This was the central concern of political economy long before its development as an independent science. A clear reply could only emerge after the facts themselves had been clarified. In other words, it could only appear at a certain level of generalization of the mercantile economy. First men had to have a clear insight into the economic relations determining their material life.
Marx too encountered several difficulties, not so much in grasping what determines value - socially necessary labour-time, but in giving this an historical exposition, that is to say, the forms of value with all the consequences deriving from them;
"Marx elaborated the theory of surplus-value, quite alone and in silence, during the 50s, and he utterly refused to publish any of it until he had fully clarified all the consequences. Hence the non-publication of the second and subsequent books of the Contribution..." (Engels to Shmuilov, 7.2.1893, in MEW B. 39 pp. 24-5)
We know that Marx wrote Capital instead. While it was being edited, Engels suggested some modifications:
"In these rather abstract elaborations you have committed the great mistake of not making the sequence of thought clear by a larger number of small sub-sections and separate headings." (Engels to Marx, 16.6.1867, in MESC p. 175)
Marx took this into account, and included the appendix 'The Form of Value' in the first German edition[*]. It is for this reason that Capital Volume I contains an intelligible exposition of the whole matter. However, many of the consequences Engels mentions in his letter to Shmuilov have never been analysed. Thus one must first summarize what Volume I has to say on the subject.
A. The contribution of Capital Volume I
In the course of history, all the products of human activity, even those merely filtered through labour, become commodities, while a parallel process makes one commodity into a general equivalent against which all other commodities are measured. This is gold, money. This means that exchange-value progressively becomes the dominant factor, displacing the use-value of the products of human activity.
Such a transformation presupposes the simultaneous transformation of concrete into abstract labour, that is, products progressively lose their characteristic of being the result of the particular activity of man, to take on that of being a product of human labour. At this level of generalization of commodity production, man himself becomes a commodity - the labour power which can sell itself. And it is this particular commodity which generates surplus-value, through its consumption in the production process. This happens in the following way: the capitalists who own the means of production assure the existence of the worker, a person expropriated of his own means of production, reduced to the state of absolute dependence since he is the master of nothing except his own labour power, which can only be effective, and so real, when he comes into contact with the means of production which are in the possession of the capitalist. The latter consents to give him wages, i.e. a certain quantity of money allowing him to buy on the market, owned by the capitalists, the means of subsistence necessary to maintain his material life, on condition that the worker alienates his labour-power, which the capitalist will use as he wishes, according to the requirements of the production process itself. Now the origin of surplus-value is quite clear - the use of the labour-power generates more products than are necessary to reproduce it. This first form of surplus-value is absolute surplus-value. It derives from the prolongation to the maximum of the time during which labour power is used, with the purpose of creating the largest possible quantity of products: prolongation of the working day in order to increase the fraction of it the worker works unpaid for the benefit of the capitalist.
The struggle of the proletariat against the unchecked exploitation engendered by this striving for absolute surplus-value forces the capitalist to introduce machines, docile instruments. At this point, the extraction of surplus value is performed indirectly by increasing the productivity of labour. The machine, above all, subjugates man, as has already been described in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts:
"The machine accommodates itself to the weakness of the human being in order to make the weak human being into a machine." (MECW 3 p. 308)
Besides, the machine causes a considerable increase in the productivity of labour. A greater quantity of products is generated by the same quantity of labour. The unit-value of products is diminished, and, in particular, that of the means of subsistence required by the worker. The commodities produced by capital contain decreasing amounts of paid labour. The working day can thus stay unchanged, since the fraction of it that the worker works to reproduce his own wages is diminished, given that the sum of values of the means of subsistence required for his subsistence diminishes too. Direct physical coercion gives way to indirect economic coercion. For this to be exercised with certainty implies capital's domination over all the mechanisms of the economy, with the scope of being able to exert this overall pressure: it is done in such a way that the proletariat can do nothing except submit or die of hunger. Capital also subordinates science, and not just to incorporate it in the production process, but also as a theoretical weapon, to show the proletariat that production could not take place in any other manner.
