sphere may alter its magnitude in the following cases:

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1) If the average rate of profit is changed through conditions which are independent of this particular sphere, assuming the value of commodities to remain the same (so that the same quantities of dead and living labor are consumed in their production as before).
2) If there is a change of value, either in this particular sphere in consequence of technical changes, or in consequence of a change in the value of the commodities which form elements of the constant capital of this sphere, while the average rate of profit remains unchanged.
3) If the two aforementioned eventualities combine their effects.

In spite of the great changes occurring continually, as we shall see, in the rates of profit of the individual spheres of production, there is on the other hand no rapid change in the average rate of profit, unless it is brought about exceptionally by extraordinary economic events. A change in the average rate of profit is as a rule the belated work of a long series of fluctuations extending over very long periods of time, fluctuations which require much time before they will consolidate and compensate one another so as to bring about a change in the average rate of profit. In all short periods of time (quite aside from fluctuations of market prices), a change in the prices of production is, therefore, always traceable to actual changes in the value of commodities, that is to say, to changes in the total amount of labor-time required for their production. As a matter of course, mere changes in the money-expression of the same values are not at all considered here.23

On the other hand it is evident that, from the point of view of the total social capital, the value of the commodities produced by it (or, expressed in money, their price) is equal to the value of the constant capital plus the value of the variable capital plus the surplus-value. Assuming the degree of labor-exploitation to be constant, the rate of profit cannot change so long as the mass of surplus-value remains the same, unless either the value of the constant capital changes, or the Edition: current; Page: [197] value of the variable capital, or the value of both, so that C is changed and thereby s/C, the general rate of profit. In every event, then, a change in the average rate of profit is conditioned on a change in the value of the commodities which form the elements of the value of the constant, or variable capital, or of both.

Or, the average rate of profit may change, if the degree of labor-exploitation changes, while the value of the commodities remains the same.

Or, if the degree of labor-exploitation remains the same, the average rate of profit may change through a relative change in the labor employed in comparison to the constant capital, as a result of technical changes in the labor-process. But such technical changes must always find expression in a change of value of the commodities, and be accompanied by it, since their production will then require either more or less labor than before.

We saw in part I that the mass of profit and surplus-value were identical. But the rate of profit was from the first distinguished from the rate of surplus-value, and this appeared to be due, at first sight, to a mere difference of calculation. But at the same time this way of looking at the question served from the outset to obscure and mystify the actual origin of surplus-value, since the rate of profit could rise or fall, while the rate of surplus-value remained the same, and vice versa, and since the capitalist had a practical interest only in the rate of profit. But there was an actual difference of magnitude only between the rates of surplus-value and of profit, not between the masses of surplus-value and of profit. Since the surplus-value was calculated on the total capital in figuring up the rate of profit, and this total capital was regarded as the standard of measurement, the surplus-value itself seemed to have its origin in the total capital and to proceed from all its parts uniformly, so that the organic difference between constant and variable capital was obliterated. In its disguise of profit, the surplus-value had actually concealed its origin, lost its character, and become unrecognizable. However, hitherto the distinction between profit and Edition: current; Page: [198] surplus-value referred only to a change of quality, or form, and there was no real difference of magnitude between the masses of surplus-value and profit, but only between the rates of surplus-value and profit, in this first stage of their metamorphosis.

But this is changed, as soon as a general rate of profit, and, by means of it, an average mass of profit corresponding to the magnitude of the capitals invested in the various spheres of production, have been established.

After that it is but accidentally that the surplus-value actually produced in any particular sphere of production, and thus the profit, is identical with the profit contained in the selling price of the commodities. It then becomes the rule, that not only the rates of surplus-value and profit are the expression of different magnitudes, but also the masses of surplus-value and of profit. Assuming a certain degree of exploitation to exist, the mass of the surplus-value produced in any particular sphere of production is now more important for the average profit of the total social capital, and thus for the capitalist class in general, than for the individual capitalist in any individual line of production. It has any importance for the individual capitalist only to the extent24 that the quantity of surplus-value produced in his line plays a determining role in regulating the average profit. But this is a process which takes place behind his back, which he does not see, nor understand, and which indeed does not interest him at all. The actual difference of magnitude between profit and surplus-value—not merely between the rate of profit and of surplus-value—in the various spheres of production now conceals completely the true nature and origin of profit, not only for the capitalist, who has a special interest in deceiving himself on this score, but also for the laborer. By the transformation of values into prices of production, the basis of the determination of value is itself removed from direct observation. Finally, seeing that the mere transformation of surplus-value into profit separates that portion of the Edition: current; Page: [199] value of commodities which forms the profit from that portion which forms the cost-price of commodities, it is natural that the capitalist should lose the meaning of the term value at this juncture. For he is not confronted with the total labor put into the production of the commodities, but only with that portion of the total labor which he has paid in the shape of means of production, whether they be alive or dead, so that his profit appears to him as something outside of the immanent value of the commodities. And now this conception is fully endorsed, fortified, and ossified by the fact that, from the point of view of his particular sphere of production, the profit is not determined by the limits drawn for the formation of value within his own circle, but by outside influences.

The fact that the actual state of things is here revealed for the first time; that political economy up to the present time, as we shall see in the following and in volume IV, made either forced abstractions of the distinctions between surplus-value and profit, and their rates, in order to be able to retain the determination of value as a basis, or gave up the determination of value and with it all safeguards of scientific procedure, in order to cling to the obvious phenomena of these differences—this confusion of the theoretical economists demonstrates most strikingly the utter incapacity of the capitalist, when blinded by competition, to penetrate through the outward disguise into the internal essence and the inner form of the capitalist process of production.

In fact, all the laws concerning the rise and fall of the rate of profit, as analysed in part I, have the following double meaning:

1) On the one hand, they are the laws of the average rate of profit. In view of the many different causes which bring about a rise or a fall in the rate of profit, one would think that the average rate of profit would change every day. But a certain movement in one sphere will counterbalance that of another, their effects cross and paralyze one another. We shall examine later on toward which side these fluctuations gravitate ultimately. But they are slow. The suddenness, multiplicity, and different duration of the fluctuations in the Edition: current; Page: [200] individual spheres of production tend to compensate them mutually in the order of their succession in time, so that a fall in prices follows after a rise, and vice versa, limiting these fluctuations to local, individual, spheres. As a result, the various local fluctuations ultimately neutralise one another. Changes take place within each individual sphere of production, deviations from the average rate of profit, which on the one hand, balance one another after a certain time and thus do not react upon the average rate of profit, and which, on the other hand, do not react upon it, because they are balanced by other simultaneous fluctuations in other local spheres. Since the average rate of profit is determined, not only by the average profits of each sphere, but also by the allotment of the total social capital to the different individual spheres, and since this allotment is continually changing, this is another continuous cause of changes in the average rate of profit. But it is a cause of changes which largely paralyzes itself, owing to its interrupted and many sided nature.

2) Within each sphere, there is a certain playroom for a space of time in which the local rate of profit may fluctuate, before this fluctuation of rise and fall consolidates sufficiently to gain time for exerting an influence on the average rate of profit and assuming more than a local importance. Within these limits of space and time, the laws of the rate of profit, as developed in Part I of this volume, likewise remain applicable.

The theoretical conception, referring to the first transformation of surplus-value into profit, according to which every part of the capital yields uniformly the same profit,25 expresses a practical fact. Whatever may be the composition of the industrial capital, whether it sets in motion one quarter of dead labor and three quarters of living labor, or three quarters of dead labor and one quarter of living labor, whether it absorbs three times as much surplus-labor, or produces three times as much surplus-value, in one case than in another, it yields the same profit in either case, always assuming the degree of labor-exploitation to be the same, and Edition: current; Page: [201] leaving aside individual differences, which disappear for the reason that we are dealing in either case with the average composition of the entire sphere of production. The individual capitalist, whose outlook is limited, or even all the capitalists in each individual sphere of production, justly believe that their profits are not derived solely from the labor employed in their own individual sphere. This is quite true so far as their average profit is concerned. To what extent this profit is due to the universal exploitation of labor by means of the total social capital, that is to say, by all his capitalist colleagues, this connection of things is a complete mystery for the individual capitalist. And it is all the more so, since no bourgeois economist has so far cleared it up for him. A saving of labor—not only of labor necessary for the production of a certain product, but also of the number of laborers employed—and the employment of more dead labor (constant capital), appear as very correct operations from an economic point of view, and do not seem to exert the least influence on the average rate of profit and the average profit. How, then, could living labor be the exclusive source of profit, seeing that a reduction in the quantity of labor required for production does not only seem to exert no injurious influence on profit, but even seems, under certain circumstances, to be the first cause for an increase of profits, at least for the individual capitalist?

If there is a rise or fall, in any particular sphere of production, in that portion of the cost-price which represents the value of the constant capital, it is a portion coming out of the circulation and passes from the outset into the process of production of the commodities in its enlarged or reduced state. If, on the other hand, the same number of laborers produces more or less in the same time, so that the quantity of labor required for the production of a definite quantity of commodities varies while the number of laborers remains the same, it may be that that portion of the cost-price, which represents the value of the variable capital, may remain the same and contribute the same amount to the cost-price of the total product. But every individual commodity, whose sum makes Edition: current; Page: [202] up the total product, shares in more or less labor (paid and unpaid), and shares therefore in the greater or smaller outlay for this labor, a larger or smaller portion of the wages. The total wages paid by the capitalist remain the same, but the calculation for each individual commodity is different. To that extent there would be a change in the cost-price of the commodities. But no matter whether the cost-price of the individual commodities rises or falls, either as a result of such changes of value in this same commodity, or of changes of value in its elements (or, perhaps, the cost-price of the total amount of commodities produced by a capital of a given magnitude), if the average profit is, say, 10%, it remains 10%. Still, 10%, from the point of view of the individual commodity, may represent very different amounts, according to the change of magnitude in the cost-price of the individual commodities called forth by such changes of value as we have assumed.26

So far as the variable capital is concerned—and this is the more important, because it is the source of surplus-value, and because anything which conceals its relation to the accumulation of wealth by the capitalist serves to mystify the entire system—the matter assumes a coarser form. It appears to the capitalist in this light: A variable capital of 100 p.st. employs, perhaps, 100 laborers per week. If these 100 laborers produce 200 pieces of commodities or 200 C, per week in a given working time, then 1 C—leaving aside the question of that portion of its cost-price which is added by the constant capital, costs 10 shillings, for 100 p.st. pay for 200 c, and therefore 1 C costs 100/200 p.st. Now take it that a change takes place in the productive power of labor. Perhaps it is doubled, so that the same number of laborers now produces twice 200 C in the same time in which they used to produce once 200 C. In that case 1 C costs 5 shillings (always speaking only of that portion of the cost-price which consists of wages), for since 100 p.st. now pay for 400 C, 1 C costs 100/400 p.st. On the other hand, if the productive power were to decrease by one-half, then the same labor would produce Edition: current; Page: [203] only (200/2) C. And since 100 p.st. pay for (200/2) C, 1 C would cost 200/200 p.st., or 1 p.st. The changes in the labor-time required for the production of the commodities, and thus the changes in their values, thus appear with reference to the cost-price and the price of production as different allotments of the same wages to more or fewer commodities, according to the greater or smaller quantity of commodities produced in the same working time for the same wages. The capitalist, and consequently his political economist, see that the aliquot part of the paid labor falling to the share of each individual commodity changes with the productivity of labor, and that the value of these commodities also changes accordingly. But they do not see that the same is true of the unpaid labor contained in every individual commodity, and they see it so much less since the average profit is but accidentally determined by the unpaid labor absorbed in the sphere of the individual capitalist. Only in this vague and meaningless form are we still reminded of the fact that the value of the commodities is determined by the labor contained in them.

CHAPTER X.: COMPENSATION OF THE AVERAGE RATE OF PROFIT BY COMPETITION. MARKET PRICES AND MARKET VALUES. SURPLUS-PROFIT.

ONE portion of the spheres of production has an average composition of their capitals, that is to say, their capitals have exactly or approximately the composition of the average social capital.

In these spheres of production, the price of production of the produced commodities coincides exactly or approximately with their values as expressed in money. If there is no other way of reaching a mathematical limit, this would be the one. Competition distributes the social capital in such a way between the various spheres of production that the prices of production of each sphere are formed after the model of the Edition: current; Page: [204] prices of production in these spheres of average composition, which is k + kp', cost-price plus the average rate of profit multiplied by the cost-price. Now, this average rate of profit is nothing else but the percentage of profit in that sphere of average composition, in which the profit is identical with the surplus-value. Hence the rate of profit is the same in all spheres of production, for it is apportioned according to that one of the average spheres of production in which the average composition of capitals prevails. Consequently the sum of the profits of all spheres of production must be equal to the sum of surplus-values, and the sum of the prices of production of the total social product equal to the sum of its values. But it is evident that the balance between the spheres of production of different composition must tend to equalise them with the spheres of average composition, no matter whether this average composition is exact or only approximate. Again, there are tendencies toward equalisation between the more or less similar spheres, and these tendencies seek to bring about the ideal average, which does not really exist, so that there is a trend toward crystallisation around the ideal. In this way the tendency necessarily prevails to make of the prices of production merely changed forms of value, or to make of profits but mere portions of surplus-value, which are assigned, however, not in proportion to the surplus-value produced in each special sphere of production, but in proportion to the mass of capital employed in each sphere of production, so that equal masses of capital, whatever may be their composition, receive equal aliquot shares of the total surplus-value produced by the total social capital.

In the case of capitals of average, or approximately average, composition, the price of production coincides exactly, or approximately with the value, and the profit with the surplus-value produced by them. All the other capitals, of whatever composition, tend toward this average under the pressure of competition. But since the capitals of average composition are of the same, or approximately the same, structure as the average social capital, all capitals have the tendency, regardless of the surplus-value produced by them, to realise in the prices of Edition: current; Page: [205] their commodities the average profit, instead of their own surplus-value, in other words, to realise the prices of production.

On the other hand it may be said that whenever an average profit, and a general rate of profit, are brought about, no matter by what means, such as average profit cannot be anything else but the profit on the average social capital, the sum of these average profits being equal to the sum of surplus-values produced by the average social capitals, and that the prices brought about by adding this average profit to the cost-prices cannot be anything else but the values transformed into prices of production. It would not alter matters, if certain capitals in certain spheres of production would not submit to the process of equalisation for some reason or other. In that case the average profit would be computed on that portion of the social capital which takes part in the process of equalisation. It is evident that the average profit cannot be anything else but the total mass of surplus-values allotted to the various masses of capital in the different spheres of production in proportion to their magnitudes. The average profit is the total amount of realised unpaid labor, and this total mass of unpaid labor, the same as the paid, dead or living, labor, is materialised in the total mass of commodities and money falling to the share of the capitalists.

The real difficulty lies in the question: How is this equalisation of profits into an average rate of profit brought about, seeing that it is evidently a result, not a point of departure?

It is obvious that an estimate of the values of the commodities, for instance in money, can not be made until they have been exchanged. If we assume such an estimate, we must regard it as the outcome of an actual exchange of commodity-value for commodity-value. But how should such an exchange of commodities at their real values have come about?

Let us assume that all commodities in the different lines of production are sold at their real value. What would be the outcome? According to our foregoing analyses, the rates of profit in the various spheres of production would differ considerably. It is quite obvious that we are dealing with two different things, whether on the one hand commodities Edition: current; Page: [206] are sold at their values (that is to say, sold in proportion to the value contained in them, or exchanges with one another at the price of their values), or whether, on the other hand, they are sold at such prices that their sale yields equal amounts of profits on equal masses of the respective capitals advanced for their production.

If capitals employing unequal amounts of living labor are to produce unequal amounts of surplus-value, it must be assumed, at least to a certain degree, that the intensity of exploitation, or the rate of surplus-value, are the same, or that any existing differences in them are balanced by real or imaginary (conventional) elements of compensation. This would presuppose a competition among the laborers and an equilibration by means of their continual emigration from one sphere of production to another. Such a general rate of surplus-value—as a tendency, like all other economic laws—has been assumed by us for the sake of theoretical simplification. But in reality it is an actual premise of the capitalist mode of production, although it is more or less obstructed by practical frictions causing more or less considerable differences locally, such as the settlement laws for English farm laborers. But in theory it is the custom to assume that the laws of capitalist production evolve in their pure form. In reality, however, there is always but an approximation. Still, this approximation is so much greater to the extent that the capitalist mode of production is normally developed, and to the extent that its adulteration and amalgamation with remains of former economic conditions is outgrown.

The whole difficulty arises from the fact that commodities are not exchanged simply as commodities, but as products of capitals, which claim equal shares of the total amount of surplus-value, if they are of equal magnitude, or shares proportional to their different magnitudes. And this claim is to be satisfied by the total price realised by a certain capital on the commodities produced by it within a certain space of time. This total price, again, is but the sum of the prices of the individual commodities produced by this capital.

The essential point will become most visible, when we look Edition: current; Page: [207] upon the matter in this way: Let us assume that the laborers themselves are in possession of their respective means of production and exchange their commodities with one another. In that case these commodities would not be products of capital. The value of the various instruments of labor and raw materials would differ according to the technical nature of the labors performed in the different lines of production. Furthermore, aside from the unequal value of the means of production employed by them, they would require different quantities of means of production for given quantities of labor, according to whether a certain commodity can be finished in one hour, another in one day, and so forth. Let us assume, also, that these laborers work on an average equal lengths of time, allowing for compensations due to different intensities of labor. In that case, two laborers, both working one day, would have in the commodities produced by them, first, an equivalent for their outlay, the cost-prices of the means of production consumed by their labor. These would differ according to the technical nature of their lines of production. In the second place, both of them would have created equal amounts of new value, namely the working day added by them to the means of production. This would comprise their wages plus the surplus-value, the last representing surplus-labor exceeding their necessary wants, the product of which would belong to them. If we were to use capitalist terms, we should say that both of them receive the same wages plus the same profit, or the same value expressed, say, by the product of a working day of ten hours. But in the first place, the values of their commodities would differ. The commodities of I, for instance, might contain more value for each portion of the consumed means of production than the commodities of II. And, to introduce all possible differences, we may assume right now that the commodities of I absorb more living labor, and consequently require more labor-time for their production, than the commodities of II. Then the value of the commodities of I and II, we repeat, differs considerably. So do the sums of the values of their commodities, which represent the product of the labor performed by laborers I and II in a certain Edition: current; Page: [208] time. The rates of profit would also differ considerably for I and II, assuming that we call rate of profit, in this case, the proportion of the surplus-value to the total value of the invested means of production. The means of subsistence daily consumed by I and II during production, which take the place of wages, will form that part of the invested capital which we would call variable capital under different circumstances. But the surplus-values would be the same for I and II, or, to express it more accurately, since both I and II receive the value of the product of one day's labor, both of them receive equal values after the value of the invested "constant" capital has been deducted, and we may regard one portion of this remaining value as an equivalent for the means of subsistence consumed during production, and the other as surplus-value. If laborer I has higher expenses, they are made good by a greater portion of the value of his commodities replacing this "constant" part, and he has to reconvert a larger portion of the total value of his product into the material elements of this constant part, while laborer II, if he receives less for this purpose, has to reconvert so much less. Under these circumstances a difference in the rates of profit would be of no concern, just as it is immaterial for the wage-laborer to-day what rate of profit may express the amount of surplus-value filched from him, and just as in international commerce the difference in the various national rates of profit is immaterial for the exchange of their commodities.

The exchange of commodities at their values, or approximately at their values, requires, therefore, a much lower stage than their exchange at their prices of production, which requires a relatively high development of capitalist production.

Whatever may be the way in which the prices of the various commodities are first fixed or mutually regulated, the law of value always dominates their movements. If the labor time required for the production of these commodities is reduced, prices fall; if it is increased, prices rise, other circumstances remaining the same.

Aside from the fact that prices and their movements are Edition: current; Page: [209] dominated by the law of value, it is quite appropriate, under these circumstances, to regard the value of commodities not only theoretically, but also historically, as existing prior to the prices of production. This applies to conditions, in which the laborer owns his means of production, and this is the condition of the land-owning farmer and of the craftsman in the old world as well as the new. This agrees also with the view formerly expressed by me that the development of product into commodities arises through the exchange between different communes, not through that between the members of the same commune.27 It applies not only to this primitive condition, but also to subsequent conditions based on slavery or serfdom, and to the guild organisation of handicrafts, so long as the means of production installed in one line of production cannot be transferred to another line except under difficulties, so that the various lines of production maintain, to a certain degree, the same mutual relations as foreign countries or communistic groups.

In order that the prices at which commodities are exchanged with one another may correspond approximately to their values, no other conditions are required but the following: 1) The exchange of the various commodities must no longer be accidental or occasional, 2) So far as the direct exchange of commodities is concerned, these commodities must be produced on both sides in sufficient quantities to meet mutual requirements, a thing easily learned by experience in trading, and therefore a natural outgrowth of continued trading, 3) So far as selling is concerned, there must be no accidental or artificial monopoly which may enable either of the contracting sides to sell commodities above their value or compel others to sell below value. An accidental monopoly is one which a buyer or seller acquires by an accidental proportion of supply to demand.

The assumption that the commodities of the various spheres of production are sold at their value implies, of course, only Edition: current; Page: [210] that their value is the center of gravity around which prices fluctuate, and around which their rise and fall tends to an equilibrium. We shall also have to note a market value, which must be distinguished from the individual value of the commodities produced by the various producers. Of this more anon. The individual value of some of these commodities will be below the market-value, that is to say, they require less labor-time for their production than is expressed in the market-value, while that of others will be above the market-value. We shall have to regard the market-value on one side as the average value of the commodities produced in a certain sphere, and on the other side as the individual value of commodities produced under the average conditions of their respective sphere of production and constituting the bulk of the products of that sphere. It is only extraordinary combinations of circumstances under which commodities produced under the least or most favorable conditions regulate the market-value, which forms the center of fluctuation for the market-prices, which are the same, however, for the same kind of commodities. If the ordinary demand is satisfied by the supply of commodities of average value, that is to say, of a value midway between the two extremes, then those commodities, whose individual value stands below the market-value, realise an extra surplus-value, or surplus-profit, while those, whose individual value stands above the market-value cannot realise a portion of the surplus-value contained in them.

It does not do any good to say that the sale of the commodities produced under the most unfavorable conditions proves that they are required for keeping up the supply. If the price in the assumed case were higher than the average market-value, the demand would be greater. At a certain price, any kind of commodities may occupy so much room on the market. This room does not remain the same in the case of a change of prices, unless a higher price is accompanied by a smaller quantity of commodities, and a lower prices by a larger quantity of commodities. But if the demand is so strong that it does not let up when the price is regulated by Edition: current; Page: [211] the value of commodities produced under the most unfavorable conditions, then these commodities determine the market-value. This is not possible unless the demand exceeds the ordinary, or the supply falls below it. Finally, if the mass of the produced commodities exceeds the quantity which is ordinarily disposed of at average market-values, then the commodities produced under the most favorable conditions regulate the market value. These commodities may be sold exactly or approximately at their individual values, and in that case it may happen that the commodities produced under the least favorable conditions do not realise even their cost prices, while those produced under average conditions realise only a portion of the surplus-value contained in them. The statements referring to market-value apply also to the price of production, if it takes the place of market-value. The price of production is regulated in each sphere, and this regulation depends on special circumstances. And this price of production is in its turn the center of gravity around which the daily market-prices fluctuate and tend to balance one another within definite periods. (See Ricardo on the determination of the price of production by those who produce under the least favorable conditions.)

No matter what may be the way in which prices are regulated, the result always is the following:

1) The law of value dominates the movements of prices, since a reduction or increase of the labor-time required for production causes the prices of production to fall or to rise. It is in this sense that Ricardo (who doubtless realised that his prices of production differed from the value of commodities) says that "the inquiry to which he wishes to draw the reader's attention relates to the effect of the variations in the relative value of commodities, and not in their absolute value."

2) The average profit which determines the prices of production must always be approximately equal to that quantity of surplus-value, which falls to the share of a certain individual capital in its capacity as an aliquot part of the total social capital. Take it that the average rate of profit, and therefore the average profit, are expressed by an amount of Edition: current; Page: [212] money of a higher value than the money-value of the actual average surplus-value. So far as the capitalists are concerned in that case, it is immaterial whether they charge one another a profit of 10 or of 15%. The one of these percentages does not cover any more actual commodity-value than the other, since the overcharge in money is mutual. But so far as the laborer is concerned (the assumption being that he receives the normal wages, so that the raising of the average profit does not imply an actual deduction from his wages, in other words, does not express something entirely different from the normal surplus-value of the capitalist), the rise in the price of commodities due to a raising of the average profit must be accompanied by a corresponding rise of the money-expression for the variable capital. As a matter of fact, such a general nominal raising of the rate of profit and the average profit above the limit provided by the proportion of the actual surplus-value to the total invested capital is not possible without carrying in its wake an increase of wages, and also an increase in the prices of the commodities which constitute the constant capital. The same is true of the opposite case, that of a reduction of the rate of profit in this way. Now, since the total value of the commodities regulates the total surplus-value, and this the level of the average profit and the average rate of profit—always understanding this as a general law, as a principle regulating the fluctuations—it follows that the law of value regulates the prices of production.

Competition first brings about, in a certain individual sphere, the establishment of an equal market-value and market-price by averaging the various individual values of the commodities. The competition of the capitals in the different spheres then results in the price of production which equalises the rates of profit between the different spheres. This last process requires a higher development of capitalist production than the previous process.

In order that commodities of the same sphere of production, the same kind, and approximately the same quality, may be sold at their value, the following two requirements must be fulfilled:

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1) The different individual values must have been averaged into one social value, the above-named market-value, and this implies a competition between the producers of the same kind of commodities, and also the existence of a common market, on which they offer their articles for sale. In order that the market-price of identical commodities, which however are produced under different individual circumstances, may correspond to the market-value, may not differ from it by exceeding it or falling below it, it is necessary that the different sellers should exert sufficient pressure upon one another to bring that quantity of commodities on the market which social requirements demand, in other words, that quantity of commodities whose market-value society can pay. If the quantity of products exceeds this demand, then the commodities must be sold below their market-value; vice versa, if the quantity of products is not large enough to meet this demand, or, what amounts to the same, if the pressure of competition among the sellers is not strong enough to bring this quantity of products to market, then the commodities are sold above their market-value. If the market-value is changed, then there will also be a change in the conditions under which the total quantity of commodities can be sold. If the market-value falls, then the average social demand increases (always referring to the solvent demand) and can absorb a larger quantity of commodities within certain limits. If the market-value rises, then the solvent social demand for commodities is reduced and smaller quantities of them are absorbed. Hence if supply and demand regulate the market-price, or rather the deviations of market-prices from market-values, it is true, on the other hand, that the market-value regulates the proportions of supply and demand, or the center around which supply and demand cause the market-prices to fluctuate.

If we look closer at the matter, we find that the conditions determining the value of some individual commodity become effective, in this instance, as conditions determining the value of the total quantities of a certain kind. For, generally speaking, capitalist production is from the outset a mass-production. Edition: current; Page: [214] And even other, less developed, modes of production carry small quantities of products, the result of the work of many small producers, to market as co-operative products, at least in the main lines of production, concentrating and accumulating them for sale in the hands of relatively few merchants. Such commodities are regarded as co-operative products of an entire line of production, or of a greater or smaller part of this line.

We remark by the way that the "social demand," in other words, that which regulates the principle of demand, is essentially conditioned on the mutual relations of the different economic classes and their relative economic positions, that is to say, first, on the proportion of the total surplus-value to the wages, and secondly, on the proportion of the various parts into which surplus-value is divided (profit, interest, ground-rent, taxes, etc.). And this shows once more that absolutely nothing can be explained by the relation of supply and demand, unless the basis has first been ascertained, on which this relation rests.

Although both commodity and money represent units of exchange-value and use-value, we have already seen in volume I, chapter I, 3, that in buying and selling both of these functions are polarised at the two extremes, the commodity (seller) representing the use-value, and the money (buyer) the exchange-value. It was one of the first conditions for the sale of a commodity that it should have a use-value and satisfy some social need. The other essential condition was that the quantity of labor contained in a certain commodity should represent socially necessary labor, so that its individual value (and what amounts to the same under the present assumption, its selling price) should coincide with its social value.28

Now let us apply this to the mass of commodities on the market, which represent the product of a whole sphere of production. The matter will be most easily explained by regarding this whole mass of commodities, coming from one line of production, as one single commodity, and the sum of the prices of the many identical commodities as one price. In Edition: current; Page: [215] that case the statements made in regard to one individual commodity apply literally to the mass of commodities sent to the market by one entire line of production. The postulate that the individual value of a commodity should correspond to its social value has then the significance that the total quantity of commodities contains the quantity of social labor necessary for its production, and that the value of this mass is equal to its market-value.

Now let us assume that the bulk of these commodities has been produced under approximately the same normal conditions of social labor, so that this social value is at the same time identical with the individual value of the individual commodities constituting this mass. In that case, a relatively small portion of these commodities may have been produced below, and another above, these conditions, so that the individual value of the one portion is greater, and that of the other smaller, than the average value of the bulk of the commodities, but in such proportions that these extremes balance one another. The average value of the commodities in these extremes is then equal to the average value of the great bulk of average commodities. Under such circumstances, the market-value is determined by the value of the commodities produced under average conditions.29 The value of the entire mass of commodities is equal to the actual sum of the values of all individual commodities combined, no matter whether they were produced under average conditions, or under conditions above or below the average. In this case, the market-value, or the social value, of the mass of commodities—the necessary labor time contained in them—is determined by the value of the average bulk.

Let us assume, on the other hand, that the total mass of commodities brought to market remains the same, while the value of the commodities produced under the least favorable conditions is not balanced by the value of the commodities produced under the most favorable conditions, so that the mass of commodities produced under the least favorable conditions constitutes a relatively large quantity, compared to the Edition: current; Page: [216] average mass as well as to the other extreme. In that case the mass produced under the least favorable conditions determines the market-value, or social value.

Take it, finally, that the mass of commodities produced under the most favorable conditions is considerable in excess of the mass produced under the least favorable conditions, and is large even compared with the average mass. Then the mass produced under the most favorable conditions determines the market-value. We leave aside the question of a transfer of the market, whenever the mass of commodities produced under the most favorable conditions regulates the market-price. We are not dealing here with the market-price in so far as it differs from the market-value, but with the various modes of determining the market-value itself.30

In fact, assuming the strictest case (which, or course, is realised only approximately and with a thousand modifications) of our first illustration, the market-value regulated by the average values of the total mass of commodities is equal to the sum of their individual values, although this market-value is forced as an average value upon the commodities produced at the extremes. Those who produce under the worst conditions must then sell their commodities below their individual values; those producing under the best conditions sell them above their individual values.

In the second case, the two lots of commodities produced Edition: current; Page: [217] as the two extremes do not balance one another. The lot produced under the worst conditions decides the question. Strictly speaking, the average price, or the market-value, of every individual commodity, or of every aliquot part of the total mass, would now be determined by the total value of the mass as ascertained by the addition of the values of the commodities produced under different conditions, and by the aliquot part of this total value falling to the share of the individual commodity. The market-value thus ascertained would be above the individual value, not only of the commodities belonging to the most favorable extreme, but also of those belonging to the average lot. But still it would be below the individual value of the commodities produced at the most unfavorable extreme. The extent to which this market-value would approach the individual value of this extreme, or coincide with it, would depend entirely on the volume occupied in that sphere of commodities by the lot of commodities produced at the unfavorable extreme. If the demand exceeds the supply but slightly, then the individual value of the unfavorably produced commodities regulates the market-price.

Finally, if the lot of commodities produced at the most favorable extreme occupies the greatest space, as it does in the third case, compared not only to the other extreme, but also to the average lot, then the market-value falls below the average value. The average value, computed by the addition of the sum of values of the two extremes and of the middle, stands here below that of the middle, and approaches it or recedes from it, according to the relative space occupied by the favorable extreme. If the demand is weak compared to the supply, then the favorably situated part, whatever may be its size, makes room for itself forcibly by contracting its price down to its individual value. The market-value cannot coincide with this individual value of the commodities produced under the most favorable conditions, except when the supply far exceeds the demand.

This mode of determining market-values, which we have here outlined abstractly, is promoted on the real market by competition among the buyers, provided that the demand is Edition: current; Page: [218] just large enough to absorb the quantity of commodities at the values fixed in this manner. And this brings us to the second point.

2) To say that a commodity has a use-value is merely to say that it satisfies some social want. So long as we were dealing simply with individual commodities, we could assume that the demand for any one commodity—its price implying its quantity—existed without inquiring into the extent to which this demand required satisfaction. But this question of the extent of a certain demand becomes essential, whenever the product of some entire line of production is placed on one side, and the social demand for it on the other. In that case it becomes necessary to consider the amount, the quantity, of this social demand.

In the foregoing statements referring to market-value, the assumption was that the mass of the produced commodities remains the same given quantity, and that a change takes place only in the proportions of the elements constituting this mass and produced under different conditions, so that the market-value of the same mass of commodities is differently regulated. Let us suppose that this mass is of a quantity equal to the ordinary supply, leaving aside the possibility that a portion of the produced commodities may be temporarily withdrawn from the market. Now, if the demand for this mass also remains the same, then this commodity will be sold at its market-value; no matter which one of the three aforementioned cases may regulate this market-value. This mass of commodities does not only satisfy a demand, but satisfies it to its full social extent. On the other hand, if the quantity is smaller than the demand for it, then the market-prices differ from the market-values. And the first differentiation is that the market-value is always regulated by the commodity produced under the least favorable circumstances, if the supply is too small, and by the commodity produced under the most favorable conditions, if the supply is too large. In other words, one of the extremes determines the market-value, in spite of the fact that the proportion of the masses produced under different conditions ought to bring about a different result. Edition: current; Page: [219] If the difference between demand and supply of the product is very considerable, then the market-price will likewise differ considerably from the market-value in either direction. Now, the difference between the quantity of the produced commodities and the quantity of commodities which fixes their sale at their market-value may be due to two reasons. Either the quantity itself varies, by decreasing or increasing, so that there would be a reproduction on a different scale than the one which regulated a certain market-value. If so, then the supply changes while the demand remains unchanged, and we have a relative overproduction or underproduction. Or, the reproduction, and the supply, remain the same, while the demand is reduced or increased, which may take place for several reasons. If so, then the absolute magnitude of the supply is unchanged, while its relative magnitude, compared to the demand, has changed. The effect is the same as in the first case, only it acts in the opposite direction. Finally, if changes take place on both sides, either in opposite directions, or, if in the same direction, not to the same extent, in other words, if changes take place on both sides which alter the former proportion between these sides, then the final result must always lead to one of the two above mentioned cases.

The real difficulty in determining the meaning of the concepts supply and demand is that they seem to amount to a tautology. Consider first the supply, either the product on the market, or the product which can be supplied to the market. In order to avoid useless details, we shall consider only the mass annually reproduced in every given line of production and leave out of the question the varying faculty of some commodities to withdraw from the market and go into storage for consumption at a later time, for instance next year. This annual reproduction is expressed in a certain quantity, in weight or numbers, according to whether this mass of commodities is measured continuously or discontinuously. They represent not only use-value satisfying human wants, but these use-values are on the market in definite quantities. In the second place, this quantity of commodities has Edition: current; Page: [220] a definite market-value, which may be expressed by a multiple of the market-value of the individual commodity, or of the measure, which serve as units. There is, then, no necessary connection between the quantitative volume of the commodities on the market and their market-value, since many commodities have, for instance, a high specific value, others a low specific value, so that a given sum of values may be represented by a very large quantity of some, and a very small quantity of other commodities. There is only this connection between the quantity of articles on the market and the market-value of these articles: Given a certain basis for the productivity of labor in every particular sphere of production, the production of a certain quantity of articles requires a definite quantity of social labor time; but this proportion differs in different spheres of production and stands in no internal relation to the usefulness of these articles or the particular nature of their use-values. Assuming all other circumstances to be equal, and a certain quantity a of some commodity to cost b labor time, a quantity na of the same commodity will cost nb labor-time. Furthermore, if society wants to satisfy some demand and have articles produced for this purpose, it must pay for them. Since the production of commodities is accompanied by a division of labor, society buys these articles by devoting to their production a portion of its available labor-time. Society buys them by spending a definite quantity of the labor-time over which it disposes. That part of society, to which the division of labor assigns the task of employing its labor in the production of the desired article, must be given an equivalent for it by other social labor incorporated in articles which it wants. There is, however, no necessary, but only an accidental, connection between the volume of society's demand for a certain article and the volume represented by the production of this article in the total production, or the quantity of social labor spent on this article, the aliquot part of the total labor-power spent by society in the production of this article. True, every individual article, or every definite quantity of any kind of commodities, contains, perhaps, only the social labor required Edition: current; Page: [221] for its production, and from this point of view the market-value of this entire mass of commodities of a certain kind represents only necessary labor. Nevertheless, if this commodity has been produced in excess of the temporary demand of society for it, so much of the social labor has been wasted, and in that case this mass of commodities represents a much smaller quantity of labor on the market than is actually incorporated in it. (Only when production will be under the conscious and prearranged control of society, will society establish a direct relation between the quantity of social labor time employed in the production of definite articles and the quantity of the demand of society for them.) The commodities must then be sold below their market-value, and a portion of them may even become unsaleable. The opposite takes place, if the quantity of social labor employed in the production of a certain kind of commodities is too small to meet the social demand for them. But if the quantity of social labor spent in the production of a certain article corresponds to the social demand for it, so that the quantity produced is that which is the ordinary on that scale of production and for that same demand, then the article is sold at its market-value. The exchange, or sale, of commodities at their value is the rational way, the natural law of their equilibrium. It must be the point of departure for the explanation of deviations from it, not vice versa the deviations the basis on which this law is explained.

Now let us look at the other side, the demand.

Commodities are bought either as means of production or means of subsistence, in order to be used for productive or individual consumption. It does not alter matters that some commodities may serve both ends. There is, then, a demand for them on the part of the producers (who are capitalists in this case, since we have assumed that the means of production have been transformed into capital) and on the part of the consumers. It appears at first sight as though these two sides ought to have a corresponding quantity of social demands offset by a corresponding quantity of social supplies in the various lines of production. If the cotton industry Edition: current; Page: [222] is to accomplish its annual reproduction on a given scale, it must produce the usual quantity of cotton and an additional quantity determined by the annual extension of reproduction through the necessities of accumulating capital, always assuming other circumstances to remain the same. This is also true of means of subsistence. The working class must find at least the same quantity of necessities on hand, if it is to continue living in the accustomed way, although these necessities may be of different kinds and differently distributed. And there must be an additional quantity to allow for the annual increase of population. This applies with more or less modification to the other classes.

It would seem, then, that there is on the side of demand a definite magnitude of social wants which require for their satisfaction a definite quantity of certain articles on the market. But the quantity demanded by these wants is very elastic and changing. Its fixedness is but apparent. If the means of subsistence were cheaper, or money-wages higher, the laborers would buy more of them, and a greater "social demand" would be manifested for this kind of commodities, leaving aside the question of paupers, whose "demand" is even below the narrowest limits of their physical wants. On the other hand, if cotton were cheaper, the demand of the capitalists for it would increase, more additional capital would be thrown into the cotton industry, etc. It must never be forgotten that the demand for productive consumption is a demand of capitalists, under our assumption, and that its essential purpose is the production of surplus-value, so that commodities are produced only to this end. Still this does not argue against the fact that the capitalist as a buyer, for instance of cotton, represents the demand for this cotton. Moreover it is immaterial to the seller of cotton, whether the buyer converts it into shirting or into guncotton, or whether he intends to make it into wads for his and the world's ears. But it does exert a considerable influence on the way in which the capitalist acts as a buyer. His demand for cotton is essentially modified by the fact that he disguises thereby his real demand, that of making profits. The limits within Edition: current; Page: [223] which the need for commodities on the market, the demand, differs quantitatively from the actual social need, varies naturally considerably for different commodities; in other words, the difference between the demanded quantity of commodities and that quantity which would be demanded, if the money-prices of the commodities, or other conditions concerning the money or living of the buyers, were different.

Nothing is easier than to realise the inequalities of demand and supply, and the resulting deviation of market-prices from market-values. The real difficulty consists in determining what is meant by balancing supply and demand.

Demand and supply balance one another, when their mutual proportions are such that the mass of commodities of a definite line of production can be sold at their market-value, neither above nor below it. That is the first thing we hear.

The second is this: If the commodities are sold at their market-values, then supply and demand balance.

If demand and supply balance, then they cease to have any effect, and for this very reason commodities are sold at their market-values. If two forces exert themselves equally in opposite directions, they balance one another, they have no influence at all on the outside, and any phenomena taking place at the same time must be explained by other causes than the influence of these forces. If demand and supply balance one another, they cease to explain anything, they do not affect market-values, and therefore leave us even more in the dark than before concerning the reasons for the expression of the market-value in just a certain sum of money and no other. It is evident that the essential fundamental laws of production cannot be explained by the interaction of supply and demand (quite aside from a deeper analysis of these two motive forces of social production, which would be out of place here). For these laws cannot be observed in their pure state, until the effects of supply and demand are suspended, are balanced. As a matter of fact supply and demand never balance, or, if they do, it is by mere accident, it is scientifically rated at zero, it is considered as not happening. But political economy assumes that supply and demand balance one another. Edition: current; Page: [224] Why? For no other reason, primarily, than to be able to study phenomena in their fundamental relations, in that elementary form which corresponds to their conception, that is to say, to study them unhampered by the disturbing interference of supply and demand. The other reason is to find the actual tendencies of economic movements and to fix them, as it were. For the inequalities are of an antagonistic nature, and since they continually follow one after another, they balance one another by their opposite movements, by their opposition. Since supply and demand never balance each other in any given case, their differences follow one another in such a way that supply and demand are always balanced only when looking at them from the point of view of a greater or smaller period of time. For the result of a deviation in one direction is a deviation in the opposite direction. Such a balance is only an average of past movements, a result of a continual movement in contradictions. By this means the market-prices differing from the market-values reduce one another to the average of market-values and balance the different plus and minus in their divergencies. And this average figure has not merely a theoretical, but also a practical, value for capital, since its investment is calculated on the fluctuations and compensations of more or less fixed periods of time.

The relation of demand and supply explains, therefore, on the one hand only the deviations of market-prices from market-values, and on the other the tendency to balance these deviations, in other words, to suspend the effect of the relation of demand and supply. (Such exceptions as commodities having prices without having any value are not considered here.) Demand and supply may bring about a balance in the effect caused by their inequalities in many different ways. For instance, if the demand, and consequently the market-price, fall, capital may be withdrawn and the supply reduced. But instead it may happen that the market-value itself is reduced and balanced with the market-price through inventions, which reduce the necessary labor time. Vice versa, if the demand increases, and consequently the market-price rises Edition: current; Page: [225] above the market-value, too much capital may flow into this line of production and production may be increased to such an extent, that the market-price finally falls below the market-value. Or, it may lead to a rise of prices which cuts down the demand. It may also bring about a rise in the market-value itself for a shorter or longer time, in some lines of production, in which a portion of the desired products must be produced under more unfavorable conditions during this period.

If demand and supply determine the market-price, so does the market-price, and in the further analysis the market-value determine demand and supply. This is obvious in the case of demand, which moves in opposition to price, rising when prices fall, and falling when prices rise. But it may also be noted in the case of supply. For the prices of the means of production which are incorporated in the supplied commodities determine the demand for these means of production, and thus the supply of the commodities whose supply implies the demand for these means of production. The prices of cotton are determining elements for the supply of cotton goods.

This confusion of a determination of prices by demand and supply, and at the same time a determination of supply and demand by prices, is worse confounded by the determination of the supply by the demand, and the demand by supply, of the market by production, and of production by the market.31

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Even the ordinary economist (see our foot-note) recognizes that the proportion between supply and demand may vary in consequence of a change in the market-value of commodities, without a change in the demand of supply by external circumstances. The author of the Observations continues after the passage quoted in the foot-note: "This proportion" (between demand and supply) "however, if we still mean by 'demand' and 'natural price' what we meant just now, when referring to Adam Smith, must always be a proportion of equality; for it is only when the supply is equal to the effectual demand, that is, to that demand, which will pay neither more nor less than the natural price, that the natural price is in fact paid; consequently there may be two very different natural prices, at different times, for the same commodity, and yet the proportion which the supply bears to the demand, be in both cases the same, namely the proportion of equality." It is admitted, then, that with two different natural prices of the same commodity at different times demand and supply may balance one another and must balance one another, if the commodity is to be sold at its natural price in both instances. Since there is no difference in the proportion of supply and demand in either case, but only a difference in the magnitude of the natural price itself, it follows that this price is determined independently of demand and supply, and cannot very well be determined by them.

