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Capital: A Critique of Political Economy, Vol. I. The Process of Capitalist Production; Marx, Karl
11 paragraphs found.
Part I, Chapter 1
The insufficiency of Ricardo's analysis of the magnitude of value, and his analysis is by far the best, will appear from the 3rd and 4th book of this work. As regards values in general, it is the weak point of the classical school of political economy that it nowhere, expressly and with full consciousness, distinguishes between labour, as it appears in the value of a product and the same labour, as it appears in the use-value of that product. Of course the distinction is practically made since this school treats labour, at one time under its quantitative aspect, at another under its qualitative aspect. But it has not the least idea, that when the difference between various kinds of labour is treated as purely quantitative, their qualitative unity or equality, and therefore their reduction to abstract human labour, is implied. For instance, Ricardo declares that he agrees with Destutt de Tracy in this proposition: "As it is certain that our physical and moral faculties are alone our original riches, the employment of those faculties, labour of some kind, is our only original treasure, and it is always from this employment that all those things are created, which we call riches.... It is certain, too, that all those things only represent the labour which has created them, and if they have a value, or even two distinct values, they can only derive them form that (the value) of the labour from which they emanate," (Ricardo, The Principles of Pol. Econ. 3 Ed. Lond. 1821, p. 334.) We would here only point out that Ricardo puts his own more profound interpretation upon the words of Destutt. What the latter really says is, that on the one hand all things which constitute wealth represent the labour that creates them, but that on the other hand, they acquire their "two different values" (use-value and exchange-value) from "the value of labour." He thus falls into the commonplace error of the vulgar economists, who assume the value of one commodity (in this case labour) in order to determine the values of the rest. But Ricardo reads him as if he had said, that labour(not the value of labour) is embodied both in use-value and exchange-value. Nevertheless, Ricardo himself pays so little attention to the two-fold character of the labour which has a two-fold embodiment, that he devotes the whole of his chapter on "Value and Riches, Their Distinctive Properties," to a laborious examination of the trivialities of a J. B. Say. And at the finish he is quite astonished to find that Destutt on the one hand agrees with him as to labour being the source of value, and on the other hand with J. B. Say as to the notion of value.
Part I, Chapter 3
See my observations on James Mill in "Critique, &c.," p. 123-125. With regard to this subject, we may notice two methods characteristic of apologetic economy. The first is the identification of the circulation of commodities with the direct barter of products, by simple abstraction from their points of difference; the second is, the attempt to explain away the contradictions of capitalist production, by reducing the relations between the persons engaged in that mode of production, to the simple relations arising out of the circulation of commodities. The production and circulation of commodities are, however, phenomena that occur to a greater or less extent in modes of production the most diverse. If we are acquainted with nothing but the abstract categories of circulation, which are common to all these modes of production, we cannot possibly know anything of the specific points of different of those modes, nor pronounce any judgment upon them. In no science is such a big fuss made with commonplace truisms as in political economy. For instance, J. B. Say sets himself up a judge of crises, because, forsooth, the knows that a commodity is a product.
Part II, Chapter 4
"Ce n'est pas la matière qui fait le capital, mais la valeur de ces matières." (J. B. Say: "Traité de l'Econ. Polit." Sème. éd. Paris, 1817, t. 1., p. 428.)
Part III, Chapter 7
In "Critique of Pol. Ec.," p. 84, I make the following remark on this point—"It is not difficult to understand what 'service' the category 'service' must render to a class of economists like J. B. Say and F. Bastiat."
