From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@BERKELEY.EDU)
Date: Fri Mar 23 2007 - 13:22:10 EDT
http://www.marxists.org/archive/pilling/works/capital/ch05.htm#5.6 Marx's 'Capital', Philosophy and Political Economy by Geoffrey Pilling 1980 The price of production and fetishism And the matter becomes even more obscured when we consider the average rate of profit and with it the conversion of values into cost prices. Here, the profit of individual capital becomes different from the surplus-value produced by the individual capital in its particular sphere of production, and different, moreover, not only in the way it is expressed - i.e. rate of profit as distinct from rate of surplus-value - but it becomes substantially different, that is, in this context, quantitatively different. (1972, pp.482-3) In this form of profit: Capital more and more acquires a material form, is transformed more and more from a relationship into a thing, but a thing which embodies, which has absorbed, the social relationship, a thing which has acquired a fictitious life and independent existence in relationship to itself, a natural-supernatural entity; and in this form of capital and profit it appears superficially as a ready-made precondition. It is the form of its reality, or rather its real form of existence. And it is the form in which it exists in the consciousness and is reflected in the imagination of its representatives, the capitalists. (1972, p. 483) The point here is this: the formation of 'prices of production' constitutes a more perverted and estranged form than 'value' for now, outwardly, the price of production depends not upon labour, but upon capital. This development of fetishism is a reflection not only of increasing mystification but of the contradictory development of the social relations of production. That the formation of an average rate of profit - and the contradiction this entails between value and price - is itself engendered by the development of the productive forces was many times stressed by Marx. Thus: What competition, first in a single sphere achieves, is a single market value and market price derived from the various individual values of commodities. And it is competition of capitals in different spheres which first brings out the price of production equalising the rate of profit in the different spheres. The latter process requires a higher development of capitalist production than the previous one. (III, p. 177; author's italics) It is because of the growing disparity in the organic composition of capitals between and within industries, that values are transformed into production prices. The regulator of capital accumulation, the establishment of an average rate of profit, demands a deviation, a 'contradiction' between price and value; this is a contradiction made not in thought but in material reality. In this form, 'price of production', is reflected the growing social power of capital. For now the capitalists as a class take part in the exploitation of the working class as a class. Expressed in this 'thing' the price of production, is the growing antagonism between the two major classes, an antagonism raised to the level of society as a whole: In each sphere [it transpires that] the individual capitalist, as well as the capitalists as a whole, take part in the exploitation of the total working class by the totality of capital and in the degrees of that exploitation not only out of general class sympathy, but also for direct economic reasons. For, assuming all other conditions ... to be given, the average rate of profit depends on the intensity of exploitation of the sum total of labour by the sum total of capital. (III, p. 193) In this form (production prices) Marx notes 'capital becomes conscious of itself as a social power in which every capitalist participates proportionally in his share of the total social capital'. (III, p. 191). The capitalists now become communists, as Marx wryly observes. But at the same time the material conditions are laid for the unity of the working class in its struggle against the entire capitalist class.
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