In order that a commodity may be sold at its market-value, that is to say, in proportion to the necessary social labor contained in it, the total quantity of social labor devoted to the Edition: current; Page: [227] total mass of this kind of commodities must correspond to the quantity of the social demand for them, meaning the solvent social demand. Competition, the fluctuations of market-prices which correspond to the fluctuations of demand and supply, tend continually to reduce the total quantity of labor devoted to each kind of commodities to this scale.

The proportion of supply and demand repeats, in the first place, the relation of the use-value and exchange-value of commodities, of commodity and money, of buyer and seller; in the second place, the relation of producer and consumer, although both of them may be represented by third merchants. In studying buyers and sellers, it is sufficient to confront them individually, in order to set forth their relations. Three individuals suffice for the complete metamorphosis of commodities, and therefore for the complete transactions of sale and purchase. A converts his commodity into the money of B, to whom he sells his commodity, and he reconverts his money into commodities which he buys for it from C. The whole transaction takes place between these three. Furthermore: In the study of money it had been assumed that the commodities are sold at their values, because there was no reason to take into consideration any divergence of prices from values, it being a question of changes of form experienced by the commodities in their transformation into money and their reconversion from money into commodities. As soon as a commodity has been sold and a new commodity bought with the receipts, we have the entire metamorphosis before us, and for the consideration of this process it is immaterial whether the price of the commodity stands above or below its value. The value of the commodity is essential as a basis, because the concept of money cannot be developed on any other foundation but this one, and because price, in its general meaning, is but value in the form of money. Of course, it is assumed in the study of money as a medium of circulation that more than one metamorphosis of a certain commodity takes place. It is the social interrelation of these metamorphoses which is studied. Only by this means do we arrive at the circulation of money and at the development Edition: current; Page: [228] of its function as a medium of circulation. While this connection of the matter is very important for the transition of money into its function of a circulating medium, and for its resulting change of form, it is of no moment for the transaction between the individual buyer and seller.

In a question of supply and demand, however, the supply means the sum of the sellers, or producers, of a certain kind of commodities, and the demand the sum of the buyers, or consumers, of the same kind of commodities (both productive and individual consumers). There two bodies react on one another as units, as aggregate forces. The individual counts here only as a part of a social power, as an atom of some mass, and it is in this form that competition enforces the social character of production and consumption.

That side of competition, which is momentarily the weaker, is also that in which the individual acts independently of the mass of his competitors and often works against them, whereby the dependence of one upon the other is impressed upon them, while the stronger side always acts more or less unitedly against its antagonist. If the demand for this particular kind of commodities is larger than the supply, then one buyer outbids another, within certain limits, and thereby raises the price of the commodity for all of them above the market-price, while on the other hand the sellers unite in trying to sell at a high price. If, vice versa, the supply exceeds the demand, some one begins to dispose of his goods at a cheaper rate and the others must follow, while the buyers unite in their efforts to depress the market-price as much as possible below the market-value. The common interest is appreciated only so long as each gains more by it than without it. And common action ceases, as soon as this or that side becomes the weaker, when each one tries to get out of it by his own devices with as little loss as possible. Again, if some one produces more cheaply and can sell more goods, thus assuming more room on the market by selling below the current market-price, or market-value, he does it, and thereby he begins an action which gradually compels the others to introduce the cheaper mode of production and which reduces the socially necessary labor to a Edition: current; Page: [229] new, and lower, level. If one side has the advantage, every one belonging to it gains. It is as though they had exerted their common monopoly. If one side is the weaker, then every one may try on his own hook to be the stronger (for instance, any one working with lower costs of production), or at least to get off as easily as possible, and in that case he does not care in the least for his neighbor, although his actions affect not only himself, but also all his fellow strugglers.32

Demand and supply imply the transformation of values into market-prices, and to the extent that they proceed on a capitalist basis, to the extent that the commodities are products of capital, they are based on capitalist processes, that is, on quite different and more complicated conditions than the mere purchase and sale of goods. In these capitalist processes it is not a question of the formal conversion of the value of commodities, into prices, not a question of a mere change of form. It is a matter of definite differences in quantity between market-prices and market-values, and, further, prices of production. In simple purchases and sales, it is enough to consider merely the producers of articles as such. But supply and demand, in a wider analysis, imply the existence of different classes and sections of classes which divide the total revenue of society among themselves and consume it as revenue among themselves, which, therefore, constitute the demand in the form of revenue. On the other hand, the attempt to grasp the question of the supply and demand among the producers as such requires an analysis of the total conformation of the capitalist process of production.

Under capitalist production it is not a question of merely throwing a certain mass of values into circulation and exchanging that mass for equal values in some other form, whether of money or other commodities, but it is also a question Edition: current; Page: [230] of advancing capital in production and realising on it as much surplus-value, or profit, in proportion to its magnitude, as any other capital of the same or of other magnitudes in whatever line of production. It is a question, then, of selling the commodities at least at prices which will yield the average profit, in other words, at prices of production. Capital comes in this form to a realisation of the social nature of its power, in which every capitalist participates in proportion to his share in the total social capital.

In the first place, capitalist production is essentially indifferent to the particular use-value, or the peculiarity, of any commodity produced by it. In every sphere of production it is the sole purpose of production to secure surplus-value, to appropriate in the product of labor a certain quantity of unpaid labor. And it is likewise the nature of the wage-labor subject to capital to be indifferent to the specific character of its labor, to transform itself in accord with the requirements of capital, and to submit to being transferred from one sphere of production to another.

In the second place, one sphere of production is now as good or as bad as another. Every one of them yields the same profit, and every one of them would be useless, if the commodities produced by them did not satisfy some social need.

Now, if the commodities are sold at their values, then, as we have shown, considerably different rates of profit arise in the various spheres of production, according to the different organic composition of the masses of capital invested in them. But capital withdraws from spheres with low rates of profit and invades others which yield a higher rate. By means of this incessant emigration and immigration, in one word, by its distribution among the various spheres in accord with a rise of the rate of profit here, and its fall there, it brings about such a proportion of supply to demand that the average profit in the various spheres of production becomes the same, so that values are converted into prices of production. This equilibration is accomplished by capital in a more or less perfect degree to the extent that capitalist development is advanced Edition: current; Page: [231] in a certain nation, in other words, to the extent that conditions in the respective countries are adapted to the capitalist mode of production. As capitalist development proceeds, it develops also its own peculiar conditions and subjects to its specific character and its immanent laws all the social requirements on which the process of production is based.

The incessant equilibration of the continual differences is accomplished so much quicker, 1), the more movable capital is, the easier it can be shifted from one sphere and one place to another; 2) the quicker labor-power can be transferred from one sphere to another and from one local point of production to another. The first condition implies complete freedom of trade in the interior of society and the removal of all monopolies with the exception of those which naturally arise out of the capitalist mode of production. It implies, furthermore, the development of the credit-system, which concentrates the inorganic mass of the disposable social capital instead of leaving it in the hands of individual capitalists. Finally it implies a subordination of the various spheres of production to the control of capitalists. This last implication is of itself included in the assumption that it is a question of a transformation of values into prices of production in all capitalistically exploited spheres of production. But this equilibration meets great obstacles, whenever numerous and large spheres of production, which are not operated on a capitalistic basis (such as farming by small farmers), are interpolated between the capitalist spheres and interrelated with them. A great density of population is also a requirement.—The second condition implies the abolition of all laws which prevent the laborers from moving from one sphere of production to another and from one local center of production to another; an indifference of the laborer to the nature of his labor; the greatest possible reduction of labor in all spheres of production to simple labor; the elimination of all craft prejudices among laborers; and last, not least, a subjugation of the laborer under the capitalist mode of production. More detailed statements concerning these points belong in a special analysis of competition.

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It follows from the foregoing that the individual capitalist as well as the capitalists as a whole in each particular sphere of production are participants in the exploitation of the total working class by the total capital, and in the degree of that exploitation, not only out of general class sympathy, but also for direct economic reasons, because, assuming all other conditions, among them the value of the advanced constant capital, to be given, the average rate of profit depends on the intensity of exploitation of the total labor by the total capital.

The average profit coincides with the average surplus-value produced for each 100 of capital, and so far as the surplus-value is concerned, the foregoing statements apply as a matter of course. In the determination of the rate of profit, the value of the advanced capital becomes an additional element. In fact, the direct interest taken by the capitalist, or the capital, of any individual sphere of production in the exploitation of the laborers directly employed by him, or it, is limited to the endeavor to make an extra gain, a profit exceeding the average, either by exceptional overwork, or by a reduction of wages below the average, or by an exceptional productivity of labor. Aside from this, a capitalist who would not employ any variable capital, and therefore no laborers (an exaggerated assumption), would be as much interested in the exploitation of the working class by capital, and would derive his profit quite as much from unpaid surplus-labor, as a capitalist who would employ only variable capital (another exaggeration), and who would invest his entire capital in wages. The degree of exploitation of labor depends on the average intensity of labor, if the working day is given, and on the length of the working day, if the average intensity of exploitation is given. The degree of exploitation of labor determines the size of the rate of surplus-value, and therefore the size of the mass of surplus-value for a given total mass of variable capital, and consequently the magnitude of the profit. The individual capitalist, as distinguished from his sphere, has the same special interest in the exploitation of the laborers personally employed by him that the capital of a certain Edition: current; Page: [233] sphere, as distinguished from the total social capital, has in the exploitation of the laborers directly employed by it.

On the other hand, every particular sphere of capital, and every individual capitalist, has the same interest in the productivity of the social labor employed by the total capital. For two things depend on this productivity: In the first place, the mass of use-values by which the average profit is expressed; and this is doubly important, where this average profit serves as a fund for the accumulation of new capital and as a fund for revenue to be spent in enjoyment. In the second place, the amount of the value of the total capital invested (constant and variable), which, with a given amount of surplus-value, or profit, for the whole capitalist class, determines the rate of profit, or the profit on a certain percentage of capital. The special productivity of labor in any particular sphere, or in any individual business of this sphere, interests only those capitalists who are directly engaged in it, since it enables that particular sphere, or that individual capitalist, to make an extra profit over that of the total capital.

Here, then, we have the mathematically exact demonstration, how it is that the capitalists form a veritable freemason society arrayed against the whole working class, however much they may treat each other as false brothers in the competition among themselves.

The price of production includes the average profit. We call it price of production. It is, as a matter of fact, the same thing which Adam Smith calls natural price, Ricardo price of production, or cost of production, and the physiocrats prix nécessaire, because it is in the long run a prerequisite of supply, of the reproduction of commodities in every individual sphere.33 But none of them has revealed the difference between price of production and value. We can well understand, then, why these same economists, who always resist a determination of the value of commodities by labor-time, by the quantity of labor contained in them, always speak of prices of production as centers, around which market-prices fluctuate. Edition: current; Page: [234] They can afford to do that, because the price of production is an utterly external and, at first glance, meaningless form of the value of commodities, a form as seen in competition and thus reflected in the mind of the vulgar capitalist, and consequently in that of the vulgar economists.

Our analysis resulted in the discovery that the market-value (and everything said concerning it applies with the necessary modifications to the price of production) implies a surplus-profit for those who produce in any particular sphere of production under the most favorable conditions. With the exception of crises, and of over-production in general, this applies to all market-prices, no matter how much they may deviate from market-values or market-prices of production. For the market-price signifies that the same price is paid for commodities of the same kind, although they may have been produced under very different individual conditions and may have considerably different cost-prices. (We do not speak at this point of any surplus-profits due to monopolies in the strict meaning of the term, whether they are artificial or natural.)

A surplus-profit may also arise, when certain spheres of production are in a position to evade the conversion of the values of their commodities into prices of production, and thus a reduction of their profits to the average profit. We shall devote more attention to the further modifications of these two forms of surplus-profit in the part dealing with ground-rent.

CHAPTER XI.: EFFECTS OF GENERAL FLUCTUATIONS OF WAGES ON PRICES OF PRODUCTION.

LET the average composition of social capital be 80 c + 20 v, with a profit of 20%. The rate of surplus-value is then 100%. A general increase of wages, all other things remaining the same, is a reduction of the rate of surplus-value. In Edition: current; Page: [235] the case of the average capital, profit and surplus-value are identical. Let wages rise by 25%. Then the same quantity of labor, which was formerly set in motion with 20, costs 25. Instead of 80 c + 20 v + 20 p, we have then for the value of one turn-over 80 c + 25 v + 15 p. The labor set in motion by the variable capital still produces a value of 40, the same as before. If v rises from 20 to 25, then the surplus p, or s, amounts only to 15. The profit of 15 on a capital of 105 is 14 2/7%, and this would be the new average rate of profit. Since the price of production of commodities produced by the average capital coincides with their value, the price of production of these commodities would remain unchanged. The raising of wages would have brought about a reduction of profits, but no change in the value and price of the commodities.

Formerly, so long as the average profit was 20%, the price of production of the commodities produced in one period of turn-over was equal to their cost-price plus a profit of 20% on this cost-price, in other words k + kp' = k + 20 k/100. In this formula k is a variable magnitude, changing according to the value of the means of production which are incorporated in the commodities, and according to the amount of wear transferred from the fixed capital to the product. Now the price of production would amount to k + (14 2/7 k)/100.

Now let us first select a capital, whose composition is lower than the original composition of the average social capital of 80 c + 20 v (which has now been transformed into 76 4/21 c+ 23 17/21 v), for instance a capital of 50 c + 50 v. In this case, the price of production of the annual product, assuming for the sake of simplicity that the entire fixed capital passes through wear into the product and that the time of turn-over is the same as that in the first case, would have been 50 c + 50 v + 20 p, or 120, before the raising of wages. A raising of wages by 25% means for the same quantity of labor a rising of the variable capital from 50 to 62½. If the annual product were sold at the former price of production of 120, then we should have the formula 50 c + 62½ v + 7½ p, or a rate of profit of 6 2/3%. But the new average rate of Edition: current; Page: [236] profit is 14 2/7%, and since we assume all other circumstances to remain the same, this capital of 50 c + 62½ v will also have to make this profit. Now, a capital of 112½ makes a round profit of 16 1/12 at a rate of profit of 14 2/7%. Therefore the price of production of the commodities produced by this capital is now 50 c + 62½ v + 16 1/12 p = 128 7/12. In consequence of a raise in wages of 25%, the price of production of the same quantity of the same commodities has risen from 120 to 128 7/12, or more than 7%.

Vice versa, let us select a sphere of production of a higher composition than the average capital, for instance a capital of 92 c + 8 v. The original average profit in this case would still be 20, and if we assume once more that the entire fixed capital passes into the annual product, and that the time of turn-over is the same as in the first and second case, the price of production of the commodities is also 120.

In consequence of the rise of wages by 25% the variable capital for the same quantity of labor rises from 8 to 10, the cost-price of the commodities from 100 to 102, while the average rate of profit has fallen from 20% to 14 2/7%. Now 100 : 14 2/7 = 102 : 14 4/7 (approximately). The profit now falling to the share of 102 is 14 4/7. Therefore the total product sells at k + kp', or 102 + 14 4/7, or 116 4/7. The price of production has fallen from 120 to 116 4/7, or more than 3%.

Consequently, if wages are raised by 25%,

1) the price of production of the commodities of a capital of average composition is not changed;
2) the price of production of the commodities of a capital of lower composition rises, but not in the same proportion in which the profit falls;
3) the price of production of the commodities of a capital of higher composition falls, but not as much as the profit.

Since the price of production of the commodities of the average capital remains the same and equal to the value of the product, it follows that the sum of the prices of production of the products of all capitals remain the same and equal to the sum of the values produced by the total social capital. The increase on one side is balanced by the decrease on the Edition: current; Page: [237] other and the level of the average social capital maintained for the total social capital.

Seeing that the price of production in the second illustration rises, while it falls in the third, it is evident from these opposite effects brought about by a fall in the rate of surplus-value or by a general rise of wages that there is no prospect of any compensation in the price for the rise in wages, since the fall of the price of production in No. III cannot very well compensate the capitalist for the fall in the profit, and since the rise of the price in No. II does not prevent a fall in profit. On the contrary, in either case, whether the price rises or falls, the profit remains the same as that of the average capital whose price remains unchanged. It is the same average profit, which has fallen by 5 5/7, or about 25%, in the case of II as well as III. It follows from this, that if the price did not rise in II and fall in III, II would have to sell below and III above the new, recently reduced, average profit. It is quite evident that a rise of wages must affect a capitalist who has invested one-tenth of his capital in wages differently from one who has invested one-fourth or one-half, according to whether 50, 25, or 10 per hundred of capital are advanced for wages. An increase in the price of production on one side, and a fall on the other, according to whether a capital is below or above the average social composition, is effected only by leveling to the new reduced average profit.

Now, how would a general fall of wages, and a corresponding general rise of the rate of profit, and thus of the average profit, affect the prices of production of commodities produced by capitals diverging in opposite directions from the average social composition? We have but to reverse the foregoing statements, in order to find the answer (which Ricardo did not analyse).

I. Average capital 80 c + 20 v = 100; rate of surplus-value 100%; price of production = value of commodities = 80 c + 20 v + 20 p = 120; rate of profit 20%. Let wages fall by one-fourth. Then the same constant capital is set in motion by 15 v, instead of 20 v. We have then as the value of commodities 80 c + 15 v + 25 p = 120. The quantity Edition: current; Page: [238] of labor employed by v remains the same, only the newly created value is differently distributed between the capitalist and the laborers. The surplus-value increases from 20 to 25, and the rate of surplus-value from 20/20 to 25/15, in other words, from 100% to 166 2/3%. The profit on 95 is now 25, so that the rate of profit per 100 is 26 6/19. The composition of the capital in percentages is now 84 4/19 + 15 15/19 = 100.

II. Lower composition. Original composition, as above, 50 c + 50 v. By the fall of wages by one-fourth v is reduced to 37½, and consequently the advanced total capital to 50 c + 37½ v = 87½. Applying to this the new rate of profit of 26 6/19%, we get 100 : 26 6/19 = 87½ : 23 1/38. The same mass of commodities which formerly cost 120, now costs 87½ + 23 1/38 = 100 10/19. A fall in prices of almost 10%.

III. Higher composition. Original composition 92 c + 8 v = 100. The fall in wages by one-fourth reduces 8 v to 6 v, and the total capital to 98. Consequently 100 : 26 6/19 = 98 : 25 15/19. The price of production of the commodities, formerly 100 + 20 = 120, is now, after the fall in wages, 98 + 25 15/19 = 123 15/19. A rise by almost 4%.

We see, then, that we have but to follow the preceding development in the opposite direction with the necessary, modifications; that a general fall of wages carries with it a general rise of surplus-value, of the rate of surplus-value, and, other circumstances remaining the same, also of the rate of profit, although expressed by different proportions; a fall in the prices of production for the commodities produced by capitals of lower composition, a rise in the prices of production for commodities produced by capitals of higher composition. The result is just the reverse of that following a general rise of wages.34 In both cases, whether of a rise or a fall, the assumption is that the working day remains the same, also the prices of the means of subsistence. Under these circumstances, Edition: current; Page: [239] a fall in wages is possible only, if wages stood higher than the normal price of labor, or if they are depressed below this price. The way in which this condition is modified, if the rise or fall of wages is due to a change in value, and consequently in the price of production of commodities usually consumed by the laborer, will be to a certain extent analysed in the part dealing with ground-rent. At this place we make for once and all the following statements:

If a rise or fall in wages is due to a change in the value of the necessities of life, then a modification of the above findings can take place only to the extent that the commodities, whose variation of price raises or lowers the variable capital, pass also as constituent elements into the constant capital and consequently do not affect wages alone. But to the extent that they affect only wages, the above analysis contains all that needs to be said.

In this entire chapter, it is assumed as a fact that there are in existence a general rate of profit, an average profit, and a conversion of values into prices of production. The question was merely in what manner a general rise or fall in wages affected the prices of production of commodities, which were assumed to exist. This is but a very secondary question compared with the important points analysed in this part. But it is the only relevant question treated by Ricardo, and we shall see that he treated even this but onesidedly and imperfectly.

CHAPTER XII.: SOME AFTER REMARKS.

I. Causes Implying a Variation of the Price of Production.

THE price of production of a commodity can vary only from two causes:

1) The average rate of profit varies. This can be due only to a change in the average rate of surplus-value, or, if the average rate of surplus-value remains the same, by a change Edition: current; Page: [240] in the proportion of the sum of the appropriated surplus-values to the sum of the advanced total capital of society.

Unless a variation of the rate of surplus-value is due to a depression of wages below normal, or their rise above normal,—and such movements must be considered as mere oscillations—it can take place only for two reasons: Either the value of labor-power may have risen or fallen. The one eventuality is as impossible as the other without a change in the productivity of that labor which produces means of subsistence, in other words, without a change in the value of the commodities which are consumed by the laborer. Or, the proportion of the sum of appropriated surplus-values to the advanced total capital of society varies. Since the variation in this case is not due to the rate of surplus-value, it must be due to the total capital, or rather to its constant part. The mass of this part, technically speaking, increases or decreases in proportion to the quantity of labor-power bought by the variable capital, and the mass of its value increases or decreases with the increase or decrease of its own mass. Its mass of value, then, increases or decreases likewise in proportion to the mass of the value of the variable capital. If the same labor sets more constant capital in motion, labor has become more productive. If less, less productive. There has then been a change in the productivity of labor, and a change must have taken place in the value of certain commodities.

The following rule, then, applies to both cases: If the price of production of a certain commodity changes in consequence of a change in the average rate of profit, its own value may have remained unchanged, but a change must have taken place in the value of other commodities.

2) The average rate of profit remains unchanged. In that case the price of production of a commodity cannot change, unless its own value has changed. This may be due to the fact that more or less labor is required to produce this commodity, either because the productivity of that labor varies, which produces this commodity in its final form, or of that labor which produces the commodities consumed in its production. Cotton yarn may vary in its price of production, either Edition: current; Page: [241] because cotton is produced at a lower figure, or because the labor of spinning has become more productive in consequence of improved machinery.

As we have seen before, the price of production is equal to k + p, equal to cost-price plus profit. This implies k + kp', and k, cost-price, stands here for a variable magnitude, which changes according to different spheres of production, but is everywhere equal to the value of the constant and variable capital consumed in the production of commodities, while p' stands for the percentage of the average rate of profit. If k = 200, and p' = 20%, the price of production k + kp' is equal to 200 + 200 20/100 = 200 + 40 = 240. It is evident that this price of production may remain the same, although the value of the commodities may change.

All changes in the price of production of commodities reduce themselves in the last analysis to changes in value. But not every change in the value of commodities needs to find expression in a change of the price of production. For this price is not determined merely by the value of any particular commodity, but by the aggregate value of all commodities. A change in commodity A may eventually be balanced by an opposite change of commodity B, so that the general proportion remains the same.

II. Price of Production of Commodities of Average Composition.

We have seen that a deviation of the prices of production from the values may be brought about by the following means:

1) By adding to the cost-price of a commodity, not the surplus-value contained in it, but the average profit.
2) By transferring a price of production, which thus differs from the value of some particular commodity, to the cost-price of some other commodity which consumes the first commodity as one of its elements, so that the cost-price of a certain commodity may already contain a deviation from the value of the means of production consumed by it, quite aside from the deviation, which it may still experience on its own Edition: current; Page: [242] account through a difference between the average profit and the surplus-value.

It is therefore possible that the cost-price may differ from the sum of the values of those elements which make up this portion of the price of production, even in the case of commodities produced by capitals of average composition. Take it that the average composition is 80 c + 20 v. Now it is possible that in the actual capitals of this composition 80 c may be greater or smaller than the value of c, the constant capital, because this c may be made up of commodities whose price of production differs from their value. In the same way 20 v might differ from its value, if the laborer consumes commodities whose price of production differs from their value, in which case the laborer would work a longer or shorter time for their reproduction, and would thus perform more or less necessary labor, then would be required, if the price of production of the necessities of life coincided with their value.

However, this possibility does not alter the correctness of the rules laid down for commodities of average composition. The quantity of profit falling to the share of these commodities is equal to the quantity of surplus-value contained in them. For instance, the most important point in a capital of the above composition, 80 c + 20 v, so far as the determination of surplus-value is concerned, is not whether these figures are expressions of actual values, but whether this represents their actual proportion to one another, in other words, whether v is one-fifth, and c four-fifths, of the total capital, Whenever this is actually the case, as was assumed above, then the surplus-value produced by v is equal to the average profit. On the other hand, seeing that this surplus-value is equal to average profit, the price of production, or cost-price plus profit, k +p, is equal to k + s, that is, practically equal to the value of these commodities. This implies that a rise or a fall in wages would not change the price of production, k + p, any more than it would change the value of these commodities. It would merely effect a corresponding opposite movement on the side of profit, a fall or a rise. For Edition: current; Page: [243] if a rise or a fall of wages were to bring about a change in the price of commodities of average composition, then the rate of profit in these spheres of average composition would rise above, or fall below, the level it holds in other spheres. The sphere of average composition maintains the same level of profit as the other spheres only so long as the price remains unchanged. The practical result in the case of this sphere of average composition is the same as though its products were sold at their value. For if commodities are sold at their actual values, it is evident that, other circumstances remaining equal, a rise or a fall in wages will cause a corresponding fall or rise in profits, but no change in the value of commodities, and that under all circumstances a rise or a fall in wages can never affect the value of commodities, but only the magnitude of the surplus-value.

III. Fluctuations for which the Capitalist makes Allowance.

It has been said that competition levels the rates of profit of the different spheres of production into an average rate of profit and thereby transforms the values of the products of these different spheres into prices of production. This is accomplished by continually transferring capital from one sphere to another, in which the profit happens to stand above the average for the moment. The fluctuations of profit due to the cycle of fat and lean years, following each other in any given line of industry during given periods, must be taken into consideration, of course. These incessant emigrations and immigrations of capital, which take place between the different spheres of production, create rising and falling movements of the rate of profit. These movements balance one another more or less and thereby create a tendency to reduce the rate of profit everywhere to the same common and universal level.

This movement of capitals is caused primarily by the stand of the market-prices, which lift profits above the level of the universal average in one place and depress them below it in another. We leave out of consideration, for the present, Edition: current; Page: [244] merchant's capital. We know from the sudden paroxysms of speculation in certain favorite articles that this merchants' capital can draw masses of capital from a certain line of business with extraordinary rapidity and throw them with equal rapidity into another. But we have nothing to do with merchants' capital at this place. So far as the sphere of actual production is concerned, that is, industries, agriculture, mining, etc., the transfer of capital from one sphere to another offers considerable difficulty, particularly on account of the existing fixed capital. Moreover, experience demonstrates that, if a certain line of industry, for instance the cotton industry, yields extraordinary profits at one period, it suffers losses, or makes very little profit, at some other period, so that the average profit within a certain cycle of years is pretty much the same as in other lines. And capital soon learns to take this experience into account.

What competition does not show is the way in which value is determined and the movement of production dominated by this determination. It does not show the values that stand behind the prices of production and determine them in the last instance. Competition does show, on the other hand, the following things: 1) The average profits independent of the organic composition of capital in the different spheres of production, and therefore also independent of the mass of living labor appropriated by any given capital in any particular sphere of exploitation. 2) A rise and fall of prices of production as a result of changes in the level of wages, a phenomenon which flatly contradicts at first sight the law of value of commodities. 3) The fluctuations of market-prices, which reduce the average market-price of commodities in a given period of time, not to the market-value, but to a market-price of production differing considerably from this market-value. All these phenomena seem to contradict the determination of value by labor-time as much as the fact that surplus-value consists of unpaid surplus-labor. Everything appears upside down in competition. The existing conformation of economic conditions, as seen in reality on the surface of things, and consequently in the conceptions which the Edition: current; Page: [245] leading human agents of these conditions form in trying to understand them, are not only different from the internal and disguised essence of these conditions, and from the conceptions corresponding to this essence, but actually opposed to them, or their reverse.

Furthermore, as soon as capitalist production has reached a certain degree of development, the reduction of the different rates of profit of the individual spheres to the level of the average rate of profit no longer proceeds solely by virtue of the play of attraction and repulsion, by which the market prices attract or repel capital. After the average prices, and the market-prices corresponding to them, have become stable for a time, the capitalists become conscious of the fact that this leveling process balances definite differences. And then they allow for these differences in their mutual calculations. The differences exist in the consciousness of the capitalists and are taken into consideration as fluctuations for which allowance must be made.

At the bottom of all conceptions lies that of the average profit, to-wit, that capitals of the same magnitude must yield the same profits in the same time. This, again, is based on the assumption that the capital of each sphere of production shares in the total profit squeezed out of the laborers by the total social capital in proportion to its magnitude; or, that every individual capital should be regarded merely as a part of the total social capital, and every capitalist as a shareholder in the total social enterprise, each sharing in the total profit in proportion to the magnitude of his share of capital.

These conceptions serve as a basis for the calculations of the capitalist, for instance the assumption that a capital which is turned over more slowly than another, because its commodities require a longer time for their production, or because they must be sold in more remote markets, should nevertheless charge the profit it loses in this way and reimburse itself by putting up the price. Another idea is that capitals invested in lines which are exposed to considerable danger, for instance in shipping, should be compensated by a raise in prices. As soon as capitalist production, and the insurance Edition: current; Page: [246] business, are developed, the danger is equalised for all spheres of production (see Corbett); but the capitals invested in more than ordinarily dangerous enterprises have to pay higher insurance rates and recover them in the prices of their commodities. All this amounts in practice to saying that every circumstance (and all of them are considered equally necessary within certain limits), which renders one line of production profitable, and another less, are calculated as legitimate grounds for compensation, without requiring the ever renewed action of competition to demonstrate the justification of such claims. The capitalist simply forgets, or rather he does not see, because competition does not show it to him, that all these claims for compensation mutually advanced by the capitalists in the calculation of the prices of commodities of different lines of production repeat in another way the idea that all capitalists are entitled, in proportion to the magnitude of their respective capitals, to equal shares of the common loot, the total surplus-value. They are rather under the impression, seeing that the profit pocketed by them differs from the surplus-value appropriated by them, that those grounds for compensation do not equalise their participation in the total surplus-value, but that they rather create the profit itself, which is supposed to originate in an addition to the price of their commodities, for which they advance different excuses.

In other respects the statements made in chapter VII concerning the assumptions of the capitalists as to the source of surplus-value apply also in this instance. The present case differs a little from those in chapter VII, but only to the extent that a saving in cost-price depends on individual ability, attention to business, etc., assuming the market-price of commodities and the degree of exploitation of labor to be given.

Edition: current; Page: [247]

PART III.: THE LAW OF THE FALLING TENDENCY OF THE RATE OF PROFIT.

CHAPTER XIII.: THE THEORY OF THE LAW.

WITH a given wage and working day, a certain variable capital, for instance of 100, represents a certain number of employed laborers. It is the index of this number. For instance, let 100 p.st. be the wages of 100 laborers for one week. If these laborers perform the same amount of necessary as of surplus-labor, in other words, if they work daily as much time for themselves as they do for the capitalist, or, in still other words, if they require as much time for the reproduction of their wages as they do for the production of surplus-value for the capitalist, then they would produce a total value of 200 p.st., and the surplus-value would amount to 100 p.st. The rate of surplus-value, s/V, would be 100%. But we have seen that this rate of surplus-value would express itself in considerably different rates of profit, according to the different volumes of constant capitals c and consequently of total capitals C. For the rate of profit is calculated by the formula s/C.

Take it that the rate of surplus-value is 100%. Now, if

c = 50, and v = 100, then p' = 100/150, or 66 1/3%.
c = 100, and v = 100, then p' = 100/200, or 50%.
c = 200, and v = 100, then p' = 100/300, or 33 1/3%.
c = 300, and v = 100, then p' = 100/400, or 25%.
c = 400, and v = 100, then p' = 100/500, or 20%.

Edition: current; Page: [248] In this way, the same rate of surplus-value, with the same degree of labor exploitation, would express itself in a falling rate of profit, because the material growth of the constant capital, and consequently of the total capital, implies their growth in value, although not in the same proportion.

If it is furthermore assumed that this gradual change in the composition of capital is not confined to some individual spheres of production, but occurs more or less in all, or at least in the most important ones, so that they imply changes in the organic average composition of the total capital of a certain society, then the gradual and relative growth of the constant over the variable capital must necessarily lead to a gradual fall of the average rate of profit, so long as the rate of surplus-value, or the intensity of exploitation of labor by capital, remain the same. Now we have seen that it is one of the laws of capitalist production that its development carries with it a relative decrease of variable as compared with constant capital, and consequently as compared to the total capital, which it sets in motion. This is only another way of saying that the same number of laborers, the same quantity of labor-power set in motion by a variable capital of a given value, consume in production an ever increasing quantity of means of production, such as machinery and all sorts of fixed capital, raw and auxiliary materials, and consequently a constant capital of ever increasing value and volume, during the same period of time, owing to the peculiar methods of production developing within the capitalist system. This progressive relative decrease of the variable capital as compared to the constant, and consequently to the total, capital is identical with the progressive higher organic composition of the average social capital. It is, in another way, but an expression of the progressive development of the productive powers of society, which is manifested by the fact that the same number of laborers, in the same time, convert an ever growing quantity of raw and auxiliary materials into products, thanks to the growing application of machinery and fixed capital in general, so that less labor is needed for the production of the same, or of more, commodities. This growing value and volume of constant Edition: current; Page: [249] capital corresponds to a progressive cheapening of products, although the increase in the value of the constant capital indicates but imperfectly the growth in the actual mass of use-values represented by the material of the constant capital. Every individual product, taken by itself, contains a smaller quantity of labor than the same product did on a lower scale of production, in which the capital invested in wages occupies a far greater space compared to the capital invested in means of production. The hypothetical series placed at the beginning of this chapter expresses, therefore, the actual tendency of capitalist production. This mode of production produces a progressive decrease of the variable capital as compared to the constant capital, and consequently a continuously rising organic composition of the total capital. The immediate result of this is that the rate of surplus-value, at the same degree of labor-exploitation, expresses itself in a continually falling average rate of profit. (We shall see later why this fall does not manifest itself in an absolute form, but rather as a tendency toward a progressive fall.) This progressive tendency of the average rate of profit to fall is, therefore, but a peculiar expression of capitalist production for the fact that the social productivity of labor is progressively increasing. This is not saying that the rate of profit may not fall temporarily for other reasons. But it demonstrates at least that it is the nature of the capitalist mode of production, and a logical necessity of its development, to give expression to the average rate of surplus-value by a falling rate of average profit. Since the mass of the employed living labor is continually on the decline compared to the mass of materialised labor incorporated in productively consumed means of production, it follows that that portion of living labor, which is unpaid and represents surplus-value, must also be continually on the decrease compared to the volume and value of the invested total capital. Seeing that the proportion of the mass of surplus-value to the value of the invested total capital forms the rate of profit, this rate must fall continuously.

Simple as this law appears from the foregoing statements, all of political economy has so far tried in vain to discover it, Edition: current; Page: [250] as we shall see later on. The economists saw the problem and cudgeled their brains in tortuous attempts to interpret it. Since this law is of great importance for capitalist production, it may be said to be that mystery whose solution has been the goal of the entire political economy since Adam Smith. The difference between the various schools since Adam Smith consists in their different attempts to solve this riddle. If we consider, on the other hand, that political economy up to the present has been tinkering with the distinction between constant and variable capital without ever defining it accurately; that it never separated surplus-value from profit, and never even considered profit in its purely theoretical form, that is, separated from its different subdivisions, such as industrial profit, commercial profit, interest, ground rent; that it never thoroughly analyzed the differences in the organic composition of capital, and for this reason never thought of analyzing the formation of an average rate of profit; if we consider all this, we no longer wonder at its failure to solve the riddle.

We intentionally analyze first this law, before we pass on to a consideration of the different independent categories into which profit is subdivided. The fact that this analysis is made independently of the subdivisions of profit, which fall to the share of different categories of persons, shows in itself that this law, in its general workings, is independent of those subdivisions and of the mutual relations of the resulting categories of profit. The profit to which we are here referring is but another name for surplus-value itself, which is merely observed in its relation to the total capital, instead of its relation to the variable capital from which it arises. The fall in the rate of profit therefore expresses the falling relation of surplus-value itself to the total capital, and is for this reason independent of any division of this profit among various participants.

We have seen that a certain stage of capitalist development, in which the organic composition of capital, c : v shows the proportion of 50 : 100, expresses a rate of surplus-value of 100% by a rate of profit of 66 2/3%, and that a higher stage, in Edition: current; Page: [251] which c : v shows the proportion 400:100, expresses the same rate of surplus-value by a rate of profit of only 20%. What is true of different successive stages in the same country, is also true of different contemporaneous stages of development in different countries. In an undeveloped country, in which the first-named composition of capital is the rule, the average rate of profit would be 66 2/3%, while in a country with the other, higher, stage of development, the average rate of profit would be 20%.

The difference between two national rates of profit might be eliminated, or even reversed, if labor were less productive in the less developed country, so that a larger quantity of labor would be incorporated in a smaller quantity of the same commodities, a larger exchange-value represented by a smaller use-value, so that the laborer would consume a larger portion of his time in the reproduction of his own means of subsistence, or of their value, and have less time to spare for the production of surplus-value, and consequently would perform less surplus-labor, so that the rate of surplus-value would be lower. For instance, if the laborer of the less developed country were to work two-thirds of the working day for himself, and one-third for the capitalist, then, referring to the above illustration, the same labor-power would be paid with 133 1/3 and would furnish a surplus of only 66 2/3. A constant capital of 50 would correspond to a variable capital of 133 1/3. The rate of surplus-value would then amount to 133 1/3 : 66 2/3 = 50%, and the rate of profit to 183 1/3 : 66 2/3 = about 36½%.

Since we have not analysed the different subdivisions of profit, so that they do not exist for the present so far as we are here concerned, we make the following preliminary remarks merely in order to prevent misunderstanding: It would be a mistake to measure the level of the national rate of profit by, say, the level of the national rate of interest, when comparing countries in different stages of development, especially when comparing countries with a developed capitalist production to countries, in which labor has not yet been fully subjected to capital, although the laborer may already Edition: current; Page: [252] be exploited by the capitalist, as happens, for instance, in India, where the ryot manages his farm as an independent producer, whose production, strictly so called, is not yet under the complete sway of capital, although the usurer may not only rob him of his entire surplus-labor by means of interest, but also curtail his wages, to use a capitalist term. For the interest of such stages comprises all of the profit, and more than the profit, instead of merely expressing an aliquot part of the produced surplus-value, or profit, as it does in countries with a developed capitalist production. On the other hand, the rate of interest in capitalist countries is overwhelmingly determined by conditions (loans granted by usurers to owners of large estates who draw ground-rent) which have nothing to do with profit, but which merely indicate to what extent usury appropriates ground-rent.

In countries with capitalist production in different stages of development, and consequently with capitals of different organic composition, a country with a short normal working day may have a higher rate of surplus-value (the one factor which determines the rate of profit) than a country with a long normal working day. In the first place, if the English working day of 10 hours, on account of its higher intensity, is equal to an Austrian working day of 14 hours, then dividing the working day equally in both instances, 5 hours of English surplus-labor may represent a greater value on the world-market than 7 hours of Austrian surplus-labor. In the second place, a larger portion of the English working day may represent surplus-labor than of the Austrian working day.

The law of the falling tendency of the rate of profit, which is the expression of the same, or even of a higher, rate of surplus-value, says in so many words: If you take any quantity of the average social capital, say a capital of 100, you will find that an ever larger portion of it is invested in means of production, and an ever smaller portion in living labor. Since, then, the aggregate mass of the living labor operating the means of production decreases in comparison to the value of these means of production, it follows that the unpaid labor, and that portion of value in which it is expressed, must decline Edition: current; Page: [253] as compared to the value of the advanced total capital. Or, an ever smaller aliquot part of the invested total capital is converted into living labor, and this capital absorbs in proportion to its magnitude less and less surplus-labor, although the proportion of the unpaid part of the employed labor may simultaneously grow as compared with the paid part. The relative decrease of the variable, and the relative increase of the constant, capital, while both parts may grow absolutely in magnitude, is but another expression for the increased productivity of labor.

Let a capital of 100 consist of 80 c + 20 v, and let the 20 v stand for 20 laborers. Let the rate of surplus-value be 100%, that is to say, the laborers work one-half of the day for themselves and the other half for the capitalist. Now take a less developed country, in which a capital of 100 is composed of 20 c + 80 v, and let these 80 v stand for 80 laborers. But let these laborers work two-thirds of the day for themselves, and only one-third for the capitalists. Assuming all other things to be equal, the laborers in the first case will produce a value of 40, while those in the second case will produce a value of 120. The first capital produces 80 c + 20 v + 20 s = 120; rate of profit 20%. The second capital produces 20 c+80 v+40 s=140; rate of profit 40%. In other words, the rate of profit in the second case is double that of the first case, and yet the rate of surplus-value in the first case is 100%, while it is only 50% in the second case. But a capital of the same magnitude appropriates in the first case the surplus-labor of only 20 laborers, while it appropriates that of 80 laborers in the second case.

The law of the falling tendency of the rate of profit, or of the relative decline of the appropriated surplus-labor compared to the mass of materialised labor set in motion by living labor does not argue in any way against the fact that the absolute mass of the employed and exploited labor set in motion by the social capital, and consequently the absolute mass of the surplus-labor appropriated by it, may grow. Nor does it argue against the fact that the capitals controlled by individual capitalists may dispose of a growing mass of labor Edition: current; Page: [254] and surplus-labor, even though the number of the laborers employed by them may not grow.

Take for illustration's sake a certain population of working people, for instance, two millions. Assume, furthermore, that the length and intensity of the average working day, and the level of wages, and thereby the proportion between necessary and surplus-labor, are given. In the case the aggregate labor of these two millions, and their surplus-labor expressed in surplus-value, represent always the same magnitude of values. But with the growth of the mass of the constant (fixed and circulating) capital, which this labor manipulates, the proportion of this produced quantity of values declines as compared to the value of this total capital. And the value of this capital grows with its mass, although not in the same proportion. This proportion, and consequently the rate of profit, falls in spite of the fact that the same mass of living labor is controlled as before, and the same amount of surplus-labor absorbed by the capital. This proportion changes, not because the mass of living labor decreases, but because the mass of the materialised labor set in motion by living labor increases. It is a relative decrease, not an absolute one, and has really nothing to do with the absolute magnitude of the labor and surplus-labor set in motion. The fall of the rate of profit is not due to an absolute, but only to a relative decrease of the variable part of the total capital, that is, its decrease as compared with the constant part.

The same thing which applies to any given mass of labor and surplus-labor, applies also to a growing number of laborers, and thus under the above assumptions, to any growing mass of the controlled labor in general and to its unpaid part, the surplus-labor, in particular. If the laboring population increases from two million to three million, if, furthermore, the variable capital invested in wages also rises to three million from its former amount of two million, while the constant capital rises from four million to fifteen million, then the mass of surplus-labor, and of surplus-value, under the above assumption of a constant working day and a constant rate of surplus-value, rises by 50%, that is, from two million to Edition: current; Page: [255] three million. Nevertheless, in spite of this growth in the absolute mass of surplus-labor and surplus-value by 50%, the proportion of the variable to the constant capital would fall from 2 : 4 to 3 : 15, and the proportion of the surplus-value to the total capital, expressed in millions, would be

I. 4 c + 2 v + 2 s; C = 6, p' = 33 1/3%.
II. 15 c + 3 v + 3 s; C = 18, p' = 16 2/3%.

While the mass of surplus-value has increased by one-half, the rate of profit has fallen by one-half. However, the profit is only the surplus-value calculated on the total social capital, so that its absolute magnitude, socially considered, is the same as the absolute magnitude of the surplus-value. In this case, the absolute magnitude of the profit would have grown by 50%, in spite of its enormous relative decrease compared to the advanced total capital, or in spite of the enormous fall of the average rate of profit. We see, then, that in spite of the progressive fall of rate of profit, there may be an absolute increase of the number of laborers employed by capital, an absolute increase of the labor set in motion by it, an absolute increase of the mass of surplus-labor absorbed, a resulting absolute increase of the produced surplus-value, and consequently an absolute increase in the mass of the produced profit. And this increase may be progressive. And it may not only be so. On the basis of capitalist production, it must be so, aside from temporary fluctuations.