B. The Contribution of the Urtext
Marx vigorously and decisively exposes the secret of capitalist production - the exploitation of the proletariat; he explains the genesis of surplus-value and, refuting the economists, who want to posit capital as an eternal form of production, shows that capital is a social relation. But the epigones of capital can maintain their theory as they reason from appearances, because:
"Although it is thus correct to say that exchange-value is a relation between persons, it is however necessary to add that it is a relation hidden by a material veil." (Contribution p. 34)
This relation is masked all the more as exchange-value, born in the sphere of commodity circulation, becomes increasingly autonomous.
This is what Marx analyses in the fragment of the original version of the Contribution.. (the Urtext) Although the concept of autonomization appears in other texts, only here does it lie at the heart of the explanation. In the Grundrisse Marx uses it as a concept he has already acquired and defined in other works; likewise in the Contribution.. and in Capital. Hence the interest in the Urtext. It opens with the analysis of the forms of value (like Capital). He starts from the simple form (x commodity A = y commodity B), going on to the most developed form - the money form, making clear what is essential in this circulation. It is through circulation that commodities are brought together, compared and thus become equivalents:
"... gold is a commodity distinct from wheat, and only circulation can show whether the quarter of wheat is actually turned into an ounce of gold as has been anticipated in its price." (Contribution p. 69)
"commodities must enter the exchange-process as objectified universal labour-time, on the other hand, the labour-time of individuals becomes objectified universal labour-time only as a result of the exchange process." (ibid. p. 45)
The material veil really appears in circulation. It is during circulation that value is realized and its autonomization takes place. For this reason, the first economists saw in circulation the essential moment in value creation. But this is false, as we know from the explanations of the classical economists, and of Marx
in particular: the increase in value is realized in the sphere of circulation, but arises in the sphere of production. Marx adopts the starting-point of the fact of the appearance of the phenomenon; he shows it in its becoming, explains the contradiction that it implies, and succeeds, by analysing these, in grasping the secret of the real movement:
"Hence money as distinct from the medium of circulation must be derived from
C-M-C, the immediate form of commodity circulation." (Contribution p. 123)
"The first phase of circulation is, as it were, a theoretical phase preparatory to real circulation. Commodities, which exist as use-values, must first of all assume a form in which they appear to one another nominally as exchange values, as definite quantities of objectified universal labour-time. The first necessary move in this process is, as we have seen, that the commodities set apart a specific commodity, say, gold, which becomes the direct materialization (Materiatur) of universal labour-time or the universal equivalent." (ibid. p. 65)
This is the beginning of the autonomization of exchange-value; but for this to be fully realized, gold must be a variable quantity which can be used as a measure of value.
"Gold must be in principle a variable value, if it is to serve as a measure of value, because only as materialization of labour-time can it become the equivalent of other commodities." (ibid. p. 67)
In fact, gold can perform this function, and Marx makes a long analysis of
precious metals as the bases of the monetary function (cf. Urtext and Grundrisse).
Gold can function as equivalent for all commodities, and for any individual part of them whatsoever. Hence its autonomization and magical character. Once he arrived at this stage of the analysis, Marx studied the limits to the autonomization of money, and the conditions which allow exchange-value to become really autonomous. This opens the way to studying the transition from money to capital.
"Circulation has as its starting-point the two determinations of the commodity: use-value and exchange-value. If the former predominates, circulation ends in the autonomization of use-value; the commodity becomes an object of consumption. If the latter, circulation ends in the second determination, the autonomization of exchange-value. The commodity becomes money. But it only assumes this determination through the process of circulation, and it continues to be determined in relation to circulation. In this determination, it develops further as objectified universal labour time - in its social form. It is from this side that the further determination of social labour (which first appears as exchange-value of the commodity, then as money) must arise. Exchange-value is the social form as such; its further development is therefore the development of, or the deepening in, the social process which throws the commodity onto its surface." (Urtext pp. 930-31)
Here Marx deals with the transformation of money into capital, the circulation of which will realize the opposite of the circulation of commodities:
"In the movement C-M-C, the material (das Stoffliche) appears as the intrinsic (eigentliche) content of the movement; the social movement only as a vanishing mediation to satisfy human needs." (ibid. p. 925)
The commodity becomes money, and hence autonomous exchange-value. To explain the autonomization, exchange-value must be analysed in greater detail.
