the surplus-value produced, if the amount of the variable capital, or number of the labourers employed, increases in the same proportion.

Nevertheless, the compensation of a decrease in the number of labourers employed, or of the amount of variable capital advanced by a rise in the rate of surplusvalue. or by the lengthening of the working-day, has impassable limits. Whatever the value of labour-power may be, whether the workingtime necessary for the maintenance of the labourer is 2 or 10 hours, the total value that a labourer can produce, day in, day out, is always less than the value in which 24 hours of labour are embodied, less than 12s., if 12s. is the money expression for 24 hours of realised labour. In our former assumption, according to which 6 workinghours are daily necessary in order to reproduce the labour-power itself or to replace the value of the capital advanced in its purchase, a variable capital of 1,500s., that employs 500 labourers at a rate of surplusvalue of 100% with a 12 hours' workingday, produces daily a surplusvalue of 1,500s. or of 6 x 500 workinghours. A capital of 300s. that employs 100 labourers a day with a rate of surplusvalue of 200% or with a workingday of 18 hours, produces only a mass of surplusvalue of 600s. or 12 x 100 workinghours; and its total value-product, the equivalent of the variable capital advanced plus the surplus- value, can, day in, day out, never reach the sum of 1,200s. or 24 x 100 workinghours. The absolute limit of the average workingday — this being by nature always less than 24 hours — sets an absolute limit to the compensation of a reduction of variable capital by a higher rate of surplusvalue, or of the decrease of the number of labourers exploited by a higher degree of exploitation of labour-power. This palpable law is of importance for the clearing up of many phenomena, arising from a tendency (to be worked out later on) of capital to reduce as much as possible the number of labourers employed by it, or its variable constituent transformed into labour-power, in contradiction to its other tendency to produce the greatest possible mass of surplusvalue. On the other hand, if the mass of labour-power employed, or the amount of variable capital, increases, but not in proportion to the fall in the rate of surplusvalue, the mass of the surplusvalue produced, falls.

A third law results from the determination, of the mass of the surplus-value produced, by the two factors: rate of surplusvalue and amount of variable capital advanced. The rate of surplusvalue, or the degree of exploitation of labour-power, and the value of labour-power, or the amount of necessary workingtime being given, it is selfevident that the greater the variable capital, the greater would be the mass of the value produced and of the surplusvalue. If the limit of the working-day is given, and also the limit of its necessary constituent, the mass of value and surplusvalue that an individual capitalist produces, is clearly exclusively dependent on the mass of labour that he sets in motion. But this, under the conditions supposed above, depends on the mass of labour-power, or the number of labourers whom he exploits, and this number in its turn is determined by the amount of the variable capital advanced. With a given rate of surplusvalue, and a given value of labour-power, therefore, the masses of surplusvalue produced vary directly as the amounts of the variable capitals advanced. Now we know that the capitalist divides his capital into two parts. One part he lays out in means of production. This is the constant part of his capital. The other part he lays out in living labour-power. This part forms his variable capital. On the basis of the same mode of social production, the division of capital into constant and variable differs in different branches of production, and within the same branch of production, too, this relation changes with changes in the technical conditions and in the social combinations of the processes of production. But in whatever proportion a given capital breaks up into a constant and a variable part, whether the latter is to the former as 1:2 or 1:10 or 1:x, the law just laid down is not affected by this. For, according to our previous analysis, the value of the constant capital reappears in the value of the product, but does not enter into the newly produced value, the newly created valueproduct. To employ 1,000 spinners, more raw material, spindles, &c., are, of course, required, than to employ 100. The value of these additional means of production however may rise, fall, remain unaltered, be large or small; it has no influence on the process of creation of surplusvalue by means of the labour-powers that put them in motion. The law demonstrated above now, therefore, takes this form: the masses of value and of surplusvalue produced by different capitals — the value of labour-power being given and its degree of exploitation being equal — vary directly as the amounts of the variable constituents of these capitals, i.e., as their constituents transformed into living labour-power.

This

By PanEris using Melati.

 Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.