The capitalist process of production is essentially a process of accumulation. We have shown that the mass of values, which must be simply reproduced and maintained, increases progressively with the development of capitalist production to the extent that the productivity of labor grows, even if the employed labor-power should remain constant. But the development of social productivity carries with it a still greater increase of the produced use-values, of which the means of production form a part. And the additional labor, whose appropriation reconverts this additional value into capital, does not depend on the value, but on the mass of these means of production (including the means of subsistence), because the laborer in the productive process is not operating with the Edition: current; Page: [256] exchange-value, but with the use-value of the means of production. Accumulation itself, however, and the concentration of capital that goes with it, is a material means of increasing the productive power. Now, this growth of the means of production includes the increase of the laboring population, the creation of a laboring population which corresponds to the surplus-capital or even exceeds its general requirements, leading to an overpopulation of working people. A momentary excess of the surplus-capital over the laboring population controlled by it would have a twofold effect. It would, on the one hand, mitigate the conditions, which decimate the offspring of the laboring class and would facilitate marriages among them, by raising wages. This would tend to increase the laboring population. On the other hand, it would employ the methods by which relative surplus-value is created (introduction and improvement of machinery) and thereby create still more rapidly an artificial relative overpopulation, which in its turn would be a hothouse for the actual propagation of its numbers, since under capitalist production poverty propagates its kind. The nature of the capitalist process of accumulation, which process is but an element in the capitalist process of production, implies as a matter of course that the increased mass of means of production, which is to be converted into capital, must always find on hand a corresponding increase, or even an excess, of laboring people for exploitation. The progress of the process of production and accumulation must, therefore, be accompanied by a growth of the mass of available and appropriated surplus-labor, and consequently by a growth of the absolute mass of profit appropriated by the social capital. But the same laws of production and accumulation increase the volume and value of the constant capital in a more rapid progression than those of the variable capital invested in living labor. The same laws, then, produce for the social capital an increase in the absolute mass of profit and a falling rate of profit.

We leave out of consideration the fact that the same amount of values represents a progressively increasing mass of use-values and enjoyments to the extent that the capitalist process Edition: current; Page: [257] of production carries with it a development of the productive power of social labor, a multiplication of the lines of production, and an increase of products.

The development of capitalist production and accumulation lifts the processes of labor to a higher scale and gives them greater dimensions, which imply larger investments of capital for each individual establishment. A growing concentration of capitals (accompanied by a growing number of capitalists, though not to the same extent) is therefore one of the material requirements of capitalist production as well as one of the results produced by it. Hand in hand with it, and mutually interacting, goes a progressive expropriation of the more or less direct producers. It is, then, a matter of course for the capitalists that they should control increasing armies of laborers (no matter how much the variable capital may relatively decrease in comparison to the constant capital), and that the mass of surplus-value, and of profit, appropriated by them, should grow simultaneously with the fall of the rate of profit, and in spite of it. The same causes which concentrate masses of laborers under the control of capitalists, are precisely those which also swell the mass of fixed capital, auxiliary and raw materials in a growing proportion as compared to the mass of the employed living labor.

It requires but a passing notice at this point, that, given a certain laboring population, the mass of surplus-value, and therefore the absolute mass of profit, must grow if the rate of surplus-value increases by a prolongation or intensification of the working day, or by a lowering of the value of wages through a development of the productive power of labor, and must do so in spite of the relative decrease of the variable capital compared to the constant.

The same development of the productive power of social labor, the same laws, which express themselves in a relative fall of the variable as compared to the total capital and in a correspondingly hastened accumulation, while this accumulation in its turn becomes the starting point of a further development of the productive power and of a further relative fall of the variable capital, this same development manifests Edition: current; Page: [258] itself, aside from temporary fluctuations, by a growing increase of the employed total labor-power, a growing increase of the absolute mass of surplus-value, and consequently of profits.

Now, in what form must this two-faced law with the same causes for a decrease of the rate of profits and a simultaneous increase of the absolute mass of profits show itself? A law based on the fact that under certain conditions the appropriated mass of surplus-labor, and consequently of surplus-value, increases, and that, so far as the total capital is concerned, or the individual capital as an aliquot part of the total capital, profit and surplus-value are identical magnitudes?

Take that aliquot part of capital which is the basis of our calculation of the rate of profit, for instance 100. These 100 illustrate the average composition of the total capital, say 80 c + 20 v. We have seen in the second part of this volume, that the average rate of profit is determined, not by the particular composition of individual capital, but by the average composition of social capital. If the variable capital decreases as compared to the constant, or to the total capital, then the rate of profit, or the relative magnitude of surplus-value calculated on the total capital, falls even though the intensity of exploitation were to remain the same, or even to increase. But it is not this relative magnitude alone which falls. The magnitude of the surplus-value or profit absorbed by the total capital of 100 also falls absolutely. At a rate of surplus-value of 100%, a capital of 60 + 40 produces a mass of surplus-value and profit amounting to 40; a capital of 70 c + 30 v a mass of profit of 30; a capital of 80 c + 20 v produces only 20 of profit. This fall refers to the mass of surplus-value and thus of profit, and is due to the fact that the total capital of 100, with the same intensity of labor exploitation, employs less living labor, sets in motion less labor-power, and therefore produces less surplus-value. Taking any aliquot part of the social capital, this is, of capital of average composition, as a standard by which to measure surplus-value—and this is done in all calculations of profit—a relative fall of surplus-value is identical with its absolute Edition: current; Page: [259] fall. The rate of profit sinks in the above cases from 40% to 30% and 20%, because the mass of surplus-value, and of profit, produced by the same capital falls absolutely from 40 to 30 and 20. Since the magnitude of the value of capital, by which the surplus-value is measured, is given as 100, a fall in the proportion of surplus-value to this given magnitude can be only another expression for the fact that surplus-value and profit decrease absolutely. This is, of course, a tautology. But we have demonstrated that the nature of the capitalist process of production brings about this decrease.

On the other hand, the same causes which bring about an absolute decrease of surplus-value and profit on a given capital, and consequently in the percentage of the rate of profit, produce an increase of the absolute mass of surplus-value and profit appropriated by the total capital (that is, by the capitalists as a whole). How can this be explained, and what is the only way in which this can be explained, or what are the conditions on which this apparent contradiction is based?

While any aliquot part, any 100 of the social capital, any 100 of average social composition, is a given magnitude, for which a fall in the rate of profit implies a fall in the absolute magnitude of profit, just because the capital which serves as a standard of measurement is a constant magnitude, the magnitude of the social capital, on the other hand, as well as that of the capital in the hands of individual capitalists, is variable, and in keeping with our assumptions it must vary inversely to the decrease of its variable portion.

In our former illustration, when the percentage of composition was 60 c + 40 v, the corresponding surplus-value and profit was 40, and the rate of profit 40%. Take it that the total capital in this stage of composition was one million. In that case the total surplus-value, and total profit, amounted to 400,000. Now, if the composition changes later to 80 c + 20 v, while the degree of labor exploitation remains the same, then the surplus-value and profit for each 100 is 20. But as we have demonstrated that the absolute mass of surplus-value and profit increases in spite of the fall of the rate of profit, in spite of the decrease in the production of surplus-value by Edition: current; Page: [260] a capital of 100, that it grows, say, from 400,000 to 440,000, there is no other way in which this could be brought about than by a growth of the total capital to 2,200,000 to the extent that this new composition developed. The mass of the total capital set in motion has risen by 220%, while the rate of profit has fallen by 50%. If the total capital had only been doubled, it could have produced no more surplus-value and profit with a rate of profit of 20% than the old capital of 1,000,000 at a rate of 40%. If it had grown to less than twice its old size, it would have produced less surplus-value or profit than the old capital of 1,000,000 which, with its former composition, would have had to grow from 1,000,000 to no more than 1,100,000, in order to raise its surplus-value from 400,000 to 440,000.

We meet here once more the previously analysed law, that the relative decrease of the variable capital, or the development of the productive power of labor, requires an increasing mass of total capital for the purpose of setting in motion the same quantity of labor-power and absorbing the same quantity of surplus-labor. Consequently the possibility of a relative surplus of laboring people develops to the extent that capitalist production advances, not because the productive power of social labor decreases, but because it increases. Relative overpopulation does not arise out of an absolute disproportion between labor and means of subsistence, or of means for the production of these means of existence, but out of a disproportion due to the capitalist exploitation of labor, a disproportion between the growing increase of capital and its relatively decreasing demand for an increase of population.

A fall in the rate of profit by 50% means its fall by one-half. If the mass of profit is to remain the same, the capital must be doubled. In order that the mass of profit made at a declining rate of profit may remain the same as before, the multiplier indicating the growth of the total capital must be equal to the divisor indicating the fall of the rate of profit. If the rate of profit falls from 40 to 20, the total capital must rise at the rate of 20 to 40, in order that the result may remain the same. If the rate of profit had fallen from 40 to 8, Edition: current; Page: [261] the capital would have to increase at the rate of 8 to 40, or five times its value. A capital of 1,000,000 at a rate of 40% produces 400,000, and a capital of 5,000,000 at a rate of 8% likewise produces 400,000. This applies, so long as the result is to remain the same. But if the result is to be higher, then the capital must grow at a faster rate than the rate of profit falls. In other words, in order that the variable portion of the total capital may not only remain the same, but may also increase absolutely, although its percentage in the total capital falls, the total capital must grow at a higher rate than the percentage of the variable capital falls. It must grow at such a rate that it requires in its new composition not merely the same old variable capital, but more than it for the purchase of labor-power. If the variable portion of a capital of 100 falls from 40 to 20, the total capital must rise higher than 200, in order to be able to employ a larger variable capital than 40.

Even if the mass of the exploited laboring population were to remain constant, and only the length and intensity of the working day to increase, the mass of the invested capital would have to increase, since it must rise for the mere purpose of employing the same mass of labor under the old conditions of exploitation as soon as the composition of capital varies.

In short, the same development of the social productivity of labor expresses itself in the course of capitalist production on the one hand in a tendency to a progressive fall of the rate of profit, and on the other hand in a progressive increase of the absolute mass of the appropriated surplus-value, or profit; so that on the whole a relative decrease of variable capital and profit is accompanied by an absolute increase of both. This twofold effect, as we have seen, can express itself only in a growth of the total capital at a ratio more rapid than that expressed by the fall in the rate of profit. In order that an absolutely increased variable capital may be employed in a capital of higher composition, that is, a capital in which the constant capital has relatively increased still more than the variable, the total capital must one only grow in proportion Edition: current; Page: [262] to its higher composition, but even still more rapidly. It follows, then, that an ever larger quantity of capital is required in order to employ the same, and still more an increased amount of labor-power, to the extent that the capitalist mode of production develops. The increasing productivity of labor thus creates necessarily and permanently an apparent overpopulation of laboring people. If the variable capital forms only one-sixth of the total capital instead of one-half, as before, then the total capital must be trebled in order to employ the same amount of labor-power. And if the labor-power to be employed is doubled, then the total capital must be multiplied by six.

Political economy has so far been unable to explain the law of the falling tendency of the rate of profit. So it pointed as a consolation to the increasing mass of profit, the increase in the absolute magnitude of profit for the individual capitalist as well as for the social capital, but even this consolation was based on mere commonplaces and probabilities.

It is simply a tautology to say that the mass of profit is determined by two factors, namely first the rate profit, and secondly by the mass of capital invested at this rate. It is therefore but a corollary of this tautology to say that there is a possibility for the increase of the mass of profit even though the rate of profit may fall at the same time. This does not help us to get one step farther, since there is also a possibility that the capital may increase without resulting in an increase of the mass of profit, and that it may even increase while the mass of profit is already falling. For 100 at 25% make 25, while 400 at 5% make only 20.35 But if the same Edition: current; Page: [263] causes, which bring about a fall in the rate of profit, promote the accumulation, that is, the formation of additional capital, and if each additional capital employs additional labor and produces additional surplus-value; when, on the other hand, the mere fall in the rate of profit implies the fact that the constant capital, and with it the total old capital, have increased, then this process ceases to be mysterious. We shall see later, to what falsifications of calculations some people have recourse in order to deny the possibility of an increase in the mass of profits while the rate of profits is simultaneously decreasing.

We have shown that the same causes, which bring about a tendency of the average rate of profits to fall, necessitate also an accelerated accumulation of capital and consequently an increase in the absolute magnitude, or total mass, of the surplus-labor (surplus-value, profit) appropriated by it. Just as everything is reversed in competition, and thus in the consciousness of its agents, so is also this law, this internal and necessary connection between two apparent contradictions. It is evident, within the proportions indicated above, that a capitalist disposing of a large capital will receive a larger mass of profits than a small capitalist making apparently high profits. A superficial observation of competition shows furthermore that under certain circumstances, when the greater capitalist wishes to make more room for himself on the market by pushing aside the smaller ones, as happens in times of commercial crises, he makes a practical use of this, that is, he lowers his rate of profit intentionally in order to crowd the smaller ones off the field. Particularly merchant's capital, as we shall show at length later on, shows symptoms, which seem to attribute the fall in profits to an expansion of the business, Edition: current; Page: [264] and thus of capital. We shall later on give a scientific expression for this false conception. Similar superficial observations result from the comparison of rates of profit made in some particular lines of business, according to whether they are subject to free competition or to monopoly. The utterly shallow conception existing in the heads of the agents of competition is found in our Roscher, namely the idea that a reduction of the rate of profits is "more prudent and humane." The fall in the rate of profit is in this case attributed to an increase of capital, it appears as a consequence of this increase, and of the resultant calculation of the capitalist that the mass of profits to be pocketed by him will be greater at a smaller rate of profits. This entire conception (with the exception of that of Adam Smith, which we shall mention later) rests on the utter misapprehension of what the average rate of profit represents and on the crude idea that prices are indeed determined by adding a more or less arbitrary amount of profit to the actual value of the commodities. Crude as these ideas are, they arise necessarily out of the inverted aspect which the immanent laws of capitalist production represent under competition.

The law that the fall in the rate of profit due to the development of the productive powers is accompanied by an increase in the mass of profit expresses itself furthermore in the fact that a fall in the price of commodities produced by capital is accompanied by a relative increase of the masses of profit contained in them and realised by their sale.

Since the development of the productive powers and the higher composition of capital corresponding to it set in motion an ever increasing quantity of means of production with an ever decreasing quantity of labor, every aliquot part of the total product, every single commodity, or every particular quantity of commodities in the total mass of products absorbs less living labor, and also contains less materialised labor, both as to the wear and tear of fixed capital and to the raw and auxiliary materials consumed. Every single commodity, then, contains a smaller amount of labor materialised in means of production and of labor newly added during production. Edition: current; Page: [265] Hence the price of the individual commodity falls. The mass of profits contained in the individual commodities may nevertheless increase, if the rate of the absolute or relative surplus-value grows. The commodity then contains less newly added labor, but its unpaid portion grows over its paid portion. However, this is the case only within certain limits. In the course of the development of production, with the enormously growing absolute decrease of the amount of living labor newly embodied in the individual commodities, the mass of unpaid labor contained in them will likewise decrease absolutely, however much it may have grown as compared to their paid portion. The mass of profit on each individual commodity will decrease considerably with the development of the productive power of labor, in spite of the increase of the rate of surplus-value. And this reduction, the same as the fall in the rate of profits, is only delayed by the cheapening of the elements of constant capital and the other circumstances mentioned in the first part of this volume, which increase the rate of profit at a stable, or even falling, rate of surplus-value.

To say that the price of the individual commodities falls, which together make up the total product of the capital, is simply to say that a certain quantity of labor is realised in a larger quantity of commodities, so that each individual commodity contains less labor than before. This is the case even if the price of one of the parts of constant capital, such as raw material, etc., should rise. With the exception of a few cases (for instance, if the productive power of labor cheapens all the elements of constant and variable capital uniformly) the rate of profit will fall in spite of the increased rate of surplus-value, 1), because even a larger unpaid portion of the smaller total amount of newly added labor is smaller than a smaller aliquot portion of unpaid labor was in the former large amount of total labor, and 2), because the higher composition of the capital is expressed through the individual commodity by the fact that that portion of its value, in which newly added labor is materialised, decreases as compared to that portion of its value, which represents raw material, auxiliary Edition: current; Page: [266] material, and wear and tear of fixed capital. This change in the proportions of the various component parts of the price of the individual commodities, the decrease of that portion of their price, in which newly added labor is materialised, and the increase of that portion, in which formerly materialised labor is represented, is that form which expresses through the price of the individual commodities the decrease of the variable capital as compared to the constant capital. To the extent that this decrease is absolute for a certain amount of capital, for instance 100, it is also absolute for every individual commodity as an aliquot part of the reproduced capital. However, the rate of profit, if calculated merely on the elements of the price of the individual commodity, would be different from what it actually is. The reason for this is as follows:

[The rate of profit is calculated on the total capital invested, but only for a definite time, in fact, for one year. The rate of profit is the proportion of the surplus-value, or profit, made and realised on the total capital and calculated in percentages. It is, therefore, not necessarily equal to a rate of profit, whose calculation was not based on one year, but on the period of turn-over of the invested capital. These two things do not coincide, unless the capital is turned over exactly in one year.

On the other hand, the profit made in the course of one year is merely the sum of the profits on the commodities produced and sold during the same year. Now, if we calculate the profit on the cost-price of the commodities, we obtain a rate of profit = p/k, in which p stands for the profit realised during one year, and k for the sum of the cost-prices of the commodities produced and sold during that year. It is evident that this rate of profit p/k will not coincide with the actual rate of profit p/c, or mass of profit divided by the total capital, unless k = C, that is, unless the capital is turned over in exactly one year.

Let us take three different conditions of some industrial capital.

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I.—A capital of 8,000 p.st. produces and sells annually 5,000 pieces of commodities, at 30 sh. per piece, making an annual turn-over of 7,500 p.st. It makes a profit of 10 sh. on each piece, or 2,500 p.st. per year. Every piece, then, contains 20 sh. of capital advance, and 10 sh. of profit, so that the rate of profit per piece if 10/20 = 50%. The turned-over sum of 7,500 p.st. contains 5,000 p.st. of advanced capital and 2,500 p.st. of profits. Rate of profit for one turn-over, p/k, likewise 50%. But the rate of profit calculated on the total capital is the rate of profit p/c = 2500/8000 = 31¼%.

II.—Let the capital increase to 10,000 p.st. Owing to an increased productivity of labor, let it be enabled to produce annually 10,000 pieces of commodities at a cost-price of 20 sh. per piece. Let these commodities be sold at a profit of 4 sh., in other words, at 24 sh. per piece. In that case the price of the annual product is 12,000 p.st., of which 10,000 p.st. is advanced capital and 2,000 p.st. profits. The rate of profit p/k is 4/20 per piece and 2000/10,000 for the annual turn-over, or in both cases = 20%. And since the total capital is equal to the sum of the cost-prices, namely 10,000 p.st., it follows that p/c, the actual rate of profit, is in this case also 20%.

III.—Let the capital increase to 15,000 p.st., owing to a further growth of the productive power of labor, and let it produce annually 30,000 pieces of commodities at a cost-price of 13 sh. per piece, each piece being sold at a profit of 2 sh., or at 15 sh. per piece. The annual turn-over amounts in that case to 30,00 × 15 sh., = 22,500 p.st., of which 19,500 are advanced capital and 3,000 p.st. profits. The rate of profit p/k is then 2/13 = 3000/19,500 = 15 5/13%. But the actual rate of profit p/c = 3000/15,000 = 20%.

We see, then, that only in case II, where the turned-over capital-value is equal to the total capital, is the rate of profit per piece, or per total amount turn-over, the same as the rate of profit calculated on the total capital. In case I, where the amount of the turn-over is smaller than the total capital, the rate of profit calculated on the cost-price of the commodities is higher. In case III, where the total capital is smaller Edition: current; Page: [268] than the amount of the turn-over, the rate of profit calculated on the cost-price of commodities is smaller than the actual rate calculated on the total capital. This is a general rule.

In commercial practice the turn-over is generally calculated inaccurately. It is assumed that the capital has been turned over once, as soon as the sum of the realised commodity-prices equals the sum of the invested total capital. But the capital can complete one whole turn-over only in the case that the sum of the cost-prices of the realised commodities equals the sum of the total capital.—F. E.]

This demonstrates once more how important it is under the capitalist mode of production that the individual commodities or the commodity-product of a certain period should not be considered as isolated by themselves, as mere commodities, but as products of advanced capital and in their relation to the total capital, which produces them.

Although the rate of profit must be calculated by measuring the mass of the produced and realised surplus-value by the consumed portion of capital reappearing in the commodities as well as by the sum of this portion plus that portion of capital which, though not consumed, is employed and continues to serve in production, the mass of profit cannot be equal to anything but the mass of profit, or surplus-value, contained in the commodities themselves and to be realised by their sale.

If the productivity of industry increases, the prices of the individual commodities fall. There is less paid and unpaid labor contained in them. Let the same labor produce, say, thrice, its former product. Then the individual product requires two-thirds less labor. And since the profit can constitute but a portion of the amount of labor congealed in the individual commodities, the mass of profit in the individual commodities must decrease. And this must hold good, within certain limits, even if the rate of surplus-value should rise. In any case, the mass of profits on the total product does not fall below the original mass of profits so long as the capital employs the same number of laborers at the same degree of exploitation. (This may also take place, if fewer laborers Edition: current; Page: [269] are employed at a higher rate of exploitation.) For to the same extent that the mass of profit on the individual product decreases does the number of products increase. The mass of profits remains the same, only it is distributed differently over the total amount of commodities. Nor does this alter the division of the amount of value created by newly added labor between the laborers and capitalists. The mass of profit cannot increase, so long as same amount of labor is employed, unless the unpaid surplus-labor increases, or, supposing the intensity of exploitation to remain the same, unless the number of laborers grows. Or, both of these causes may, of course, combine to produce this result. In all these cases, which, however, according to our assumption, presuppose an increase of the constant capital as compared to the variable and an increase in the magnitude of the total capital, the individual commodity contains a smaller mass of profit and the rate of profit falls even if it is calculated on the individual commodity. A given quantity of additional labor is materialised in a larger quantity of commodities. The price of the individual commodities falls. Abstractly speaking, the rate of profit may remain the same, even though the price of the individual commodity may fall as a result of an increase in the productivity of labor and a simultaneous increase in the number of these cheaper commodities, for instance, if the increase in the productivity of labor extended its effects uniformly and simultaneously to all the elements of the commodities, so that the total price of the commodities would fall in the same proportion in which the productivity of labor would increase, while on the other hand the mutual relations of the different elements of the price of commodities would remain the same. The rate of profit might even rise, if a rise in the rate of surplus-value were accompanied by a considerable reduction in the value of the elements of constant, and particularly of fixed, capital. But in reality, as we have seen, the rate of profit will fall in the long run. In any case, a fall in the price of any individual commodity does not by itself give a clue to the rate of profit. Everything depends on the magnitude of the total capital invested in its production. Edition: current; Page: [270] For instance, if the price of one yard of fabric falls from 3 sh. to 1 2/3 sh.; if we know that it contained before this reduction in price 1 2/3 sh. worth of constant capital, yarn, etc., 2/3 sh. wages, and 1/3 sh. profit, while it contains after this reduction 1 sh. of constant capital, 1/3 sh. of wages, and 1/3 sh. of profit, we cannot tell whether the rate of profit has remained the same or not. This depends on the question, whether the advanced total capital has increased, and how much, and how many yards of fabric more it produces in a given time.

This phenomenon arising from the nature of the capitalist mode of production, namely, that an increase in the productivity of labor implies a fall in the price of the individual commodity, or of a certain mass of commodities, an increase in the number of commodities, a reduction of the mass of profit in the individual commodity and of the rate of profit on the aggregate of commodities, an increase of the mass of profit in the total quantity of commodities, this phenomenon shows itself on the surface only in a reduction of the mass of profit in the individual commodities, in a fall of their prices, in an increase of the mass of profits in the augmented number of commodities as a whole, which have been produced by the total capital of society or by that of the individual capitalist. It is then imagined that the capitalist adds less profits to the price of the individual commodities on his own free volition and makes up for it by the returns on a greater number of commodities produced by him. This conception rests upon the idea of profit upon alienation, which in its turn is deduced from the ideas of merchant's capital.

We have seen previously, in parts four and seven of Book I, that the growth in the mass of commodities resulting from the productivity of labor and the consequent cheapening of the commodities as such (unless these commodities become determining elements in the price of labor-power) do not affect the proportion between paid and unpaid labor in the individual commodities, in spite of the fall in price.

Since everything appears inverted under competition, the individual capitalist may imagine: 1) That he is reducing his profit on the individual commodity by cutting its price, Edition: current; Page: [271] but still making a greater profit on account of the larger quantity of commodities which he is selling; 2) that he is fixing the price of the individual commodities and determining the price of the total product by multiplication, while the original process is really one of division (see Book I, chapter XII) and the multiplication is correct only in a secondary way, being based on that division. The vulgar economist does practically no more than to translate the queer concepts of the capitalists, who are in the thralls of competition, into a more theoretical and generalising language and to attempt a vindication of the correctness of those conceptions.

Practically, a fall in the prices of commodities and a rise in the mass of profits contained in the augmented mass of these cheapened commodities is but another expression for the law of the falling rate of profit with a simultaneous increase in the mass of profits.

The analysis of the extent to which a falling rate of profit may coincide with rising prices does not belong in this chapter any more than that of the point previously discussed in volume I, chapter XII, concerning relative surplus-value. A capitalist working with improved methods of production that have not yet become general sells below the market-price, but above his individual price of production. In this way his rate of profit rises until competition levels it down. During this leveling period the second requisite puts in its appearance, namely the expansion of the invested capital. According to the degree of this expansion the capitalist will be enabled to employ a part of his former laborers under the new conditions, and eventually all of them or more, in other words, he will be enabled to produce the same or a greater mass of profits.

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CHAPTER XIV.: COUNTERACTING CAUSES.

IF we consider the enormous development of the productive powers of labor, even comparing but the last 30 years with all former periods; if we consider in particular the enormous mass of fixed capital, aside from machinery in the strict meaning of the term, passing into the process of social production. as a whole, then the difficult, which has hitherto troubled the vulgar economists, namely that of finding an explanation for the falling rate of profit, gives way to its opposite, namely to the question; How is it that this fall is not greater and more rapid? There must be some counteracting influences at work, which thwart and annul the effects of this general law, leaving to it merely the character of a tendency. For this reason we have referred to the fall of the average rate of profit as a tendency to fall.

The following are the general counterbalancing causes:

I. Raising the Intensity of Exploitation.

The rate at which labor is exploited, the appropriation of surplus-labor and surplus-value, is raised by a prolongation of the working day and an intensification of labor. These two points have been fully discussed in volume I as incidents to the production of absolute and relative surplus-value. There are many ways of intensifying labor, which imply an increase of the constant capital as compared to the variable, and consequently a fall in the rate of profit, for instance setting a laborer to watch a larger number of machines. In such cases—and in the majority of manipulations serving to produce relative surplus-value—the same causes, which bring about an increase in the rate of surplus-value, may also imply a fall in the mass of surplus-value, looking upon the matter from the point of view of the Edition: current; Page: [273] total quantities of invested capital. But there are other means of intensification, such as increasing the speed of machinery, which although consuming more raw material, and, so far as the fixed capital is concerned, wearing out the machinery so much faster, nevertheless do not affect the relation of its value to the price of labor set in motion by it. It is particularly the prolongation of the working day, this invention of modern industry, which increases the mass of appropriated surplus-labor without essentially altering the proportion of the employed labor-power to the constant capital set in motion by it, and which tends to reduce this capital relatively, if anything. For the rest, we have already demonstrated—what constitutes the real secret of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall—that the manipulations made for the purpose of producing relative surplus-value amount on the whole to this: That on one side as much as possible of a certain quantity of labor is transformed into surplus-value, and that on the other hand as little labor as possible is employed in proportion to the invested capital, so that the same causes, which permit the raising of the intensity of exploitation, forbid the exploitation of the same quantity of labor by the same capital as before. These are the warring tendencies, which, while aiming at a raise in the rate of surplus-value, have at the same time a tendency to bring about a fall in the mass of surplus-value, and therefore of the rate of surplus-value produced by a certain capital. It is furthermore appropriate to mention at this point the extensive introduction of female and child labor, in so far as the whole family must produce a larger quantity of surplus-value for a certain capital than before, even in case the total amount of their wages should increase, which is by no means general.

Whatever tends to promote the production of relative surplus-value by mere improvements in methods, for instance in agriculture, without altering the magnitude of the invested capital, has the same effect. While the constant capital does not increase relatively to the variable in such cases, taking the variable capital as an index of the amount of labor-power employed, the mass of the product does increase in proportion Edition: current; Page: [274] to the labor-power employed. The same takes place, when the productive power of labor (whether its product passes into the consumption of the laborer or into the elements of constant capital) is freed from obstacles of circulation, of arbitrary or other restrictions which become obstacles in course of time, in short, of fetters of all kinds, without touching directly the proportion between the variable and the constant capital.

It might be asked, whether the causes checking the fall of the rate of profit, but always hastening it in the last analysis, include the temporary raise in surplus-value above the average level, which recur now in this, now in that line of production for the benefit of those individual capitalists, who make use of inventions, etc., before they are generally introduced. This question must be answered in the affirmative.

The mass of surplus-value produced by a capital of a certain magnitude is the product of two factors, namely of the rate of surplus-value multiplied by the number of laborers employed at this rate. Hence it depends on the number of laborers, when the rate of surplus-value is given, and on the rate of surplus-value, when the number of laborers is given. In short, it depends on the composite proportion of the absolute magnitudes of the variable capital and the rate of surplus-value. Now we have seen, that on an average the same causes, which raise the rate of relative surplus-value, lower the mass of the employed labor-power. It is evident, however, that there will be a more or less in this according to the definite proportion, in which the opposite movements exert themselves, and that the tendency to reduce the rate of profit will be particularly checked by a raise in the rate of absolute surplus-value due to a prolongation of the working day.

We saw in the case of the rate of profit, that a fall in the rate was generally accompanied by an increase in the mass of profit, on account of the increasing mass of the total capital employed. From the point of view of the total variable capital of society, the surplus-value produced by it is equal to the profit produced by it. Both the absolute mass and the absolute rate of surplus-value have thus increased. The one Edition: current; Page: [275] has increased, because the quantity of labor-power employed by society has grown, the other, because the intensity of exploitation of this labor-power has increased. But in the case of a capital of a given magnitude, for instance 100, the rate of surplus-value may increase, while the mass may decrease on an average; for the rate is determined by the proportion, in which the variable capital produces value, while its mass is determined by the proportional part which the variable capital constitutes in the total capital.

The rise in the rate of surplus-value is a factor, which determines also the mass of surplus-value and thereby the rate of profit, for it takes place especially under conditions, in which, as we have seen, the constant capital is either not increased at all relatively to the variable capital, or not increased in proportion. This factor does not suspend the general law. But it causes that law to become more of a tendency, that is, a law whose absolute enforcement is checked, retarded, weakened, by counteracting influences. Since the same causes, which raise the rate of surplus-value (even a prolongation of the working time is a result of large scale industry), also tend to decrease the labor-power employed by a certain capital, it follows that these same causes also tend to reduce the rate of profit and to check the speed of this fall. If one laborer is compelled to perform as much labor as would be rationally performed by two, and if this is done under circumstances, in which this one laborer can replace three, then this one will produce as much surplus-labor as was formerly produced by two, and to that extent the rate of surplus-value will have risen. But this one will not produce as much as formerly three, and to that extent the mass of surplus-value will have decreased. But this reduction in mass will be compensated, or limited, by the rise in the rate of surplus-value. If the entire population is employed at a higher rate of surplus-value, the mass of surplus-value will increase, although the population may remain the same. It will increase still more, if the population increases at the same time. And although this goes hand in hand with a relative reduction of the number of laborers employed in proportion to the magnitude Edition: current; Page: [276] of the total capital, yet this reduction is checked or moderated by the rise in the rate of surplus-value.

Before leaving this point, we wish to emphasize once more that, with a capital of a certain magnitude, the rate of surplus-value may rise, while its mass is decreasing, and vice versa. The mass of surplus-value is equal to the rate multiplied by the number of laborers; however, this rate is never calculated on the total, but only on the variable capital, actually only for a day at a time. On the other hand, with a given magnitude of a certain capital, the rate of profit can never fall or rise, without a simultaneous fall or rise in the mass of surplus-value.

II. Depression of Wages Below their Value.

This is mentioned only empirically at this place, since it, like many other things, which might be enumerated here, has nothing to do with the general analysis of capital, but belongs in a presentation of competition, which is not given in this work. However, it is one of the most important causes checking the tendency of the rate of profit to fall.

III. Cheapening of the Elements of Constant Capital.

Everything that has been said in the first part of this volume about the causes, which raise the rate of profit while the rate of surplus-value remains the same, or independently of the rate of surplus-value, belongs here. This applies particularly to the fact that, from the point of view of the total capital, the value of the constant capital does not increase in the same proportion as its material volume. For instance, the quantity of cotton, which a single European spinning operator works up in a modern factory, has grown in a colossal degree compared to the quantity formerly worked up by a European operator with a spinning wheel. But the value of the worked-up cotton has not grown in proportion to its mass. The same holds good of machinery and other fixed capital. In short, the same development, which increases the mass of the constant capital relatively over that of the variable, reduces the value of its elements as a result of the increased Edition: current; Page: [277] productivity of labor. In this way the value of the constant capital although continually increasing, is prevented from increasing at the same rate as its material volume, that is, the material volume of the means of production set in motion by the same amount of labor-power. In exceptional cases the mass of the elements of constant capital may even increase, while its value remains the same or even falls.

The foregoing bears upon the depreciation of existing capital (that is, of its material elements) which comes with the development of industry. This is another one of the causes which by their constant effects tend to check the fall of the rate of profit, although it may under certain circumstances reduce the mass of profit by reducing the mass of capital yielding a profit. This shows once more that the same causes, which bring about a tendency of the rate of profit to fall, also check the realisation of this tendency.

IV. Relative Overpopulation.

The production of a relative surplus-population is inseparable from the development of the productivity of labor expressed by a fall in the rate of profit, and the two go hand in hand. The relative overpopulation becomes so much more apparent in a certain country, the more the capitalist mode of production is developed in it. This, again, is on the one hand a reason, which explains why the imperfect subordination of labor to capital continues in many lines of production, and continues longer than seems at first glance compatible with the general stage of development. This is due to the cheapness and mass of the disposable or unemployed wage laborers, and to the greater resistance, which some lines of production, by their nature, oppose to a transformation of manufacture into machine production. On the other hand, new lines of production are opened up, especially for the production of luxuries, and these lines take for their basis this relative overpopulation set free in other lines of production by the increase of their constant capital. These new lines start out with living labor as their predominating element, and go by degrees through the same evolution as the other Edition: current; Page: [278] lines of production. In either case the variable capital constitutes a considerable proportion of the total capital and wages are below the average, so that both the rate and mass of surplus-value are exceptionally high. Since the average rate of profit is formed by leveling the rates of profit in the individual lines of production, the same cause, which brings about a falling tendency of the rate of profit, once more produces a counterbalance to this tendency and paralyses its effects more or less.

V. Foreign Trade.

To the extent that foreign trade cheapens partly the elements of constant capital, partly the necessities of life for which the variable capital is exchanged, it tends to raise the rate of profit by raising the rate of surplus-value and lowering the value of the constant capital. It exerts itself generally in this direction by permitting an expansion of the scale of production. But by this means it hastens on one hand the process of accumulation, on the other the reduction of the variable as compared to the constant capital, and thus a fall in the rate of profit. In the same way the expansion of foreign trade, which is the basis of the capitalist mode of production in its stages of infancy, has become its own product in the further progress of capitalist development through its innate necessities, through its need of an ever expanding market. Here we see once more the dual nature of these effects. (Ricardo entirely overlooked this side of foreign trade.)

Another question, which by its special nature is really beyond the scope of our analysis, is the following: Is the average rate of profit raised by the higher rate of profit, which capital invested in foreign, and particularly in colonial trade, realises?

Capitals invested in foreign trade are in a position to yield a higher rate of profit, because, in the first place, they come in competition with commodities produced in other countries with lesser facilities of production, so that an advanced country is enabled to sell its goods above their value even when it sells them cheaper than the competing countries. To the Edition: current; Page: [279] extent that the labor of the advanced countries is here exploited as a labor of a higher specific weight, the rate of profit rises, because labor which has not been paid as being of a higher quality is sold as much. The same condition may obtain in the relations with a certain country, into which commodities are exported and from which commodities are imported. This country may offer more materialised labor in goods than it receives, and yet it may receive in return commodities cheaper than it could produce them. In the same way a manufacturer, who exploits a new invention before it has become general, undersells his competitors and yet sells his commodities above their individual values, that is to say, he exploits the specifically higher productive power of the labor employed by him as surplus-value. By this means he secures a surplus-profit. On the other hand, capitals invested in colonies, etc., may yield a higher rate of profit for the simple reason that the rate of profit is higher there on account of the backward development, and for the added reason, that slaves, coolies, etc., permit a better exploitation of labor. We see no reason, why these higher rates of profit realised by capitals invested in certain lines and sent home by them should not enter as elements into the average rate of profit and tend to keep it up to that extent.36 We see so much less reason for the contrary opinion, when it is assumed that such favored lines of investment are subject to the laws of free competition. What Ricardo has in mind as objections, is mainly this: With the higher prices realised in foreign trade, commodities are bought abroad and sent home. These commodities are sold on the home market, and this can constitute at best but a temporary advantage of the favored spheres of production over others. This aspect of the matter is changed, when we no longer look upon it from the point of view of money. The favored country recovers more labor in exchange for less labor, although this difference, this surplus, is pocketed by a certain class, as it is in any exchange between labor Edition: current; Page: [280] and capital. So far as the rate of profit is higher, because it is generally higher in the colonial country, it may go hand in hand with a low level of prices, if the natural conditions are favorable. It is true that a compensation takes place, but it is not a compensation on the old level, as Ricardo thinks.

However, this same foreign trade develops the capitalist mode of production in the home country. And this implies the relative decrease of the variable as compared to the constant capital, while it produces, on the other hand, an overproduction for the foreign market, so that it has once more the opposite effect in its further course.

And so we have seen in a general way, that the same causes, which produce a falling tendency in the rate of profit, also call forth counter-effects, which check and partly paralyse this fall. This law is not suspended, but its effect is weakened. Otherwise it would not be the fall of the average rate of profit, which would be unintelligible, but rather the relative slowness of this fall. The law therefore shows itself only as a tendency, whose effects become clearly marked only under certain conditions and in the course of long periods.

Before passing on to something new, we will, for the sake of preventing misunderstanding, repeat two statements, which we have substantiated at different times.

1) The same process, which brings about a cheapening of commodities in the course of development of the capitalist mode of production, also causes a change in the organic composition of the social capital invested in the production of commodities, and thereby lowers the rate of profit. We must be careful, then, not to confound the reduction in the relative cost of an individual commodity, including that portion of its cost which represents wear and tear of machinery, with the relative rise in the value of the constant as compared to the variable capital, although vice versa every reduction in the relative cost of the constant capital, whose material elements retain the same volume or increase in volume, tends to raise the rate of profit, in other words, tends to reduce the value of the constant capital to that extent as compared with the shrinking proportions of the employed variable capital.

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2) The fact that the additional living labor contained in the individual commodities, which together make up the product of capital, stands in a decreasing proportion to the materials and instruments of labor consumed by them; the fact, that an ever decreasing quantity of additional living labor is materialised in them, because their production requires less labor to the extent that the productive power of society is developed,—this fact does not touch the proportion, according to which the living labor contained in the commodities is divided into paid and unpaid labor. On the other hand, although the total quantity of additional living labor contained in them decreases, the unpaid portion increases over the paid portion, either by an absolute, or by a proportional reduction of the paid portion; for the same mode of production, which reduces the total quantity of the additional living labor in the commodities, is accompanied by a rise of the absolute and relative surplus-value. The falling tendency of the rate of profit is accompanied by a rising tendency of the rate of surplus-value, that is, in the rate of exploitation. Nothing is more absurd, for this reason, than to explain a fall in the rate of profit by a rise in the rate of wages, although there may be exceptional cases where this may apply. Statistics do not become available for actual analyses of the rates of wages in different epochs and countries, until the conditions, which shape the rate of profit, are thoroughly understood. The rate of profit does not fall, because labor becomes less productive, but because it becomes more productive. Both phenomena, the rise in the rate of surplus-value and the fall in the rate of profit, are but specific forms through which the productivity of labor seeks a capitalistic expression,

VI. The Increase of Stock Capital.

The foregoing five points may be supplemented by the following, which, however, cannot be more fully detailed for the present. A portion of capital serves only as interest-bearing capital, and is so calculated, to the extent that capitalist production makes progress and hastens accumulation. This term interest-bearing capital is not applied here to capital loaned Edition: current; Page: [282] by a capitalist who is satisfied with interest on it, while the industrial capitalist borrowing it pockets the investor's profit. This has no bearing upon the level of the average rate of profit, for this rate is concerned only with profit as composed of interest + profit of all sorts + ground rent, and the proportional division into these particular categories is immaterial for it. We speak here of interest-bearing capital in the sense that these capitals, although invested in large productive enterprises, yield only large or small amounts of interest, so-called dividends, after all costs have been paid. This is typical of railroads, for instance. These dividends do not help to level the average rate of profit, because they represent a lower than the average rate of profit. If they did help in this, then the average rate of profit would fall much lower. Theoretically such capitals may be included in the calculation, and in that case the result will be a lower rate of profit than that which actually seems to exist and determine the actions of the capitalists, since the constant capital is the largest as compared to the variable capital precisely in these enterprises.

CHAPTER XV.: UNRAVELING THE INTERNAL CONTRADICTIONS OF THE LAW.

I. General Remarks.

WE have seen in the first part of this volume, that the rate of profit expresses the rate of surplus-value always lower than it actually is. We have now seen, that even a rising rate of surplus-value has a tendency to express itself in a falling rate of profit. The rate of profit would be equal to the rate of surplus-value only if c = O, that is, if the entire invested capital were paid out in wages. A falling rate of profit does not express a falling rate of surplus-value, unless the proportion of the value of the constant capital to the quantity of labor-power set in motion by it remains unchanged, or the amount of labor-power has increased relatively over the value of the constant capital.

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Ricardo, under pretense of analysing the rate of profit, actually analyses only the rate of surplus-value, and he does so on the assumption that the working day is intensively and extensively a constant magnitude.

A fall in the rate of profit and a hastening of accumulation are in so far only different expressions of the same process as both of them indicate the development of the productive power. Accumulation in its turn hastens the fall of the rate of profit, inasmuch as it implies the concentration of labor on a large scale and thereby a higher composition of capital. On the other hand, a fall in the rate of profit hastens the concentration of capital and its centralisation through the expropriation of the smaller capitalists, the expropriation of the last survivers of the direct producers who still have anything to give up. This accelerates on one hand the accumulation, so far as mass is concerned, although the rate of accumulation falls with the rate of profit.

On the other hand, so far as the rate of self-expansion of the total capital, the rate of profit, is the incentive of capitalist production (just as this self-expansion of capital is its only purpose, its fall checks the formation of new independent capitals and thus seems to threaten the development of the process of capitalist production. It promotes overproduction, speculation, crises, surplus-capital along with surplus-population. Those economists who, like Ricardo, regard the capitalist mode of production as absolute, feel nevertheless, that this mode of production creates its own limits, and therefore they attribute this limit, not to production, but to nature (in their theory of rent). But the main point in their horror over the falling rate of profit is the feeling, that capitalist production meets in the development of productive forces a barrier, which has nothing to do with the production of wealth as such; and this peculiar barrier testifies to the finiteness and the historical, merely transitory character of capitalist production. It demonstrates that this is not an absolute mode for the production of wealth, but rather comes in conflict with the further development of wealth at a certain stage.

It is true that Ricardo and his school considered only the Edition: current; Page: [284] industrial profit, which includes interest. But the rate of ground-rent has likewise a tendency to fall, although its absolute mass increases, and it may also increase proportionately more than the industrial profit. (See Ed. West, who developed the law of ground-rent before Ricardo.) If we consider the total social capital C, and use p'' to indicate the industrial profit remaining after the deduction of interest and ground rent, i to indicate interest, and r to indicate ground-rent then s/C=p/C=(p''+i+r)/C=p''/C+i/C+r/C. We have seen that, while s, the total amount of surplus-value, is continually increasing in the course of capitalist development, nevertheless s/C is just as steadily declining, because C grows still more rapidly than s. Therefore it is no contradiction, that p'', i, and r, should be steadily increasing, each by itself, while s/C=p/C as well as p''/C, i/C, and r/C, each by itself, should ever decline, or that p'' should increase relatively more than i, or r more than p'', or, perhaps, more than p'' and i. With a rise in the total surplus-value or profit s = p, but a simultaneous fall in the rate of profit s/C=p/C, the proportional magnitude of the parts p'', i, and r, which make up s = p, may change at will within the limits set by the total amount of s, without thereby affecting the magnitude of s or s/C.

