Reply to Rory’s comment on my “Nineteenth note”

by Jehu

Rory wrote this great comment to my previous post that I was very happy to read because it highlights a very important conclusion:

“If capital B does not employ labor after the division, yet still produces value, then apparently technology produces value.

“Or, it’s not correct to treat capital A and B in the second scenario equivalently to capital A and B in the first. Otherwise, it will need to be explained how capital B was able to continue producing value after it shrugged off labor.”

I think Rory is correct here: Capital B employs no labor power. It follow that B is unable to produce value. It further follows that the value of the commodity that capital B produces cannot be the result of the labor directly expended on its production, since no labor has been expended on its production.

Finally, we know that constant capital does not produce value, which is why it is called constant capital.

How do we explain the fact that despite the fact that capital B creates no value, it nevertheless produces a use-value with a value of four hours in the market?

According to Marx, the price of a commodity may sometimes conceal a direct or indirect real value-relation. An example he cites for this is the price of uncultivated land, which can have a price although no human labour has been incorporated in it. In this case, the price of the pair of shoes reflect that fact that as a use-value produced for exchange it is to be considered as an average sample of its class.

The average pair of shoes in the example require only four hours of socially necessary labor time to produce. Although this average is divided between one pair that requires eight hours of SNLT and one pair that requires zero hours of SNLT, the average for the two pairs is four hours of SNLT. Thus, one pair sells below its actual value, while the other pair sells above its actual value.

*****

The great thing about this is that the capitalist does indeed imagine Marx is wrong. He really and truly believes his constant capital can be a source of windfall surplus value. For this reason, he invests in completely automating his production and firing all of his workers in hopes of realizing massive super-profits.

In this way, capital abolishes itself.