"As previously we took the commodity as our starting-point, we now take
exchange-value as such - its autonomization is the result of the circulation process we find that:
1) Exchange-value exists doubly, as commodity and as money; the latter appears as its adequate form; but in the commodity (as long as it remains a commodity) the money is not lost but exists as its price. The existence of exchange-value is thus doubled (verdoppelt) once as use-values, then in money. But both the forms may be exchanged (sich austaschen) and, through mere exchange, the value does not diminish.
2) For money to preserve itself as money, it must, just as it appears as a precipitate and result of the circulation process, be able to re-enter it; i.e. not to become, in circulation, mere means of circulation which disappear in commodity form in exchange for mere use-value." (ibid. p. 931)
This exchange-value can only become autonomous "as a process; no longer as a mere vanishing form of use-value, indifferent to the use-value's material content, still a mere thing (Ding), in the form of money." (ibid. p. 931)
But, at this point, circulation itself undergoes some changes and it is:
"no longer as a merely formal process in which the commodity passes through its various determinations, (as in the case of simple commodity circulation - ed.) but exchange-value itself, moreover exchange-value measured in money, must appear as a presupposition itself, as posited by circulation; and, as posited by circulation, its presupposition. Circulation itself must appear as a moment of the production of exchange-values (as the process of production of exchange-values)." (ibid. pp. 931-2)
The contradiction which is implied by the circulation of money is now posed; a contradiction which led the economists to make a mistake. They reasoned from the apparent phenomenon. Apparently, in fact, we are confronted by a relation between things which are in the sphere of circulation. Then it is seen, at a given moment, that the value has increased. Let us follow Marx's analysis, which will enable us to unveil the mystification of things:
"This valorization, quantitative increase of value - which is the only process which value as such can perform - appears in money-accumulation only in opposition to circulation, i.e. through its suspension. Circulation must rather become posited as the process where it (value) is preserved and valorized. But in circulation, money becomes coin, and as such is exchanged with commodities." (ibid. p. 932)
In other words, circulation must in some way contain a productive phase, in the course of which valorization takes place, i.e. the growth of value. Marx then states the characteristics of this circulation, and the conditions which allow value to attain autonomy:
1. "If this change is not to be merely formal - or if exchange-value is not to be lost in the consumption of the commodity - (...) then exchange-value must really be exchanged for use-value, and the commodity must be consumed as use value, but preserve itself as exchange-value in this consumption, or its disappearance must disappear, and itself be only the means for the arising of a greater exchange-value (here the definition of the commodity as the product of capital is anticipated - ed.), for the production and reproduction of exchange-value productive consumption, i.e. consumption through labour, in order to objectify labour, to posit exchange-value." (ibid. pp. 932-3)
2. "To become autonomous, exchange-value must not only leave circulation as a result, but it must be able to re-enter it, to preserve itself in it, when it becomes a commodity." (ibid. p. 933)
3. Moreover, it cannot be the question of a simple quantitative movement, as in the case of money:
"As the form of universal wealth, autonomized exchange-value, money in capable only of a quantitative-movement, to increase itself. According to its concept, it is the quintessence of all use-values; but as an amount of money that is always determined, a determined sum of gold and silver, its quantitative barrier (Schranke) is in contradiction with its quality." (ibid. p. 936)
4."As long as money, i.e. autonomized exchange-value, only preserves itself against its opposite, use-value as such, it is in fact capable only of an abstract existence. It must preserve itself in its opposite, in its becoming use-value, and at the same time grow as exchange-value (i.e. the consumption of this use-value generates exchange-value and therefore there cannot be indifference with regard to the quality of this use-value - ed.), thus it must transform the consumption of use-value - its active negation and likewise position - into the reproduction and production of exchange-value itself." (ibid. pp. 939-40)
In this case, which exchange-value can completely fulfill these functions and these conditions? Capital.