The mutual variation of p'', i and r is but a varying distribution of s among different classes. Consequently p''/C, i/C, and r/C, the rate of industrial profit, the rate of interest, and the rate of ground-rent to the total capital, may rise relatively to one another, while s/C, the average rate of profit, is falling. The only condition is that the sum of all three cannot exceed s/C. If the rate of profit falls from 50% to 25%, because the composition of a certain capital with a rate of surplus-value of 100% has changed from 50 c + 50 v to 75 c + 25 v, then a capital of 1,000 will yield a profit of 500 in the first case, and a capital of 4,000 will yield a profit of 1,000 in the second case. We see that s or p have doubled, while p' has fallen by one-half. And if that 50% was formerly divided into 20 profit, 10 interest, 20 rent, then p''/C = 20%, Edition: current; Page: [285] i/C = 10%, and r/C = 20%. If conditions remained the same after the change from 50% to 25%, then p'/C would be 10%, i/C would be 5%, and r/C = 10%. If, however, p'/C should fall to 3% and i/C to 4%, then r/C would rise to 13%. The proportional magnitude of r would have risen as against p'' and i, but nevertheless p', the rate of profit, would have remained the same. Under both assumptions, the sum of p'', i, and r would have increased, because it would have been produced by a capital of four times the size of the former. By the way, Ricardo's assumption that the industrial profit (plus interest) originally pockets the entire profit, is historically and logically false. It is rather the progress of capitalist production which, 1), places the whole profit at first hand at the disposal of the industrial and commercial capitalists for further distribution, and, 2), reduces rent to the excess over the profit. On this capitalist basis, rent further increases, so far as it is a portion of profit (that is, of the surplus-value produced by the total capital), while the specific portion of the product, which the capitalist pockets, does not.

The creation of surplus-value, assuming the necessary means of production, or sufficient accumulation of capital, to be existing, finds no other limit but the laboring population, when the rate of surplus-value, that is, the intensity of exploitation, is given; and no other limit but the intensity of exploitation, when the laboring population is given. And the capitalist process of production consists essentially of the production of surplus-value, materialised in the surplus-product, which is that aliquot portion of the produced commodities, in which unpaid labor is materialised. It must never be forgotten, that the production of this surplus-value—and the reconversion of a portion of it into capital, or accumulation, forms an indispensable part of this production of surplus-value—is the immediate purpose and the compelling motive of capitalist production. It will not do to represent capitalist production as something which it is not, that is to say, as a production having for its immediate purpose the consumption of goods, or the production of means of enjoyment Edition: current; Page: [286] for capitalists. This would be overlooking the specific character of capitalist production, which reveals itself in its innermost essence.

The creation of this surplus-value is the object of the direct process of production, and this process has no other limits but those mentioned above. As soon as the available quantity of surplus-value has been materialised in commodities, surplus-value has been produced. But this production of surplus-value is but the first act of the capitalist process of production, it merely terminates the act of direct production. Capital has absorbed so much unpaid labor. With the development of the process, which expresses itself through a falling tendency of the rate of profit, the mass of surplus-value thus produced is swelled to immense dimensions. Now comes the second act of the process. The entire mass of commodities, the total product, which contains a portion which is to reproduce the constant and variable capital as well as a portion representing surplus-value, must be sold. If this is not done, or only partly accomplished, or only at prices which are below the prices of production, the laborer has been none the less exploited, but his exploitation does not realise as much for the capitalist. It may yield no surplus-value at all for him, or only realise a portion of the produced surplus-value, or it may even mean a partial or complete loss of his capital. The conditions of direct exploitation and those of the realisation of surplus-value are not identical. They are separated logically as well as by time and space. The first are only limited by the productive power of society, the last by the proportional relations of the various lines of production and by the consuming power of society. This last-named power is not determined either by the absolute productive power nor by the absolute consuming power, but by the consuming power based on antagonistic conditions of distribution, which reduces the consumption of the great mass of the population to a variable minimum within more or less narrow limits. The consuming power is furthermore restricted by the tendency to accumulate, the greed for an expansion of capital and a production of surplus-value on an enlarged scale. This is a Edition: current; Page: [287] law of capitalist production imposed by incessant revolutions in the methods of production themselves, the resulting depreciation of existing capital, the general competitive struggle and the necessity of improving the product and expanding the scale of production, for the sake of self-preservation and on penalty of failure. The market must, therefore, be continually extended, so that its interrelations and the conditions regulating them assume more and more the form of a natural law independent of the producers and become ever more uncontrollable. This internal contradiction seeks to balance itself by an expansion of the outlying fields of production. But to the extent that the productive power develops, it finds itself at variance with the narrow basis on which the condition of consumption rest. On this self contradictory basis it is no contradiction at all that there should be an excess of capital simultaneously with an excess of population. For while a combination of these two would indeed increase the mass of the produced surplus-value, it would at the same time intensify the contradiction between the conditions under which this surplus-value is produced and those under which it is realised.

If a certain rate of profit is given, the mass of profit depends on the magnitude of the advanced capital. Accumulation is then determined by that portion of this mass, which is reconverted into capital. This portion, in its turn, being equal to the profit minus the revenue consumed by the capitalists, will depend not merely on the value of this mass, but also on the cheapness of the commodities which the capitalist can buy with it, commodities which pass partly into his individual consumption, partly into his constant capital. (Wages are here assumed to be a given quantity.)

The mass of capital which the laborer sets in motion, whose value he preserves by his labor and reproduces in his product, is quite different from the value which he adds to it. If the mass of the capital equals 1,000, and the added labor 100, then the reproduced capital equals 1,100. If the mass equals 100 and the added labor 20, then the reproduced capital equals 120. In the first case the rate of profit is 10%, in the second 20%. And yet more can be accumulated out of Edition: current; Page: [288] 100 than out of 20. And thus the river of capital rolls on (aside from its depreciation by an increase of the productive power), or its accumulation does, not in proportion to the level of the rate of profit, but in proportion to the impetus which it already has. A high rate of profit, so far as it is based on a high rate of surplus-value, is possible when the working day is very long, although labor may not be highly productive. This is possible, because the wants of the laborers are very insignificant, and therefore the average wages very low, although labor itself unproductive. The low level of wages will have for its counterpart a lack of energy among laborers. Capital then accumulates slowly, in spite of the high rate of profits. Population stagnates and the working time, which the product costs, is long, while the wages paid to the laborer are small.

The rate of profit sinks, not because the laborer is less exploited, but, because less labor is employed in proportion to the employed capital in general.

If a falling rate of profit goes hand in hand with an increase in the mass of profits, as we have shown, then a larger portion of the annual product of labor is appropriated by the capitalist under the name of capital (as a substitute for consumed capital) and a relatively smaller portion under the name of profit. Hence the phantastic idea of the priest Chalmers, that the capitalists pocket so much more profits, the smaller the quantity of the annual product expended by them as capital. The state church then comes to their assistance in order to help them to consume the greater part of the surplus-product instead of capitalising it. The preacher confounds cause with effect. By the way, the mass of profits increases also at a small rate with the magnitude of the invested capital. However, this requires at the same time a concentration of capital, since the conditions of production then demand the employment of capital on a large scale. It likewise requires its centralisation, that is, a devouring of small capitalists by the great capitalists and decapitalisation of the former. It is but a second instance of separating the producers from their requirements of production, for these small Edition: current; Page: [289] capitalists still belong to the producers, since their own labor plays a role in this problem. Generally speaking, the labor of a capitalist stands in an inverse proportion to the size of his capital, that is, to his degree as a capitalist. This divorce of requirements of production here, and producers there, is inseparable from the nature of capital. It begins with the inauguration of primitive accumulation. (Vol. I, chap. XXVI), becomes a permanent process in the accumulation and concentration of capital, and expresses itself finally as a centralisation of already existing capitals in a few hands and a decapitalisation of many (a change in the method of expropriation). This process would soon bring about the collapse of capitalist production, if it were not for counteracting tendencies, which continually have a decentralising effect by the side of the centripetal ones.

II. Conflict between the Expansion of Production and the Creation of Values.

The development of the productive power of labor shows itself in two ways: First, in the magnitude of the already produced productive powers, in the volume of values and masses of requirements of production, under which new production is carried on, and in the absolute magnitude of the already accumulated productive capital: secondly, in the relative smallness of the capital invested in wages as compared to the total capital, that is, in the relatively small quantity of living labor required for the reproduction and self-expansion of a given capital as compared to mass production. It is at the same time conditioned on the concentration of capital.

So far as the employed labor-power is concerned, the development of the productive powers shows itself once more in two ways: First, in the increase of surplus-labor, that is, the reduction of the necessary labor time required for the reproduction of labor-power; secondly, in the decrease of the quantity of labor-power (the number of laborers) employed in general for the purpose of setting in motion a given capital.

Both movements do not only go hand in hand, but are mutually conditioned on one another. They are different phenomena, Edition: current; Page: [290] through which the same law expresses itself. However, they affect the rate of profit in opposite ways. The total mass of profits is equal to the total mass of surplus-values, the rate of profit = s/C = (surplus-value)/(advanced total capital). Now, surplus-value, as a total, is determined first by its rate, secondly by the mass of labor simultaneously employed at this rate, or what amounts to the same, by the magnitude of the variable capital. One of these factors, the rate of surplus-value, rises in one direction, the other factor, the number of laborers, falls in the opposite direction (relatively or absolutely). To the extent that the development of the productive power reduces the paid portion of the employed labor, it raises the surplus-value by raising its rate; but to the extent that it reduces the total mass of labor employed by a certain capital, it reduces the factor of numbers with which the rate of surplus-value is multiplied in order to calculate its mass. Two laborers, each working 12 hours daily, cannot produce the same mass of surplus-value as 24 laborers each working only 2 hours, even if they could live on air and did not have to work for themselves at all. In this respect, then, the compensation of the reduction in the number of laborers by means of an intensification of exploitation has certain impassible limits. It may, for this reason, check the fall of the rate of profit, but cannot prevent it entirely.

With the development of the capitalist mode of production, the rate of profit therefore falls, while its mass increases with the growing mass of the employed capital. Given the rate, the absolute increase in the mass of capital depends on its existing magnitude. But on the other hand, if this magnitude is given, the proportion of its growth, the rate of its increment, depends on the rate of profit. The increase in the productive power (which, we repeat, always goes hand in hand with a depreciation of the productive capital) cannot directly increase the value of the existing capital, unless it increases, by raising the rate of profit, that portion of the value of the annual product which is reconverted into capital. So far as the productive power is concerned (since it has no direct bearing upon the value of the existing capital), it can Edition: current; Page: [291] accomplish this only by raising the relative surplus-value, or reducing the value of the constant capital, so that those commodities which enter either into the reproduction of labor-power or into the elements of constant capital are cheapened. Both of these things imply a depreciation of the existing capital, and both of them go hand in hand with a relative reduction of the variable as compared to the constant capital. Both things imply a fall in the rate of profit, and both of them check it. Furthermore, so far as an increased rate of profit causes a greater demand for labor, it tends to increase the working population and thus the material, whose exploitation gives to capital its real nature of capital.

Indirectly, however, the development of the productive power of labor contributes to the increase of the value of the existing capital, by increasing the mass and variety of use-values, in which the same exchange value presents itself and which form the material substance, the objective elements, of capital, the material objects of which the constant capital is directly composed and the variable capital at least indirectly. With the same capital and the same labor more things are produced, which may be converted into capital, aside from their exchange value. Things which may serve for the absorption of additional labor, and consequently of additional surplus-labor, and which therefore may become additional capital. The amount of labor, which a certain capital may command, does not depend on its value, but on the mass of raw and auxiliary materials, of machinery and elements of fixed capital, of necessities of life, of which it is composed, whatever may be their value. As the mass of the employed labor, and thus of surplus-labor, increases, so does the value of the reproduced capital and the surplus-value newly added to it grow.

These two elements playing their role in the process of accumulation should not, however, be observed in their quiet existence side by side, as Ricardo does. They imply a contradiction, which expresses itself in antagonistic tendencies and phenomena. These antagonistic agencies oppose each other simultaneously.

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Together with the incentives for an actual increase of the laboring population, which originates in the augmentation of that portion of the total social product which serves as capital, there are the effects of other agencies, which create merely a relative over-population.

Together with the fall of the rate of profit grows the mass of capitals, and hand in hand with it goes a depreciation of the existing capitals, which checks this fall and gives an accelerating push to the accumulation of capital-values.

Together with the development of the productive power grows the higher composition of capital, the relative decrease of the variable as compared to the constant capital.

These different influences make themselves felt, now more side by side in space, now more successively in time. Periodically the conflict of antagonistic agencies seeks vent in crises. The crises are always but momentary and forcible solutions of the existing contradictions, violent eruptions, which restore the disturbed equilibrium for a while.

The contradiction, generally speaking, consists in this that the capitalist mode of production has a tendency to develop the productive forces absolutely, regardless of value and of the surplus-value contained in it and regardless of the social conditions under which capitalist production takes place; while it has on the other hand for its aim the preservation of the value of the existing capital and its self-expansion to the highest limit (that is, an ever accelerated growth of this value). Its specific character is directed at the existing value of capital as a means of increasing this value to the utmost. The methods by which it aims to accomplish this comprise a fall of the rate of profit, a depreciation of the existing capital, and a development of the productive forces of labor at the expense of the already created productive forces.

The periodical depreciation of the existing capital, which is one of the immanent means of capitalist production by which the fall in the rate of profit is checked and the accumulation of capital-value through the formation of new capital promoted, disturbs the existing conditions, within which the process of circulation and reproduction of capital takes Edition: current; Page: [293] place, and is therefore accompanied by sudden stagnations and crises in the process of production.

The relative decrease of variable capital as compared to the constant, which goes hand in hand with the development of the productive forces, gives an impulse to the growth of the laboring population, while it continually creates an artificial over-population. The accumulation of capital, so far as its value is concerned, is checked by the falling rate of profit, in order to hasten still more the accumulation of its use-value, and this, in its turn, adds new speed to the accumulation of its value.

Capitalist production is continually engaged in the attempt to overcome these immanent barriers, but it overcomes them only by means which again place the same barriers in its way in a more formidable size.

The real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself. It is the fact that capital and its self-expansion appear as the starting and closing point, as the motive and aim of production; that production is merely production for capital, and not vice versa, the means of production mere means for an ever expanding system of the life process for the benefit of the society of producers. The barriers, within which the preservation and self-expansion of the value of capital resting on the expropriation and pauperisation of the great mass of producers can alone move, these barriers come continually in collision with the methods of production, which capital must employ for its purposes, and which steer straight toward an unrestricted extension of production, toward production for its own self, toward an unconditional development of the productive forces of society. The means, this unconditional development of the productive forces of society, comes continually into conflict with the limited end, the self-expansion of the existing capital. Thus, while the capitalist mode of production is one of the historical means by which the material forces of production are developed and the world-market required for them created, it is at the same time in continual conflict with this historical task and the conditions of social production corresponding to it.

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III. Surplus of Capital and Surplus of Population.

With the fall of the rate of profit grows the lowest limit of capital required in the hands of the individual capitalist for the productive employment of labor, required both for the exploitation of labor and for bringing the consumed labor time within the limits of the labor time necessary for the production of the commodities, the limits of the average social labor time required for the production of the commodities. Simultaneously with it grows the concentration, because there comes a certain limit where large capital with a small rate of profit accumulates faster than small capital with a large rate of profit. This increasing concentration in its turn brings about a new fall in the rate of profit at a certain climax. The mass of the small divided capitals is thereby pushed into adventurous channels, speculation, fraudulent credit, fraudulent stocks, crises. The so-called plethora of capital refers always essentially to a plethora of that class of capital which finds no compensation in its mass for the fall in the rate of profit—and this applies always to the newly formed sprouts of capital—or to a plethora of capitals incapable of self-dependent action and placed at the disposal of the managers of large lines of industry in the form of credit. This plethora of capital proceeds from the same causes which call forth a relative over-population. It is therefore a phenomenon supplementing this last one, although they are found at opposite poles, unemployed capital on the one hand, and unemployed laboring population on the other.

An overproduction of capital, not of individual commodities, signifies therefore simply an over-accumulation of capital—although the overproduction of capital always includes the overproduction of commodities. In order to understand what this over-accumulation is (its detailed analysis follows later), it is but necessary to assume it to be absolute. When would an overproduction of capital be absolute? When would it be an overproduction which would not affect merely a few important lines of production, but which would be so absolute as to extend to every field of production?

There would be an absolute overproduction of capital as Edition: current; Page: [295] soon as the additional capital for purposes of capitalist production would be equal to zero. The purpose of capitalist production is the self-expansion of capital, that is, the appropriation of surplus-labor, the production of surplus-value, of profit. As soon as capital would have grown to such a proportion compared with the laboring population, that neither the absolute labor time nor the relative surplus-labor time could be extended any further (this last named extension would be out of the question even in the mere case that the demand for labor would be very strong, so that there would be a tendency for wages to rise); as soon as a point is reached where the increased capital produces no larger, or even smaller, quantities of surplus-value than it did before its increase, there would be an absolute overproduction of capital. That is to say, the increased capital C+8Delta;C would not produce any more profit, or even less profit, than capital C before its expansion by 8Delta;C. In both cases there would be a strong and sudden fall in the average rate of profit, but it would be due to a change in the composition of capital which would not be caused by the development of the productive forces, but by a rise in the money-value of the variable capital (on account of the increased wages) and the corresponding reduction in the proportion of surplus-labor to necessary labor.

In reality the matter would amount to this, that a portion of the capital would lie fallow completely or partially (because it would first have to crowd some of the active capital out before it could take part in the process of self-expansion), while the active portion would produce values at a lower rate of profit, owing to the pressure of the unemployed or but partly employed capital. Matters would not be altered in this respect, if a part of the additional capital were to take the place of some old capital crowding this into the position of additional capital. We should always have on one side the sum of old capitals, on the other that of the additional capitals. The fall in the rate of profit would then be accompanied by an absolute decrease in the mass of profits, since under the conditions assumed by us the mass of the employed labor-power could not be increased and the rate of surplus-value Edition: current; Page: [296] not raised, so that there could be no raising of the mass of surplus-value. And the reduced mass of profits would have to be calculated on an increased total capital.—But even assuming that the employed capital were to continue producing value at the old rate, the mass of profits remaining the same, this mass would still be calculated on an increased total capital, and this would likewise imply a fall in the rate of profits. If a total capital of 1,000 yielded a profit of 100, and after its increase to 1,500 still yielded 100, then 1,000 in the second case would yield only 66 2/3. The self-expansion of the old capital would have been reduced absolutely. A capital of 1,000 would not yield any more under the new circumstances than formerly a capital of 666 2/3.

It is evident that this actual depreciation of the old capital could not take place without a struggle, that the additional capital 8Delta;C could not assume the functions of capital without an effort. The rate of profit would not fall on account of competition due to the overproduction of capital. The competitive struggle would rather begin, because the fall of the rate of profit and the overproduction of capital are caused by the same conditions. The capitalists who are actively engaged with their old capitals would keep as much of the new additional capitals as would be in their hands in a fallow state, in order to prevent a depreciation of their original capital and a crowding of its space within the field of production. Or they would employ it for the purpose of loading, even at a momentary loss, the necessity of keeping additional capital fallow upon the shoulders of new intruders and other competitors in general.

That portion of 8Delta;C which would be in new hands would seek to make room for itself at the expense of the old capital, and would accomplish this in part by forcing a portion of the old capital into a fallow state. The old capital would have to give up its place to the new and retire to the place of the completely or partially unemployed additional capital.

Under all circumstances, a portion of the old capital would be compelled to lie fallow, to give up its capacity of capital and stop acting and producing value as such. The competitive Edition: current; Page: [297] struggle would decide what part would have to go into this fallow state. So long as everything goes well, competition effects a practical brotherhood of the capitalist class, as we have seen in the case of the average rate of profit, so that each shares in the common loot in proportion to the magnitude of his share of investment. But as soon as it is no longer a question of sharing profits, but of sharing losses, every one tries to reduce his own share to a minimum and load as much as possible upon the shoulders of some other competitor. However, the class must inevitably lose. How much the individual capitalist must bear of the loss, to what extent he must share in it at all, is decided by power and craftiness, and competition then transforms itself into a fight of hostile brothers. The antagonism of the interests of the individual capitalists and those of the capitalist class as a whole then makes itself felt just as previously the identity of these interests impressed itself practically on competition.

How would this conflict be settled and the "healthy" movement of capitalist production resumed under normal conditions? The mode of settlement is already indicated by the mere statement of the conflict whose settlement is under discussion. It implies the necessity of making unproductive, or even partially destroying, some capital, amounting either to the complete value of the additional capital C, or to a part of it. But a graphic presentation of this conflict shows that the loss is not equally distributed over all the individual capitals, but according to the fortunes of the competitive struggle, which assigns the loss in very different proportions and in various shapes by grace of previously captured advantages or positions, so that one capital is rendered unproductive, another destroyed, a third but relatively injured or but momentarily depreciated, etc.

But under all circumstances the equilibrium is restored by making more or less capital unproductive or destroying it. This would affect to some extent the material substance of capital, that is, a part of the means of production, fixed and circulating capital, would not perform any service as capital; a portion of the running establishments would then close down. Edition: current; Page: [298] Of course, time would corrode and depreciate all means of production (except land), but this particular stagnation would cause a far more serious destruction of means of production. However, the main effect in this case would be to suspend the functions of some means of production and prevent them for a shorter or longer time from serving as means of production.

The principal work of destruction would show its most dire effects in a slaughtering of the values of capitals. That portion of the value of capital which exists only in the form of claims on future shares of surplus-value of profit, which consists in fact of creditor's notes on production in its various forms, would be immediately depreciated by the reduction of the receipts on which it is calculated. One portion of the gold and silver money is rendered unproductive, cannot serve as capital. One portion of the commodities on the market can complete its process of circulation and reproduction only by means of an immense contraction of its prices, which means a depreciation of the capital represented by it. In the same way the elements of fixed capital are more or less depreciated. Then there is the added complication that the process of reproduction is based on definite assumptions as to prices, so that a general fall in prices checks and disturbs the process of reproduction. This interference and stagnation paralyses the function of money as a medium of payment, which is conditioned on the development of capital and the resulting price relations. The chain of payments due at certain times is broken in a hundred places, and the disaster is intensified by the collapse of the credit-system. Thus violent and acute crises are brought about, sudden and forcible depreciations, an actual stagnation and collapse of the process of reproduction, and finally a real falling off in reproduction.

At the same time still other agencies would have been at work. The stagnation of production would have laid off a part of the laboring class and thereby placed the employed part in a condition, in which they would have to submit to a reduction of wages, even below the average. This operation has the same effect on capital as though the relative or absolute surplus-value had been increased at average wages. The time Edition: current; Page: [299] of prosperity would have promoted marriages among the laborers and reduced the decimation of the offspring. These circumstances, while implying a real increase in population, do not signify an increase in the actual working population, but they nevertheless affect the relations of the laborers to capital in the same way as though the number of the actually working laborers had increased. On the other hand, the fall in prices and the competitive struggle would have given to every capitalist an impulse to raise the individual value of his total product above its average value by means of new machines, new and improved working methods, new combinations, which means, to increase the productive power of a certain quantity of labor, to lower the proportion of the variable to the constant capital, and thereby to release some laborers, in short, to create an artificial over-population. The depreciation of the elements of constant capital itself would be another factor tending to raise the rate of profit. The mass of the employed constant capital, compared to the variable, would have increased, but the value of this mass might have fallen. The present stagnation of production would have prepared an expansion of production later on, within capitalistic limits.

And in this way the cycle would be run once more. One portion of the capital which had been depreciated by the stagnation of its function would recover its old value. For the rest, the same vicious circle would be described once more under expanded conditions of production, in an expanded market, and with increased productive forces.

However, even under the extreme conditions assumed by us this absolute overproduction of capital would not be an absolute overproduction in the sense that it would be an absolute overproduction of means of production. It would be an overproduction of means of production only to the extent that they serve as capital, so that the increased value of its increased mass would also imply a utilisation for the production of more value.

Yet it would be an overproduction, because capital would be unable to exploit labor to a degree required by the "healthy, normal" development of the process of capitalist production, Edition: current; Page: [300] a degree of exploitation, which would increase at least the mass of profit to the extent that the mass of the employed capital would grow; which would therefore exclude any possibility of the rate of profit falling to the same extent that capital grows, or of the rate of profits falling even more rapidly than capital grows.

Overproduction of capital never signifies anything else but overproduction of means of production—means of production and necessities of life—which may serve as capital, that is, serve for the exploitation of labor at a given degree of exploitation; for a fall in the intensity of exploitation below a certain point calls forth disturbances and stagnations in the process of capitalist production, crises, destruction of capital. It is no contradiction that this overproduction of capital is accompanied by a more or less considerable relative over-population. The same circumstances, which have increased the productive power of labor, augmented the mass of produced commodities, expanded the markets, accelerated the accumulation of capital both as concerns its mass and its value, and lowered the rate of profit, these same circumstances have also created a relative over-population, and continue to create it all the time, an over-population of laborers who are not employed by the surplus-capital on account of the low degree of exploitation at which they might be employed, or at least on account of the low rate of profit, which they would yield with the given rate of exploitation.

If capital is sent to foreign countries, it is not done, because there is absolutely no employment to be had for it at home. It is done, because it can be employed at a higher rate of profit in a foreign country. But such capital is absolute surplus-capital for the employed laboring population and for the home country in general. It exists as such together with the relative over-population, and this is an illustration of the way in which both of them exist side by side and are conditioned on one another.

On the other hand, the fall in the rate of profit connected with accumulation necessarily creates a competitive struggle. The compensation of the fall in the rate of profit by a rise in Edition: current; Page: [301] the mass of profit applies only to the total social capital and to the great capitalists who are firmly installed. The new additional capital, which enters upon its functions, does not enjoy any such compensating conditions. It must conquer them for itself, and so the fall in the rate of profit calls forth the competitive struggle among capitalists, not vice versa. This competitive struggle is indeed accompanied by a transient rise in wages and a resulting further fall of the rate of profit for a short time. The same thing is seen in the over-production of commodities, the overstocking of markets. Since the aim of capital is not to minister to certain wants, but to produce profits, and since it accomplishes this purpose by methods which adapt the mass of production to the scale of production, not vice versa, conflict must continually ensue between the limited conditions of consumption on a capitalist basis and a production which forever tends to exceed its immanent barriers. Moreover, capital consists of commodities, and therefore the overproduction of capital implies an overproduction of commodities. Hence we meet with the peculiar phenomenon that the same economists, who deny the overproduction of commodities, admit that of capital. If it is said that there is no general overproduction, but that a disproportion grows up between various lines of production, then this is tantamount to saying that within capitalist production the proportionality of the individual lines of production is brought about through a continual process of disproportionality, that is, the interrelations of production as a whole enforce themselves as a blind law upon the agents of production instead of having brought the productive process under their common control as a law understood by the social mind. It amounts furthermore to demanding that countries, in which capitalist production is not yet developed, should consume and produce at the same rate as that adapted to countries with capitalist production. If it is said that overproduction is only relative, then the statement is correct; but the entire mode of production is only a relative one, whose barriers are not absolute, but have absoluteness only in so far as it is capitalistic. Otherwise, how could there be a lack of demand for the very Edition: current; Page: [302] commodities which the mass of the people want, and how would it be possible that this demand must be sought in foreign countries, in foreign markets, in order that the laborers at home might receive in payment the average amount of necessities of life? This is possible only because in this specific capitalist interrelation the surplus-product assumes a form, in which its owner cannot offer it for consumption, unless it first reconverts itself into capital for him. Finally, if it is said that the capitalists would only have to exchange and consume those commodities among themselves, then the nature of the capitalist mode of production is forgotten, it is forgotten, that the question is merely one of expanding the value of the capital, not of consuming it. In short, all these objections to the obvious phenomena of overproduction (phenomena which do not pay any attention to these objections) amounts to this, that the barriers of capitalist production are not absolute barriers of production itself and therefore no barriers of this specific, capitalistic, production. But the contradiction of this capitalist mode of production consists precisely in its tendency to an absolute development of productive forces, a development, which comes continually in conflict with the specific conditions of production in which capital moves and alone can move.

It is not a fact that too many necessities of life are produced in proportion to the existing population. The reverse is true. Not enough is produced to satisfy the wants of the great mass decently and humanely.

It is not a fact that too many means of production are produced to employ the able bodied portion of the population. The reverse is the case. In the first place, too large a portion of the population is produced consisting of people who are really not capable of working, who are dependent through force of circumstances on the exploitation of the labor of others, or compelled to perform certain kinds of labor which can be dignified with this name only under a miserable mode of production. In the second place, not enough means of production are produced to permit the employment of the entire able bodied population under the most productive conditions, Edition: current; Page: [303] so that their absolute labor time would be shortened by the mass and effectiveness of the constant capital employed during working hours.

On the other hand, there is periodically a production of too many means of production and necessities of life to permit of their serving as means for the exploitation of the laborers at a certain rate of profit. Too many commodities are produced to permit of a realisation of the value and surplus-value contained in them under the conditions of distribution and consumption peculiar to capitalist production, that is, too many to permit of the continuation of this process without ever recurring explosions.

It is not a fact that too much wealth is produced. But it is true that there is periodical overproduction of wealth in its capitalistic and self-contradictory form.

The barrier of the capitalist mode of production becomes apparent:

1) In the fact that the development of the productive power of labor creates in the falling rate of profit a law which turns into an antagonism of this mode of production at a certain point and requires for its defeat periodical crises.
2) In the fact that the expansion or contraction of production is determined by the appropriation of unpaid labor, and by the proportion of this unpaid labor to materialised labor in general, or, to speak the language of the capitalists, is determined by profit and by the proportion of this profit to the employed capital, by a definite rate of profit, instead of being determined by the relations of production to social wants to the wants of socially developed human beings. The capitalist mode of production, for this reason, meets with barriers at a certain scale of production which would be inadequate under different conditions. It comes to a standstill at a point determined by the production and realisation of profit, not by the satisfaction of social needs.

If the rate of profit falls, there follows on one hand an exertion of capital, in order that the capitalist may be enabled to depress the individual value of his commodities below the social average level and thereby realise an extra profit at the Edition: current; Page: [304] prevailing market prices. On the other hand, there follows swindle and a general promotion of swindle by frenzied attempts at new methods of production, new investments of capital, new adventures, for the sake of securing some shred of extra profit, which shall be independent of the general average and above it.

The rate of profit, that is, the relative increment of capital, is above all important for all new offshoots of capital seeking an independent location. And as soon as the formation of capital were to fall into the hands of a few established great capitals, which are compensated by the mass of profits for the loss through a fall in the rate of profits, the vital fire of production would be extinguished. It would fall into a dormant state. The rate of profit is the compelling power of capitalist production, and only such things are produced as yield a profit. Hence the fright of the English economists over the decline of the rate of profit. That the bare possibility of such a thing should worry Ricardo, shows his profound understanding of the conditions of capitalist production. The reproach moved against him, that he has an eye only to the development of the productive forces regardless of "human beings," regardless of the sacrifices in human beings and capital values incurred, strikes precisely his strong point. The development of the productive forces of social labor is the historical task and privilege of capital. It is precisely in this way that it unconsciously creates the material requirements of a higher mode of production. What worries Ricardo is the fact that the rate of profit, the stimulating principle of capitalist production, the fundamental premise and driving force of accumulation, should be endangered by the development of production itself. And the quantitative proportion means everything here. There is indeed something deeper than this hidden at this point, which he vaguely feels. It is here demonstrated in a purely economic way, that is, from a bourgeois point of view, within the confines of capitalist understanding, from the standpoint of capitalist production itself, that it has a barrier, that it is relative, that it is not an absolute, but only a historical mode of production Edition: current; Page: [305] corresponding to a definite and limited epoch in the development of the material conditions of production.

IV. Supplementary Remarks.

Seeing that the development of the productive power of labor proceeds very disproportionately in the various lines of industry, not only in degree, but also in at times in opposite directions, it follows that the mass of the average profit (= surplus-value) must be considerably below that level, which one would naturally assume according to the development of the productive forces in the most advanced lines of industry. The fact that the development of the productive forces in different lines of industry proceeds in considerably different rates, or even in opposite directions, is not due merely to the anarchy of competition and the peculiarity of the bourgeois mode of production. The productivity of labor is also conditioned on natural premises, which frequently become less productive to the extent that productivity, so far as it depends on social conditions, increases. This leads to opposite movements in these different spheres, progress here, retrogression there. Consider, for instance, the mere influence of the seasons, on which the greater part of the raw materials depends for its mass, the exhaustion of forests, coal and iron mines, etc.

While the circulating part of constant capital, such as raw material, etc., continually increases in mass to the extent that the productivity of labor grows, it is not so with the fixed capital, such as buildings, machinery, apparatus for lighting, heating, etc. Although a machine becomes absolutely dearer with the growth of its bodily mass, it becomes relatively cheaper. If five laborers produce ten times as many commodities as formerly, this does not increase the outlay for fixed capital tenfold; although the value of this part of the constant capital increases with the development of the productive forces, it does not increase by any means in the same proportion with them. We have frequently pointed out the difference in the proportions of the constant to the variable capital, as it expresses itself in the fall of the rate of profit, Edition: current; Page: [306] and the difference in the same proportions as expressed with the development of the productivity of labor with reference to the individual commodity and its price.

[The value of a commodity is determined by the total labor-time, whether past or living, incorporated in it. The increase in the productivity of labor consists precisely in this that the share of the living labor is reduced while that of the past labor is increased, but in such a way that the total quantity of labor incorporated in that commodity declines, so that the living labor decreases more than the past labor increases. The past labor—the constant part of capital—materialised in the value of a certain commodity consists partly of wear and tear of fixed, partly of circulating constant capital entirely consumed by that commodity, such as raw and auxiliary materials. That portion of value which comes from raw and auxiliary materials must decrease with the productivity of labor, because this productivity seeks expression through these materials by reducing their value. On the other hand, it is precisely characteristic of the rising productivity of labor, that the fixed part of the constant capital is strongly augmented and with it that portion of value which is transferred by wear and tear to the commodities. In order that a new method of production may turn out to be a real increase in productivity, it must transfer in wear and tear a smaller portion of the value of fixed capital than is deducted from it through a saving of living labor, in short, it must reduce the value of the commodity. It must do so as a matter of course, even if an additional value is transferred to the commodity through an increase in the quantity or value of raw and auxiliary materials, as may sometimes happen. All additions of value must be more than compensated by the reduction in value resulting from a decrease in living labor.

This reduction of the total quantity of labor incorporated in a certain commodity seems to be the essential mark of an increase in the productive power of labor, no matter under what sort of social conditions production is carried on. There is no doubt that the productivity of labor would be measured by this standard in a society, in which the producers Edition: current; Page: [307] would regulate their production according to a preconceived plan, or even under a simple production of commodities. But how is this under capitalist production?

Take it, for instance, that a certain line of capitalist industry produces an average normal commodity of its sphere under the following conditions: The wear and tear of fixed capital amounts to ½ shilling per piece; raw and auxiliary materials are transferred into it at the rate of 17½ shillings per piece; in wages, 2 shillings, and surplus-value 2 shillings, the rate of surplus-value being 100%. Total value 22 shillings. We assume for the sake of simplicity that the capital in this line of production has the composition of the average social capital, so that the price of production of the commodities is identical with the value and the profit of the capitalist with the created surplus-value. In that case the cost-price of the commodity is ½ + 17½ + 2 = 20 sh., the average rate of profit 2/20 = 10%, and the price of production of one individual commodity 22 sh., equal to its value.

Now let us assume that a machine is invented, which reduces the living labor required for each individual commodity by one-half, but at the same time trebles that portion of the commodity's value which is due to the wear and tear of fixed capital. In that case, the calculation is modified in this way: Wear and tear 1½ sh., raw and auxiliary materials the same as before, 17½ sh., wages 1 sh., surplus-value 1 sh., together 21 sh. The commodity has then fallen 1 sh. in value: The new machine has certainly increased the productivity of labor. From the point of view of the capitalist, the matter has now the following aspect: His cost-price is now 1½ sh. for wear, 17½ sh. for raw and auxiliary materials, 1 sh. for wages, total 20 sh., as before. Since the rate of profit is not at once altered by the new machine, he will receive 10% more than his cost-price, that is, 2 sh. The price of production, then, remains unaltered at 22 sh., as before, but it is 1 sh. above the value of these commodities. So far as a society producing under capitalist conditions is concerned, the commodity has not become any cheaper, the new machine signifies no improvement. The capitalist is therefore not interested in the Edition: current; Page: [308] introduction of this new machine. And since its introduction would make his present and not yet worn-out machinery simply worthless, would make old iron of it, would mean a positive loss for him, he takes good care not to commit such a utopian mistake.

The law of increased productive power, then, does not apply absolutely to capital. So far as capital is concerned, the productive power is not increased by the enhancement of productive labor in general, but only by saving more in the unpaid portion of living labor than is expended in past labor, as we have already indicated in volume I, chapter XV, 2. Here the capitalist mode of production falls into another contradiction. Its historical mission is the ruthless development in geometrical progression, of the productivity of human labor. It becomes disloyal to its mission, whenever it puts a check upon the development of productivity, as it does here. Thus it demonstrates once again that it is becoming weak with age and more and more outliving its usefulness.]37

Under competition, the increase in the minimum of capital required for the successful operation of an independent industrial establishment in keeping with the increase in productivity assumes the following aspect: As soon as the new and more expensive equipment has become universally established, smaller capitals are henceforth excluded from these enterprises. Smaller capitals can carry on an independent activity in such lines only during the incipient stage of mechanical inventions. On the other hand, very large enterprises, such as railroads, with an extraordinarily high relative proportion of constant capital, do not yield any average rate of profit, but only a portion of it, interest. Otherwise the rate of profit would fall still lower. At the same time, this offers direct employment to large aggregations of capital in the form of stocks.

An increase of capital, or accumulation of capital, does not imply a fall in the rate of profit, unless this growth is accompanied by the aforementioned alterations in the proportions Edition: current; Page: [309] of the organic constituents of capital. Now it so happens that in spite of the continual and daily revolutions in the mode of production, now this, now that, greater or smaller portion of the total capital continues for certain periods to accumulate on the basis of a given average proportion of those constituents, so that its growth does not imply any organic change, and consequently no fall in the rate of profit. This continual expansion of capital, and consequently expansion of production on the basis of the old method of production, which proceeds quietly while the new methods are already developing by its side, is another reason, why the rate of profit does not decrease in the same degree in which the total capital of society grows.

The increase of the absolute number of laborers, in spite of the relative decrease of the variable as compared to the constant capital, does not take place in all lines of production, and not uniformly in those in which it does proceed. In agriculture, the decrease of the element of living labor may be absolute.

By the way, it is but a requirement of the capitalist mode of production that the number of wage workers should increase absolutely, in spite of its relative decrease. Under this mode, labor-powers become superfluous as soon as it is no longer compelled to employ them for 12 to 15 hours per day. A development of the productive forces which would diminish the absolute number of laborers, that is, which would enable the entire nation to accomplish its total production in a shorter time, would cause a revolution, because it would put the majority of the population upon the shelf. In this the specific barrier of capitalist production shows itself once more, proving that capitalist production is not an absolute form for the development of the productive powers and creation of wealth, but rather comes in collision with this development at a certain point. This collision expresses itself partly through periodical crises, which arise from the circumstance that now this, now that, portion of the laboring population is rendered superfluous in its old mode of employment. The barrier of capitalist production is the superfluous time of the laborers. The absolute spare time gained by society does not concern Edition: current; Page: [310] Capitalism. The development of the productive powers concerns it only to the extent that it increases the surplus labor time of the working class, not to the extent that it decreases the labor time for material production in general. Thus capitalist production moves in contradictions.

We have seen that the growing accumulation of capital implies its growing concentration. Thus the power of capital, the personification of the conditions of social production in the capitalist, grows over the heads of the real producers. Capital shows itself more and more as a social power, whose agent the capitalist is, and which stands no longer in any possible relation to the things which the labor of any single individual can create. Capital becomes a strange, independent, social power, which stands opposed to society as a thing, and as the power of capitalists by means of this thing. The contradiction between capital as a general social power and as a power of private capitalists over the social conditions of production develops into an ever more irreconcilable clash, which implies the dissolution of these relations and the elaboration of the conditions of production into universal, common, social conditions. This elaboration is performed by the development of the productive powers under capitalist production, and by the course which this development pursues.

No capitalist voluntarily introduces a new method of production, no matter how much more productive it may be, and how much it may increase the rate of surplus-value, so long as it reduces the rate of profit. But every new method of production of this sort cheapens the commodities. Hence the capitalist sells them originally above their prices of production, or, perhaps, above their value. He pockets the difference, which exists between these prices of production and the market-prices of the other commodities produced at higher prices of production. He can do this, because the average labor time required socially for the production of these other commodities is higher than the labor time required under the new methods of production. His method of production is above the social average. But competition generalises it and subjects it to the Edition: current; Page: [311] general law. Then follows a fall in the rate of profit—perhaps first in this sphere of production, which gradually brings the others to its level—which is, therefore, wholly independent of the will of the capitalist.

It must be noted here, that this same law rules also those spheres of production, whose product passes neither directly nor indirectly into the consumption of the laborers or into the conditions under which their necessities are produced; it applies, therefore, also to those spheres of production, in which no cheapening of commodities can increase the relative surplus-value or cheapen labor-power. (It is true that a cheapening of constant capital may increase the rate of profit in all these lines while the exploitation of the laborer remains the same.) As soon as the new mode of production begins to expand, and thereby to furnish the tangible proof that these commodities can actually be produced more cheaply, the capitalists working under the old methods of production must sell their product below their full prices of production, because the value of these commodities has fallen, because the labor time required by these capitalists for the production of these commodities is longer than the social average. In one word—this appears as the effect of competition—these capitalists are compelled to introduce the new method of production, under which the proportion of the variable to the constant capital has been reduced.

All circumstances, which bring about the cheapening of commodities by the employment of improved machinery amount in the last analysis to a reduction of the quantity of labor absorbed by the individual commodities; in the second place, to a reduction of the wear and tear portion of machinery transferred to the value of the individual commodity. To the extent that the wear and tear of machinery is less rapid, it is distributed over more commodities and displaces more living labor during its period of reproduction. In both cases the quantity and value of the fixed constant capital are increased over those of the variable capital.

"All other things being equal, the power of a nation to save from its profits varies with the rate of profits, is great Edition: current; Page: [312] when they are high, less, when low; but as the rate of profit declines, all other things do not remain equal....A low rate of profit is ordinarily accompanied by a rapid rate of accumulation, relatively to the numbers of the people, as in England...a high rate of profit by a slower rate of accumulation, relatively to the numbers of the people." Examples: Poland, Russia, India, etc. (Richard Jones, An Introductory Lecture on Political Economy, London, 1833, p. 50ff.) Jones emphasises correctly that in spite of the falling rate of profit the inducements and faculties to accumulate are augmented; first, on account of the growing relative overpopulation; secondly, because the growing productivity of labor is accompanied by an increase in the mass of use-values produced by the same exchange value, that is, an increase in the material elements of capital, thirdly, because the lines of production become more varied; fourthly, because the credit system, lock companies, etc., are developed, and with them the facility of converting money into capital without becoming an industrial capitalist; fifthly, because the wants and the greed for wealth increase; sixthly, because the mass of investments in fixed capital grows; etc.

The following three principal facts of capitalist production must be kept in mind:

1) Concentration of means of production in a few hands, whereby they cease to appear as the property of the immediate laborers and transform themselves into social powers of production. It is true, they first become the private property of capitalists. These are the trustees of bourgeois society, but they pocket the proceeds of their trusteeship.
2) Organisation of labor itself into social labor, by social co-operation, division of labor, and combination of labor with natural sciences.
In both directions, the capitalist mode of production abolishes private property and private labor, even though it does so in contradictory forms.
3) Creation of the world market.

The stupendous productive power developing under the capitalist Edition: current; Page: [313] mode of production relatively to population, and the increase, though not in the same proportion, of capital values (not their material substance), which grow much more rapidly than the population, contradict the basis, which, compared to the expanding wealth, is ever narrowing and for which this immense productive power works, and the conditions, under which capital augments its value. This is the cause of crises.

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PART IV.: TRANSFORMATION OF COMMODITY-CAPITAL AND MONEY-CAPITAL INTO COMMERCIAL CAPITAL AND FINANCIAL CAPITAL (MERCHANT'S CAPITAL).

CHAPTER XVI.: COMMERCIAL CAPITAL.

MERCHANT'S capital, or trading capital, consists of two subdivisions, namely commercial capital and financial capital, which we shall now proceed to define more in detail, so far as is necessary for the analysis of capital in its innermost structure. This is so much the more needed, as modern political economy, even in its best representatives, indiscriminately mixes trading capital with industrial capital and wholly over looks the characteristic peculiarities of the former.