Part III, Chapter 8
From this we may judge of the absurdity of J. B. Say, who pretends to account for surplus-value (Interest, Profit, Rent), by the "services productifs" which the means of production, soil, instruments, and raw material, render in the labour-process by means of their use-values. Mr. Wm. Roscher who seldom loses an occasion of registering, in black and white, ingenious apologetic fancies, records the following specimen:—"J. B. Say (Traité, t. 1. ch. 4) very truly remarks: the value produced by an oil mill, after deduction of all costs, is something new, something quite different from the labour by which the oil mill itself was erected." (l. c., p. 82, note.) Very true, Mr. Professor! the oil produced by the oil mill is indeed something very different from the labour expended in constructing the mill! By value, Mr. Roscher understands such stuff as "oil," because oil has value, notwithstanding that "Nature" produces petroleum, though relatively "in small quantities," a fact to which he seems to refer in his further observation: "It (Nature) produces scarcely any exchange value." Mr. Roscher's "Nature" and the exchange value it produces are rather like the foolish virgin who admitted indeed that she had had a child, but "it was such a little one." This "savant séricux" in continuation remarks: "Ricardo's school is in the habit of including capital as accumulated labour under the head of labour. This is unskilful work, because, indeed, the owner of capital, after all, does something more than the merely creating and preserving of the same: namely, the abstention from the enjoyment of it, for which he demands, e.g., interest." (l. c.) How very "skilful" is this "anatomico-physiological method" of political economy, which, "indeed," converts a mere desire "after all" into a source of value.
Part IV, Chapter 15
Ricardo lays such stress on this effect of machinery (of which, in other connexions, he takes no more notice than he does of the general distinction between the labour-process and the process of creating surplus-value), that he occasionally loses sight of the value given up by machines to the product, and puts machines on the same footing as natural forces. Thus "Adam Smith nowhere undervalues the services which the natural agents and machinery perform for us, but he very justly distinguishes the nature of the value which they add to they perform their work gratuitously, the assistance which they afford us, adds nothing to value in exchange." (Ric. l. c., p. 336, 337.) This observation of Ricardo is of course correct in so far as it is directed against J. B. Say, who imagines that machines render the "service" of creating value which forms a part of "profits."
A disciple of Ricardo, in answer to the insipidities of J. B. Say, remarks on this point: "Where division of labour is well developed, the skill of the labourer is available only in that particular branch in which it has been acquired; he himself is a sort of machine. It does not therefore help matters one jot, to repeat in parrot fashion, that things have a tendency to find their level. On looking around us we cannot but see, that they are unable to find their level for a long time; and that when they do find it, the level is always lower than at the commencement of the process." ("An Inquiry into those Principles respecting the Nature of Demand," &c. Lond. 1821, p. 72.)
Part V, Chapter 17
To this third law MacCulloch has made, amongst others, this absurd addition, that a rise in surplus value unaccompanied by a fall in the value of labour-power, can occur through the abolition of taxes payable by the capitalist. The abolition of such taxes makes no change whatever in the quantity of surplus-value that the capitalist extorts at first-hand from the labourer. It alters only the proportion in which that surplus-value is divided between himself and third persons. It consequently makes no alteration whatever in the relation between surplus-value and value of labour-power. MacCulloch's exception therefore proves only his misapprehension of the rule, a misfortune that as often happens to him in the vulgarisation of Ricardo, as it does to J. B. Say in the vulgarisation of Adam Smith.
Part VI, Chapter 19
On the other hand, the attempt to explain such expressions as merely poetic license only shows the impotence of the analysis. Hence, in answer to Proudhon's phrase; "Le travail est dit valoir, non pas en tant que marchandise lui même, mais en vue des valeurs qu'on suppose, renfermées puissanciellement en lui. La valeur du travail est une expression figurée," &c., I have remarked: "Dans le travail-marchandise qui est d'une réalité effrayant, il (Proudhon) ne voit qu'une ellipse grammaticale. Donc, toute la société actuelle fondée sur le travail-marchandise, est désormais fondée sur une license poétique, sur une expression figurée. La société veut-elle 'éliminer tous les inconvénients,' qui la travaillent, eh bien! qu'elle élimine les termes malsonnants, qu'elle change de langage, et pour cela elle n'a qu' à s'adresser à l'Académie pour lui demander une nouvelle édition de son dictionnaire." (Karl Marx. "Misère de la Philosophie," p. 34, 35.) It is naturally still more convenient to understand by value nothing at all. Then one can without difficulty subsume everything under this category. Thus, e.g., J. B. Say; what is "valeur?" Answer: "C'est ce qu'une chose vaut," and what is "prix?" Answer; "La valeur d'une chose exprimée en monnaie." And why has "le travail de la terre...une valeur? Parce qu'on y met un prix." Therefore value is what a thing is worth, and the land has its "value," because its value is "expressed in money." This is, anyhow, a very simple way of explaining the why and the wherefore of things.