"The money which is made autonomous and results from circulation as adequate exchange value, but which re-enters circulation and perpetuates itself and valorizes itself (multiplies itself) in it and through it, is capital."
(ibid. p. 937)
After this definition, derived from the study of circulation and autonomization of exchange value, Marx characterizes capital.
1. "The imperishability to which money aspires, relating negatively to circulation (withdrawing from it), is attained by capital precisely by the fact that it abandons itself to circulation. Capital, as the exchange-value presupposing circulation, is presupposed by it and preserving itself in it assumes in turn the two moments contained in simple circulation, but it does not transfer from one form to the other, as in simple circulation, but in each of the determinations is at the same time the relation with the opposite." (ibid. p. 938)
2. "It is not this or that commodity, but can become metamorphosed into every commodity, and in every one of these it continues to be the same amount of value and to be value in relation to itself as an end in itself." (ibid. p. 941)
3. Besides, it no longer loses itself in circulation, since "it passes from its form as money into that of any commodity whatsoever" and its "autonomization now consists only in this, that the exchange-value holds itself fast as exchange value, whether it exists in the form of money or in the form of commodity, and only converts into the form of commodity in order to valorize itself." (ibid. pp. 941-2)
But since "as exchange-value, exchange-value can in general only become autonomous when confronting the use-value that faces it as such" (ibid. p. 942), we must know what the use value is that can be productively consumed, and thus oppose itself as use-value and exchange-value. It is labour, or, more exactly, labour-power. "The only use-value which can form an antithesis and cpieiuent
money as capital is labour." (ibid. p. 943) This is why the content of the use
value in this exchange cannot be a matter of indifference: "The exchange through
which money becomes capital cannot be in the exchange with commodities, but in
the exchange with its conceptually (begrifflich determined antithesis (Gegensatz)
the commodity which is in conceptually determined antithesis to it - labour."
(ibid. p. 944)
"So it is only through the exchange of money with labour that its transformation into capital can take place. The use-value with which money insofar as it is potential capital can be exchanged can only be the use-value from which exchange value itself arises, generates itself and grows. But this is
only labour. Exchange-value can be realized as such only confronting the use-value - not this one or that one - but the use-value in relation to itself. This is labour. Labour capacity itself is the use-value whose consumption immediately coincides with the objectification of labour, thus with the positing (Setzung) of exchange-value. For money as capital, labour capacity is the immediate use-value for which it must exchange itself. In simple circulation,
"the content of the use-value, was a matter of indifference, it fell outside
the economic form-relation (Formbeziehung). But here it is the latter's
essential economic moment." (ibid. p. 944)
In other words, wage-labour is a fundamental characteristic of the capitalist mode of production. Mercantile production was able to dissolve other modes of production, other determined production relations, but still, by itself, it was unable to found a new society. "Since exchange-value preserving itself in exchange is determined by the fact that it is exchanged with the use-value that opposes it according to its own form-determination (Formbestimmung). (ibid. p. 944)
"The real non-capital is work itself." (ibid. p. 943) Consequently, capitalism can only fully develop itself when all human labour has become abstract labour.
It appears, therefore, that the analysis of the commodity - use-value corresponding to concrete labour - is insufficient to explain the transformation of money into capital. Also, the study of the circulation of exchange-value has made evident the fact that, to attain autonomy, exchange-value must contain within itself a productive phase, in the course-of which its opposite - a particular use-value - is consumed (productive consumption) and engenders exchange-value. Capital can only appear in this way.
"In capital, money has lost its rigidity and, from a tangible thing, has become a process." (ibid. p. 937) So it is necessary to determine this process whose essential moment is immediate production, that is, the process in the course of which exchange-value (and therefore capital) is created, in the course of which there is the productive consumption of labour-power. It is here that the Results of the Immediate Process of Production ('The Unpublished Sixth Chapter of Capital') concludes the study undertaken in the two texts we have analysed above, and resolves the contradiction posed by the apparent phenomenon.