The movements of commodity-capital have been analysed in volume II. The total capital of society exists always in part in commodities on the market about to be converted into money, and this part is naturally made up of ever changing elements and is continually changing in quantity. Another part exists as money on the market, ready to be converted into commodities. These portions of the total capital are perpetually passing through these metamorphoses. To the extent that this function of capital in the process of circulation becomes a special function of independent capital and becomes an established service assigned by division of labor to some particular species of capitalists, the commodity-capital becomes commercial or financial capital.

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In volume II, chapter VI, under the head of cost of circulation, 2 and 3, we have explained to what extent the transportation industry, the storage and distribution of commodities in a distributable form, may be regarded as processes of production continuing within the process of circulation. These incidents in the circulation of commodity-capital are sometimes confounded with the peculiar functions of commercial or financial capital. It is true that the peculiar functions of these last-named forms of capital are sometimes practically combined with those incidental ones, but with the advancing development of social division of labor the functions of merchant's capital evolve into a distinct type and are separated from those real functions connected with those incidents in circulation. For our present purpose, which is to define the specific difference of this special form of capital, we must leave aside those other functions as irrelevant. So far as capital employed only in the process of circulation, such as commercial capital, combines at times those other functions with its specific ones, it does not appear in its typical form. We do not get its pure type, until we strip it of all incidental functions.

We have seen that the existence of capital in the shape of commodity-capital and the metamorphoses through which it passes within the sphere of circulation in its capacity as commodity-capital on the market—a series of metamorphoses expressed by buying and selling, conversion of commodity-capital into money-capital and money-capital into commodity-capital—form a phase in the process of reproduction of industrial capital, that is, a phase in its process of production as a whole. But we have also seen at the same time that it is distinguished in its function as capital of circulation from its function as productive capital. These are two different and separate forms of existence of the same capital. One portion of the total social capital is continually on the market in the form of capital of circulation, passing through those metamorphoses. For each individual capital, however, its existence as commodity-capital, and its metamorphoses in this form, represent merely ever vanishing and ever renewed points Edition: current; Page: [316] of transition, stages of transition in the continuity of its process of production. And the elements of commodity-capital on the market vary continually, being perpetually withdrawn from the market and just as perpetually returned to it as new products of the process of production.

Commercial capital is nothing else but a changed form of a portion of this capital of circulation, which exists continually on the market in the process of its metamorphoses within the sphere of circulation. We say explicitly, a portion, because a portion of the selling and buying of commodities takes place between the industrial capitalists themselves. We leave this portion entirely out of consideration in this analysis, because it contributes nothing to the definition of the concept, or to the understanding of the specific nature, of merchant's capital. Moreover, it has been exhaustively treated in volume II.

The dealer in commodities, as a capitalist, appears first on the market as the representative of a certain sum of money, which he advances in his capacity as a capitalist. He desires to transform this sum of money from its original value x into x + 8x, that is, the original sum plus his profit. But it is evident that his capital must first enter the market in the shape of money, not only on account of his capacity as a capitalist in general, but also as a trader in commodities in particular. For he does not produce any commodities. He merely trades in them, he acts as middleman in their movements, and in order to be able to trade in them, he must first buy them, must be the owner of money-capital.

Take it that a trader in commodities owns 3,000 p.st., which he invests as a trading capital. He buys with these 3,000 p.st., say, 30,000 yards of linen from some linen manufacturer, at 2 sh. per yard. Then he sells his 30,000 yards. If the annual average rate of profit is 10%, and if he makes a profit of 10% after deducting all incidental expenses, then he has converted his 3,000 p.st. into 3,300 p.st. at the end of one year. How he makes this profit is a question which we shall discuss later. At this place we merely intend to observe the form, which the movements of his capital take. He continually Edition: current; Page: [317] buys with his 3,000 p.st. linen and sells this linen; he continually repeats this operation of buying for the purpose of selling, M—C—M', the simple form of capital confined entirely to the sphere of circulation and not interrupted by the intervention of the process of production, which lies outside of its own movement and function.

What, then, is the relation of this commercial capital to the commodity-capital representing a mere passing phase of industrial capital? So far as the linen manufacturer is concerned, he has realised the value of his linen with the money of the merchant. He has thereby completed the first phase in the metamorphosis of commodity-capital, its conversion into money, and he can now, provided that circumstances remain the same, proceed to reconvert this money into yarn, coal, wages, etc., or into means of existence, etc., for the consumption of his revenue. Leaving aside the spending of his revenue, he can continue his process of production.

But while the sale of the linen, its metamorphosis into money, has taken place so far as its direct producer is concerned, it has not yet taken place so far as the linen itself is concerned. It is still on the market as a commodity-capital and awaits the completion of its first metamorphosis, awaits its sale. Nothing has happened to this linen but a change in the person of its owner. From the point of view of its own destination, of its position in the process, it is still a commodity-capital, a saleable commodity; only, it is now in the hands of the merchant instead of those of the manufacturer. The function of selling it, of serving as an agent in the first phase of its metamorphosis, has been transferred from the manufacturer to the merchant, has been converted into the particular business of the merchant, while it used to be a function, which the producer had to perform after completing the process of its production.

Now let us assume that the merchant would not succeed in disposing of those 30,000 yards of linen during the interval, which the linen manufacturer requires for the production of another lot of 30,000 yards and its marketing at 3,000 p.st. In that case, the merchant cannot buy this new lot, because Edition: current; Page: [318] he still has the old stock of 30,000 yards on hand, which he has not yet reconverted into money-capital. A stagnation then ensues, an interruption of reproduction. Of course, the linen manufacturer might have some additional money-capital in reserve, which he might convert into productive capital independently of the sale of those 30,000 yards of linen, in order to continue his process of production. But this assumption would not alter the matter. So far as the capital tied up in the 30,000 yards of linen is concerned, its process of reproduction is and remains interrupted. Here we see indeed very clearly, that the operations of the merchant are really nothing but operations which must be performed under all circumstances in order to convert the commodity-capital of the producer into money-capital, operations, which promote the functions of the commodity-capital in the process of circulation and reproduction. If a clerk of the producer were to attend exclusively to the sale, and also with the purchase, instead of an independent merchant, this connection would not be obscured for a moment.

Commercial capital, then, is nothing but the commodity-capital of the producer, which has to pass through its transformation into money and to perform its function of commodity-capital on the market. The difference is only that this incidental function of the producer is now established as the exclusive business of a special kind of capitalists, of merchants, and becomes the independent business of a special investment of capital.

This is furthermore shown in the specific form of the circulation of commercial capital. The merchant buys a commodity and then sells it: M—C—M'. In the simple circulation of commodities, or even in the circulation of commodities as it appears when a process of circulation of industrial capital, C'—M—C, circulation is promoted by the circumstance that every piece of money changes hands twice. The linen manufacturer sells his commodity, the linen, converts it into money; the money of the buyer passes into his hands. With this money he buys yarn, coal, labor, etc., he spends the same money for the purpose of reconverting the value of linen Edition: current; Page: [319] into those commodities which form the elements of production of linen. The commodity which he buys is not the same kind of commodity which he sells. He has sold products and bought means of production. But it is different with the movements of commercial capital. With his 3,000 p.st., the linen merchant buys 30,000 yards of linen. He sells the same linen for the purpose of recovering his money-capital (increased by profits) from the circulation. It is not the same pieces of money which here change places twice, but the same commodities; the linen passes from the seller into the hands of the buyer, and from the hands of the buyer, who becomes a seller, into those of another buyer. It is sold twice, and it may be sold still oftener, if a series of other merchants intervenes. And it is precisely through this repeated sale, this twofold change of place of the same commodity, that the money advanced by its first buyer for its purchase is recovered, its reflux to him promoted. In the case of C'—M—C the twofold change of place of the same money assists in the sale of one form of commodities and the purchase of another form. In the other case, M—C—M', the twofold change of place of the same commodity assists in the recovery of the advanced money from the circulation. This shows that the commodity has not been definitely sold, when it has passed from the hands of the producer into those of the merchant, and that the latter merely continues the operation of selling—or promotes the functions of commodity-capital. But it shows at the same time that the operation C—M, which represents for the productive capitalist a mere function of his capital in its transient form of commodity-capital, constitutes for the merchant the movement M—C—M', that is, a specific utilisation of his advanced money-capital. A phase in the metamorphosis of commodities here shows itself, with reference to the merchant, in the form of M—C—M', that is, as the evolution of a separate kind of capital.

The merchant sells his commodity, in this case the linen, definitely to the consumer, whether it be a productive consumer (for instance, a bleacher), or an individual consumer who uses the linen for his private needs. By this means the Edition: current; Page: [320] merchant recovers his advanced capital (with a profit), and he can then repeat his operation. If the money had served merely as a means of payment, when the merchant bought the linen from the manufacturer, for instance, if the merchant would not have had to make payment until after six weeks, he might be able to pay the manufacturer without even advancing any money-capital of his own. But if he should not have sold the goods at the end of six weeks, he would have to advance his 3,000 p.st. on the date of the expiration, instead of advancing them on delivery of the linen. And if a fall in the market-price should have compelled him to sell below his purchase price, he would have to make good the loss out of his own capital.

Now, what is it that lends to commercial capital the character of an independently operating capital, while in the hands of the producer who does his own selling, it is obviously merely a special form of his capital in some particular phase of his process of reproduction, during its sojourn in the sphere of circulation?

1) It is, in the first place, the fact that the commodity-capital completes its definite conversion into money, its first metamorphosis, its function on the market in its capacity as commodity-capital, in the hands of another agent than the producer, and that this function of commodity-capital is promoted by the operations of the merchant, by his buying and selling, so that these transactions constitute themselves into a separate and independent business distinct from the other functions of industrial capital. Through it a portion of a function, which used to be performed in circulation as a special phase of the process of reproduction, is molded into the exclusive function of an independent agent of the circulation distinct from the producer. But this alone would not be enough to give to this special business the aspect of a function of an independent capital distinct from the industrial capital in process of self-expansion. In fact, it does not assume this aspect in cases where the trade in commodities is carried on by traveling agents, or by other direct agents of the industrial capitalist. Edition: current; Page: [321] Another element is necessary to complete its special character.

2) This second element is introduced by the fact that the independent agent of circulation, the merchant, advances money-capital (his own or borrowed) in this position. The transaction which amounts for the industrial capital in process of reproduction merely to C—M, to a conversion of commodity-capital into money-capital, to a mere sale, assumes for the merchant the form M—C—M', purchase and sale of the same commodity, and thus to a reflux, by means of a sale, of the money-capital expended in a purchase.

It is always C—M, the conversion of commodity-capital into money, which assumes for the merchant the form of M—C—M, whenever he advances money for the purchase of commodities from their producers; it is always the first metamorphosis of commodity-capital, although the same transaction may amount for a producer, or for industrial capital in process of reproduction, to M—C, a reconversion of money into commodities (means of production), the second phase of this metamorphosis. For the linen producer, the first metamorphosis was C—M, the conversion of commodity-capital into money-capital. This transaction amounts for the merchant to M—C, the conversion of his money-capital into commodity-capital. Now, if he sells this linen to a bleacher, it means M—C, conversion of money-capital into productive capital, for the bleacher, which represents the second metamorphosis of his commodity-capital; while it means C—M, the sale of the linen, for the merchant. Actually the commodity-capital manufactured by the producer has now been definitely sold. This transaction, M—C—M, on the part of the merchant represents but the action of a middleman for the transaction C—M between two producers. Or let us assume, that the linen manufacturer buys with a portion of the value of the sold linen some yarn from a yarn dealer. This is M—C for him. For the merchant selling the yarn it is C—M, resale of the yarn. So far as the yarn itself is concerned, in its capacity of commodity-capital, it amounts to Edition: current; Page: [322] its definite sale, its transition from the sphere of circulation into the sphere of production by means of C—M, the definite conclusion of its first metamorphosis. Whether the merchant buys from the industrial capitalist, or sells to him, the circulation of his merchant's capital, M—C—M, always expresses but the same thing, which constitutes, from the point of view of the commodity-capital itself, a form of transition of the industrial capital in process of reproduction, C—M, the mere completion of its first metamorphosis. The M—C of the merchant's capital amounts only for the industrial capitalist to C—M, but not for the commodity-capital produced by him. It is but the transfer of the commodity-capital from the hands of the industrial capitalist to those of the agent of circulation; Not until the merchant's capital closes the transaction C—M does commodity-capital as such perform its final C—M. M—C—M amounts merely to two times C—M on the part of the same commodity-capital, two successive sales of it, which promote its last and final sale.

It is evident, then, that commodity-capital assumes in commercial capital the form of an independent class of capital through the fact that the merchant advances money-capital. This money-capital serves its purpose as capital only by attending exclusively to the conversion of commodity-capital into money-capital, and it accomplishes this by the continual purchase and sale of commodities. This is its exclusive work. This promotion of the process of circulation of industrial capital is the exclusive function of the money-capital with which the merchant operates. By means of this function he converts his money into money-capital, molds his M into M—C—M', and by the same process he converts commodity-capital into commercial capital.

So long and so far as commercial capital exists in the form of commodity-capital, from the point of view of the process of reproduction of the total social capital, it is obviously nothing else but that portion of the industrial capital in process of metamorphosis, which is still on the market and serves as commodity-capital. It is therefore only the money-capital advanced by the merchant, which is exclusively destined for Edition: current; Page: [323] purchase and sale and for this reason never assumes any other form but that of commodity-capital and money-capital, always remaining confined to the sphere of circulation. It is only this money-capital which is now to be analysed with reference to the entire process of reproduction of capital.

As soon as the producer, the linen manufacturer has sold his 30,000 yards of linen to the merchant for 3,000 p.st., he buys with the money so obtained the necessary means of production, and his capital re-enters the process of production; his process of production continues without interruption. So far as he is concerned, the conversion of his commodity into money has been accomplished. But we have already seen that the linen itself has not yet closed its metamorphosis. It has not yet been definitely reconverted into money, it has not yet passed as a use-value into productive or individual consumption. The linen merchant now represents on the market the same commodity-capital, which the linen manufacturer represented originally. So far as the manufacturer is concerned, the process of transformation has been abbreviated, but only to be continued through the hand of the merchant.

If the linen producer had to wait, until his linen had really ceased being a commodity, until it had actually passed into the hands of its final purchaser for productive or individual consumption, his process of reproduction would be interrupted. Or, if he did not wish to interrupt it, he would have had to restrict his operations, to transform a smaller portion of the value of his linen into yarn, coal, labor, etc., in short, into the elements of productive capital, and to hold back a larger portion of it as a money-reserve. While one portion of his capital would then be on the market in the shape of commodities, another would be enabled to continue in the process of production. In this way, one portion would return in the shape of money, while another would be going to market in the form of commodities. This division of capital of the individual producer is not abolished by the intervention of the merchant. But without it that portion of the capital of circulation which is held as a money reserve would have to be always greater in proportion than the portion employed Edition: current; Page: [324] as productive capital, and the scale of production would have to be restricted accordingly. Instead of that, the producer is now enabled to employ a larger portion of his capital continually in the process of production itself, and a smaller portion as a money reserve.

This is offset on the other hand by the fact that another portion of the social capital, in the shape of merchant's capital, is held continually within the sphere of circulation. It is employed for no other purpose but that of buying and selling. There seems then to have been no other change but that of the persons who hold this capital in their hands.

If the merchant, instead of buying 3,000 p.st.'s worth of linen with the intention of selling it again, were to employ these 3,000 p.st. productively himself, then the productive capital of society would be increased. It is true, that the linen producer would then have to hold back a larger portion of his capital as a money reserve, and likewise the merchant who has now been transformed into an industrial capitalist. On the other hand, if the merchant were to remain a merchant the producer would save time in selling which he could employ for the supervision of the process of production, while the merchant would have to devote his whole time to selling.

If the merchant's capital does not exceed its necessary proportions, it may be assumed

1) that as a result of division of labor, the capital devoted exclusively to buying and selling (and this includes not only the money required for the purchase of commodities, but also the money which must be invested in the labor required for running the business of the merchant, in the constant capital of the merchant, store rooms, transportation, etc.) is smaller than it would be, if the industrial capitalist had to carry on the entire commercial part of his business himself;

2) that the exclusive occupation of the merchant with this business enables the producer to convert his commodities more rapidly into money, and permits the commodity-capital itself to pass more quickly through its metamorphosis, than it would in the hands of the producer;

3) that looking upon the entire merchant's capital in proportion Edition: current; Page: [325] to the industrial capital, one turn-over of the merchant's capital may represent not only the turn-overs of many capitals in one sphere of production, but the turn-overs of a numbers of capitals in different spheres of production. The first is the case when the linen merchant, after buying with his 3,000 p.st. the product of some linen producer, sells it before the same producer can bring another lot of the same quantity to market, so that the linen merchant has to buy the product of another, or several other, linen manufacturers. When he sells this, he promotes the turn-overs of different capitals in the same sphere of production. The second is the case, if the merchant, after selling his linen, buys, for instance, some silk. In this way he promotes the turn-overs of capitals in different spheres.

In general it may be noted that the turn-over of the industrial capital is not limited merely by the time of circulation, but also by the time of production. The turn-over of merchant's capital, so far as it deals in one sort of commodities, is limited, not merely by the turn-over of one industrial capital, but by the turn-overs of all industrial capitals in the same line of production. After the merchant has bought and sold the linen of one producer, he can buy and sell that of another, before the first can bring another lot of his product on the market. The same merchant's capital may, therefore, promote successively the different turn-overs of the industrial capitals invested in a certain line of production. Its turn-over is therefore not identified with the turn-overs of one sole industrial capital, but with the turn-overs of many, and it does not take the place of but one money reserve, which one single industrial capitalist would have to hold back. The turn-over of the merchant's capital in one sphere of production is naturally determined by the total production of that sphere. But it is not determined by the limits of production or the time of turn-over of any single capital of the same sphere, so far as its time of turn-over is determined by its time of production. For instance, let us assume that A supplies a commodity, which requires three months for its production. After the merchant has bought and sold it, say, in one month, Edition: current; Page: [326] he can buy and sell the same product of some other producer. Or, after he has sold, say, the corn of some farmer, he can buy with the same money that of another and another, etc. The turn-over of his capital is limited by the mass of corn, which he can buy successively in a certain time, for instance, in one year, while the capital of the farmer is limited in its turn-over, aside from the time of circulation, by the time of production, which lasts one year.

However, the turn-over of the same merchant's capital may promote equally well the turn-overs of capitals in different lines of production.

To the extent that the same merchant's capital serves in different turn-overs to transform different commodity-capitals successively into money, buying and selling them one after another, it performs in its capacity as money-capital the same function with regard to the commodity-capital, which money in general performs by means of its turn-overs within a certain period with regard to commodities.

The turn-over of merchant's capital is not identical with the turn-over or with one single reproduction of one industrial capital of the same size; it is rather equal to the sum of the turn-overs of a number of such capitals, either in the same, or in different spheres of production. The quicker merchant's capital is turned over, the smaller is that portion of the total money-capital, which serves as merchant's capital; the slower it is turned over, the larger is that same portion. The more undeveloped production is, the larger is the sum of merchant's capital as compared to the sum of the commodities thrown into circulation; but so much smaller is it absolutely, or compared with more developed conditions. Vice versa, the opposite holds good. In such undeveloped conditions the greater part of the strict money-capital is in the hands of the merchants, whose wealth constitutes the money wealth as compared to the wealth of others.

The velocity of the circulation of the money-capital advanced by the merchant depends: 1) on the velocity with which the process of production is renewed and the different Edition: current; Page: [327] processes of production are linked together; 2) on the velocity of consumption.

It is not necessary that merchant's capital should pass merely through the above mentioned turn-over, by first buying commodities to its full amount and then selling them. The merchant may make both movements at the same time. His capital is then divided into two parts. One of them consists of commodity-capital, the other of money-capital. Here he buys and converts his money into commodities. There he sells and converts another part of his commodity-capital into money. On one side, his capital returns in the shape of money-capital, on the other it returns in the shape of commodity-capital. The larger the portion assuming one shape, the smaller the portion assuming another. This alternates and balances itself. If money is not employed merely as a medium of circulation, but also as a means of payment and in conjunction with the credit system, which develops along with it, then the money portion of the merchant's capital is reduced still more in proportion to the volume of the transactions promoted by the merchant's capital. If I buy 1,000 p.st.'s worth of wine on three months' credit, and sell all the wine for cash before the expiration of the three months, then I do not need to advance one penny for these transactions. In this case it is quite obvious that the money-capital, which here serves as merchant's capital, is nothing but industrial capital itself in the shape of money-capital, in process of reflux to itself in the shape of money. (The fact that the producer who sold 1,000 p.st.'s worth of wine on three months' credit may discount his note, which is a certificate of indebtedness of the buyer, at some bank does not alter the matter and has nothing to do with the capital of the merchant.) If market-prices should fall in the mean time by 1/10, the merchant would not only make no profit, but would recover only 2,700 p.st. instead of 3,000 p.st. He would then have to put up 300 p.st. out of his own pocket. These 300 p.st. serve merely as a reserve for balancing the difference in price. But the same applies to the producer. If he had sold at falling prices, he Edition: current; Page: [328] would likewise have lost 300 p.st., and could not begin production on the same scale without reserve capital.

The linen merchant buys 3,000 p.st.'s worth of linen from the manufacturer. The manufacturer uses 2,000 p.st. of the 3,000 to buy yarn. He buys this yarn from a yarn dealer. The money with which the manufacturer pays the yarn dealer does not belong to the linen dealer. For the latter has received commodities to this amount. It is the money-form of the manufacturer's own capital. In the hands of the yarn dealer these 2,000 p.st. now appear as returned money-capital. But to what extent are they so, in what respect do they differ from the 2,000 p.st. representing the discarded money-form of the linen and the assumed money-form of the yarn? If the yarn dealer bought on credit and sold for cash before the expiration of his time, then these 2,000 p.st. do not contain one penny of merchant's capital as distinguished from the money-form, which the industrial capital itself assumes in the course of its circulation. The commercial capital then, so far as it is not a mere form of industrial capital, held in the hands of the merchant in the shape of commodity-capital or money-capital, is nothing but that portion of the money-capital which belongs to the merchant himself and is circulated by the purchase and sale of commodities. This portion represents on a reduced scale that part of the capital advanced for production, which must always be in the hands of the industrial as a money reserve, medium of purchase, and which would always have to circulate as money-capital. This portion, in a reduced scale, is now in the hands of capitalist merchants, and performs its functions only in the process of circulation. It is that portion of the total capital which, aside from expenditures of revenue, must continually circulate on the market as a medium of purchase in order to maintain the continuity of the process of reproduction. This portion is so much smaller in comparison to the total capital, the more rapidly the process of reproduction takes place, and the more developed the function of money as a means of payment, that is, of the credit-system.38

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Merchant's capital is simply capital performing its functions in the sphere of circulation. The process of circulation is a phase of the total process of reproduction. But no value is produced in the process of circulation, and, therefore, no surplus-value. Nothing takes place there but changes of form of the same mass of values. In fact, nothing occurs there but the metamorphosis of commodities, and this has nothing to do either with the creation or with the transformation of values. If surplus-value is realised by the sale of the produced commodities, it is only because that surplus-value already existed in them. In the second act, the reconversion of money-capital into commodities (elements of production), the buyer does not realise any surplus-value. He merely inaugurates the production of surplus-value by the exchange of his money for means of production and labor-power. So far as these metamorphoses cost time of circulation—a time, during which capital is not producing at all, least of all surplus-value—they limit the creation of values, and the surplus-value will express itself through the rate of profit precisely in an inverse ratio to the duration of the time of circulation. Merchant's capital, therefore, does not create any value or surplus-value, Edition: current; Page: [330] at least not directly. If it contributes toward shortening the time of circulation, it may help indirectly to increase the surplus-value produced by the industrial capitalists. To the extent that it helps to expand the market and promotes the division of labor between capitals, thereby enabling capital to work on a larger scale, its function enhances the productivity of the industrial capital and the accumulation of this capital. Inasmuch as it may shorten the time of circulation, it raises the ratio of surplus-value to the advanced capital, that is, the rate of profit. And to the extent that it confines a smaller portion of capital in the form of money-capital to the sphere of circulation, it increases that portion of capital which is engaged directly in production.

CHAPTER XVII.: COMMERCIAL PROFIT.

WE have seen in volume II, that the mere functions of capital in the sphere of circulation—the operations which the industrial capitalist must perform, first, in order to realise the value of his commodities, and secondly, in order to reconvert this value into elements of production, operations which promote the metamorphosis of the commodity-capital C'—M—C, the acts of selling and buying—produce neither value nor surplus-value. It was rather seen that the time required for this purpose, objectively so far as the commodities, subjectively so far as the capitalist is concerned, creates barriers to the production of value and surplus-value. What is true of the metamorphosis of commodity-capital in general, is, as a matter of course, not in the least altered by the fact that a part of it may assume the shape of commercial capital, or that the operations, by which the metamorphosis of commodity-capital is promoted, may become the particular business of a special class of capitalists, or the exclusive function of a portion of the money-capital. If selling and buying of commodities Edition: current; Page: [331] —and that is what the metamorphosis of the commodity-capital C'—M—C amounts to—by the industrial capitalists themselves do not create any value or surplus-value, they will certainly not become creators of value by being transferred from the industrial capitalists to other persons. Furthermore, if that portion of the total social capital, which must be continually on hand in order that the process of reproduction, instead of being interrupted, may proceed continuously—if this money-capital does not create any value or surplus-value, then it cannot acquire the faculty to do so by being continually thrown into circulation for the performance of its function by some other section of the capitalists than the industrial capitalists. We have already indicated to what extent merchant's capital may be indirectly productive, and we shall discuss this point more at length later on.

Commercial capital, then—stripped of all heterogeneous functions, such as storing, expressing, transporting, distributing, arranging, which may be connected with its true function of buying in order to sell—creates neither value nor surplus-value, but promotes only their realisation and thereby the actual exchange of commodities, their transfer from one hand to the other, the social circulation of matter. Nevertheless, since the circulating phase of industrial capital is as much a phase of the process of reproduction as production is, the capital performing its functions independently in the process of circulation must yield the average annual profit just as well as the capital performing its functions in the different lines of production. If merchant's capital were to yield a higher percentage of average profit than industrial capital, then a portion of the industrial capital would transform itself into merchant's capital. If this capital were to yield a lower average profit, then the opposite process would take place. A portion of the merchant's capital would transform itself into industrial capital. No species of capital enjoys a greater facility to change its occupation than merchant's capital.

Seeing that merchant's capital itself does not produce any surplus-value, it is evident that surplus-value appropriated by Edition: current; Page: [332] it in the shape of average profit must be a portion of the surplus-value produced by the total productive capital. But the question is now: How does the merchant's capital manage to appropriate its share of the surplus-value or profit produced by the productive capital?

It is only outward semblance that commercial profit is a mere addition to, a nominal raise of the prices of commodities above their value.

It is evident that the merchant can draw his profit only out of the price of the commodities sold by him, more even, that this profit, which he makes by the sale of his commodities, must be equal to the difference between his purchase price and his selling price, equal to the excess of the latter over the former.

It is possible, that additional costs (costs of circulation) may enter into the commodities after their purchase and before their sale, and it is also possible, that this may not happen. If such costs should be added, it is evident that the excess of the selling price over the purchase price does not represent merely profit. In order to simplify the analysis, we assume first, that no such costs are added.

For the industrial capitalist, the difference between the selling price and the purchase price of his commodities is equal to the difference between their price of production and their cost-price, or, looking upon the matter from the point of view of the total social capital, equal to the difference between the value of the commodities and their cost-price for the capitalists, and this again resolves itself into the difference between the total quantity of labor incorporated in them and the quantity of the paid labor incorporated in them. Before the commodities bought by the industrial capitalist are taken back to market as saleable commodities, they pass through the process of production, in which that portion of their price which shall be realised as profit must be created. But it is different with the trading merchant. The commodities are in his hands only so long as they are in the process of circulation. He merely continues their sale, the realisation of their price begun by the productive capitalist, and therefore he does not Edition: current; Page: [333] cause them to pass through any intermediate process, in which they can once more absorb new surplus-value. While the industrial capitalist merely realises the previously produced surplus-value or profit by means of the circulation, the merchant must not only realise his profit in and by the circulation, but he must first make it there. This seems possible in no other way than that of selling the commodities bought by him from the industrial capitalist at their prices of production, or, from the point of view of the total commodity-capital, their values, above their prices of production, by making a nominal addition to these prices, in other words by selling the total commodity-capital above its value and pocketing this excess of their nominal value over their real value. In short, it seems that he would be selling them for more than they are worth.

This method of raising prices seems easy to grasp. For instance, one yard of linen costs 2 sh. If I want to make 10% profit on my sales, I must add 1/10 to the price, I must sell one yard of linen at 2 sh. 2 2/5d. The difference between its actual price of production and its selling price is then 2 2/5d. and this represents a profit of 10% on 2 sh. This amounts to my selling one yard of linen to the buyer at a price which is in reality the price of 1 1/10 yard. Or, what amounts to the same, it is as though I sold to the buyer only 10/11 of one yard for 2 sh. and kept 1/11 for myself. In fact, I might buy back 1/11 of one yard for 2 2/5 d., if the price of one yard is 2 sh. 2 2/5d. This would be but a round-about way of sharing in the surplus-value and surplus-product by a nominal raise in the price of commodities.

This is the realisation of commercial profit by raising the price of commodities, as it appears at first glance on the surface. And it is indeed a fact that this whole conception of the rise of profit from a nominal raise in the price of commodities, or from their sale above their value, has its origin in the point of view of commercial capital.

But on closer inspection it is quickly seen that this is a mere semblance, and that, assuming capitalist production to be the prevailing mode, commercial profit cannot be realised in this manner. (It is here always a question of averages, not of exceptions.) Edition: current; Page: [334] Why do we assume that the dealer in commodities can realise his profit of 10% on his commodities only by selling them 10% above their price of production? Because we had assumed that the producer of these commodities, the industrial capitalist (who impersonates The producer before the outside world as the personification of industrial capital), had sold them to the dealer at their prices of production. If the prices paid by the dealer for commodities are equal to their prices of production, so that the price of production, or in the last instance the value, represents the cost-price for the merchant, then the excess of the latter's selling price over his purchase price—and only this difference constitutes his profit—must indeed be an excess of their commercial price over their price of production, so that in the last analysis the merchant would be selling all commodities above their values. But why did we assume that the industrial capitalist sells his commodities to the merchant at their prices of production? Or rather, what was the premise of that assumption? It was that the commercial capital did not share in the formation of the average rate of profit (and as yet we are dealing with merchant's capital only in so far as it is commercial capital.) We started necessarily from this premise in the discussion of the average rate of profit, first, because the commercial capital as such did not exist for us at that time; and secondly, because the average profit, and thus the average rate of profit, had to be first developed out of a mutual leveling of profits, or surplus-values, actually produced by the industrial capitals of the different spheres of production. But in the case of merchant's capital we are dealing with a capital which shares in the profit without participating in its production. Hence it now becomes necessary, to supplement our former presentation at this point.

Let us suppose that the total industrial capital advanced for one year is 720 c + 180 v = 900 (say million p.st.), and that s' = 100%. The product is then valued at 720 c + 180 v + 180 s. Now let us call this product, the produced commodity-capital, C. Its value, or its price of production (both are identical for the total social commodity-capital), is Edition: current; Page: [335] then 1080, and the rate of profit for the total social capital of 900 is 20%. These 20% constitute, according to our previous analyses, the average rate of profit, since the surplus-value is not calculated in this instance on this or that capital of some particular composition, but on the average composition of the total industrial capital. In short, C = 1,080, and the rate of profit = 20%. Now let us further assume that aside from these 900 of industrial capital, there are invested 100 of merchant's capital, which share in the profit, just as the industrial capital does, in proportion to their magnitude. According to our assumption, the total capital consists of 900 industrial + 100 commercial = 1,000, so that the commercial capital is 1/10 of the whole. Therefore it participates to the extent of 1/10 in the total surplus-value of 180, and by this means secures a profit at the rate of 18%. Actually, then, the profit remaining to be distributed among the other 9/10 of the total capital is only 162, which amounts likewise to 18% on the total capital of 900. In other words, the price at which C is sold by the owners of the industrial capital of 900 to the dealers is 720 c + 180 v + 162 s = 1,062. Now, if the dealer adds his average profit of 18% on his capital of 100, he sells the commodities at 1,062 + 18 = 1,080, which is their price of production, or, from the point of view of the total commodity-capital, their value, although he makes his profit only in and by the circulation, and only by an excess of his selling price over his purchase price. But nevertheless he does not sell the commodities above their value, nor above their price of production, just because he had bought them from the industrial capitalist below their value, or below their price of production.

The merchant's capital, then, plays a determining role in the formation of the average rate of profit in proportion to its pro rata magnitude in the total capital. Hence if we say in the cited case that the average rate of profit is 18%, it would be 20%, were it not for the fact that 1/10 of the total capital is merchant's capital, which implies a reduction of the rate of profit by 1/10.

This requires also a more precise and detailed definition of Edition: current; Page: [336] the price of production. By price of production we mean, now as before, that price of the commodities, which is equal to their cost (the value of the constant + variable capital contained in them) + the average profit. But this average profit is now differently determined. It is determined by the total profit produced by the total productive capital, but it is not calculated merely on this total productive capital. It is not calculated, as first assumed, so that, if the total productive capital were 900, and the profit 180, the average rate of profit would be 180/900 = 20%. It is rather calculated on the total productive + the merchant's capital, so that, if the total capital is 900 productive + 100 merchant's capital, the average rate of profit is 180/1000 = 18%. The price of production is, therefore, equal to k (the costs) + 18, instead of k + 20. In the average rate of profit, the share of the total profit falling to the merchant's capital is included. The actual value, or price of production, of the total commodity-capital is, therefore, k + p + m (where m indicates profits in merchant's capital). The price of production, or the price at which the industrial capitalist as such sells his commodities, is thus smaller than the actual price of production of commodities. Or, looking upon the matter from the point of view of the total commodity-capital, the prices at which the class of industrial capitalists sell are lower than the values of commodities. Thus, in the above case, 900 costs + 18% on 900, or 900 + 162 = 1,062.

It follows, then, that the merchant, when selling a commodity at 118 for which he paid 100 does indeed raise the price by 18%. But since this commodity, for which he paid 100, is really worth 118, he does not sell it above its value. We shall retain the price of production as more closely defined above. Then it is evident, that the profit of the industrial capitalist is equal to the excess of the price of production of his commodities over their cost-price, and that the commercial profit, as distinguished from this industrial profit, is equal to the excess of the selling price over the price of production of the commodities, which is their cost-price for the merchant; but that the actual price of the commodities is equal to their Edition: current; Page: [337] price of production plus the commercial profit. Just as the industrial capital realises only such profits as exist previously in the commodities as surplus-value, so the merchant's capital realises profits only because the entire surplus-value, or profit, has not yet been realised in the price charged for the commodities by the industrial capitalist.39 The selling price of the merchant, then, stands above his purchase price, not because the former stands above the total value, but because the purchase price stands below this value.

The merchant's capital participates in the compensation of the surplus-value to an average profit, although it does not take part in its production. So the average rate of profit implies that general deduction from surplus-value which falls to the share of merchant's capital, a deduction from the profit of the industrial capital.

From the foregoing it follows:

1) The larger the merchant's capital in proportion to the industrial capital, the smaller is the rate of industrial profit, and vice versa.
2) It was seen in the first part, that the rate of profit is always lower than the rate of the actual surplus-value, that it always expresses the intensity of exploitation too low. In the above case, 720 c + 180 v + 180 s means a rate of surplus-value of 100%, and a rate of profit of only 20%. And if the merchant's capital is included in the calculation, then the difference between the rate of surplus-value and the rate of profit becomes still greater, the latter being only 18% in the present case. In that case, the average rate of profit of the direct exploiter of labor expresses the rate of profit in lower figures than it actually represents.

Assuming all other circumstances to remain the same, the relative volume of the merchant's capital (excepting the small dealer, who represents a hermaphrodite form) will be in a reverse ratio to the velocity of its turn-over, or in a reverse ratio to the energy of the process of reproduction in general. In the process of scientific analysis, the formation of an average rate of profit appears to take its departure from the industrial Edition: current; Page: [338] capitals and their competition, and only later on does it seem to be corrected, supplemented, and modified by the intervention of merchant's capital. But in the course of historical events, the process is reversed. It is the commercial capital, which first determines the prices of commodities more or less by their values, and it is the sphere of circulation, while promoting the process of reproduction, which first affords an opportunity for the formation of an average rate of profit. The commercial profit originally determines the industrial profit. Not until the capitalist mode of production has asserted itself and the producer himself has become a merchant, is the commercial profit reduced to that aliquot part of the total surplus-value, which falls to the share of the merchant's capital as an aliquot part of the total capital engaged in the social process of reproduction.

In the analysis of the supplementary compensation of profit through the intervention of the merchant's capital it was found that no additional element for the advanced money-capital entered into the value of commodities, and that the addition to the price, by which the merchant makes his profit, was merely equal to that portion of the value of commodities, which the productive capital did not calculate, but rather left out of calculation in the price of production. The case of this money-capital is similar to that of the fixed capital of the industrial capitalist, which is not all consumed and does not pass as an element into the value of commodities. By the purchase price which the merchant pays for the commodity-capital, he replaces its price of production, M, in money. His own selling price, as we have previously shown, is equal to M + 8Delta;M, and this 8Delta;M stands for the addition to the price of commodities determined by the average rate of profit. By selling these commodities, he recovers together with this 8Delta;M his original money-capital, which he advanced for their purchase. Here, then, we see once more that his money-capital is nothing else but the commodity-capital of the industrial capitalist transformed into money-capital, and this change does not affect the magnitude of the volume of this commodity-capital any more than a direct sale to the ultimate consumer Edition: current; Page: [339] instead of the merchant would. It merely anticipates payment by the consumer. However, this is correct only on the condition, which we had hitherto assumed, that the merchant has no expenses, or that he need not advance any fixed or circulating capital during the process of metamorphosis of the commodities, of buying and selling, aside from the money-capital which he must advance for the purchase of the commodities from the producer. But this is not so in reality, as we have seen in the analysis of the costs of circulation, volume II, chapter VI. These costs of circulation represent either expenses, which the merchant has to reclaim from the other agents of the circulation, or expenses, which are due directly to his specific business.

No matter what may be the character of these costs of circulation—whether they arise from the purely mercantile nature of the business, or whether they belong to the specific costs of circulation of the merchant, or whether they represent items, which are charges for subsequent processes of production added within the process of circulation, such as expressage, transportation, storage, etc.—they always require that the merchant should have, aside from his advanced money-capital, some additional capital for the purchase and payment of such means of circulation. To the extent that this element of cost consists of circulating capital, it passes wholly as an additional element into the selling price of the commodities; to the extent that it consists of fixed capital, it is transferred in proportion to its wear and tear. It is, however, an element, which forms a nominal value, even if it does not add any real value to the commodities. Such nominal values, which do not add any real value to the commodities, are the purely mercantile costs of circulation. But whether fixed or circulating, the entire additional capital participates in the formation of the general rate of profit.

The purely commercial costs of circulation (that is, excepting the costs of transportation, shipping, storage, etc.) resolve themselves into the costs required for the purpose of realising the value of commodities, by transforming it either from commodities into money, or from money into commodities, by Edition: current; Page: [340] means of exchange. We leave entirely out of consideration any processes of production, which may eventually continue during the process of circulation, and which may exist separately from the merchant's business. In fact, the actual transport industry and shipping may be, and are, lines of occupation entirely separated from the merchant's business, and the purchaseable or saleable commodities may be stored in warehouses or other public sheds, and the cost of storage, so far as it has to be advanced by the merchant, may be charged up to him by other people. All this becomes apparent in commerce on a large scale, in which the merchant's capital assumes its purest form, unalloyed by other functions. The express owner, the railroad director, the ship owner, are not "merchants." The costs which we consider here are those of buying and selling. We have already remarked in another place that these resolve themselves into accounting, bookkeeping, marketing, correspondence, etc. The constant capital required for this purpose consists of offices, paper, postage, etc. The other costs resolve themselves into variable capital advanced for the employment of mercantile wage workers. (Expressage, cost of transportation, advances for duties, etc., may be considered as being advances made by the merchant for the purchase of commodities and entering into the purchase price to be paid by him.)

All these costs are not incurred in the production of the use-value of the commodities, but in the realisation of their exchange value. They are pure costs of circulation. They do not enter into the strict process of production, but since they enter into the process of circulation they are part of the total process of reproduction.

The only portion of these costs that interests us here is that advanced as variable capital. (Furthermore the following questions remain to be analysed: 1) How is the law, that only socially necessary labor enters into the value of commodities, enforced in the process of circulation? 2) How does accumulation represent itself in the case of merchant's capital? 3) How does merchant's capital function in the actual process of reproduction of society as a whole?)

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These costs are due to the economic form of the product, that of a commodity.

Seeing that the labor time lost by the industrial capitalists themselves while directly selling commodities to one another, in other words, the circulation time of the commodities, does not add any value to these commodities, it is evident that this labor time is not endowed with any other character by transferring it from the industrial capitalist to the merchant. The conversion of commodities (products) into money, and of money into commodities (means of production) is a necessary function of industrial capital and, therefore, a necessary operation for the capitalist, who is but personified capital endowed with his consciousness and will. But these functions do not create any value, nor do they produce any surplus-value. The merchant, by performing these operations, by further promoting the functions of capital in the sphere of circulation after the productive capitalist has ceased to do so, merely steps into the shoes of the industrial capitalist. The labor time required for these operations is devoted to certain necessary operations in the process of reproduction of capital, but it adds no value to it. If the merchant did not perform these operations (did not expend the labor time required for them), he would not be using his capital as a circulation agent of industrial capital; he would not be continuing the interrupted function of the industrial capitalist, and consequently he could not participate as a capitalist, in proportion to his advanced capital, in the mass of profit produced by the class of industrial capitalists. In order to share in the mass of surplus-value, in order to expand the value of his advanced capital, the commercial capitalist need not employ any wage workers. If his business is small, he may be the only worker in it. But his wages are derived from that portion of the social profit which falls to his share through the difference between the purchase price paid by him for commodities and their actual price of production.

Under these circumstances, and assuming the merchant's advanced capital to be small, the profit realised by him may not be a bit larger, or may even be smaller, than the wages of Edition: current; Page: [342] one of the better paid skilled wage workers. In fact, there are employed, side by side with him, many commercial agents of the industrial capitalist, such as buyers, sellers, travelers, who receive the same or a higher income than he, either in the form of wages, or in the form of a check upon the profit (percentages, tantièmes) made by each sale. In the first case, the merchant pockets the mercantile profit as an independent capitalist; in the other case, the salesman, the wage laborer of the industrial capitalist, receives a portion of the profit, either in the form of wages, or in the form of a proportional share in the profit of the industrial capitalist, whose direct agent he is, while his principal pockets both the industrial and the commercial profit. But in all these cases the income of the circulation agent is derived from the merchant's profit, even though he may regard it merely as wages paid to him for the performance of his labor, or, where it does not appear in this light, though his profit may not be any larger than the wages of a better paid wage laborer. This follows from the fact that his labor is not labor producing any values.

The prolongation of the act of circulation implies for the industrial capitalist 1) a personal loss of time, to the extent that it prevents him from performing his own function as a manager of the productive process; 2) a prolonged stay of his product, in the form of money or commodities, in the process of circulation, that is, a process, in which it does not produce any value and by which the direct process of production is interrupted. If this process is not to be interrupted, production must either be restricted, or more money-capital must be advanced, in order that the process of production may proceed on the same scale. This means every time that either a smaller profit is made by the capital hitherto invested, or that additional money-capital must be advanced in order to make the same profit. All this remains unchanged, when the merchant takes the place of the industrial capitalist. Instead of the industrial capitalist, the merchant then spends this prolonged time in the process of circulation; instead of the industrial capitalist, the merchant advances additional capital for the circulation; or, what amounts to the same, instead of a Edition: current; Page: [343] large portion of the industrial capital straying off continually into the process of circulation, the capital of the merchant is wholly tied up in it; and instead of the industrial capitalist making a smaller profit, he must yield a portion of his profit wholly to the merchant. So long as merchant's capital remains within the boundaries, in which it is necessary, the only difference is that this division of the functions of capital reduces the time exclusively needed for the process of circulation, that less additional capital is advanced for this purpose, and that the loss of the total profits represented by the profits of merchant's capital is smaller than it would have been otherwise. If in the above example, a capital of 720 c + 180 v + 180 s, assisted by a merchant's capital of 100, leaves a profit of 162, or 18% for the industrial capitalist, or, in other words, implies a deduction of 18, then the additional capital required without the assistance of this independent merchant's capital would probably be 200, and the total advance to be made by the industrial capitalist would be 1,100 instead of 900, which, with a surplus-value of 180, would mean a rate of profit of only 16 4/11%.