Part VII, Chapter 24
Even J. B. Say says: "Les épargnes des riches se font aux dépens des pauvres." "The Roman proletarian lived almost entirely at the expense of society....It can almost be said that modern society lives at the expense of the proletarians, on what it keeps out of the remuneration of labour." (Sismondi: Etudes, &c., t. i., p. 24.)
Classic economy has, on account of a deficient analysis of the labour-process, and of the process of creating value, never properly grasped this weighty element of reproduction, as may be seen in Ricardo; he says, e.g., whatever the change in productive power, "a million men always produce in manufactures the same value." This is accurate, if the extension and degree of intensity of their labour are given. But it does not prevent (this Ricardo overlooks in certain conclusions he draws) a million men with different powers of productivity in their labour, turning into products very different masses of the means of production, and therefore preserving in their products very different masses of value; in consequence of which the values of the products yielded may vary considerably. Ricardo has, it may be noted in passing, tried in vain to make clear to J. B. Say, by that very example, the difference between use-value (which he here calls wealth or material riches) and exchange-value. Say answers: "Quant à la difficulté qu'élève Mr. Ricardo en disant que, par des procédés mieux entendus, un million de personnes peuvent produire deux fois, trois fois autant de richesses, sans produire plus de valeurs, cette difficulté n'est pas une lorsque l'on considére, ainsi qu'on le doit, la production comme un échange dans lequel on donne les services productifs de son travail, de sa terre, et de ses capitaux, pour obtenir des produits. C'est par le moyen de ces services productifs, que nous acquérons tous les produits qui sont au monde. Or....nous sommes d'autant plus riches nos services productifs ont d'autant plus de valeur qu'ils obtiennent dans l'échange appelé production une plus grande quantité de choses utiles." (J. B. Say; "Lettres à M. Malthus, Paris, 1820," pp. 168, 169.) The "difficulté"—it exists for him, not for Ricardo—that Say means to clear up is this: Why does not the exchange-value of the use-values increase, when their quantity increases in consequence of increased productive power of labour? Answer; the difficulty is met by calling use-value, exchange-value, if you please. Exchange-value is a thing that is connected one way or another with exchange. If therefore production is called an exchange of labour and means of production against the product, it is clear as day that you obtain more exchange-value in proportion as the production yields more use-value. In other words, the more use-values, e.g., stockings, a working day yields to the stocking-manufacturer, the richer is he in stockings. Suddenly, however, Say recollects that "with a greater quantity" of stockings their "price" (which of course has nothing to do with their exchange-value!) falls "parce que la concurrence les (les producteurs) oblige à donner les produits pour ce qu'ils leur coûtent." But whence does the profit come, if the capitalist sells the commodities at cost price? Never mind! Say declares that, in consequence of increased productivity, every one now receives in return for a given equivalent two pairs of stockings instead of one as before. The result he arrives at, is precisely that proposition of Ricardo that he aimed at disproving. After this mighty effort of thought, he triumphantly apostrophises Malthus in the words: "Telle est, monsieur, la doctrine bien liee, sans laquelle il est impossible, je le déclare, d'expliquer les plus grandes difficultés de l'économie politique, et notamment, comment il se peut qu'une nation soit plus riche lorsque ses produits diminuent de valeur, quoique la richesse soit de la valeur." (1. c. p. 170.) An English economist remarks upon the conjuring tricks of the same nature that appear in Say's "Lettres": "Those affected ways of talking make up in general that which M. Say is pleased to call his doctrine and which he earnestly urges Malthus to teach at Hertford, as it is already taught 'dans plusieurs parties de l'Europe.' He says, 'Si vous trouvez une physionomie de paradoxe à toutes ces propositions, voyez les choses qu'elles expriment, et j'ose croire qu'elles vous paraitront fort simples et fort raisonnables.' Doubtless, and in consequence of the same process, they will appear everything else, except original." (An Inquiry into those Principles respecting the Nature of Demand, &c., p. 116, 110.)