C. The contribution of the Results of the Immediate Process of Production
To understand this process, we must adopt two new distinctions: the labour process, which comprizes the confrontation of man with the means of production, and the valorization process, which comprizes, on the one hand the conservation of value and, on the other, the creation of an increase in value, so that "instead of the value of the variable portion we now have valorization as a process." (Results p. 985). The immediate process of production is the unity of the two.
These distinctions are to be found throughout Marx's works on economics; for example, in Capital Volume II, when he criticizes the different theories of fixed capital, or when he deals with 'The Reproduction and Circulation of the Total Social Capital'. Moreover, it is here, besides in the Results (and also the Grundrisse, where these concepts are fully developed), that we find the clearest exposition of these two elements of capital's process of production:
"The immediate production process of capital is the process of labour and valorization, the result of this process being the commodity product, and its determining motive the production of surplus-value." (Capital II, p. 14.27) Before continuing, we should make two observations:
1) We indicated in a very suggestive manner the unity of the two processes (without yet knowing of the Results) in the 'Abaco' of Capital Volume I. We represented the immediate process of production as follows:
v + c set out vertically indicating the labour process in capitalist society; the relation between living labour - variable capital and dead labour - constant capital. The valorization process is indicated in the two horizontal relations:
a) the aspect of the conservation of value advanced in the form of the means of production .
b) the aspect of value creation (evidently here there is also
the conservation of value, since it is necessary firstly that v is restored before production of s to take place. Only this aspect is much less important here than in the preceding instance. It is masked by the phenomenon of value creation.) 2) There is a labour process in all modes of production. But, as products were transformed into commodities, there was the parallel creation of a valorization process which assumed increasing importance until, with capitalism, it supplanted and masked the labour process. Hence the mystification that overcomes the vulgar economists, blinded by the valorization process. Hence also Marx's observation in Capital Volume I:
"When, at the beginning if this chapter, we said in the customary manner that a commodity is both a use-value and an exchange-value, this was, strictly speaking, wrong. A commodity is a use-value or object of utility, and., a 'value'. It appears as the two-fold thing it really is as soon as its value possesses its own particular form of manifestation, which is distinct from its natural form. This form of manifestation is exchange-value, and the commodity never had this form when looked at in isolation, but only when it is in a value-relation or an exchange-relation with a second commodity of a different kind. Once we know this, our manner of speaking does no harm; it serves, rather, as an abbreviation." (Capital I p. 152)
There were societies where value did not exist, there will be a society where value will have been destroyed: communism.
But let us return to the immediate process of production:
"...the labour process is single and indivisible. The work is not done twice over, once to produce a suitable product, a use-value, to transform the means of production into products, and a second time to generate value and surplus-value, to valorize value." (Results p. 991)
The immediate process of production is the indissoluble unity of the labour process and the valorization process; here the characteristics therefore proceed to the level of production.
"The process of production is the immediate unity of labour process and valorization prc,cess, just as its immediate result, the commodity, is the is the immediate unity of use-value and exchange-value." (ibid.)
To get a better grasp of this becoming of value that valorizes itself in the course of the production process, two more concepts should be specified: dead labour and living labour. We have seen that to understand circulation, we needed to know that every commodity has a use-value and an exchange-value, corresponding respectively to concrete and abstract labour. To understand the transformation of money into capital, it was necessary to go into the production process, which divides into labour process (use-aspect) and valorization process (exchangeaspect); now, inside this labour process, we must distinguish between labour that is dead, accumulated, objectified; that is the means of production have the character of exchange-value (constant capital), and living labour, labour-power with the character of use (variable capital).
"The distinction between objectified and living labour manifests itself in the actual process of labour... Furthermore, in the labour process, objectified labour constitutes an objective factor an element for the realization of living labour. (ibid. p. 993)
In this sense, dead labour has a use-aspect, nevertheless it primarily appears with the determination of exchange-value.
So this is the becoming:
"To the extent to which past labour replaces living labour, it itself becomes a process, valorizes itself it becomes a fluens that creates a fluxion. This absorption into itself of additional living labour is the process of self-valorization, its authentic transformation into capital, into value generating itself; its transformation from a constant amount of value (Wertgrösse) into a variable amount of value in process. (ibid. p. 994)
Thus, after the definition derived from circulation, we have the one that comes from production. Capital is objectified dead labour and is repeatedly brought back to life by the living labour that it incorporates; in a seemingly endless cycle. This last definition includes the first, provided by the Urtext - capital as value in process - because now we know that this process comprises; it can only take place by subjugating labour.