Now, if the industrial capitalist, who acts as his own merchant, advances not only the additional capital with which he buys new commodities, before his product in process of circulation has been reconverted into money, but also capital (office expenses and wages for commercial laborers) for the realisation of the value of his commodity-capital, or, in other words, for the process of circulation, then these costs form additional capital, but they produce no surplus-value. They must be made good out of the value of the commodities. For a portion of the value of these commodities must once more be converted into these circulation costs; and no additional surplus-value is created thereby. So far as this concerns the total capital of society, it means that a portion of it must be set aside for secondary operations, which are no part of the process of creating value, and that this portion of the social capital must be continually reproduced for this purpose. This reduces the rate of profit for the individual capitalist and for the entire class of industrial capitalists, a result, which follows from every Edition: current; Page: [344] addition of auxiliary capital, whenever such capital is required for the purpose of setting in motion the same mass of variable capital.

To the extent that these additional costs connected with the business of circulating are transferred from the shoulders of the industrial to those of the commercial capitalist, the same reduction in the rate of profit takes place, only to a smaller extent and in another way. The matter now assumes the form that the merchant advances more capital than would be necessary, if these costs did not exist, and that the profit on this additional capital increases the amount of the commercial profit, so that the merchant's capital shares with the industrial capital to a greater extent in the leveling of the average rate of profit, thereby lowering the average profit. If in our above examply 50 additional capital are advanced for those costs together with a merchant's capital of 100, then the total surplus-value of 180 is distributed over a productive capital of 900 plus a merchant's capital of 150, a total of 1,050. The average rate of profit then falls to 17 1/7%. The industrial capitalists sells his commodities to the merchant at 900 + 154 2/7 = 1,054 2/7, and the merchant sells them at 1,130, namely 1080 + 50 for costs which he must recover. For the rest it must be assumed that the division between merchant's and industrial capital is accompanied by a centralisation of the expenses of commerce and, consequently, by their reduction.

The question is now: How is it with the commercial wage workers employed by the commercial capitalist, in this case by the merchant?

In one respect, such a commercial laborer is a wage laborer like others. For, in the first place, his labor-power is bought with the variable capital of the merchant, not with the money spent by him as revenue, and consequently this labor-power is not bought for private service, but for the creation of value by means of the capital advanced for it. In the second place, the value of this labor-power, and thus his wages, are determined in the same way as those of other wage workers, namely by the cost of production and reproduction of his specific labor-power, not by the product of his labor.

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However, we must make the same distinction between the commercial wage worker and the wage workers directly employed by the industrial capital which we found existing between the industrial capital and merchant's capital, and thus between the industrial capitalist and the commercial capitalist. Since the merchant, as a mere agent of circulation, produces neither value nor surplus-value (for the additional value, which he adds to the commodities by his expenses, resolves itself into an addition of previously existing values, although the question here poses itself: How does he preserve the value of his constant capital?) it follows that the mercantile laborers employed in these same functions cannot very well create any direct surplus-value for him. Here, as in the case of the productive laborers, we assume that wages are determined by the value of labor-power, and that the merchant does not make money by depressing wages, so that he does not allow in his accounts for any advance of wages which he paid only in part, in other words, that he does not make money by cheating his clerks.

The difficulty in the case of the mercantile wage workers is by no means that of explaining the way in which they produce any direct profits for their employer, even though they do not create any direct surplus-value (of which profit is but a changed form.) This part of the question has already been solved by the general analysis of commercial profits. Just as the industrial capital makes profits by selling labor embodied and realised in commodities for which it has not paid any equivalent, so the merchants' capital makes profits by not paying the productive capital for all the unpaid labor incorporated in the commodities (that is, commodities in so far as the capital invested in their production functions as an aliquot part of the total industrial capital), while in selling it demands payment for this unpaid portion still contained in the commodities and not paid for by itself. The relation of the merchant's capital to the surplus-value is different from that of the industrial capital. The industrial capital produces surplus-value by the direct appropriation of the unpaid labor of others. The merchant's capital, on the other hand, appropriates a portion of Edition: current; Page: [346] this surplus-value by having this portion transferred from the industrial capital to itself.

It is only by its function of realising values that the merchant's capital serves in the process of reproduction as capital and in this capacity gets a share of the surplus-value produced by the total capital. The mass of profits depends for the individual merchant on the mass of capital, which he can invest in this process, and he can use so much more of it in buying and selling, the more unpaid labor his clerks perform. The function itself, by virtue of which the money of the merchant capitalist is capital, is largely performed by his employes. The unpaid labor of his clerks, while it does not create any surplus-value, at least appropriates surplus-value for him, which amounts to the same thing so far as results on his capital go. This unpaid labor is for him, therefore, a source of profit. Otherwise the mercantile business could never be carried on capitalistically, on a large scale.

Just as the unpaid labor of the laborer of the productive capital creates surplus-value for it in a direct way, so the unpaid labor of the commercial wage workers secures a share of this surplus-value for the merchant's capital.

Here is the difficulty: Seeing that the labor time and the labor of the merchant himself do not create any value, but only secure for him a share of already produced surplus-value, how is it with the variable capital, which he invests in the purchase of commercial labor-power? Must this variable capital be included in the expense account of advanced merchant's capital? If not, then it seems to be in contradiction with the law of the compensation of the average rate of profit; for where is there a capitalist who would advance 150, if he could place only 100 in account? If yes, it seems to be in contradiction with the nature of merchant's capital, since this class of capital does not act in the capacity of capital by setting in motion the labor of others, as the industrial capital does, but rather by performing its own work, that is, the process of buying and selling, and only for this and by this means does it transfer a portion of the surplus-value produced by the industrial capital to itself.

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(Therefore the following points must be analysed: the variable capital of the merchant; the law of necessary labor in circulation; the way in which the merchant's labor preserves the value of his constant capital; the role of merchant's capital in the total process of reproduction; and finally, the two-fold materialisation in commodity-capital and money-capital on one side, and in commercial capital and financial capital on the other.)

If every merchant had only as much money as he is personally able to turn over by his own labor, there would be an infinite dissociation of merchant's capital. This dissociation would increase to the extent that productive capital, in the forward march of the capitalist mode of production, would produce and operate on a larger scale. The disproportion between the two classes of capital would increase. In proportion as capital in the sphere of production would be centralised, it would be decentralised in the sphere of circulation. The purely commercial business of the industrial capitalist, and thus his purely commercial expenses, would be infinitely expanded thereby, for he would have dealings with 1,000 capitalists at a time instead of 100. In this way, a large part of the advantage of the independent organisation of merchant's capital would be lost. Not only the purely commercial expenses, but also the other costs of circulation, sorting, expressage, etc., would grow. This applies to the industrial capital. Now let us consider the merchant's capital. In the first place, let us look at the purely commercial labors. It does not require more time to figure with large than with small numbers. But it costs ten times as much time to make 10 purchases at 100 p.st. each as it does to make one purchase at 1,000 p.st. It costs ten times as much correspondence, paper, postage, to carry on a correspondence with 10 small merchants as it does with one large merchant. A limited division of labor in a commercial office, in which one keeps books, another has charge of the treasury, a third carries on the correspondence, one man buys, another sells, another travels, etc., saves immense quantities of labor time, so that the number of workers employed in wholesale commerce stand in no Edition: current; Page: [348] proportion to the comparative size of the business. This is so, because in commerce much more than in industry the same function, whether performed on a large or a small scale, costs the same labor time. For this reason, concentration appears historically in the merchant's business before it shows itself in the industrial workshop. There are furthermore the expenses for constant capital. 100 small offices cost incomparably more than one large office, 100 small warehouses more than one large one, etc. The costs of transportation, which enter into the accounts of commercial business at least as advances, grow with this dissociation.

The industrial capitalist would have to spend more for labor and circulation in the commercial part of his business. The same merchant's capital, when distributed among many small capitalists would require more laborers for the performance of its functions, on account of this dissociation, and, besides, more merchant's capital would be needed in order to turn over the same commodity-capital.

Let us designate the entire merchant's capital directly invested in the purchase and sale of commodities by B, and the corresponding variable capital invested in wages of commercial help by b. Then B + b is smaller than it would be, if every merchant had to worry along without any assistance and without investing any capital in b. However, we have not yet overcome all difficulties.

The selling price of the commodities must suffice, 1) to pay the average profit on B + b. This explains itself by virtue of the fact that B + b represents a reduction of the original B and a smaller merchant's capital than would be required without b. But this selling price must also suffice, 2) to cover not only the additional profit on b, but to recover also the paid wages, the variable capital of the merchant. There is the difficulty. Does b form a new constituent of the price, or is it merely a part of the profit made by means of B + b, which takes on the appearance of wages only so far as the mercantile wage worker is concerned, and simply replaces the variable capital from the point of view of the merchant? In this last case, the profit made by the merchant Edition: current; Page: [349] on his advanced capital B + b would be only equal to the profit due to B according to the general rate, plus b, which he pays out in the form of wages without getting a profit on it.

The crux of the matter is, indeed, to find the limits (mathematically speaking) of b. Let us first define the difficulty exactly. Let us designate the capital invested directly in buying and selling commodities by B, the constant capital (expenses of objective materials of commerce) consumed in this function by K, and the variable capital invested by the merchant by b.

The recovery of B offers no difficulties. It simply represents for the merchant the realised purchase price, the price of production for the manufacturer. The merchant pays this price and in reselling he recovers B as a part of his selling price. Apart from this B, he also receives a profit on B, as we have previously explained. For instance, let the commodities cost 100 p.st. The profit on this may be 10%. In that case the commodities are sold at 110. These commodities cost previously 100, and the merchant's capital of 100 merely makes an additional 10 out of them.

Now let us look at K. It will at most be as large as, but in fact smaller, than that portion of the constant capital, which the producer would have to invest in the department of buying and selling, and which would be an addition to the constant capital invested by him in direct production. However, this portion must be continually recovered by the price of the commodities, or, what amounts to the same, a corresponding portion of the commodities must be continually expended in this form, must, from the point of view of the total capital of society, be continually reproduced in this form. This portion of the advanced constant capital would reduce the rate of profit just as well as the entire mass of it invested in production itself. To the extent that the industrial capitalist gives up the commercial part of his business to the merchant, he is no longer compelled to advance this part of the capital. The merchant advances it in his stead. In a way he does this but nominally, since a merchant neither produces nor reproduces the constant capital consumed by him (the cost of Edition: current; Page: [350] the objective materials of commerce). Its production appears as a specific business, or at least as a part of the business, of some industrial capitalists, who play a similar role as those, who supply the constant capital for the producers of necessities of life. The merchant recovers this constant capital and his profit on it. Both things reduce the profit of the industrial capitalist to that extent. But owing to the economies and concentration which come with a division of labor, he loses less profits than he would, if he had to advance his own capital for this purpose. The reduction of the rate of profit is smaller, because the advanced capital is smaller.

So far, then, the selling price is made up of B + K + profits on B + K. This portion of the selling price offers no further difficulties. But now b, the variable capital advanced by the merchant, enters into this consideration.

The selling price is then made up of B + K + b + profits on B + K + profits on b.

B makes good merely the purchase price and adds nothing to this price but the profit on B. K adds K itself plus a profit on K; but K + profit on K, the circulation cost advanced in the form of constant capital plus a corresponding average profit, would be larger in the hands of the industrial capitalist than it is in those of the merchant. The reduction of the average profit assumes this form: It is as though the full average profit had been calculated, after deducting B + K from the advanced industrial capital, but the deduction from this average profit for B + K paid to the merchant, so that this deduction appears as the profit of a particular class of capital, of merchant's capital.

But it is different with b + profits on b, or in the present case, where we have assumed a rate of profit of 10%, with b + (1/10)b. Here lies the real difficulty.

What the merchant buys with b, is according to our assumption nothing but commercial labor, in other words, labor required for the promotion of the functions of circulating the capital, of performing the acts C—M and M—C. But this commercial labor is that labor, which is generally necessary, in order that any capital may perform the functions of Edition: current; Page: [351] commercial capital, the conversion of commodity-capital into money and money into commodities. It is labor which realises values, but does not create any. And only to the extent that a capital performs this function—that a capitalist performs these operations with his capital—does this capital serve as commercial capital and participate in the regulation of the general rate of profit, that is, draw its dividend out of the total profit. But in b + profit on b, it looks as though labor were being paid, in the first place (for it makes no difference, whether the industrial capitalist pays the merchant for his own labor or the clerk employed by the merchant for his), and in the second place, as though it contained a profit on labor, which the merchant himself has to perform. The merchant's capital gets in the first place its b refunded, and in the second place a profit on it. This arises from the fact that it demands pay, in the first place, for work, which it performs in its capacity as merchant's capital, and that it receives, in the second place, a profit in its capacity of capital, for performing work, which is remunerated in the profit as the function of capital. This, then, is the question which we have to solve.

Let us assume that B = 100, b = 10, and the rate of profit = 10%. We place K = O, in order to leave this element of the purchase price, which does not belong here and has already been accounted for, out of consideration. In that case, the selling price would be B + p + b + p (or B + Bp' + b + bp'); where p' stands for the rate of profit. This means in figures 100 + 10 + 10 + 1 = 121.

Now, if b would not be invested by the merchant in wages—since b is paid only for commercial labor, for labor required for the realisation of the value of commodity-capital thrown on the market by industrial capital—then the condition of the matter would be the following: In order to buy or sell anything for B = 100, the merchant would spend his time, and we will assume, that this is the only time at his disposal. The commercial labor represented by b, or 10, if paid for by a profit instead of wages, would presuppose another commercial capital of 100, which, at 10%, would be Edition: current; Page: [352] equal to b = 10. This second B of 100 would not be added to the price of commodities, but the 10% would. We should then have two operations with 100, making 200, that would buy commodities at 200 + 20 = 220.

Since merchant's capital is nothing but an independent form of a portion of industrial capital engaged in the process of circulation, all questions referring to it must be solved by representing the problem at first in that form, in which the phenomena peculiar to merchant's capital do not yet appear in an independent shape, but still in direct connection with industrial capital as one of its subdivsions. As an office separate from the workshop, the mercantile capital serves continually in the process of circulation. It is here that we must first analyse the b under consideration—in the office of the industrial capitalist himself.

The office is from the outset always infinitesimally small compared to the industrial workshop. For the rest, it is clear that the commercial operations increase to the extent that the scale of production is enlarged. These are operations, which must be continually performed for the circulation of the industrial capital, in order to sell the product existing in the shape of commodities, to convert the money so received once more into means of production, and to keep account of the whole. The calculation of prices, bookkeeping, managing funds, carrying on the correspondence, all these belong under this head. The more developed the scale of production is, the greater, if not in proportion, will be the commercial operations of industrial capital, and consequently the labor and other costs of circulation for the realisation of value and surplus-value. This necessitates the employment of commercial wage workers, who form the office staff. The expenses for these, although incurred for wages, differ from the variable capital invested in the purchase of productive labor. It increases the expenses of the industrial capitalist, the mass of capital to be advanced, without increasing the direct surplus-value. For these expenses are made for labor, which is employed only for the realisation of already created values. Like every expense of this kind, these expenses reduce the Edition: current; Page: [353] rate of profit, because the advanced capital increases, but not the surplus-value. If the surplus-value s remains constant, while the advanced capital C increases to C + 8Delta;C, then the place of the rate of profit s/C is taken by the smaller rate of profit s/(C + 8Delta;C). For this reason, the industrial capitalist endeavors to limit these expenses of circulation to a minimum, just as he does with his expenses for constant capital. Hence industrial capital does not maintain the same relations to its commercial wage laborers that it does to its productive wage laborers. The greater the number of productive wages laborers employed under otherwise equal circumstances, the more voluminous is production, the greater the surplus-value or profit. On the other hand, the larger the scale of production, the greater the quantity of value and surplus-value to be realised, the greater, in other words, the produced commodity-capital, the larger grow the absolute office expenses, even if they do not grow relatively, and give rise to some kind of division of labor. To what extent profit is the first condition for these expenses, is shown among other things by the fact, that with the increase of commercial salaries a part of them is frequently paid by a share in the profits. It is in the nature of things that labor consisting merely of intermediary operations, which are connected either with a calculation of values, or with their realisation, or with the reconversion of the realised money into means of production, a labor whose amount depends on the quantity of produced values about to be realised, should not act as cause of the respective magnitudes and masses of these values, as directly productive labor does, but as their result. The case of the other costs of circulation is similar. In order that plenty may be measured, weighed, wrapped, transported, plenty must be supplied. The amount of labor consumed in packing, transporting, etc., depends on the quantity of the commodities which are the objects of its activity, not vice versa.

The commercial laborer does not produce any surplus-value directly. But the value of his labor is determined by the value of his labor-power, that is, of its costs of production, while the application of this labor-power, its exertion, expression, Edition: current; Page: [354] and consumption, the same as in the case of every other wage laborer, is by no means limited by the value of his labor-power. His wages are therefore not necessarily in proportion to the mass of profits, which he helps the capitalist to realise. What he costs the capitalist and what he makes for him are two different things. He adds to the income of the capitalist, not by creating any direct surplus-value, but by helping him to reduce the costs of the realisation of surplus-value. In so doing, he performs partly unpaid labor. The commercial laborer, in the strict meaning of the term, belongs to the better paid classes of wage workers, he belongs to the class of skilled laborers, which is above the average. However, wages have a tendency to fall, even in proportion to the average labor, with the advance of the capitalist mode of production. This is due to the fact that in the first place, division of labor in the office is introduced; this means that only a onesided development of the laboring capacity is required, and that the cost of this development does not fall entirely on the capitalist, since the ability of the laborer is developed through the exercise of his function and increases so much faster, the more onesidedly the division of labor develops. In the second place, the necessary preparation, such as the learning of commercial details, languages, etc., is more and more rapidly, easily, generally, cheaply reproduced with the progress of science and popular education, to the extent that the capitalist mode of production organises the methods of teaching, etc., in a practical manner. The generalisation of public education makes it possible to recruit this line of laborers from classes that had formerly no access to such education and that were accustomed to a lower scale of living. At the same time this generalisation of education increases the supply and thus competition. With a few exceptions, the labor-power of this line of laborers is therefore depreciated with the progress of capitalist development. Their wages fall, while their ability increases. The capitalist increases the number of these laborers, whenever he has more value and profits to realise. The increase of this labor Edition: current; Page: [355] is always a result, never a cause of the augmentation of surplus-value.40

We see, then, that a duplication takes place here. On the one hand, the functions of commodity-capital and money-capital (which later become merchant's capital) are general forms assumed by industrial capital. On the other hand, particular capitals, and therefore a particular series of capitalists, are exclusively devoted to these functions. And these functions develop into specific spheres of enhancing the value of capital.

The commercial functions and expenses of circulation become independent only in the case of the mercantile capital. That side of industrial capital, which is devoted to the circulation, exists not only in its continuous shape of commodity-capital and money-capital, but also in the office alongside of the workshop. But it assumes an independent existence in the mercantile capital. For this capital, its office is its only workshop. The portion of capital employed in the form of expenses of circulation appears much larger in the business of the large merchant than in that of the industrial capitalist, because the offices connected with every industrial workshop are concentrated in the hands of a few merchants, and so is at the same time that portion of the capital, which would have to be invested for this purpose by the entire class of industrial capitalists. These merchants take care of the circulation and provide for the expenses incidental to its continuation.

For the industrial capital, the expenses of circulation appear as dead expenses, and so they are. For the merchant they appear as a source of his profit, which is proportional to Edition: current; Page: [356] the level of the average rate of profit, whose existence is assumed. The investment to be made by the mercantile capital for these expenses of circulation is, therefore, a productive investment. And for this reason the commercial labor which it buys is likewise immediately productive for it.

CHAPTER XVIII.: THE TURN-OVER OF MERCHANT'S CAPITAL. THE PRICES.

THE turn-over of industrial capital is the combination of its time of production and time of circulation. It comprises, therefore, the process of production as a whole. The turn-over of merchant's capital, on the other hand; being in reality nothing but a movement of commodity-capital in an independent form, represents merely the first phase in the metamorphosis of commodities, C—M, as a movement of some capital returning to itself. M—C, C—M, is the turn-over of merchant's capital from the mercantile point of view. The merchant buys, converts his money into commodities, then sells, converts the same commodities back into money. And so forth in continuous repetitions. Within the circulation, the metamorphosis of industrial capital always presents itself in the form of C'—M—C''; the money realised by the sale of the produced commodities C' is used for the purchase of new means of production C''. This amounts to a practical exchange of C' for C'', and the same money thus changes hands twice. Its movement acts as an intermediary between two different kinds of commodities C' and C''. But in the case of the merchant, it is the same commodity, which changes hands twice in the process M—C—M'. It merely promotes the reflux of his money to him.

For instance, if a certain merchant's capital is 100 p.st., and the merchant buys for these 100 p.st. commodities and sells these commodities for 110 p.st., then his capital of 100 p.st. has completed one turn-over, and the number of its turn-overs in one year depends on the number of times which it can repeat this movement M—C—M'.

Edition: current; Page: [357] We leave entirely out of consideration at this point those expenses, which may be concealed in the difference between the purchase price and the selling price, since these expenses do not alter in any way the form, which we are now analysing.

The number of turn-overs of a certain merchant's capital shows evidently some analogy to the repeated cycles of money in its capacity as a mere medium of circulation. Just as the same dollar, which circulates ten times, buys ten times its value in commodities, so the same money-capital of the merchant, when turned over ten times, buys ten times its value in commodities, or realises a total commodity-capital of ten times its value, for instance a merchant's capital of 100 a value of 1,000. But there is this difference: In the circulation of money as a medium of circulation, it is the same piece of money, which passes through different hands and performs repeatedly the same function, thereby making up for the limited number of the circulating pieces of money by the velocity of its circulation. But in the case of the merchant it is the same money-capital, the same money-value regardless of the pieces of money of which it may be composed, which repeatedly buys and sells the amount of its value, thereby returning repeatedly to the same hands from which it departed as M + 8Delta; M, value plus surplus-value. This is characteristic of its turn-over as a turn-over of capital. It always withdraws more money from circulation than it threw into it. By the way, it is a matter of course that an accelerated turn-over of merchant's capital (in which the function of money as a means of payment likewise predominates whenever the credit system is developed) is accompanied by a more rapid circulation of the same quantity of money.

A repeated turn-over of commercial capital, however, never expresses anything else but a repetition of buying and selling; while a repeated turn-over of industrial capital expresses the periodicity and renovation of the entire process of reproduction (which includes the process of consumption). For the merchant's capital, this appears merely as an outward condition. The industrial capital must continually throw commodities Edition: current; Page: [358] on the market and withdraw others from it, in order that the turn-over of merchant's capital may continue rapidly. If the process of reproduction proceeds slowly in general, then the turn-over of merchant's capital does likewise. Now, it is true that the merchant's capital promotes the turn-over of the productive capital, but only in so far as it shortens the time of circulation of the latter. It has no direct influence on the time of production, which is also one of the limits of the time of turn-over of industrial capital. This is the first barrier for the turn-over of merchant's capital. In the second place, aside from the barrier formed by reproductive consumption, the turn-over of the merchant's capital is ultimately limited by the velocity and volume of individual consumption, since the entire part of commodity-capital which passes into the fund for consumption depends on that.

However, aside from the turn-overs in the world of merchants, in which one merchant always sells the same commodity to another, whereby this sort of circulation may assume the aspect of great prosperity during times of speculation, the merchant's capital abbreviates in the first place the phase C—M for the productive capital. In the second place, under the modern credit system, it disposes of a large portion of the total capital of society, so that it can repeat its purchases, even before it has definitely sold its previous purchases. And it is immaterial in this case, whether the merchant sells directly to the ultimate consumer, or whether a dozen other merchant's intervene between the first merchant and the ultimate consumer. Owing to the immense elasticity of the process of reproduction, which at any time may be driven beyond all bounds, this process finds no obstacle in production itself, or at best a very elastic one. Aside from the separation of C—M and M—C, which follows from the nature of commodities, a fictitious demand is here created. In spite of its independent status, the movement of merchant's capital is never anything else but the movement of industrial capital within the sphere of circulation. But thanks to its individualisation it moves within certain limits independently Edition: current; Page: [359] of the bounds of the process of reproduction, and thereby drives this process itself beyond its boundaries. The internal dependence and the external independence drive merchant's capital to a point, where the internal connection is violently restored by a crisis.

Hence we note the phenomenon that crises do not show themselves, nor break forth, first in the retail business, which deals with direct consumption, but in the spheres of wholesale business and banking, by which the money-capital of society is placed at the disposal of wholesale business.

The manufacturer may actually sell to the exporter, and the exporter may in his turn sell to his foreign customer, the importer may sell his raw materials to the manufacturer, and the manufacturer his products to the wholesale dealer, etc. But at some particular and unseen point, the goods may lie unsold. On some other occasion, again, the supplies of all producers and middle men may become gradually overstocked. Consumption is then generally at its best either because one industrial capitalist sets a succession of others in motion, or because the laborers employed by them are fully employed and spend more than ordinarily. With the growing income of the capitalists their expenditures increase likewise. Besides, we have seen in volume II, Part III, that a continuous circulation takes place between constant capital and constant capital (even without considering any accelerated accumulation), which is in so far independent of individual consumption, as it never enters into such consumption, but which is nevertheless definitely limited by it, because the production of constant capital never takes place for its own sake, but solely because more of this capital is needed in those spheres of production whose products pass into individual consumption. However, this may proceed undisturbed for a while, stimulated by prospective demand, and in such lines the business of merchants and industrial capitalists prospers exceedingly. A crisis occurs whenever the returns of those merchants, who sell at long range, or whose supplies have accumulated also on the home market, become so slow and meager, that the banks press for payment, or the notes for the purchased commodities become Edition: current; Page: [360] due before they have been resold. It is then that forced sales take place, sales made in order to be able to meet payments. And then we have the crash, which brings the deceptive prosperity to a speedy end.

But the superficiality and meaninglessness of the turn-over of merchant's capital are still greater, because the turn-over of one and the same merchant's capital may promote simultaneously or successively the turn-overs of several productive capitals.

Now, the turn-over of merchant's capital may not only promote the turn-overs of several industrial capitals, but also the opposite phase of the metamorphosis of commodity-capital. For instance, the merchant buys linen from the manufacturer and sells it to the bleacher. In this case, the turn-over of the same merchant's capital—in fact, the same C—M, a realisation on the linen—represents two opposite phases for two different industrial capitals. So far as the merchant sells at all for productive consumption, his C—M always means M—C for some industrial capitalist, and his M—C always C—M for some other industrial capitalist.

If we leave out of consideration, as we do in this chapter, K, the expenses of circulation, in other words, if we leave aside that portion of capital which the merchant advances apart from the money required for the purchase of commodities, it follows that 8Delta; K, the additional profit made on this additional capital, will likewise be left out. This is the strictly logical and mathematically correct mode of analysis, if we wish to study the way in which the profits and turn-over of merchant's capital affect prices.

If the price of production of 1 lb. of sugar is 1 p.st., the merchant can buy 100 lbs. of sugar with 100 p.st. If he buys and sells this quantity in the course of one year, and if the annual rate of average profit is 15% he would add 15 p.st. to 100 p.st., and 3 sh. to the price of production of 1 lb. of sugar, 1 p.st. That is, he would sell one pound of sugar at 1 p.st. 3 sh. But if the price of production of 1 lb. of sugar should fall to 1 sh., then the merchant could buy 2,000 lbs. of sugar with 100 p.st., and he could sell the sugar at 1 Edition: current; Page: [361] sh. 1 4/5 d. per lb. The annual profit on capital invested in the sugar business would still be 15 p.st. on each 100 p.st. Only he has to sell 100 lbs. in the first case, while he must sell 2,000 lbs. in the second place. The high or low level of the price of production would not have anything to do with the rate of profit. But it would have a great deal, or even a decisive deal, to do with that aliquot part of the selling price of each lb. of sugar which resolves itself in mercantile profit; in other words, it would have a great deal to do with the addition to the price which the merchant makes on a certain quantity of commodities, or products. If the price of production of a certain commodity is small, then the amount advanced by the merchant for the purchase of a certain quantity of that commodity is also small, and so is the amount of profit made by him on this quantity of cheap commodities. Or, what amounts to the same, he can buy with a certain amount of capital, for instance with 100, a large quantity of these commodities, and the total profit of 15, which he makes on 100, will be distributed in small fractions over each individual portion of this mass of commodities. The opposite takes place in the opposite case. This depends entirely on the greater or smaller productivity of the industrial capital, with whose products he trades. If we except the cases, in which the merchant is a monopolist and monopolises at the same time the production of certain goods, as did the Dutch East India Company once upon a time, we must say that there is nothing more ridiculous than the current idea that it depends on the merchant whether he wants to sell many commodities at a small profit or few commodities at a large profit on the individual commodities. The two limits of his selling price are: On one hand, the price of production of commodities, over which he has no control; on the other hand, the average rate of profit, over which he has also no control. The only thing which he has to decide is whether he wants to deal in cheap or in dear commodities, and even here the size of his available capital and other circumstances have something to say. Therefore it depends wholly on the degree of development of the capitalist mode of production, not on the good will of the merchant, Edition: current; Page: [362] what course he shall follow in this. A purely commercial company like the old Dutch East India Company, which had a monopoly of production, could imagine that it would be able to continue a method, adapted at best to the beginnings of capitalist production, under entirely changed conditions.41

The following circumstances, among others, help to maintain that popular prejudice, which, like all wrong conceptions of profit, etc., arise out of the views of pure commerce:

1) Phenomena of competition, which, however, concern merely the distribution of mercantile profit among the individual merchants in their capacity as shareholders in the total merchant's capital; such as the underselling of other merchants by one of them for the purpose of beating his competitors.
2) An economist of the caliber of Professor Roscher of Leipsic may still imagine that a change in the selling prices may be brought about by considerations of "prudence and humanity," instead of being due to a revolution in the mode of production itself.
3) If the prices of production fall on account of an increased productivity of labor, and if consequently the selling prices also fall, then the demand, and with it the market prices, often rise even faster than the supply, so that the selling prices yield more than the average profit.
4) A merchant may reduce his selling price (which amounts after all to no more than a reduction of the current profit which he adds to the price) in order to turn over a large capital more rapidly in his business.

All these things concern only competition between merchants themselves.

We have already shown in volume I, that the high or low Edition: current; Page: [363] level of the prices of commodities determines neither the mass of surplus-value produced by a certain capital nor the rate of surplus-value; it is merely true that, according to the relative quantity of commodities produced by a certain quantity of labor, the price of the individual commodity, and with it the share of surplus-value falling upon this price, is greater or smaller. The prices of every quantity of commodities are determined, so far as they correspond to their values, by the total quantity of labor incorporated in these commodities. If much labor is incorporated in few commodities, then the price of the individual commodities is low and the surplus-value contained in them is small. No matter in what proportion the labor incorporated in a commodity is divided into paid and unpaid labor, and no matter what portion of its price may represent surplus-value, it has nothing to do with the total quantity of this labor, nor, consequently, with its price. On the other hand, the rate of surplus-value does not depend on the absolute magnitude of the surplus-value contained in the price of the individual commodity, but on its relative magnitude, on its proportion to the wages contained in the same commodity. The rate of surplus-value may therefore be large, while the absolute magnitude of the surplus-value in each individual commodity may be small. This absolute magnitude of the surplus-value in each commodity depends in the first place on the productivity of labor, and only in the second place on its division into paid and unpaid labor.

Moreover, in the case of the commercial selling price, the price of production is a condition determined by external circumstances.

The high prices of commerce in former times were due 1) to the dearness of the prices of production, in other words, to the unproductivity of labor; 2) to the absence of an average rate of profit, which enabled the merchant's capital to absorb a much larger quantity of the surplus-value than would have fallen to its share, had the capitals enjoyed a greater general mobility. The cessation of this condition, in both of its aspects, is due to the development of the capitalist mode of production.

Edition: current; Page: [364]

The turn-overs of merchant's capital vary in length, their numbers consequently are greater or smaller, in different lines of commerce. Within the same line of commerce, the turn-over is more or less rapid in different phases of the economic cycle. However, an average number of turn-overs, which is found by experience, takes place.

We have already noted, that the turn-over of merchant's capital differs from that of industrial capital. This follows from the nature of the case; one single phase in the turn-over of industrial capital appears as a complete turn-over of some independently constituted merchant's capital, or of a part of some such merchant's capital. This turn-over has also a different relation to the determination of profit and prices.

In the case of the industrial capital, its turn-over expresses on one hand the periodicity of reproduction, and on it depends the mass of commodities, which may be thrown on the market in a certain period. On the other hand, its time of circulation forms a barrier, which is elastic and exerts more or less of a restraint on the creation of value and surplus-value, because it exerts a pressure on the volume of the process of production. The turn-over therefore acts as a determining element on the mass of annually produced surplus-value, and thus helps to determine the average rate of profit, but it acts as a negative, not as a positive element. For the merchant's capital, however, the average rate of profit exists as a given magnitude. The merchant's capital does not directly participate in the creation of value or surplus-value, and it participates in the formation of an average rate of profit only to the extent that draws a dividend, in proportion to its size in the total social capital, out of the mass of profit produced by the industrial capital.

The greater the number of turn-overs of a certain industrial capital is under the conditions described in Volume II, Part II, the greater is the mass of profits created by it. Now, the formation of an average rate of profit distributes, the total profit among the different capitals, not in proportion to their actual participation in its direct production, but in proportion Edition: current; Page: [365] to the aliquot parts which they constitute in the total capital, that is, in proportion to their magnitudes. But this does not alter the essence of the matter. The greater the number of turnovers of the industrial capital as a whole is, the greater is the mass of profits, the mass of annually produced surplus-value, and therefore the rate of profit, always assuming other circumstances to remain unchanged. It is different with merchant's capital. For it, the rate of profit is a given magnitude, determined on one hand by the mass of profit produced by the industrial capital, on the other hand by the relative magnitude of the total merchant's capital, by its quantitative relation to the sum of capital advanced in the processes of production and circulation. The number of its turn-overs does indeed exert a determining influence on its relation to the total social capital, or on the relative magnitude of the total merchant's capital required for the circulation. For it is evident that the absolute magnitude of the total merchant's capital and the velocity of its turn-over are inversely proportioned to one another. But, all other circumstances remaining the same, the relative magnitude of the merchant's capital, or its aliquot proportion in the total social capital, is determined by its absolute magnitude. If the total social capital is 10,000, and the merchant's capital 1,000, then it is 1/10 of the total; if the total capital is 1,000, and the merchant's capital 100, it is again 1/10. To that extent, the absolute magnitude of the merchant's capital may vary, while its relative magnitude in the total social capital remains the same. But in the present case, we assume that its relative magnitude of 1/10 of the total social capital is given. This relative magnitude, again, is determined by its turn-over. If it is turned over rapidly, its absolute magnitude will be 1,000 in the first case, and 100 in the second, so that its relative magnitude will be 1/10. But if it is turned over more slowly, then its absolute magnitude may be 2,000 in the first case, and 200 in the second case. Then its relative magnitude will have increased from 1/10 to 1/5 of the total social capital. Circumstances which reduce the average turn-over of merchant's capital, for instance, the development of means of transportation, reduce to that extent the Edition: current; Page: [366] absolute magnitude of merchants' capital and thereby increase the average rate of profit. The opposite takes place, if things are reversed. A developed mode of capitalist production, compared to previous conditions, exerts a twofold influence on merchants' capital. In the first place, the same quantity of commodities is turned over with a smaller mass of actually functioning merchants' capital; for the proportion of the merchants' capital to industrial capital is reduced by the more rapid turn-over of merchants' capital and the greater velocity of the process of reproduction that is its basis. On the other hand, the development of the capitalist mode of production turns all production into a production of commodities, which puts all products into the hands of the agents of circulation. This is so much more notable, as under previous modes of production, which produced things on a small scale, a large portion of the producers sold their goods directly to the consumers or worked for their personal orders, leaving out of consideration that mass of products, which were immediately consumed by the producer himself, and that mass of services, which were performed in natura. While, therefore, under former methods of production, commercial capital represented proportionately a larger share of the commodity-capital which it turned over, it was.

1) absolutely smaller, because a disproportionately smaller part of the total product was produced in the shape of commodities, passed as commodity-capital into circulation, and fell into the hands of merchants. It was smaller, because the commodity-capital was smaller. But it was proportionately larger, not only because its turn-over was slower, and because it constituted a larger portion of the mass of commodities turned over by it, but also because the price of this mass of commodities, and consequently the merchants' capital to be advanced for it, were greater than under capitalist production on account of a lower productivity of labor, so that the same value was incorporated in a smaller mass of commodities.

2) Not alone is a larger mass of commodities produced on the basis of capitalist production (taking account also of the reduced value of these commodities), but the same mass of Edition: current; Page: [367] products, for instance, of corn, also becomes to a greater extent commodity, that is, more and more of the product becomes an object of commerce. As a consequence, not only the mass of the merchants' capital, but of all capital invested in the circulation, increases, such as capital invested in marine shipping, railroading, telegraph business, etc.;

3) However, there is one point of view, which belongs in the discussion of "competition among capitals," namely: The merchants' capital, which is not serving in any function, or serving only in part, grows with the progress of the capitalist mode of production, with the facility of its investment in retail trade, with the increase of speculation, and with the superfluity of released capital.

But, assuming the relative magnitude of the merchants' capital in proportion to the social capital to be given, the difference of the turn-overs in the various lines of commerce does not affect the magnitude of the total profit falling to the share of the total merchants' capital, nor the general rate of profit. The profit of the merchant is determined, not by the mass of the commodity-capital turned over by him, but by the magnitude of the money-capital advanced by him for the promotion of this turn-over. If the yearly general rate of profit is 15%, and the merchant advances 100 p.st., which he turns over once a year, then he will sell his commodities at 115. If his capital is turned over five times per year, then he will sell a commodity-capital of 100 purchase price five times per year at 103, which will amount in one year to a commodity-capital of 500 sold 515. This constitutes the same annual profit of 15% on his advanced capital of 100 as before. If this were not so, then the merchants' capital would yield a much higher profit in proportion to the number of its turn-overs than the industrial capital, and this would be a contradiction to the law of the average rate of profit.

It follows, then, that the number of turn-overs of merchants' capital in the various lines of commerce affects the mercantile prices of commodities directly. The amount of the mercantile addition to the price, the addition of that aliquot part of the mercantile profit of a given capital which Edition: current; Page: [368] falls upon the price of production of the individual commodities, stands in an inverse ratio to the number of turn-overs, or the velocity of turn-over, of the merchants' capitals in the various lines of commerce. If a certain merchants' capital is turned over five times per year, it will add to a commodity-capital of its own value but one-fifth of the profit, which another merchants' capital of the same value, which is turned over but once per year, will add to a commodity-capital of the same value.

This modification of selling prices by the average time of turn-over of the capitals in different lines of commerce amounts to this: In proportion to the velocity of turn-over, the same mass of profits, which is determined by the annual rate of average profit for any given magnitude of merchants' capital, independently of the specific commercial character of the operations of this capital, is differently distributed over masses of commodities of the same value. For instance, if the merchants' capital is turned over five times per year, it will add 15/5 = 3% to the price of commodities, and if turned over once per year, it will add 15% to their price.

The same percentage of the commercial profit in different lines of industry, according to the proportions of their times of turn-over, increases the selling prices of commodities by different percentages calculated on their values.

On the other hand, in the case of industrial capital, the time of turn-over does not affect in any way the magnitude of the value of the individual commodities produced during that time, although it does affect the mass of value and surplus-value produced in a given time, because it affects the mass of exploited labor. This is indeed concealed and seems to be otherwise, as soon as one has an eye only to the prices of production. But this is due solely to the fact that, according to the previously analysed laws, the prices of production of the various commodities deviate from their values. As soon as we look upon the process of production in its totality, upon the mass of commodities produced by the entire industrial capital of society, we shall find the general law vindicated.

We see then, that a closer inspection of the influence of the Edition: current; Page: [369] time of turn-over on the formation of the values leads us back, in the case of the industrial capital, to the general law and to the basis of political economy, to-wit, the law that the values of commodities are determined by the labor time contained in them. But the influence of the turn-overs of merchants' capital on the mercantile prices reveals phenomena, which, without a very lengthy analysis of the connecting links, seem to point to a purely arbitrary fixing of prices. They seem to be fixed purely on the intention that a certain capital should make a definite quantity of profits in one year. Particularly it looks, on account of this influence of the turn-overs, as though the process of circulation determined by itself the prices of commodities, independently, within certain limits, of the process of production. All superficial and false conceptions of the process of reproduction as a whole arise from the point of view of merchants' capital and from the conceptions, which its peculiar movements call forth in the minds of the agents of circulation.

If it is realised—and the reader will have realised it to his great dismay—that the analysis of the actual internal interconnections of the capitalist process of production is a very complicated matter and a very protracted work; if it is a work of science to resolve the visible and external movement into the internal actual movement, then it is understood as a matter of course, that the conceptions formed about the laws of production in the heads of the agents of production and circulation will differ widely from these real laws and will be merely the conscious expression of the apparent movements. The conceptions of a merchant, a stock gambler, a banker, are necessarily quite perverted. Those of the manufacturer are vitiated by the acts of circulation, to which their capital is subject, and by the compensation of the general rate of profit.42

Competition likewise plays a completely perverted role in these heads. If the limits of value and surplus-value are Edition: current; Page: [370] given, then it is easy to understand, in what manner the competition of capitals will transform values into prices of production and further into mercantile prices, and surplus-value into average profit. But without these limits, we cannot see any reason at all, why competition should reduce the average rate of profit to such and such a level instead of some other, should make it 15% instead of 1,500%. Competition at best can only reduce the rate of profit to one and the same level. But it does not contain any element, by which this level could be determined.

From the point of view of merchants' capital, the turn-over itself takes on the guise of a determining element of prices. On the other hand, while the velocity of the turn-over of industrial capital, in so far as it enables a certain industrial capital to exploit more or less labor, exerts a determining and limiting influence on the mass of profit and thus on the average rate of profit, this rate of profit exists as an external fact for the merchants' capital, and the internal connection of this rate with the production of surplus-value is entirely obliterated. If the same industrial capital, under otherwise equal circumstances, particularly with the same organic composition, is turned over four times per year instead of twice, it produces twice as much surplus-value and, consequently, profit. And this becomes palpable, as soon and so long as this capital has the monopoly of that improved mode of production, to which it owes its accelerated turn-over. Vice versa, differences in the times of turn-over in different lines of commerce manifest themselves in such a way that the profit made on the turn-over of some given commodity-capital is in an inverse ratio to the number of turn-overs of the money-capital which turns this commodity-capital over. Small profits and quick returns appears particularly to the shopkeeper as a principle, which he follows on principle.

For the rest, it is a matter of course, that this law of turn-overs of merchants' capital holds good in each line of commerce only for the average of turn-overs made by the entire merchants' capital invested in each particular line, and always without a consideration of any succession of alternating and Edition: current; Page: [371] mutually compensating turn-overs of longer or shorter duration. The capital of A, who deals in the same line as B, may make more or less than the average number of turn-overs. This does not alter the turn-over of the total mass of merchants' capital invested in this line. But this is of decisive moment for the individual merchant or shopkeeper. He makes in this case an extra profit, just as the industrial capitalists make extra profits, if they produce under conditions more favorable than the average. If competition compels him, he can sell cheaper than his competitors without lowering his profit below the average. If the conditions, which would enable him to turn his capital over more rapidly, are themselves for sale, such as a favorable location of the shop, he can pay extra rent for it, that is to say, a portion of his surplus-profit is converted into ground rent.

CHAPTER XIX.: FINANCIAL CAPITAL.

THE purely technical movements performed by money in the process of circulation of industrial capital, and, as we may now add, of commercial capital, which assumes a part of the circulation movement of industrial capital as its own peculiar movement,—these movements, if individualised into an independent function of some particular capital that performs nothing but just this service, convert a capital into financial capital. In that case, one portion of the industrial capital, and of commercial capital, persists not only in the form of money, of money capital in general, but as money-capital, which performs only these technical functions. A definite part of the total social capital separates from the rest and individualises itself in the form of money-capital, whose capitalist function consists exclusively in performing the financial operations for the entire class of industrial and commercial capitalists. As in the case of the commercial capital, so in that of financial capital a portion of the industrial capital in process of function in circulation separates from the rest and Edition: current; Page: [372] performs these operations of the process of reproduction for all the other capital. These movements of such money-capital, then, are once more merely movements of an individualised part of industrial capital in the process of reproduction.