"On the other hand, an existing amount of value - or money - becomes real capital only when; firstly as self-valorizing value, represented as value in
process and this it achieves when the activity of labour-capacity (Arbeits-
vermögens) labour, is incorporated in the production process and becomes its property; secondly it must yield surplus-value as distinct from its original value, and this in turn is again the product of the objectification of surplus labour." (ibid. p. 1016)
"Within the production process labour is transformed into capital." (ibid.)
The material veil is torn aside. The relation between men becomes clear; the relation between capitalists and proletarians which the vulgar economists, ardent defenders of capitalism, have every interest in masking (as all their epigones did and still do). However, Marx pushes on still further, and shows that what appeared as a thing is still the product of a relation between men: constant capital is materialized, crystalized, objectified labour, and consequently:
"The entire process is a traffic between objectified and living labour."
(ibid. p. 1018)
This way of considering the transformation of money into capital also explains why Marx, both in the Urtext and in the Results speaks of labour-capacity rather than of labour-power, as he does in Capital He is analysing a process in its becoming: the moment in which the essential transformation is-about to take place -. it is no accident that he resorts to mathematical terminology in the Results in order to determine the precise instant at which the increase in value will take place, and will be able to show its own differential. Thus he shows that exchange value can only increase itself by exchange with a use-value capable of creating value. Later, when the secret of the metamorphosis of money into capital has been discovered, it is no longer necessary to present the process in this form. It is no longer a question of capacity, but of given facts, which are realized concretely. What is really consumed is not labour-capacity, which stays something potential, but a power:
"Money is now objectified labour, whether it possesses the form of money or of a particular commodity. No objective mode of being of labour is opposed to capital, but all of them appear as possible modes of existence for it, which it can assume through a simple change in form, going from the money form over into the commodity form. The only antithesis to objectified (vergegenständlichte) labour is unobjectified labour; in antithesis to objectivized (objectivierten) labour, subjectified labour. Or that labour that is present in time, living, in antithesis to labour past in time, but existing in space. As labour that is present in time, unobjectified (and thus also not yet objectified), this can only be present as capacity, possibility, ability, as labour-capacity of the living subject. Only living labour-capacity can form the antithesis to capital, independent objectified labour preserving itself, and. so the only exchange by means of which money can become capital is that which the owner of the latter concludes with the owner of living labour-capacity, i.e. the worker." (Urtext p. 942)
As we have already mentioned, this is why Marx adopted the subjective aspect as his starting point in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts the aspect of wage-labour. This is no way contradicts the fact that, later, it is capital that tends to appear as the true subject. Marx explains it in the expose of the mystification of capital.
He has thus replied while moving on the very terrain of his adversaries: certainly there can be an increase of value through exchange, but only during one particular exchange, that of objectified labour for living labour. This exchange can only be real when the use-value is consumed, and it can only be productively consumed; which explains the necessity of an immediate process of production. The resulting product requires an exchange in its turn similar to the exchanges in the simple circulation of commodities - so that this value can be realized.
The contradiction put forward, albeit in a different manner, in Capital Volume I is thus resolved:
"The transformation of money into capital has to be developed on the basis of the immanent laws of the exchange of commodities, in such a way that the starting point is the exchange of equivalents." (capital I p. 268)
The metamorphosis from money-owner into capitalist 'must, and yet must not, take place in the sphere of circulation." (Capital I p. 269)
We saw elsewhere how the same requirement arose in simple circulation; values
must be realized in circulation, but are produced in a different sphere. Circul
ation was realization and materialization of their labour-time. In the case of capital, the difficulty lay in the fact that apparently it is a question of explaining not an equivalence, but rather a non-equivalence.
We took circulation as our starting point to show that it posited the realization of something produced in another sphere, the sphere of production. But also "under the veil" we finally rediscovered the "relation between men". This is the same result arrived at in Capital Volume I.