Capital appears as the first and last point of this movement only to the extent that capital is newly invested, as happens in accumulation. But for every capital, which is already in process, this first and last point appear merely as points of transit. To the extent that industrial capital, from the moment of its exit from the sphere of production to that of its return to it, passes through the metamorphosis C'—M—C, M represents merely the final result of one phase of this metamorphosis and becomes at once the starting point of its supplementing second phase, as we have already seen in the discussion of the simple circulation of commodities. And although the C—M of industrial capital signifies always M—C—M for the commercial capital, nevertheless the actual process for this last named capital, once that it has become engaged, is also C—M—C. But the commercial capital passes continually through and simultaneously through the acts C—M and M—C, that is to say, there is not only one capital in the stage C—M, while another is in the stage M—C, but the same capital buys continually and sells continually at the same time, on account of the continuity of the process of production. It is continually and simultaneously in both stages. While one of its parts is converted into money, to be reconverted later into commodities, another is simultaneously converted into commodities, to be reconverted into money.

Whether the money serves here as a means of circulation or of payment, depends on the form of the exchange of commodities. In both cases, the capitalist has to pay out money continually to many persons, and to receive money continually from many persons. This purely technical labor of paying money and receiving money constitutes an employment by itself, which necessitates the making of balances, the balancing of accounts, so far as money serves as a means of payment. This labor belongs to the expenses of circulation, it does not Edition: current; Page: [373] create any values. It is abbreviated by being organised as a special department of agents, or capitalists, who perform this work for all the rest of the capitalist class.

A definite portion of the capital must be continually available as a hoard, as potential money-capital. It constitutes a reserve of means of purchase, a reserve of means of payment, unemployed capital in the form of money waiting to be put to work. And one portion of the capital continually returns in this form. This requires not only the collecting, paying, and bookkeeping operations, but also the storing of a hoard, which constitutes an operation by itself. This work consists indeed in a continual conversion of a hoard into means of circulation and means of payment, and its restoration to the form of a hoard by means of money secured through sales and due payments. This continuous movement of that part of capital, which exists in the form of money, separated from the function of capital itself, this purely technical function causes its own labors and expenses, which belong to the expenses of circulation.

The division of labor brings it about, that these technical operations, which are conditioned on the functions of capital, should be performed as much as possible for the entire capitalist class by one class of agents, or capitalists, into whose hands it is concentrated as their exclusive function. We have here, as in the case of commercial capital, a division of labor in a twofold sense. It becomes a special business, and because it is performed as a special business for the money-mechanism of the whole class, it is concentrated and performed on a large scale. And then a further division of labor takes place within this special business, on one hand by a separation into various independent lines, on the other by a segmentation of the work within each office of these special lines. Large offices, many bookkeepers and cashiers, far going division of labor, disbursing of money, receiving of money, balancing of accounts, keeping of current accounts, storing of money, etc., all these things, separated from the acts that necessitate these technical operations, make of the capital advanced for these functions a financial capital.

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The various operations, whose individualisation gives rise to special lines of financial business, follow from the different capacities of money itself and from its different functions, through which capital in its money-form must likewise pass.

I have pointed out on a previous occasion, that the money business in general developed originally from an exchange of products between different communes.43

The financial business, the trade with money as a commodity, developed first out of international commerce. As soon as different national coins exist, the merchants buying in foreign countries must exchange their national coins into foreign coins, and vice versa, or exchange different coins for uncoined pure silver or gold as international money. This gives rise to the business of money-exchange, which is one of the primitive foundations of modern financial business.44 Out of it developed the modern banks of exchange, in which silver (or gold) serve as world money—now called bank money or commercial money—as distinguished from current money. Edition: current; Page: [375] The business of money-exchange, so far as it consists merely of notes of payment to travelers from one money-exchanger in one country to another in another country, developed as early as Roman and Grecian times out of the simple money-exchange.

The trade with gold and silver as commodities (raw materials for the making of articles of luxury) forms the primitive basis of bullion trade, or of that trade, which promotes the functions of money as world money. These, functions, as previously explained (Volume I, chapter III, 3c), are twofold: A currency back and forth between the various national spheres of circulation for the purpose of balancing the international payments and for performing the migrations of capital in quest of interest; simultaneously with this movement, there is a movement of precious metals from their sources of production across the world market and a distribution of their supply over the various national spheres of circulation. In England, the goldsmiths still served as bankers during the greater part of the 17th century. The way in which the balancing of international accounts in the money trade is further developed, is not discussed here, any more than any points referring to the business of dealing in valuable papers, in short, we leave out of consideration all special forms of the credit system, since this does not yet concern us here.

In the shape of world money, national money strips off its local character; one national money is expressed in another, and thus all of them are finally reduced to their contents in gold or silver, while these two metals, being the two commodities circulating as world money, are simultaneously reduced to their mutual ratios, which change continually. The money trader makes this intermediate business his special occupation. Money changing and bullion trading are thus the primitive forms of the money trade, and they arise from the twofold functions of money as national money and world money.

The capitalist process of production, and commerce in general, even under precapitalist methods, imply:

1) The accumulation of money in the shape of a hoard, that Edition: current; Page: [376] is, in the present case, the accumulation of that part of capital, which must always be on hand in the form of money, as a reserve fund of means of payment and means of purchase. This is the first form of a hoard, such as it reappears under the capitalist mode of production, and as it forms in general with the development of merchants' capital, at least for the purposes of this capital. These remarks apply to national as well as international circulation. This hoard is in continuous flux, pours ceaselessly into circulation, and returns uninterruptedly from it. The second form of a hoard is now that of fallow, unemployed, capital in the form of money, including newly accumulated and not yet invested money-capital. The functions first required by this formation of a hoard are those of safekeeping, bookkeeping, etc.
2) This is connected by an expenditure of money in buying, its reception on selling, making and receiving of payments, balancing of payments, etc. The money dealer performs all these services at first as a simple cashier of the merchants and industrial capitalists.45

Edition: current; Page: [377] Dealing in money is fully developed, even in its first stages, as soon as its ordinary functions of lending and borrowing are supplemented by the credit business. Of this more in the following part, which deals with interest-bearing capital.

The bullion trade itself, the transfer of gold or silver from one country to another, is merely the result of the trade in commodities. It is determined by the quotations of bills of exchange, which express the stand of the international payments and of the rate of interest on the different markets. The bullion trader as such acts but as an intermediary between results.

In discussing the way, in which the movements and forms of money develop out of the simple circulation of commodities, we have seen (Vol. I, chap. III), that the movements of the mass of money circulating as a means of purchase and payment are determined by the metamorphosis of commodities, by the volume and velocity of this metamorphosis. And we know now, that this metamorphosis is itself but a phase in the entire process of reproduction. As for the movement of the raw materials of money—gold and silver—from their places of production, it resolves itself in a direct exchange of commodities, an exchange of gold and silver as commodities for other commodities. Hence it is as much a phase of the exchange of commodities as the securing of iron or other metals by means of exchange. And so far as the movements of precious metals on the world-market are concerned (we leave aside at this point the consideration of their movements to the extent that they express the transfer of capital by loans, a transfer, which takes place also in the shape of commodity-capital), they are quite as much determined by the international exchange of commodities as the movements of money as a national means of purchase and payment are determined by the exchange of commodities on the home market. The emigrations and immigrations of precious metals from one national sphere to another, which are caused by a depreciation of national coins, or by a double standard, are extraneous to Edition: current; Page: [378] the circulation of money as such and represent merely corrections of deviations brought about arbitrarily by state decrees. And finally, as concerns the formation of hoards, which constitute reserve funds for means of purchase and payment, either for the home trade or for foreign trade, and likewise of hoards, which represent merely a form of capital temporarily unemployed, they are both necessary precipitates of the process of circulation.

Just as the entire circulation of money, in its volume, its forms, and movements, is purely a result of the circulation of commodities which in its turn represents from the capitalist point of view only the process of circulation of capital (including the exchange of capital for revenue, and of revenue for revenue, so far as the expenditure of revenue is realised in retail trade), so it is a matter of course, that the trade in money does not promote merely the circulation of money, a mere result and phenomenon of the circulation of commodities. This circulation of money itself, as a phase in the circulation of commodities, is a fundamental requisite for the trade in money. This trade promotes merely the technical operations of money-circulation, concentrating, abbreviating, simplifying them. The trade in money does not form the hoards, but supplies the technical means by which the formation of hoards may be reduced to its economical minimum (so far as it is voluntary, that is, so far as it is not an expression of unemployed capital or of disturbances of the process of reproduction). For if the reserve funds of means of purchase and payment are managed for the capitalist class as a whole, they need not be so large as they would have to be, did each capitalist manage his own. The trade in money does not buy the precious metals, but merely promotes their distribution, as soon as the trade in commodities has bought them. The trade in money facilitates the squaring of balances, so far as money serves as a means of payment, and reduces by the artificial mechanism of these compensations the amount of money required for this purpose. But it determines neither the connections, nor the volume, of the mutual payments. For instance, the bills of exchange and checks, which are exchanged Edition: current; Page: [379] for one another in banks and clearing houses, reflect quite independent transactions and are the results of real operations. It is merely a question of a better technical compensation of these results. So far as money serves as a means of purchase, the volume and number of purchases and sales are quite independent of the money trade. This trade cannot do anything but abbreviate the technical operations that go with buying and selling, and by this means it is enabled to reduce the amount of cash money required to turn the commodities over.

The money trade in its pure form, which we consider here, that is, the money trade not complicated by the credit system, is concerned only with the technique of a certain phase of the circulation of commodities, namely with the circulation of money and the different functions of money following from its circulation.

This distinguishes the money trade essentially from the trade in commodities, which promotes the metamorphosis of commodities and their exchange, or which gives even to this process the aspect of a process of a certain capital separated from the industrial capital. While, therefore, the commercial capital has its own form of circulation, M—C—M, in which the commodity changes hands twice and thereby recovers the money, in distinction from C—M—C, in which the money changes hands twice and thereby promotes the exchange of commodities, there is no such special form of circulation, which can be demonstrated in the case of financial capital.

To the extent that money-capital is advanced by a separate class of capitalists for the technical promotion of the circulation of money—a capital representing on a reduced scale the additional capital, which the merchants and industrial capitalists must otherwise advance themselves for these purposes—the general form of capital, M—M', is found also here. By the advance of M, the advancing capitalist secures M + 8Delta;M. But the promotion of the transaction M—M' does not concern itself in this case with the objective materials, but only with the technical processes of this metamorphosis.

It is evident, that the mass of money-capital, with which the Edition: current; Page: [380] money dealers have to operate, is the money-capital of the merchants and industrial capitalists in process of circulation, and that the operations of the money dealers are merely those originally performed by the merchants and industrial capitalist.

It is equally evident, that the profit of the money dealers is nothing but a deduction from the surplus-value, since they are operating merely with already realised values (even when they have been realised in the form of creditors' claims).

As in the trade with commodities, so in that with money a duplication of functions takes place. For a portion of the technical operations connected with the circulation of money must be carried out by the dealers and producers of commodities themselves.

CHAPTER XX.: HISTORICAL DATA CONCERNING MERCHANTS' CAPITAL.

THE particular form, in which the commercial capital and financial capital accumulate money, will be discussed in the next part of this volume.

From what has gone before it follows as a matter of course that nothing can be more absurd than to consider merchants' capital, whether in the shape of commercial or of financial capital, as some particular kind of industrial capital, such as that invested in mining, agriculture, stock raising, manufacture, transportation, etc., which constitute side lines of industrial capital formed by division of social labor and thus different spheres for its investment. The simple observation, that every industrial capital, when in the circulation phase of its process of reproduction, performs in the shape of commodity-capital and money-capital the very same functions, which appear as exclusive functions of the two forms of merchants' capital, should make such a crude conception impossible. On the other hand, in commercial and financial capital the differences between the productive nature of industrial capital and its functions in the sphere of circulation are independently individualised, Edition: current; Page: [381] by transferring definite forms and functions assumed momentarily by industrial capital into independent forms and functions of separate portions of capital permanently tied up in circulation. A changed form of industrial capital is widely different from distinctions between productive capitals following from the nature of the various lines of industry.

Aside from the brutality with which the economist ordinarily handles distinctions of form, in which he is interested only so far as their material side is concerned, the vulgar economist is influenced by two other reasons in his violation of distinctions. There is, in the first place, his incapability to explain the peculiar nature of mercantile profit. In the second place, he writes for the apologetic purpose of proclaiming his opinion, that the process of production by its very nature, is the source of such forms as commodity-capital and money-capital, or later of merchants' capital and financial capital, instead of showing that they are due to the specific form of capitalist production, which is conditioned above all on the circulation of commodities and therefore of money.

If commercial capital and financial capital do not differ from the production of grain any more than this differs from stock raising and manufacture, then it is evident that production and capitalist production are one and the same thing, and that especially the distribution of the social products among the members of society for the purpose of productive or individual consumption need no more be promoted by merchants and bankers than the consumption of meat by stock raising or that of clothes by their manufacture.46

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The great economists, such as Smith, Ricardo, etc., are embarrassed over mercantile capital as a special kind, since they analyse the basic form of capital, industrial capital, and take notice of capital of circulation (commodity-capital and money-capital) only to the extent that it is a phase in the process of reproduction of all capital. The rules concerning the formation of value, profit, etc., which are directly deduced from an analysis of industrial capital, do not fit merchants' capital directly. Therefore these economists leave merchants' capital entirely out of consideration and mention it only as a kind of industrial capital. Whenever they treat of it particularly, as Ricardo does in dealing with foreign commerce, they seek to demonstrate that it does not create any value (and consequently no surplus-value). But whatever is true of foreign commerce, applies also to home commerce.

Hitherto we have considered merchants' capital merely from the point of view of the capitalist mode of production, and within its limits. However, not only commerce, but also merchants' capital, is older than the capitalist mode of production. In fact, it represents historically the oldest free existence of capital.

As we have already seen that the money trade and the capital advanced for it require nothing for their existence but the presence of commerce on a large scale, and further of commercial capital, it is only the latter, which we have to consider here.

Since commercial capital is tied up in the circulation, and since its function consists exclusively in promoting the exchange of commodities, it follows that it requires no other condition for its existence—aside from undeveloped forms arising from direct barter—but those indispensable for the simple circulation of money and commodities. Or rather, the circulation of money is the condition of its existence. No matter what may be the basis on which production is carried on, which throws its products into circulation as commodities Edition: current; Page: [383] —whether it be the basis of a primitive commune, or of slave production, or of small agricultural, small bourgeois, or capitalist—the character of the products as commodities is not altered, and as commodities they have to pass through the process of exchange and through the forms incidental to it. The extremes, between which merchants' capital acts as a mediator, exist for it as given propositions, just as they do for money and its movements. The only requisite is that these extremes should be present as commodities, regardless of whether production is wholly a production of commodities, or whether only the surplus of the independent producers over the immediate needs satisfied by their production is thrown on the market. The merchants' capital promotes only the movements of these extremes, these commodities, which are premises of its own existence.

The extent to which production ministers to commerce and supplies the merchants, depends on the mode of production. It reaches its maximum under a fully developed capitalist production, in which the product is primarily produced as a commodity, not for direct subsistence. On the other hand, on the basis of every mode of production, commerce promotes the production of surplus products destined for exchange, for the purpose of increasing the enjoyments of wealth of the producers (who are here understood to be the owners of the products). Commerce impregnates production more and more with the character of a production for exchange.

The metamorphosis of commodities, their movements, consist, 1) materially, of an exchange of different commodities for one another; 2) formally, of a conversion of commodities into money by sale, and a conversion of money into commodities by purchase. And the functions of merchants' capital resolve themselves into these functions of buying and selling commodities. It promotes merely the exchange of commodities, which must be conceived at the outset as being something more than a bare exchange of commodities between direct producers. Under slavery, feudalism, vassalage, so far as primitive organisations are concerned, it is the slave holder, the feudal lord, the tribute collecting state, who are the owners Edition: current; Page: [384] and sellers of the products. The merchant buys and sells for many. In his hands are concentrated purchases and sales, and purchase and sale cease consequently to be dependent on a direct necessity of the buyer (as a merchant).

But whatever may be the social organisation of the spheres of production, whose exchange of commodities the merchant promotes, his wealth exists always in the form of money and his money always serves as capital. Its form is always M—C—M'. Money, the independent form of exchange value, is his starting point, expansion of the exchange value his independent purpose. He occupies himself with the exchange of commodities and the operations incidental to it, which are separated from production and performed by a non-producer, and this is merely a means to increase wealth and at that wealth in its most general social form, exchange value. His compelling motive and compelling end are the conversion of M into M + 8Delta;M. The transactions M—C and C—M, which promote the act M—M', appear merely as stages of transition in this conversion of M into M + 8Delta;M. This M—C—M' is the characteristic movement of merchants' capital which distinguishes it from C—M—C, the exchange of commodities between the producers themselves, which has for its ultimate end the exchange of use-values.

To the extent that production is undeveloped, the money wealth will be concentrated in the hands of merchants, will appear in the specific form of merchants' wealth.

Within the capitalist mode of production—that is, as soon as capital has seized hold of production and given to it a wholly changed and specific form—merchants' capital appears merely as a capital with a specific function. But in all previous modes of production, and so much the more production ministers to the direct wants of the producers themselves, merchants' capital appears as the capital which performs the function of capital.

There is, then, no difficulty in understanding how it is that that merchants' capital is the historical form of capital long before capital has subjected production to its control. Its existence and development to a certain level are themselves Edition: current; Page: [385] historical premises for the development of capitalist production. For they are, 1), premises for the concentration of moneyed wealth, and 2), the capitalist mode of production is conditioned on production for exchange, commerce on a large scale instead of with a few individual customers, and this requires also a merchant, who does not buy for the satisfaction of his own individual wants, but concentrates the transactions of many buyers in one commercial transaction. On the other hand, all development of merchants' capital tends to give to production more and more the character of a production for exchange and to impregnate the products more and more with the character of commodities. But the development of merchants' capital by itself is incapable of bringing about and explaining the transition from one mode of production to another, as we shall presently see.

Within capitalist production, the merchants' capital is reduced from its former independent existence to a special phase in the investment of capital in general, and the compensation of profits reduces its rate of profits to the general average. Then it serves only as an agent of productive capital. The particular social conditions, which formed together with the development of merchants' capital, are then no longer paramount. On the contrary, where merchants' capital still predominates, we find backward conditions. This is true even of one and the same country, in which, for instance, the pure merchants' towns form far better analogies with past conditions than the manufacturing towns.47

An independent and prevailing development of capital in the shape of merchants' capital signifies that production is not subject to capital, in other words, it means that capital develops Edition: current; Page: [386] on the basis of a mode of production independent and outside of it. The independent development of merchants' capital stands therefore in an inverse ratio to the general economic development of society.

The independent mercantile wealth, as a prevailing form of capital represents the independent establishment of the process of circulation as against its extremes, and these extremes are the exchanging producers themselves. These extremes remain independent of the process of circulation, just as this circulation remains independent of them. The product becomes a commodity in this case by way of commerce. It is commerce which, under such conditions, develops products into commodities; it is not the produced commodity itself which, by its movements, gives rise to commerce. Capital in the capacity of capital appears here first in the process of circulation. In the process of circulation money first develops into capital. In the circulation, the products first assume the character of exchange values, of commodities and money. Capital can and must form in the process of circulation, before it learns to control the extremes, that is, the various spheres of production between which circulation intervenes as a mediator. The circulation of money and commodities may act as an intermediary between spheres of production of widely different organisation, whose internal structure is still, predominantely adjusted to the production of use-values. This independent status of the process of circulation, by which various spheres of production are connected by means of a third link, expresses two facts. On the one hand it shows that the circulation has not yet seized hold of production, but as yet regards it as an existing fact. On the other hand, it shows that the process of production has not yet absorbed circulation and made a phase of production of it. But in capitalist production, both of these things are accomplished. The process of production rests wholly upon the circulation, and the circulation is a mere phase of transition of production, in which the product, having been created as a commodity, is realised in money and its elements of production replaced by products, which have likewise been created in the shape of commodities. Edition: current; Page: [387] That form of capital, which developed directly in circulation, the merchants' capital, appears here merely as one of the forms of capital in its process of reproduction.

The rule, that the independent development of merchants' capital is inversely proportioned to the degree of development of capitalist production, becomes particularly manifest in the history of the carrying trade, for instance, among the Venetians, Genoese, Dutch, etc., where the principal gains were not made by the exportation of the products of the home industries, but by the promotion of the exchange of products of commercially and otherwise economically undeveloped societies and by the exploitation of both spheres of production.48

Here the merchants' capital is pure, separated from the extremes, the spheres of production, between which it intervenes. This is one of the main sources of its formation. But this monopoly of the carrying trade disintegrates, and with it this trade itself, in proportion as the economic development of peoples advances, whom it exploits at each end of its course, and whose backward development formed the basis of this trade. In the carrying trade, this appears not only as the disintegration of a special line of commerce, but also as the disintegration of the supremacy of purely commercial nations and of their commercial wealth in general, which rested upon this carrying trade. This is but one of the special forms, which expresses the subordination of the commercial capital to the industrial capital with the advance of capitalist production. The manner in which merchants' capital behaves wherever it rules over production is drastically illustrated, not only by the colonial economy (the colonial system) in general, but particularly by the methods of the old Dutch East India Company.

Since the movement of merchants' capital is M—C—M', Edition: current; Page: [388] the profit of the merchant is made, in the first place, only within the process of circulation, by the two transactions of buying and selling; and in the second place, it is realised in the last transactions, the sale. It is a profit upon alienation. At first sight, a pure and independent commercial profit seems impossible, so long as products are sold at their value. To buy cheap in order to sell dear is the rule of trade. It is not supposed to be an exchange of equivalents. The conception of value is included in it only to the extent that the individual commodities all have a value and are to that extent money. In quality, they are all expressions of social labor. But they are not values of equal magnitude. The quantitative ratio, in which products are exchanged, is at first quite arbitrary. They assume the form of commodities inasmuch as they are exchangeable, that is, inasmuch as they may be expressed in terms of the same third thing. The continued exchange and the more regular reproduction for exchange reduces this arbitrariness more and more. But this applies not at once to the producer and consumer, but only to the mediator between them, the merchant, who compares the money-prices and pockets their difference. By his own movements he establishes the equivalence of commodities.

The merchants' capital is at first merely the intervening movement between extremes not controlled by it and between premises not created by it.

Just as from the mere form of the circulation of commodities, C—M—C, money rises not only as a measure of value and medium of circulation, but also as the absolute form of the commodity and thus of wealth, in the form of a hoard, so that its conservation and accumulation as money become its life's purpose, so money, in the shape of a hoard, issues from the mere form of the circulation of merchants' capital, M—C—M', as something which is preserved and increased only by its alienation.

The trading nations of the ancients existed like the gods of Epicure in the intermediate worlds of the universe, or rather like the Jews in the pores of Polish society. The trade of the first independent and highly developed merchant towns and Edition: current; Page: [389] trading nations rested as a pure carrying trade upon the barbarism of the producing nations between whom they intervened.

In the precapitalist stages of society, commerce rules industry. The reverse is true of modern society. Of course, commerce will have more or less of a reaction on the societies, between which it is carried on. It will subject production more and more to exchange value, by making enjoyments and subsistence more dependent on the sale than on the immediate use of the products. Thereby it dissolves all old conditions. It increases the circulation of money. It seizes no longer merely upon the surplus of production, but corrodes production itself more and more, making entire lines of production dependent upon it. However, this dissolving effect depends to a large degree on the nature of the producing society.

So long as merchants' capital promotes the exchange of products between undeveloped societies, commercial profit does not only assume the shape of outbargaining and cheating, but also arises largely from these methods. Leaving aside the fact that it exploits the difference in the prices of production of the various countries (and in this respect it tends to level and fix the values of commodities), those modes of production bring it about that merchants' capital appropriates to itself the overwhelming portion of the surplus-product, either in its capacity as a mediator between societies, which are as yet largely engaged in the production of use-values and for whose economic organisation the sale of that portion of its product which is transferred to the circulation, or any sale of products at their value, is of minor importance; or, because under those former modes of production, the principal owners of the surplus-product, with whom the merchant has to deal, are the slave holder, the feudal landlord, the state (for instance, the oriental despot), and they represent the wealth and luxury, which the merchant tries to trap, as Adam Smith correctly scented in that passage on feudal times, which I have quoted above. Merchants' capital in its supremacy everywhere stands for a system of robbery,49 and its development, among the Edition: current; Page: [390] trading nations of old and new times, is always connected with plundering, piracy, snatching of slaves, conquest of colonies. See Carthage, Rome, and later Venetians, Portuguese, Dutch, etc.

The development of commerce and merchants' capital brings forth everywhere the tendency toward production of exchange values, increases its volume, multiplies and monopolises it, develops money into world money. Commerce therefore has everywhere more or less of a dissolving influence on the producing organisations, which it finds at hand and whose different forms are mainly carried on with a view to immediate use. To what extent it brings about a dissolution of the old mode of production, depends on its solidity and internal articulation. And to what this process of dissolution will lead, in other words, what new mode of production will take the place of the old, does not depend on commerce, but on the character of the old mode of production itself. In the antique world the effect of commerce and the development of merchants' capital always result in slave economy; or, according to what the point of departure may be, the result may simply turn out to be the transformation of a patriarchal slave system devoted Edition: current; Page: [391] to the production of direct means of subsistence into a similar system devoted to the production of surplus-value. However, in the modern world, it results in the capitalist mode of production. From these facts it follows, that these results were conditioned on quite other circumstances than the mere influence of the development of merchants' capital.

It follows from the nature of the case that as soon as town industry as such separates from agricultural industry, its products are from the outset commodities and require for their sale the intervention of commerce. The leaning of commerce upon the development of the towns, and, on the other hand, the dependence of the towns upon commerce, are to that extent intelligible. However, in what measure industrial development will keep step with this development, depends upon quite other circumstances. Already ancient Rome, in its later republican days, developed merchants' capital more highly than it had ever existed in the antique world, without any progress in the development of crafts, while in Corinth and in other Grecian towns of Europe and Asia Minor the development of commerce was accompanied by highly developed crafts. On the other hand, in direct opposition to the development of towns and its conditions, the trading spirit and the development of commerce are frequently found among unsettled nomadic peoples.

There is no doubt—and it is precisely this fact which has led to many wrong conceptions—that in the 16th and 17th centuries the great revolutions, which took place in commerce with the through geographical discoveries and rapidly increased the development of merchants' capital, form one of the principal elements in the transition from feudal to capitalist production. The sudden expansion of the world market, the multiplication of the circulating commodities, the zeal displayed among the European nations in the race after the products of Asia and the treasures of America, the colonial system, materially contributed toward the destruction of the feudal barriers of production. However, the modern mode of production, in its first, period, the manufacturing period, developed only in places, where the conditions for it had been Edition: current; Page: [392] previously developed during medieval times. Compare, for instance, Holland with Portugal.50 And, on the other hand, when in the 16th, and partially still in the 17th, century the sudden expansion of commerce and the creation of a new world market exerted an overwhelming influence on the overthrow of the old mode of production and the rise of the capitalistic one, this was accomplished on the basis of the already created capitalist mode of production. The world market forms itself the basis of this mode of production. On the other hand, the immanent necessity of this production to produce on an ever enlarged scale tends to extend the world market continually, so that it is not commerce in this case which revolutionises industry, but industry which continually revolutionises commerce. The commercial supremacy itself is now conditioned on the greater or smaller prevalence of the conditions for a large industry. Compare for instance, England and Holland. The history of the decline of Holland as the ruling commercial nation is the history of the subordination of merchants' capital to industrial capital. The obstacles presented by the internal solidity and articulation of precapitalistic, national, modes of production to the corrosive influence of commerce is strikingly shown in the intercourse of the English with India and China. The broad basis of the mode of production is here formed by the unity of small agriculture and domestic industry, to which is added in India the form of communes resting upon common ownership of the land, which, by the way, was likewise the original form in China. In India, the English exerted simultaneously their direct political and economic power as rulers and landlords, for the purpose of disrupting these small economic organisations.51 The English commerce Edition: current; Page: [393] exerts a revolutionary influence on these organisations and tears them apart only to the extent that it destroys by the low prices of its goods the spinning and weaving industries, which are an archaic and integral part of this unity. And even so this work of dissolution is proceeding very slowly. It proceeds still more slowly in China, where it is not backed up by any direct political power on the part of the English. The great economy and saving in time resulting from the direct connection of agriculture and manufacture offer here the most dogged resistance to the products of great industries, whose prices are everywhere perforated by the dead expenses of their process of circulation. On the other hand, Russian commerce, unlike the English, leaves the economic basis of Asiatic production untouched.52

The transition from the feudal mode of production takes two roads. The producer becomes a merchant and capitalist, in contradistinction from agricultural natural economy and the guild-encircled handicrafts of medieval town industry. This is the really revolutionary way. Or, the merchant takes possession in a direct way of production. While this way serves historically as a mode of transition—instance the English clothier of the 17th century, who brings the weavers, although they remain independently at work, under his control by selling wool to them and buying cloth from them—nevertheless it cannot by itself do much for the overthrow of the old mode of production, but rather preserves it and uses it as its premise. For example, even up to the middle of the 19th century the manufacturer in the French silk industry and in the English hosiery and lace industries was but nominally a manufacturer, and merely a merchant in point of fact, who permitted the weavers to continue their work in the old unorganized Edition: current; Page: [394] way and exerted only the control of the merchant, for whom they work in reality.53 This method is everywhere an obstacle to a real capitalist mode of production and declines with the development of the latter. Without revolutionising the mode of production, it deteriorates merely the condition of the direct producers, transforms them into mere wage workers and proletarians under worse conditions than those who have already been placed under the immediate control of capital and absorbs their surplus-labor on the basis of the old mode of production. The same conditions exist in a somewhat modified form in the London furniture industry, so far as it is carried on by handicrafts. Particularly in the Tower hamlets it is practised on a very extensive scale. The whole production is divided into numerous separate lines independent of one another. One business makes only chairs, another only tables, a third only bureaus, etc. But these lines of business themselves are run more or less like crafts, by one small master with a few journeymen. Nevertheless the output is too large to work directly for private persons. The products are bought by owners of furniture stores. On Saturdays the master sees them and sells his product, and the transaction is closed with as much haggling as is done in a pawnshop over the loan on this or that piece. The masters need this weekly sale, were it for no other reason than to buy more raw materials for next week and pay wages. Under these circumstances, they are really only middlemen between their employes and the merchants. The merchant is the real capitalist, who pockets the largest share of the surplus-value.54

A similar condition exists in the transition to manufacture from lines, which were formerly carried on as handicrafts or as sidelines to rural industries. According to the development Edition: current; Page: [395] of such small independent businesses—which may even employ machinery that admits of a craftslike operation—the transition to large scale industry takes place. The machine is driven by steam, instead of by hand. This is the case, for instance, of late in the English hosiery industry.

There is, consequently, a threefold transition. First, the merchant becomes directly an industrial capitalist. This is the case in crafts conditioned on commerce, especially industries producing luxuries, which are imported by the merchants together with the raw materials and laborers from foreign countries, as they were in Italy from Constantinople in the 15th century. In the second place, the merchant converts the small masters into his middlemen or, perhaps, buys direct from the self-producer, leaving him nominally independent and his mode of production unchanged. In the third place, the industrial becomes a merchant and produces immediately on a large scale for commerce.

In the Middle Ages, the merchant is merely the man who, as Poppe correctly says, "removes" the goods produced by the guilds or the peasants. The merchant becomes an industrial capitalist, or rather, he lets the craftsmen, particularly the small rural producers, work for him. On the other hand, the producer becomes a merchant. The master weaver, instead of receiving his wool in installments from the merchant and working for him with his journeymen buys wool or yarn himself and sells his cloth to the merchant. The elements of production pass into his process of production as commodities bought by himself. And instead of producing for the individual merchant, or for definite customers, the master cloth-weaver produces for the commercial world. The producer is himself a merchant. The merchants' capital performs no longer anything but the process of circulation. Originally the commerce was the premise for the transformation of the crafts, rural domestic industries, and feudal agriculture into capitalist enterprises. It develops the products into commodities, either by creating a market for them, or by carrying new equivalents in the form of goods to them and supplying production with new raw and auxiliary materials. In this way Edition: current; Page: [396] it opens up new lines of production, which are based at the outset upon commerce, both as concerns the production for the home and world market and as concerns conditions of production originated by the world market. As soon as manufacture gains sufficient strength, and still more large scale industry, it creates in its turn a market for itself and captures it with its commodities. Now commerce becomes the servant of industrial production, and a continual expansion of the market becomes a vital necessity for industrial production. An ever more extended wholesale production floods the existing market and thereby works continually toward a still wider expansion of the market and a bursting of its bonds. What restricts this wholesale production, is not commerce (to the extent that it expresses the existing demand), but the magnitude of the employed capital and the developed productivity of labor. The industrial capitalist always has the world market before him, compares, and must continually compare, his own cost-prices with those of the whole world, not only with those of his home market. In former periods this comparison falls almost entirely upon the shoulders of the merchants, and thereby secures for merchants' capital the supremacy over industrial capital.

The first theoretical treatment of modern modes of production—the mercantile system—started out necessarily from the superficial phenomena of the process of circulation, which are presented in an independent form by the movements of merchants' capital. Therefore it grasped only the semblance of things. This was partly due to the fact that merchants' capital is the first free mode of existence of capital in general. On the other hand, it was due to the overwhelming influence exerted by this capital during the first period of revolution of feudal production, the period of genesis of modern production. The real science of modern economy does not begin, until theoretical analysis passes from the process of circulation to the process of production. It is true, interest-bearing capital is likewise a very old form of capital. But we shall see later, why mercantilism did not take its departure from it, but assumed a controversial attitude towards it.

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PART V.: DIVISION OF PROFIT INTO INTEREST AND PROFITS OF ENTERPRISE. THE INTEREST-BEARING CAPITAL.

CHAPTER XXI.: THE INTEREST-BEARING CAPITAL.

IN our first discussion of the general, or average, rate of profit in Part II of this volume, we did not have this rate before us in its complete form, since the equalisation of profit appeared there only as an equalisation between the various industrial capitals invested in different spheres. This was further supplemented in the preceding Part, in which the participation of merchants' capital in this equalisation and the commercial profit were discussed. By this means the general rate of profit and the average profit presented themselves within more circumscribed limits than before. In the further process of our analysis it should be remembered, that any future reference to the general rate of profit or to the average profit means only this latter, completed, form of the average rate. Since this rate is now the same for the industrial and the mercantile capital, it is no longer necessary, so far as this average profit is concerned, to make any distinction between industrial and commercial profit. Whether capital is invested industrially in the sphere of production, or commercially in the sphere of circulation, it yields the same average profit annually in proportion to its magnitude.

Money—which signifies here any independent expression of a certain amount of value, whether it exists actually as Edition: current; Page: [398] money or as commodities—may be converted into capital on the basis of capitalist production. By this conversion it is transformed from a given value to a self-expanding, increasing, value. It produces a profit, that is, it enables a capitalist to extract a certain amount of unpaid labor, surplus-products and surplus-value, from the laborers and to appropriate it to himself. In this way it acquires, aside from its use-value as money, an additionel use-value, namely that of serving as capital. Its use-value consists then precisely in the profit, which it produces when converted into capital. In this capacity of potential capital, of a means for the production of profit, it becomes a commodity, but a commodity of a peculiar kind. Or, what amounts to the same, capital as capital becomes a commodity.55

Take it that the average rate of profit is 20%. In that case a machine, valued at 100 p.st., employed as capital under the prevailing average conditions and with an average exertion of intelligence and adequate activity, would yield a profit of 20 p.st. In other words, a man having 100 p.st. at his disposal, holds in his hand a power by which 100 p.st. may be turned into 120 p.st., or by which a profit of 20% may be produced. He holds in his hand a potential capital of 100 p.st. If this man relinquishes these 100 p.st. for one year to another man, who uses this sum actually as capital, he gives him the power to produce a profit of 20%, a surplus-value, which costs this other nothing, for which he pays no equivalent. If this man should pay, say 5 p.st. at the close of the year to the owner of the 100 p.st., out of the produced profit, he would be paying for the use-value of the 100 p.st., the use-value of its function as capital, the function of producing 20 p.st. of profit. That part of the profit, which he pays to the owner, is called interest. It is merely another name, a special term, for a certain part of the profit, which capital in process of its function has to give up to its owner, instead of keeping it in its own pockets.

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It is evident, that the possession of 100 p.st. gives to their owner the power to absorb the interest, a certain portion of the profit produced by his capital. If he did not give the 100 p.st. to the other man, then this other could not produce any profit, and could not act in the capacity of capitalist at all with reference to these 100 p.st.56

To speak in such a case of natural justice, as Gilbart is doing (see note), is nonsense. The justice of the transactions between the agents of production rests on the fact that these transactions arise as natural consequences from the conditions of production. The juristic forms, in which these economic transactions appear as activities of the will of the parties concerned, as expressions of their common will and as contracts which may be enforced by law against some individual party, cannot determine their content, since they are only forms. They merely express this content. This content is just, whenever it corresponds, and is adequate, to the mode of production. It is unjust, whenever it contradicts that mode. Slavery on the basis of capitalist production is unjust; likewise fraud in the quality of commodities.

The 100 p.st. produce the profit of 20 p.st. by functioning as capital, whether it be industrial or commercial. But the indispensable condition of this function as capital is that this money is used as capital, that this money is invested in the purchase of means of production (in the case of industrial capital), or of commodities (in the case of merchants' capital). But in order to be expended, it must be there. If A, the owner of the 100 p.st., were to spend them for his private expenses, or to keep them as a hoard, they could not be invested by B, in his capacity as a capitalist, as capital. B does not invest his own capital, but that of A. But he cannot expend the capital of A without the consent of A. Therefore it is really A, who first expends these 100 p.st. as capital, although his whole function as a capitalist is limited to this expenditure of 100 p.st. as capital. So far Edition: current; Page: [400] as these 100 p.st. are concerned, B acts in the capacity of a capitalist only because A lends him this money and thus expends it as capital.

Let us first consider the peculiar circulation of interest-bearing capital. Then we shall analyse in the second place the peculiar manner, in which it is sold as a commodity, being merely lent instead of relinquished for good.

The point of departure is the money, which A advances to B. This may be done with or without security. However, the first named form is the more ancient, with the exception of advances on commodities or on certificates of indebtedness, such as bills of exchange, bonds, etc. These special forms do not concern us here. We are dealing here with interest-bearing capital in its ordinary form.

In the hand of B, the money is actually converted into capital, passes through the process M—C—M', and returns as M' to A, as M + increment of M, where the increment of M represents the interest. For the sake of simplicity we leave out of consideration the case, in which capital stays in the hands of B for a long term and interest is paid at periodical intervals.

The movement, then, is M—M—C—M'—M'. What appears duplicated here is 1) the expenditure of the money as capital, 2) its reflux as realised capital, as M', or as M + increment of M.

In the movement of merchants' capital, M—C—M', the same commodity changes hands twice, or even more than twice, if one merchant sells to another. But every change of hand of these commodities indicates a metamorphosis, a purchase or sale of commodities, no matter how often this process may be repeated until it ends in consumption.

On the other hand, the same money changes hands twice in C—M—C, but this indicates the complete metamorphosis of the commodity, which is first converted into money and then from money back into another commodity.

But in the case of interest-bearing capital, the first change of hands of M is not a phase of either the metamorphosis of a commodity or of the reproduction of capital. It does Edition: current; Page: [401] not become so until the second change of hands, in the hands of the man acting in the capacity of a capitalist, who carries on a trade with it or transforms it into productive capital. The first change of hands of M does not express anything else in this case but its transfer, or handing over by contract, from A to B. This is a transfer, which usually takes place under certain juristic forms and stipulations.

This duplicated expenditure of money as capital, the first of which is merely a transfer from A to B, is supplemented by the duplication of its reflux. As M', or M + increment of M, it flows back out of the process to the man acting in the capacity of a capitalist. This man in his turn transfers it back to A, together with a part of the profit, of realised capital, of M + increment of M, which, however, is not equal to the entire profit, but only a part of the profit, the interest. It flows back to B only as the thing which he had invested, as capital in process of function, but as the property of A. In order that its reflux may be complete, B must return it to A. But B has not only to return the amount of the capital, he must also turn over to A a part of the profit, which he made with this capital, and this part is called interest. For A gave him this money only as a capital, that is, as a value, which is not only maintained by its movements, but brings also a surplus-value to its owner. It remains in the hands of B only so long as it is performing its function of capital. And it ceases to be capital as soon as it is returned to its owner on the stipulated date. When no longer serving as capital, it must be returned to A, who never ceased being its legal owner.

The form of lending, which is peculiar to this commodity, this capital as a commodity, and which also occurs in other transactions instead of that of sale, follows from the simple definition that capital serves here as a commodity, or that money as capital becomes a commodity.

It is necessary to make a distinction here.

We have seen in Volume II, chapter I, and recall at this point, that capital serves in the process of circulation as commodity-capital and money-capital. But in neither of Edition: current; Page: [402] these forms does capital become a commodity as capital.

As soon as the productive capital has transformed itself into commodity-capital, it must be thrown upon the market, it must be sold as a commodity. There it serves simply in the capacity of a commodity. The capitalist then appears only as a seller of commodities, just as the buyer is only a buyer of commodities. As a commodity, the product must realise its value in the process of circulation, by its sale, must assume the form of money. In this respect it is quite immaterial, whether this commodity is bought by a consumer for the purpose of subsistence, or by a capitalist as a means of production to become a part of his capital. In the act of circulation, the commodity-capital serves only as a commodity, not as capital. It is a commodity-capital, as distinguished from a simple commodity, 1), because it is pregnant with surplus-value, so that the realisation of its value is simultaneously a realisation of surplus-value. But this does not alter in any way its simple existence as a commodity, as a product of a certain price. 2) It is a commodity-capital, because its function as a commodity is a phase in its process of reproduction as capital, so that its movement as a commodity, being a part of its movement in process, is simultaneously its movement as capital. Yet it does not become capital by the act of selling as such, but only through the connection of this act with the whole movement of this definite amount of value in the capacity of capital.

In like manner it serves only as money pure and simple, when acting in the capacity of money-capital, that is, as a means of buying commodities (the elements of production). The fact that this money is at the same time money-capital, a form of capital, is not due to the act of buying, which is the service performed by it as money. It is due to the connection of this act with the total movement of capital, since this act, which it performs as money, inaugurates the capitalist process of production.

But so far as they perform any service and play any actual role in the process, commodity-capital on the market serves only as a commodity, money-capital only as money. At no Edition: current; Page: [403] time during the metamorphosis, viewed by itself, does the capitalist sell his commodities as capital to the buyer, although they represent a capital for himself, nor does he give up money to the sellers in his capacity as a capitalist. In either case he exchanges his commodities simply as commodities, and the money simply as money, as a means of purchasing commodities.

It is only in the connection with the whole process, at the moment where the point of departure appears simultaneously as the point of return, in M—M' or C—C', that capital in the process of circulation appears as capital (while it appears as capital in the process of production through the subordination of the laborer under the capitalist and the production of surplus-value). In this moment of return, however, the connection disappears. What is present is M', that is money plus increment of money (regardless of whether the amount of value increased by this increment has the form of money, commodities, or elements of production), a certain amount of money equal to the amount originally advanced plus an increment, which is the realised surplus-value. And it is precisely at this point of return, where capital exists as a realised capital, as an expanded value, that capital never passes into circulation—considering this point as a fixed point of rest, whether imaginary or real—, but rather appears to be withdrawn from circulation as a result of the whole process. Whenever it is again relinquished, it is never transferred to another as capital, but sold to him as a simple commodity, or given to him as simple money in exchange for commodities. It never appears as capital in its process of circulation, but only as a commodity or as money, and this is the only form in which it exists so far as others are concerned. Commodities and money are here capital, not inasmuch as commodities change into money, or money into commodities, not with reference to their actual relations to sellers or buyers, but only with reference to their ideal relations, that is, subjectively speaking, their relations to the capitalist himself, or objectively speaking, as elements of the process of reproduction. So far as capital is capital, Edition: current; Page: [404] it exists only in its actual function, not in the process of circulation, but only in the process of production, in the process by which labor-power is exploited.

But it is different with interest-bearing capital, and it is precisely this difference, which constitutes its specific character. The owner of money, who desires to invest his money as interest-bearing capital, transfers it to some one else, throws it into circulation, makes a commodity of it as capital. It is not a capital for himself alone, but also for others. It is not capital merely for the man who offers it for investment, but it is handed to others at the outset as capital, as a value endowed with the use-value of creating surplus-value, profit; a value which preserves itself in process and returns to its original owner, in this case the owner of money, after performing its function. It moves away from him only for a certain time, it passes for a while from the possession of its owner into that of a capitalist performing his business, it is neither given up in payment nor sold, but merely loaned. It is relinquished only with the understanding that it shall in the first place return to its point of departure after a certain time, and that it shall return, in the second place, as realised capital, a capital having actually performed its function of creating surplus-value.

Commodities, which are loaned out as capital, are loaned either as fixed or as circulating capital, according to their constitution. Money may be loaned in either form. For instance, it may be loaned as fixed capital in the form of an annuity, whereby a portion of the capital returns with the interest. Some commodities, owing to the nature of their use-values, can be loaned only as fixed capital, such as houses, ships, machines, etc. But all loan capital, whatever be its forms, and no matter in what manner the nature of its use-value may modify its return, is only a specific form of money-capital. For the thing that is loaned here is always a definite sum of money, and it is this sum on which interest is calculated. If the thing that is loaned is neither money nor circulating capital, it is paid back in the same way in which fixed capital returns. The lender receives periodically Edition: current; Page: [405] a certain interest and a portion of the consumed value of the fixed capital itself, an equivalent for the periodical wear and tear. And at the end of the stipulated term the unconsumed portion of the loaned fixed capital is returned in natura. If the loaned capital is circulating capital, it is like-wise returned in the manner peculiar to circulating capital.

The manner of reflux, then, is always determined by the actual circulation of the capital in process of reproduction and its specific kind. But so far as loan capital is concerned, its reflux assumes the form of return payments, because its advance, by which it is relinquished, has the form of loaning.

In this chapter we treat only of money-capital proper, from which the other forms of loaned capital are derived.

The loaned capital returns in a twofold way. First it returns in the process of reproduction to the capitalist performing his function, and then its return is duplicated by its transfer to the lender, the money-capitalist, in the form of a return payment to its real owner, its legal point of departure.

In the actual process of circulation the capital appears always as a commodity or as money, and its movements are always dissolved into a series of purchases and sales. In short, the process of circulation resolves itself into the metamorphosis of commodities. It is different, when we consider the process of reproduction as a whole. If we take our departure from money (and it is the same, when we start off with commodities, since we then take our departure from their value and look upon them from the point of view of money), we see that a certain sum of money is expended and returns after a certain period with an increment. This sum has preserved itself and expanded itself in the course of a certain rotation. To the extent that money is loaned as capital, it is loaned as just such a sum of money, which preserves and expands itself, returns after a certain period with an increment, and is ready to pass through the same process once more. It is not expended either as money or as a commodity, it is neither exchanged for commodities when advanced in the form of money, nor sold in exchange for money, when Edition: current; Page: [406] advanced in the form of commodities. It is expended as capital. This reflexive relation to itself, in which capital presents itself when the process of production is viewed in its entirety and as a unit, and in which money appears as self-increasing money, is here imposed upon it as its character and peculiarity without the intervention of any intermediary movement. And it is expended in this peculiar form, when it is loaned as money-capital.

A very queer conception of the role of money-capital is held by Proudhon "Gratuité du Crédit. Discussion enter M. F. Bastiate et M. Proudhon. Paris, 1850.") Loaning appears as an evil to Proudhon because it is not selling. Loaning at interest is for him "the faculty of always selling the same article over and over, and of receiving its price again and again, without ever relinquishing the ownership of the things one is selling" (page 9). The object, such as money, a house, etc., does not change owners, as it does in selling and buying. But Proudhon does not see, that no equivalent is received for money handed over as interest-bearing capital. It is true that objects are passed from one to another in every act of buying and selling, so far as they are at all processes of exchange. The ownership of the sold object is always relinquished. But its value is not given up. In selling the commodity is relinquished, but not its value, which is given in return in the form of money, or in another form which here takes the place of money, namely of certificates of indebtedness, or of titles of payment. In buying money is given away, but its value, which is recovered in the shape of commodities. The industrial capitalist holds the same value in his hands during the entire process of reproduction (except the surplus-value), only it assumes different forms.

To the extent that exchange takes place, that is, an exchange of objects, no change of value takes place. The same capitalist always holds the same value in his hands. But so long as surplus-value is produced by the capitalist, no exchange takes place. As soon as exchange takes place, the surplus-value is already incorporated in the commodities. If we do not have in mind the individual acts of exchange, but Edition: current; Page: [407] the total circulation of capital, M—C—M', we see that a definite amount of values is continually advanced, and that this amount plus the surplus-value, or the profit, is recovered from the circulation. It is true, the individual acts of exchange do not reveal the fact that they are promoting this process. And it is precisely this process of M as capital, on which the interest of the money-lending capitalist rests and from which it arises.

"In fact," says Proudhon, "the hat maker, who sells hats...receives their value, no more and no less. But the money-lending capitalist...does not recover merely his capital: he recovers more than his capital, more than he throws into circulation; he receives an interest over and above his capital." (Page 169.) The hatter stands here in the place of the productive capitalist as distinguished from a loan capitalist. Evidently Proudhon did not learn the secret, which enables the capitalist to sell commodities at their value (the equalisation of values by the prices of production is here immaterial for his conception), whereby he receives a profit in addition to the capital, which he throws into circulation. Let us assume that the price of production of 100 hats is 115 pounds sterling, and that this price of production happens to be identical with the value of the hats, which means that the capital invested in the production of hats is of the same composition as the average social capital. If the profit is 15 p.st., or 15%, then the hatter gets this profit of 15 p.st. by selling his hats at their value of 115. They cost him 100 p.st. If he has produced them with his own capital, he pockets the whole surplus of 15 p.st. If he has borrowed the capital, he may have to give up 5 p.st. for interest. This does not alter anything in the value of the hats, but only in the distribution of the surplus-value already contained in this value between different persons. Since the value of the hats is not affected by the payment of interest, it is nonsense on the part of Proudhon to say: "As in commerce the interest of capital is added to the wages of laborers in making up the price of commodities, it is impossible that the laborer should be able to buy back the product of his own labor. To live by working Edition: current; Page: [408] is a principle, which implies a contradiction under the rule of interest."57

How little Proudhon understood the nature of capital, is shown by the following statement, in which he describes the movement of capital in general as a movement peculiar to interest-bearing capital: "Since money-capital, from exchange to exchange, comes always back to its source by the accumulation of interest, it follows that re-investment is always made by the same hand and profit accrues always to the same person."

What is it, now, that remains a riddle to him in the peculiar movement of interest-bearing capital? The categories buying, price, giving up objects, and the spontaneous form, in which surplus-value appears here; in short, the phenomenon that capital as such has become a commodity, so that selling has been turned into lending and price into a share in the profit.

The return of capital to its point of departure is the most general and characteristic movement of capital in its total circulation. This is by no means a peculiarity of interest-bearing capital. Its peculiarity is rather the externalised form of its return without the intervention of any circulation. The loaning capitalist lets go of his capital, transfers it to some industrial capitalist, without receiving any equivalent. His handing over of capital is not an act of the real circulation of capital at all, but serves merely as a prelude for the industrial capitalist who effects this circulation. This first change of place of money does not express any act of metamorphosis, neither buying nor selling. Its ownership is not relinquished, because no exchange takes place, no equivalent is offered. The return of the money from the hand of the industrial capitalist to that of the loaning capitalist supplements Edition: current; Page: [409] merely the first act of handing over the capital. This capital, after having been advanced in the form of money, returns to the industrial capitalist from the process of circulation in the form of money. But as the capital did not belong to him when he expended it, neither can it belong to him on its return. The passage through the process of reproduction cannot by any means give him the ownership of this capital. Hence he must restore it to its lender. The first transfer of the capital from the hands of the lender to those of the borrower is a legal transaction, which has nothing to do with the actual process of reproduction, but merely inaugurates it. The restoration, which transfers the returned capital from the hands of the borrower back to those of the lender is another legal transaction, a supplement of the first. The first inaugurates the actual process, the second takes place after this process. The point of departure and of return, the dispensation and recovery of the loaned capital, thus appear as arbitrary movements promoted by legal transactions, which take place before and after the actual process of capital and have nothing to do with it. So far as this actual process is concerned, the industrial capitalist might as well own the capital at the outset, so that it would return to him as his property.

In the first introductory act the lender gives his capital to the borrower. In the second and closing act after the process, the borrower returns the capital to the lender. To the extent that we consider merely the transaction between these two—and leaving aside the question of interest for the present—, in other words to the extent that we have in mind only the movement of the loan capital itself between the lender and the borrower, the whole movement is comprised within these two acts (separated by a longer or shorter time, during which the process of actual reproduction of capital takes place). And this movement, this dispensing on condition of returning, constitutes per se the movement of lending and borrowing, which is a specific form of a conditional dispensation of money or commodities.

The characteristic movement of capital in general, namely Edition: current; Page: [410] the return of money to the capitalist, the return of capital to its point of departure, assumes in the case of interest-bearing capital a wholly externalised form, separated from the actual movement of which it is an expression. A lets go of his money, not in the sense of money, but of capital. This implies no transformation of the capital. It merely changes hands. Its real transformation into capital is not performed until it is in the hands of B. But it has become capital for A as soon as he has given it to B. The actual reflux of capital from the processes of production and circulation takes place only for B. But for A the reflux assumes the same form as the dispensation. The capital returns from the hands of B to those of A. Dispensing, loaning money for a certain time and recovering it with interest (surplus-value) make up the complete form of the movement, which is peculiar to interest-bearing capital as such. The actual movement of the loaned money as capital constitutes a process, which is outside of the transactions between the lender and the borrower. In these transactions the intermediate process is obliterated, invisible, not directly comprised.

Being a peculiar sort of commodity, capital has its own peculiar mode of alienation. Its return in the present case is not the expression, not the consequence or result, of a definite series of economic processes, but the outcome of a specific legal agreement between buyer and seller. The time of return depends on the duration of the process of reproduction. But in the case of interest-bearing capital, its return as capital seems to depend on the mere agreement between lender and borrower. The return of capital as a part of this agreement no longer appears as a result due to the process of reproduction, but seems to take place without depriving the loaned capital of the form of money. It is true that these transactions are actually determined by the reproductive returns. But this is not evident in the transactions themselves. Nor is it always the case in practice. If the return in reproduction does not take place at the proper time, then the borrower has to face the problem. what other resources he can Edition: current; Page: [411] call into play to fulfill his obligations towards the lender. The mere form of this capital—that is, money expended as a certain sum, A, and returning as another sum A + IA/x, after a certain lapse of time, without any other intermediate connection but this lapse of time—is but an abstract image of the actual movement of capital.

In the actual movement of capital, its return is a phase of the process of circulation. The money is first converted into means of production; the process of production transforms it into commodities; by the sale of the commodities it is reconverted into money, and in this form it returns to the hands of the capitalist, who originally advanced the capital in the form of money. But in the case of interest-bearing capital, both the alienation and the return are the results of a legal transaction between the owner of capital and another person. We see only the alienation and the return. Whatever passes during the interval is obliterated.

But since money, when advanced as capital, has the faculty of returning to the person, who expended it as capital, since M—C—M' is the immanent form of the movement of capital, for this very reason the owner of money can loan it as capital, a thing having the faculty of returning to its point of departure, of preserving its value while under way in process, and of increasing it. He loans it as capital, because it returns to its point of departure after having been transformed into capital, so that the borrower can restore it to the lender after a certain period, because he has recovered it himself.

The loaning of money as capital—its alienation on condition that it be returned after a certain time—is therefore conditioned on the requirement that this money be actually employed as capital, so that it may actually flow back to its starting point. The actual cycle of money as capital is therefore the basic condition of the legal transaction, by which the borrower has to return the money to the lender. If the borrower does not invest the money as capital, it is his own business. The lender loans it as capital, and as such it is Edition: current; Page: [412] supposed to perform the capitalist functions, which include the circulation of money-capital until it reaches once more its starting point in the form of money.

The transactions M—C and C—M' in the circulation, in which a certain amount of value serves as money or commodities, are but intermediary processes, individual phases of a whole movement. As capital, this sum passes through the whole movement M—M'. It is advanced as money, or as a sum of values in some form, and returns as a sum of values. The lender of money does not expend it in the purchase of commodities, or, if this sum of values exists in the form of commodities, he does not sell it for money, but he advances it as capital, as M—M', as a value, which returns after a certain lapse of time to its point of departure. Instead of buying and selling, he loans. This loaning, then, is the form corresponding to its alienation as capital, instead of its alienation as money or commodities. This does not mean, however, that loaning may not be used in transactions, which have nothing to do with the capitalist process of reproduction.

We have so far considered only the movements of loaned capital between its owner and the industrial capitalist. Now we shall have to inquire into interest.

The lender expends his money as capital; the amount of values, which he relinquishes into the hands of another, is capital and returns to him. But the mere return of the loan capital into his hands as the same amount would not be its reflux as capital, but merely the return of a loaned sum of values. In order to return as capital, the advanced sum of values must not only be preserved in process, but must also be expanded, must return with a surplus-value, must be recovered as M + increment of M. This increment of M is in the present case the interest. It is that portion of the average profit, which does not remain in the hands of the practicing capitalist, but falls to the share of the money capitalist.

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The fact that the money capitalist expends it as capital implies that it must be restored to him as M + increment of M. Later we shall also have to consider the case, in which interest is paid in fixed intervals without the simultaneous return of the capital, whose definite return does not take place until at the end of a longer period.

What is it that the money capitalist gives to the borrower, the industrial capitalist? What does he really pass over to him? It is only this transaction of handing over money which makes of the loaning of money a lending of money as capital, that is, the lending of capital as a commodity.

It is only by this act of passing money over to another that the capital is loaned by the money lender as a commodity, or that the commodity at his disposal is given to another as capital.

What is it that is alienated in ordinary sale? It is not the value of the sold commodities, for this changes merely its form. The value exists ideally in a commodity as its price, before it passes actually into the hands of the seller as money. The same value and the same amount of value merely change their form in such a case. In one instance they exist in the form of a commodity, in another in the form of money. The thing which is actually alienated by the seller, and which for this reason passes into the individual or productive consumption of the buyer, is the use-value of the commodity, is the commodity as a use-value.

What, then, is the use-value, which the money capitalist passes over for the period of the loan and relinquishes into the hands of the borrower, the productive capitalist? It is the use-value, which the money assumes by being capable of being invested as capital and performing the functions of capital, so that it can create a definite surplus-value, the average profit (any excess or fall below this is here a matter of accident), during its process, in addition to preserving its original magnitude of value. In the case of other commodities the use-value is ultimately consumed. Their substance disappears in consequence and with it their value. But the commodity Edition: current; Page: [414] capital has the peculiarity, that the consumption of its use-value not only preserves its exchange value and its use-value, but also increases them.

It is this use-value of money as capital, this faculty of producing an average profit, which the money capitalist relinquishes to the industrial capitalist for the period, during which he yields to the latter the use of the loan capital.

The money thus loaned shows in this respect a certain analogy with labor-power in its relation to the industrial capitalist. There is only this difference, that he pays for the value of labor-power, while he simply pays back the value of the loaned capital. The use-value of labor-power consists for the industrial capitalist in the faculty that labor-power creates more value (the profit) by its consumption for the industrial capitalist. And in like manner the use-value of the loan capital appears as its faculty of preserving and increasing value.

The money-capitalist alienates indeed a use-value, and for this reason the thing which he gives away is given as a commodity. And to this extent the analogy with a commodity is complete. In the first place, it is a value, which passes from one hand to another. In the case of a simple commodity, a commodity as such, the same value remains in the hands of the buyer and seller, only it has different forms; both have the same value which they had before the transaction, the one in the form of a commodity, the other in that of money. The difference in the case of loan capital is that the money capitalist is the only one who gives away a value when loaning money; but he preserves it by means of future restoration. In the transaction of loaning only one party receives value, since only one party relinquishes value.

In the second place, it is a real use-value, which is relinquished on one side and received and consumed on the other. But it differs from the use-value of ordinary commodities in that it is itself a value, namely the excess over the value of the original capital realised by the use of money as capital. The profit is this use-value.

The use-value of the loan capital consists in being able Edition: current; Page: [415] to serve as capital and to produce in this capacity the average profit under average conditions.58

What, then, does the industrial capitalist pay, and what is, therefore, the price of the loaned capital? That which men pay as interest for the use of what they borrow is, according to Massie, a part of the profit it is capable of producing.59

What the buyer of an ordinary commodity buys is its use-value; what he pays for is its exchange value. What the borrower of money buys, is likewise its use-value as capital; but what does he pay for? Surely not for its price, or value, as in the case of ordinary commodities. No change of form takes place in the value passing between the borrower and the lender, such as takes place between the buyer and the seller, so that this value would exist in one instance in the form of money, in another instance in the form of a commodity. The sameness of the alienated and returned value shows itself here in an entirely different way. The sum of values, the money, is given away without an equivalent, and is returned after the lapse of a certain period. The lender always remains the owner of the same value, even after it has passed from his hands into those of the borrower. In the simple exchange of commodities, the money is always on the side of the buyer; but in the lending, the money is on the side of the lender. It is he, who gives away his money for a certain period, and it is the borrower, the buyer of capital, who receives it as a commodity. But this is possible only when the money serves as capital and is advanced for this purpose. The borrower borrows money as capital, as a value producing an increment. But at the moment of borrowing it is as yet only potential capital, and so is any other capital at the moment when it is advanced. Only by its use does it expand Edition: current; Page: [416] its value and realise itself as capital. But after it has become realised capital, the borrower has to return it, as a value plus a surplus-value (interest). And this interest can be only a portion of the realised profit. Only a portion, not the whole of it. For its use-value for the borrower consists in producing a profit for him. Otherwise there would not have been any alienation of its use-value on the part of the lender. On the other hand, it cannot be the whole profit which falls to the share of the borrower. Otherwise he would not be paying anything for the alienation of the use-value, and he would return the advanced money to the lender as simple money, not as a capital having realised itself. For it is realised capital only when it is M + increment of M.

Both of them expend the same sum of money as capital, the lender and the borrower. But only in the hands of the latter does it serve as capital. The profit is doubled by the double existence of the same sum of money as a capital for two persons. It can serve as a capital for both of them only by dividing the profit. That portion, which falls to the share of the lender, is called interest.

It is our assumption, that this entire transaction takes place between two kinds of capitalists, the money-capitalist and the industrial or the merchant capitalist.

It should never be forgotten, that capital as such is here a commodity, or that the commodity, which is here in question, is capital. All the relations, which become manifest here, would be irrational from the point of view of a simple commodity, or even from the point of view of capital serving as a commodity-capital in its process of reproduction. Lending and borrowing, instead of selling and buying, is here a distinction arising from the specific nature of the commodity, of capital; also that it is interest, not the price of the commodity, which is paid here. If interest is to be called the price of money-capital, it will be an irrational form of price, which is quite at variance with the conception of the price of commodities.60 The price is then reduced to its purely Edition: current; Page: [417] abstract and meaningless form, signifying a certain sum of money paid for some thing, which serves in some manner as a use-value. On the other hand, the concept of price really signifies the value of some use-value expressed in money.

To call interest the price of capital is to use at the outset an irrational expression. A commodity has here a double value, namely first a real value, and secondly a price differing from this value, while ordinarily price signifies the expression of the value in money. Money-capital is primarily but a sum of money, or the value of a certain quantity of commodities incorporated in a sum of money. If a commodity is loaned as capital, then it is only the disguised form of a sum of money. For that which is loaned as capital is not so and so many pounds of cotton, but so much money existing in the form of cotton as its value. The price of capital, therefore, refers to it as a sum of money, even if not a currency, as Mr. Torrens thinks (see above note 60). How, then, can a sum of values have a price beside its own price, that is, aside from the price expressed in their own money-form? Price is precisely the value of commodities (and this holds good also of the market-price, whose difference from value is not one of quality, but only one of quantity, since it refers only to the magnitude of the value) as distinguished from their use-value. A price which is different in quality from value is an absurd contradiction.61

Capital manifests itself as capital by its employment. The degree of its self-expansion expresses the quantitative ratio, in which it realises itself as capital. The surplus-value or profit produced by it—its rate or magnitude—is measurable only by its comparison with the value of the advanced capital. The greater or lesser self-expansion of interest- Edition: current; Page: [418] bearing capital is, therefore, only measurable by a comparison of the amount of interest, its share in the total profits, with the value of the advanced capital. While the price expresses the value of commodities, the interest expresses the self-expansion of money-capital and thus appears as the price, which the lender receives for it. This shows how absurd it is at the start to apply indiscriminately to this question the simple relations of exchange through buying and selling, as Proudhon does. For the basic premise is here that money serves as capital and may thus be transferred as capital itself, as potential capital, to another person.

Capital itself appears here as a commodity, inasmuch as it is offered on the market as the use-value of money actually handed over as capital. Its use-value consists in producing profits. The value of money or of commodities employed in the capacity of capital is not determined by their value as money or commodities, but by the quantity of surplus-value, which they produce for their owner. The product of capital is profit. On the basis of capitalist production it is merely a difference in the employment of money, whether it is expended as money or advanced as capital. Money, or commodities, are in themselves, potentially, capital, just as labor-power is potential capital. For in the first place, money may be converted into elements of production and is to that extent only an abstract expression of them, personifying their existence as values; in the second place, the material elements of wealth have the capacity of being even potentially capital, because the opposite supplement, which makes capital of them, namely wage-labor, is present on the basis of capitalist production.

The opposing social peculiarities of material wealth, its antagonism to labor in the form of wage-labor, considered apart from the process of production, are expressed even in capitalist property as such. This particular fact, when separated from the process of capitalist production itself, of which it is a constant result and, being its constant result, is its constant prerequisite, expresses itself in such a way that money and commodities alike become latent, potential, capital, Edition: current; Page: [419] so that they may be sold as capital, and that they represent in this form a command over the labor of others, a claim to the appropriation of the labor of others, so that they become self-expanding values. In this way it also becomes clearly apparent that this relation supplies the title and means for the appropriation of the labor of others, and that this is not due to any labor offered as an equivalent on the part of the capitalist.

Capital appears furthermore as a commodity, inasmuch as the division of profit into interest and profit proper is regulated by demand and supply, that is, by competition, just as are the market-prices of commodities. But in the present case the difference becomes quite as apparent as the analogy. If demand and supply balance, the market-price of commodities corresponds to their price of production. In other words, their price is then seen to be regulated by the internal laws of capitalist production, independently of competition, since the fluctuations of supply and demand do not explain anything but the deviations of market-prices from the prices of production. These deviations balance mutually, so that in the course of long periods the average market-prices correspond to the prices of production. As soon as these prices coincide, these forces cease to operate, they compensate one another, and the general law determining prices then applies also to individual cases. The market-price then corresponds even in its immediate form, and without the help of averages drawn from the movements of market-prices, to the price of production, which is regulated by the immanent laws of the mode of production itself. The same is then true of wages. If supply and demand balance, they neutralise each other's effects, and wages are then equal to the value of labor-power. But it is different with the interest on money-capital. Competition does not, in this case, determine the deviations from the rule, but there is rather no law of division except that enforced by competition, because no such thing as a "natural" rate of interest exists, as we shall see presently. By the natural rate of interest people merely mean the rate fixed by free competition. There are no "natural" limits for the rate Edition: current; Page: [420] of interest. Whenever competition does not merely determine the deviations and fluctuations, in other words, whenever a neutralisation of the opposing forces of competition puts a stop to all determination, the thing to be determined becomes a matter of arbitrary and lawless estimation. We shall dwell on this further in the next chapter.

In the case of interest-bearing capital, everything is outward appearance: The advance of capital seems a mere transfer from the lender to the borrower; the reflux of realised capital a mere transfer back to its owner, a return payment with interest from the borrower to the lender. The same holds good of the fact, due to the capitalist mode of production, that the rate of profit is not merely determined by the relation of the profit made in one single turn-over to the advanced capital-value, but also by the length of the time of turn-over itself, so that it is a question of a profit realised on the industrial capital in definite periods of time. This likewise appears in the case of interest-bearing capital in the outward fact, that a definite interest is paid to the lender for a definite period of time.

With his customary insight into the internal connection of things, the romantic Adam Müller says ("Elemente der Staatskunst," Berlin, 1809, p. 37): "In determining the prices of things, time is not considered; while in the determination of interest, it is principally time which is taken into account." He does not see that the time of production and the time of circulation enter into the determination of the price of commodities, and that this is precisely what determines the rate of profit for a given time of turn-over of capital, while the determination of profit for a certain time in its turn determines that of interest. His sagacity consists here, as it always does, in seeing the clouds of dust on the surface and having the presumption to declare this dust to be something mysterious and important.

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CHAPTER XXII.: DIVISION OF PROFIT. RATE OF INTEREST. NATURAL RATE OF INTEREST.

THE object of this chapter, and in general all other phenomena of credit requiring our consideration later on, cannot here be analysed in detail. The competition between lenders and borrowers and the resulting minor fluctuations of the money-market fall outside of the scope of our inquiry. The circle described by the rate of interest during the industrial cycle requires for its presentation the analysis of this cycle itself, but this is likewise beyond our intentions for the present. The same is true of the greater or lesser approximate equalisation of the rate of interest in the world market. We merely intend here to analyse the independent form of interest-bearing capital and the individualisation of interest as differentiated from profit.

Since interest is merely a part of profit, paid according to our assumption by the industrial capitalist to the money-capitalist, the maximum limit of interest is marked by profit itself, and in that case the portion pocketed by the productive capitalist would be equal to zero. Aside from exceptional cases, in which interest might be actually larger than profit and could not be paid out of profit, one might consider as the maximum limit of interest the entire profit minus that portion (to be subsequently analysed), which resolves itself into wages of superintendence. The minimum limit of interest is wholly undefinable. It may fall to any depth. But counteracting circumstances will always appear and lift it again above this relative minimum.

"The relation between the amount paid for the use of some capital and this capital itself expresses the rate of interest, measured in money." "The rate of interest depends, 1), on the rate of profit; 2), on the proportion in which the total Edition: current; Page: [422] profit is divided between the lender and the borrower." (Economist, January 22nd, 1853.) "Since that which is paid as interest for the use of that which is borrowed is a part of the profit, which the borrowed is able to produce, this interest must always be regulated by that profit." (Massie, l. c., p. 49.)

Let us first assume, that a fixed relation exists between the total profit and that one of its parts, which has to be paid as interest to the money-capitalist. In this case it is evident, that the interest will rise or fall with the total profit, and this profit is determined by the general rate of profit and its fluctuations. For instance, if the average rate of profit were 20% and the interest one-quarter of the profit, then the rate of interest would be 5%; if the rate of profit were only 16%, the rate of interest would be 4%. With a rate of profit of 20%, the rate of interest might rise to 8%, and yet the industrial capitalist would still make the same profit as he would with the rate of profit at 16% and the rate of interest at 4%, namely 12%. If the interest should rise only to 6 or 7%, he would keep a still larger share of the profit. If the interest amounted to a constant quota of the average profit, it would follow, that to the extent that the general rate of profit would rise, the absolute difference between the total profit and the interest would increase, and to the same extent would that portion of the total profit increase, which the productive capitalist would pocket, and vice versa. Take it that the interest amounts to one-fifth of the average profit. One-fifth of 10 is 2; difference between total profit and interest 8. One-fifth of 20 is 4; difference 20-4 = 16. One-fifth of 25 is 5; difference 25-5 = 20. One-fifth of 30 is 6; difference 30-6 = 24. One-fifth of 35 is 7; difference 35-7 = 28. The different rates of interest of 4, 5, 6, 7% would in this case always represent one-fifth of the total profit. If the rates of profit are different, then different rates of interest may represent the same aliquot parts of the total profit, or the same percentage of the total profit. With such constant proportions of interest, the industrial profit (the difference between the total profit and the interest) would be so much greater, the Edition: current; Page: [423] higher the average rate of profit would be, and vice versa.

Assuming all other conditions to be equal, in other words, assuming the proportion between interest and total profit to be more or less constant, the productive capitalist will be able and willing to pay a higher or lower interest directly proportional to the level of the rate of profit.62 Since we have seen, that the height of the rate of profit is inversely proportional to the development of capitalist production, it follows that the high or low rate of interest in a certain country is to the same extent inversely proportional to the degree of industrial development, at least so far as differences in the rate of interest actually expresses differences in the rates of profit. And this mode of regulating interest applies even to its average.

In any event the average rate of profit is the ultimate limit determining the maximum limit of interest.

The fact that the rate of interest is related to the average profit will be considered more at length immediately. Whenever a certain whole, such as profit, is to be divided between two parties, the first thing to be considered is the magnitude of the whole. The magnitude of the profit is determined by its average rate. Assuming the average rate of profit, and thus the magnitude of profit, for a capital of a certain size, to be given (for instance 100), it is evident that the variations of interest will be inversely proportional to those of the profit remaining in the hands of the capitalist working with a borrowed capital. And the circumstances, which determine the amount of profit to be divided (the values produced by unpaid labor), differ widely from those, which determine its distribution between these two kinds of capitalists, and frequently produce effects in opposite directions.63

If we observe the cycles of variation, in which modern industry Edition: current; Page: [424] moves along—condition of rest, increasing activity, prosperity, overproduction, crisis, stagnation, condition of rest, etc., which fall outside of the scope of our analysis—we shall find, that a low rate of interest generally corresponds to periods of prosperity, or of extra profit, a rise of interest to the transition between prosperity and its reverse, and a maximum of interest up to a point of extreme usury to the period of crises.64 With the summer of 1843 came a period of remarkable prosperity; the rate of interest, which had still been 4½% in the spring of 1842, fell to 2% in the spring and summer of 1843;65 in September it fell even to 1½%. (Gilbart, I, p. 166); whereupon it rose to 8% and more during the crisis of 1847.

It may happen, however, that low interest is found in times of stagnation, and moderately rising interest in times of increasing activity.

The rate of interest reaches its highest point during crises, when money must be borrowed in order to meet payments at any cost. Since a rise of interest implies a fall in the price of securities, this offers at the same time a fine opportunity to people with available money-capital, who may acquire possession at cut-rate prices of such interest-bearing securities as must at least regain their average price in the regular course of things, as soon as the rate of interest falls again.66

However, there is also a tendency of the rate of interest to fall, quite independently of the fluctuations of the rate of profit. This is due to two main causes.

I. "Let us assume that capital were never borrowed for Edition: current; Page: [425] any other but productive investments, it is nevertheless possible, that the rate of interest may vary without any change in the rate of gross profits. For, as a people progresses in the development of wealth, there arises and grows more and more a class of people, who find themselves possessed of funds through the labors of their ancestors, and who can live on the mere interest on them. Many, having actively participated in business in their youth and prime, retire, in order to live quietly in their old age on the interest of the sums accumulated by them. These two classes have a tendency to increase with the growing wealth of the country; for those who start out with a moderate capital acquire more easily an independent fortune than those, who start out with little. In old and rich countries, therefore, that portion of the national capital, whose owners do not care to invest it themselves, makes up a larger proportion of the total productive capital of society than in newly settled and poor countries. How numerous is not the class of annuity-holders in England! In proportion as the class of annuity-holders increases, that of the capital loaners increases also, for they are both the same." (Ramsay, Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, p. 201)

II. The development of the credit system, and with it the continually growing control of the industrials and merchants over the money savings of all classes of society by the co-operation of bankers, and the progressive concentration of these savings into such volumes as will enable them to serve as money-capital, must also depress the rate of interest some-what. We shall discuss this more at length later.

With reference to the determination of the rate of interest, Ramsay says that it "depends in part on the rate of gross profits, in part on the proportion in which this is divided into interest and profits of enterprise. This proportion depends on the competition between lenders and borrowers of capital. This competition is influenced, but not exclusively regulated, by the prospective rate of gross profits.67 Competition is Edition: current; Page: [426] not exclusively regulated thereby, because on one side many are borrowing without any intention of productive investment, and because on the other the magnitude of the total loanable capital changes with the wealth of the country, independently of any change in the gross profits." (Ramsay, 1. c., p. 206, 207.)

In order to find the average rate of interest, it is necessary, 1), to calculate the average rate of interest during its variations in the great industrial cycles; 2), to find the rate of interest in such investments as require loans of capital for a long time.

The average rate of interest prevailing in a certain country—as differentiated from the continually fluctuating market rates—cannot be determined by any law. In this sense there is no such thing as a natural rate of interest, such as economists speak of when mentioning a natural rate of profit and a natural rate of wages. Massie has justly said with reference to this (p. 49): "The only thing which any man can be in doubt about on this occasion, is, what proportion of these profits do of right belong to the borrower, and what to the lender; and this there is no other method of determining than by the opinions of borrowers and lenders in general; for right and wrong, in this respect, are only what common consent makes so." The balancing of demand and supply—assuming the average rate of profit to be a fact—does not signify anything here. Wherever else this formula serves as an excuse (and is then practically correct) it is used to find the fundamental rule, which is independent of competition and rather determines it, this rule indicating the regulating limits, or the limiting magnitudes, of competition; this formula serves particularly as a help to those, who are bounded by the horizon of practical competition, its phenomena, and the conceptions arising from them, and who try thereby to get a rather shallow grasp of the internal connections of economic conditions within the sphere of competition. It is a method by which to pass from the variations that go with competition to the limits of these variations. This is not so in the case of the average rate of interest. There is no reason Edition: current; Page: [427] by which the idea could be justified, that the average conditions of competition, a balance between lenders and borrowers, should secure for the lender a rate of interest of 3, 4, 5%, etc., on his capital, or a certain percentage of the gross profits, say 20% or 50%. Whenever competition as such determines anything in this matter, its determination is a matter of accident, purely empirical, and only pedantry or fantasticalness can attempt to represent this accidental character as something necessary.68 Nothing is more amusing than to listen in the reports of Parliament of 1857 and 1858 concerning bank legislation and commercial crises to the rambling twaddle of directors of the Bank of England, London bankers, provincial bankers, and theoretical professionals, when referring to "the real rate produced." They never get beyond such commonplaces as that "the price paid by loanable capital probably varies with the supply of such capital," that "a high rate of interest and a low rate of profit cannot exist together in the long run," and similar specious platitudes.69 Custom, legal tradition, etc., have as much to do with the determination of the average rate of interest as competition itself, so far as this rate exists not merely as an average figure, but as an actual magnitude. An average rate of profit has Edition: current; Page: [428] to be assumed as a legal rate even in many law disputes, in which interest has to be calculated. Now, if we press the inquiry, why the limits of an average rate of interest cannot be deduced from general laws, we find the answer simply in the nature of interest. It is merely a portion of the average profit. The same capital appears in two roles, as a loanable capital in the hands of the lender, and as an industrial capital, or commercial capital, in the hands of the investing capitalist. But it performs its function as capital only once, and produces profit only once. In the process of production itself, the loanable nature of this capital does not play any role. To what extent the two parties divide the profit, in which they both share, is in itself as much a purely empirical fact belonging to the realm of accident as the division of the shares of common profit of some corporative business among different share holders by percentages. In the division between surplus-value and wages, on which the determination of the rate of profit essentially rests, the decision is made by two very different elements, labor-power and capital; these are functions of two independent variables, which limit one another; and their qualitative difference is the source of the quantitative division of the produced value. We shall see later that the same takes place in the division of surplus-value between rent and profit. But nothing of the kind occurs in the case of interest. In this case the qualitative differentiation, as we shall see immediately, proceeds rather from the purely quantitative division of the same lot of surplus-value.

From what has gone before it follows that there is no such thing as a "natural" rate of interest. But while, in distinction from the general rate of profit, there is on one side no general law, by which the limits of the average interest, or average rate of interest, may be determined and differentiated from the continually fluctuating market rates of interest, because it is merely a question of dividing the gross profit between two possessors of capital under different titles, there is on the other side the fact that the rate of interest, whether it be the average or the prevalent market rate, appears as a uniform, Edition: current; Page: [429] definite and tangible magnitude in a very different way from the general rate of profit.70

The rate of interest holds a similar relation to the rate of profit as the market price of a commodity does to its value. To the extent that the rate of interest is determined by the rate of profit, it is so always by the general rate of profit, not by any specific rates of profit, which may prevail in some particular lines of industry, and still less by any extra profit, which some individual capitalist may make in some particular line of business.71 It is a fact, then, that the general rate of profit re-appears as an empirical, given, reality in the average rate of interest, although the latter is not a pure or reliable expression of the former.

It is true, that the rate of interest itself differs according to the different classes of securities offered by the borrowers and according to the length of time for which the money is borrowed; but it is uniform within every one of these classes at a given moment. This distinction, then, does not militate against a fixed and uniform shape of the rate of interest.72

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The average rate of interest appears in every country for long epochs as a constant magnitude, because the general rate of profit—in spite of the continual variation of the particular rates of profit, in which a variation in one sphere is offset by an opposite variation in another sphere—varies only in long intervals. Its relative constancy is revealed in this more or less constant nature of the average rate, or common rate, of interest.

As concerns the continually fluctuating market rate of interest, it exists at any moment as a fixed magnitude, the same as the market price of commodities, because all the loanable capital as an aggregate mass is continually facing the invested capital, so that the relation between the supply of loanable capital on one side, and the demand for it on the other, decide at any time the market level of interest. This is so much more the case, the more the development and simultaneous concentration of the credit system impregnates the loanable capital with a general social character, and throws it all at one time on the market. On the other hand, the general rate of profit always exists as a mere tendency, as a movement to compensate specific rates of profit. The competition between capitalists—which is itself this movement toward an equilibrium—consists in this case in their activity of gradually withdrawing capital from spheres, in which the profit stays for a long time below the average, and in the same way taking capital into spheres, in which the profit is above the average. Or it may also consist in their distributing additional capital gradually and in varying proportions between these spheres. It is always a matter of a continual variation between supply and demand of capital with reference to different spheres, never a simultaneous mass effect, as it is in the determination of the rate of interest.

We have seen that interest-bearing capital, although a category absolutely different from a commodity, becomes a peculiar commodity, so that interest becomes its price, which Edition: current; Page: [431] is fixed at any time by supply and demand, just as the market price of an ordinary commodity is fixed. The market rate of interest, while continually oscillating, appears therefore at any moment just as constantly fixed and uniform as the prevailing market price of commodities. The money-capitalists offer this commodity, and the investing capitalists buy it and make a demand for it. This does not take place in the equalisation of profits toward a general rate of profit. If the prices of commodities in a certain sphere are below or above the price of production (leaving aside any oscillations, which are found in every business and are due to fluctuations of the industrial cycles), a balance is effected by an expansion or restriction of production. This signifies an expansion or restriction of the quantities of commodities thrown on the market by industrial capitalists, by means of immigration or emigration of capital to and from particular spheres. It is by such a compensation of the average market prices of commodities to prices of production that the deviations of specific rates of profit from the general, or average, rate of profit are corrected. This process does not, and cannot, at any time assume the appearance as though the industrial or mercantile capital as such were commodities seeking a buyer, but it does in the case of interest-bearing capital. To the extent that this process is perceptible, it is so only in the oscillations and compensations of the market prices of commodities to prices of production, not in any direct fixation of the average profit. The general rate of profit is actually determined, 1), by the surplus-value produced by the capital; 2), by the proportion of this surplus-value to the value of the total capital; and, 3), by competition, but only to the extent that this is a movement, by which capitals invested in particular spheres seek to draw equal dividends out of this surplus-value in proportion to their relative magnitudes. The general rate of profit, then, derives its determination actually from causes, which are quite different and far more profound than those of the market rate of interest, which is directly and immediately determined by the proportion between supply and demand. It is, therefore, not such a tangible Edition: current; Page: [432] and obvious fact as the rate of interest. The particular rates of interest in the different spheres of production are themselves more or less unsettled; but so far as they are perceptible, it is not their uniformity, but their differences, which appear. The general rate of profit itself appears only as the minimum limit of profit, not as the empirical and directly visible shape of the actual rate of profit.

In emphasizing this difference between the rate of interest and the rate of profit, we still leave out of consideration the following two circumstances, which favor the consolidation of the rate of interest: 1), The historical pre-existence of interest-bearing capital and the existence of a traditionally sanctioned general rate of interest; 2), the far greater direct influence exerted by the world market on the fixation of the rate of interest, independently of the economic conditions of a certain country, compared to its influence on the rate of profit.

The average profit does not appear as a directly existing fact, but merely as a final result of the compensation of opposite fluctuations, to be ascertained by analysis. Not so the rate of interest. It is, at least in its local validity, a daily fixed thing, a fact which serves even to industrial and mercantile capitals as a prerequisite and figure in their calculations. It becomes a general faculty of every sum of money of 100 pounds sterling to yield 2, 3, 4, 5%. Meteorological reports do not register the stand of the barometer and thermometer more accurately than the reports of the Bourse do the stand of the rate of interest, not for this or that capital, but for the money-capital on the market, for the available loanable capital in general.

On the money market only lenders and borrowers face one another. The commodity has the same form, money. All specific forms of capital according to its investment in particular spheres of production or circulation are here blotted out. It exists here in the undifferentiated, homogenous, form of independent value, money. The competition of the individual spheres ceases here. They are all thrown together as borrowers of money, and capital likewise faces all of them in Edition: current; Page: [433] a form, in which it is as yet indifferent to its definite investment in this or that specific manner. The character worn by industrial capital only in its movement and competition between individual spheres, the character of a common capital of a class comes into evidence here in full force by the demand and supply of capital. On the other hand, money-capital on the money market has actually that form, in which it may be distributed as a common element among the capitalists in the various spheres, regardless of its specific employment, as the requirements of production in each individual sphere may dictate. Add to this that with the development of large scale industry money-capital, so far as it appears on the market, is not represented by some individual capitalist, not by the owner of this or that fraction of the capital on the market, but assumes more and more the character of an organised mass, which is far more directly subject to the control of the representatives of social capital, the bankers, than actual production is. Under these circumstances, not only the demand for loanable capital is expressed with the full force of a class, but also its supply appears as loanable capital in masses.

These are some of the reasons, why the general rate of profit appears as a vanishing shape of mist compared to the definite rate of interest, which, while fluctuating in its magnitude, yet faces all borrowers as a fixed fact, because it varies uniformly for all of them. In like manner the variations in the value of money do not prevent it from having the same value for all commodities. In like manner the market prices of commodities fluctuate daily, yet this does not prevent them from being reported daily. In like manner, the rate of interest is regularly reported as "the price of money." It is so for the reason that capital itself is here offered in the form of money as a commodity. The fixation of its price is thus a fixation of its market price, as it is with all other commodities. Thus the rate of interest always appears as the general rate of interest, as so much for so much money, as a definite quantity. Not so the rate of profit. It may vary even within the same sphere for commodities with the same Edition: current; Page: [434] price, according to the different conditions under which different capitals produce the same commodity. For the rate of profit of the individual capital is determined, not by the market price of a commodity, but by the difference between the market-price and the cost-price. And these different rates of profit, first within the same sphere and then between different spheres themselves, can be balanced only by continual fluctuations.

(Note for later elaboration): A specific form of credit. It is known that when money serves as a means of payment instead of as a means of purchase, the commodity is transferred, but its value is not realised until later. If payment is not made until after the commodity has again been sold, then this sale does not seem to be the result of the purchase, but it is by this sale that the purchase is realised. In other words, the sale becomes a means of purchase.—Secondly; Titles to debts, bills of exchange, etc., become means of payment for the creditor.—Thirdly: The compensation of titles to debts replaces the money.

CHAPTER XXIII.: INTEREST AND PROFIT OF ENTERPRISE.

INTEREST, as we have seen in the two preceding chapters, seems to be originally, is originally, and remains in fact merely a portion of profit, of surplus-value, which the investing capitalist, whether industrial or commercial, has to pay over to the owner and lender of money-capital whenever he uses loan capital instead of his own. If he employs only his own capital, no such division of profit takes place; it is all his. In fact, to the extent that the owners of capital employ it themselves in the process of reproduction, they do not compete in the determination of the rate of interest. This alone shows that the category of interest, an impossibility without a determination of the rate of interest, is alien to the movements of industrial capital itself.

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"The rate of interest may be defined to be that proportional sum which the lender is content to receive, and the borrower to pay, for a year or for any longer or shorter period for the use of a certain amount of moneyed capital...when the owner of capital employs it actively in reproduction, he does not come under the head of those capitalists, the proportion of whom, to the number of borrowers, determines the rate of interest." (Th. Tooke, History of Prices, Newmarch ed. London, 1857, II, p. 355.) It is indeed only the separation of capitalists into money-capitalists and industrial capitalists, which transforms a portion of the profit into interest, which creates the category of interest at all; and it is only the competition between these two kinds of capitalists which creates the rate of interest.

So long as capital serves in the process of reproduction—even assuming that it belongs to the industrial capitalist himself, so that he has no need of paying it back to some lender—just so long the capitalist has at his disposal as a private individual, not this capital itself, but only the profit, which he may spend as revenue. So long as his capital performs the functions of capital, it belongs to the process of reproduction, it is tied up in that process. He is indeed its owner, but this ownership does not enable him to dispose of it in some other way, so long as he uses it as capital for the exploitation of labor. It is the same with the money-capitalist. So long as his capital is loaned out and serves as money-capital, it brings him as interest a portion of the profit, but he cannot dispose of the principal. This becomes evident, whenever he loans his capital, say, for one year, or longer, and receives interest at certain stipulated times without recovering his principal. But even the return of the principal does not make any difference here. If he g