We found the same procedure in the Grundrisse i.e. explanation of the real movement - the birth of capital from circulation itself. Capital appears right from the start as a quantum of value in continuous movement. Marx did not want to abstract from the various stages of the movement to analyse them separately, but wanted rather to show the movement in its totality, with its inherent contradictions, because it asserted itself historically in exactly this way. In Capital by
simplifying the exposition to make comprehension of the phenomenon more accessible, he posits capital's contradiction right from the start, isolating it from the movement in order to dissect it. In the Grundrisse we again find the content of the Urtext, although it is less centred on the phenomenon of autonomization. And since this work is the very expression of Marx's thought, we will refer to it again. It integrates, even if in a form that is neither fully developed nor explicit, all the facts of the historical movement which Marx wanted to retranslate in all its complexity.
Finally, "the product of capitalist production is not value, but surplus-value" (Results passim). Hence the whole difference between circulation in the period of simple commodity circulation, and circulation in the capitalist period. The latter seems to be determined by an exchange 'between non-equivalent quantities. This explains the new distinction, made this time between necessary labour-time and surplus labour-time, inside living labour. In the course of the labour process, the proletarian restores the advanced value, which corresponds to his wages; but also creates an additional value during a determined fraction of his working day; and the surplus-labour corresponds to surplus-value.
This is, moreover, a fully developed reply to the two objections raised by the
opponents of the law of value, already indicated by Marx in the Contribution:
"One. Labour itself has exchange-value and different types of labour have different exchange-values. If one makes exchange-value the measure of exchange-value, one is caught up in a vicious circle, for the exchange-value used as a measure requires in turn a measure. This objection merges into the following problem: given labour-time as the intrinsic measure of value, how are wages to be determined on this basis. The theory of wage-labour provides the answer to this.
"Two. If the exchange-value of a product equals the labour-time contained in the product, then the exchange-value of a working day is equal to the product it yields, in other words, wages must be equal to the product of labour. But in fact the opposite is true. Ergo, this objection amounts to the problem, how does production on the basis of exchange-value solely determined by labour-tine lead to the result that the exchange-value of labour is less than the exchange-value of its product? This problem is solved in our analysis of capital." (Contribution pp. 61-2)
This is precisely what we saw in the study of the immediate process of production, and in particular in the valorization process.
The various parts of Marx's work correspond to and complete each other in a vast, harmonious unity, where it seems impossible to find a mistake, or the slightest contradiction. Thus the favourite method of our opponents, who want to reduce the work into fragments to set one against the other, in order to find a contradiction that might discredit the whole, has always ended up by exposing their own impotence in understanding the great theory, in which the various elements are in mutual agreement.
We again find the same agreement, the same harmony, between the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts and the Results. In the latter, Marx decisively investigates the social relations inside capitalist society and arrives at the following conclusion:
"Capital is not a thing any more than money is a thing. In capital, as in
money, certain specific social relations of production between people appear as the natural social properties of things." (Results p. 1005)
The entire socio-economic movement shows that it is not man who dominates, but the object: "It is not the worker who buys the means of production and subsistence, but the means of subsistence that buy the worker to incorporate him into the means of production." (ibid. p. 1004) Man is commodity: it is the reification of which Marx speaks in the Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts and which he
will take up again in Capital Volume III:
"Production does not simply produce man as a commodity, the human commodity,
man in the role of commodity; it produces him in keeping with this role as a mentally and physically dehumanized being.- Immorality, deformity, and dull
"ing of the workers and the capitalists.- Its product is the self-conscious
and self-acting commodity ... the human commodity." (MECW 3, p. 284)
But, as we have mentioned, the method is still subjective in the Economic and
"Just as we have derived the concept of private property from the concept of estranged, alienated labour by analysis so we can develop every category of political economy with the help of these two factors; and we shall find again in each category, e.g. trade, competition, capital, money, only a particular and developed expression of these first elements." (ibid. p. 281)
Marx still lingers too long over the analysis of the superstructures, the
forms of property linked only with alienated labour; thus he can define capital as "private property in the products of other men's labour" (ibid. p. 246) or "stored-up labour" (ibid. p. 247). Definitions like these, however apt, are still too static, and alone do riot permit one to grasp the roots of human alienation. The definition given in the Results (following that of the Urtext) capital as value that valorizes, value in process, clarifies and illuminates the entire development of the social production process. There is certainly appropriation of the labour of others, surplus labour, - by means of the appropriation of the product of living labour but this has as its purpose the valorization of the value advanced. All in all, this results in "this reduction of the greater part of mankind to abstract labour." (ibid. p. 241) This is the consequence of the autonomization of value.
However, it is not only a question of showing how the Results provide a better explanation of certain facts; we must also show how it is a synthesis, it "articulates" the whole corpus of Marx's work.
[*]Das Kapital (Hamburg, 1867) 'Anhang zu Kapitel I,1: Die Werthform' (pp. 764- in English 'The Value Form' in Capital and Class no. i4., Spring 1978.
1. "The worker has to struggle not only for his physical means of subsistence; he has to struggle to get work, i.e. the possibility, the means, to perform his activity." (Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts in MECW Vol. 3 p. 237)
2. We shall return to this central passage because it poses that it is the economic movement which will give a content to the social movement, giving it its materiality so as finally to supplant it, becoming itself the social movement.
3. "While commodities thus assume a dual form in order to represent exchange-value for one another, the commodity which has been set apart as universal equivalent acquires a dual use-value. In addition to its particular use-value. as an individual commodity it acquires a universal use-value." (Contribution p.
4. "The first determination of capital is, then this: that exchange-value deriving from circulation and presupposing circulation preserves itself in it and by means of it..." (Grundrisse pp. 259-60)
5. The concept of productive consumption is essential (central) because it allows us to grasp the difference between previous modes of production and. capitalism, as well as capitalism's characteristic of over-production.
"The transformation of money capital into productive capital is the purchase of commodities for the purpose of commodity production*. It is only In so far as consumption is productive consumption of this kind that it falls within the actual circuit of capital; the condition for consumption to occur is that surplus-value is made by means of the commodities thus consumed. And this is something very different from production, even commodity production, whose purpose is the existence of the producers; such a replacement of commodity by commodity conditioned by surplus-value production is something quite other than an exchange of products that is simply mediated by money. But this is how the matter is presented by the economists, as proof that no overproduction is possible." (Capital II p. 155) * Rubel indicates that Engels leaves out the following phrase here: "that is, capitalist production of commodities".
6. "Capital is not a simple relation, but a process..." (Grundrisse p . 258)
Marx indicates in the Theories of Surplus Value that this can be both real and paradoxical:
"This autonomization becomes even more evident in capital, which, in one of its aspects, can be called value in process - and since value exists independently only in money, it can accordingly be called money in process as it goes through a series of processes in which it preserves itself, departs from itself, and returns to itself increased in volume. It goes without saying that the paradox of reality is also reflected in paradoxes of speech which are at variance with common sense and with what vulgarians mean and believe to talk of, understand themselves." (TSV III p. 137)
(When we edited this text, we did not previously take the precaution of rereading Marx's works in German; hence our mistaken statement that the definition of capital as value in process is to be found only in the Grundrisse and in the Results. However, in Capital Volume I, Part Two 'The Transformation of Money into Capital', we find "Value therefore now becomes value in process, money in process, and, as such, capital." (p. 256) Knowledge of the works in their original language leads us to modify our judgement in this work that we had of them, but in no way alters the demonstration on the subject of the importance of the definition of capital as value in process. - Note of May 1972)
7. Capital Volume I, Part Three contains the chapter entitled 'The Labour Process and the Valorization Process' (pp. 283-306), (MEW B. 23 pp. 192-213)
8. This aspect of the valorization process already implies the rationalization of production. Wasting of the means of production is to be avoided. (Cf. Capital Volume III, Chapter 5 p. 170 'Economy in the Use of Constant Capital'). (The formula was constructed by Bordiga and published in French in Programme Communiste no. 10, 1960. Note of May 1972)