12th October CU Johannesburg Live Session
17h00 - 18h30
3rd Floor, 21 Kruis Street, Johannesburg
(CEPPWAWU Regional Office Boardroom)
The CU meets on 5th October 2016 to discuss : Karl Marx's Capital, Volume 2,
Part 3, and particularly Chapter 21 (part 1; introduction below).
Capital Volume 2, Part 3
Accumulation and Reproduction of Capital
Marx begins this third part of Capital, Volume 2 as follows:
"The direct process of the production of capital is its labour and
self-expansion process, the process whose result is the commodity-product
and whose compelling motive is the production of surplus-value."
Here Marx is confirming, in direct terms, the order of things as explained
in Capital, Volume 1. The motive of capital is the production of
surplus-value, and the commodity-product is the consequence. Some would call
this production for profit and not for need; others might say that it is the
creation and the reproduction of a power relationship of the bourgeois
owners over the working class.
Marx continues to assist. In contrast to the end of the second section of
Volume 2, where he left us with more questions than answers, at the
beginning of the third section he lays out the scheme of Volume 1 (" Book
1") and all three sections of Volume 2 as follows (shortened; see Chapter 18
for the full text):
"In Book I the process of capitalist production was analysed as an
individual act as well as a process of reproduction: the production of
surplus-value and the production of capital itself. The only act within the
sphere of circulation on which we have dwelt was the purchase and sale of
labour-power as the fundamental condition of capitalist production.
"In the first part of this Book II, the various forms were considered which
capital assumes its circular movement, and the various forms of this
movement itself. The circulation time must now be added to the working times
discussed in Book I.
"In the second Part, the circuit was studied as being periodic, i.e., as a
".Especially money-capital came forward with distinctive features not shown
in Book I. Certain laws were found according to which diverse large
components of a given capital must be continually advanced and renewed -
depending on the conditions of the turnover - in the form of money-capital
in order to keep a productive capital of a given size constantly
"But in both the first and the second Parts it was always only a question of
some individual capital, of the movement of some individualised part of
"However the circuits of the individual capitals intertwine, presuppose and
necessitate one another, and form, precisely in this interlacing, the
movement of the total social capital.
"We have now to study the process of circulation (which in its entirety is a
form of the process of reproduction) of the individual capitals as
components of the aggregate social capital, that is to say, the process of
circulation of this aggregate social capital."
There are four chapters in the third part of Volume 2. Chapter 18 is covered
above. Chapter 19 doubles back to the Physiocrats and Adam Smith. Chapter 20
is very long, covering many kinds of ordinary and extraordinary
circumstances, divided into four parts; but it begins with a useful
schematic summary, as follows:
"The total product, and therefore the total production, of society may be
divided into two major departments:
"I. Means of Production, commodities having a form in which they must, or at
least may, pass into productive consumption.
"II. Articles of Consumption, commodities having a form in which they pass
into the individual consumption of the capitalist and the working-class.
"All the various branches of production pertaining to each of these two
departments form one single great branch of production, that of the means of
production in the one case, and that of articles of consumption in the
other. The aggregate capital employed in each of these two branches of
production constitutes a separate large department of the social capital.
"In each department the capital consists of two parts:
"1) Variable Capital. This capital, so far as its value is concerned, is
equal to the value of the social labour-power employed in this branch of
production; in other words, it is equal to the sum of the wages paid for
this labour-power. So far as its substance is concerned, it consists of the
labour-power in action, i.e., of the living labour set in motion by this
"2) Constant Capital. This is the value of all the means of production
employed for productive purposes in this branch. These, again, are divided
into fixed capital, such as machines, instruments of labour, buildings,
labouring animals, etc., and circulating constant capital, such as materials
of production: raw and auxiliary materials, semi-finished products, etc.
"The value of the total annual product created with the aid of this capital
in each of the two departments consists of one portion which represents the
constant capital c consumed in the process of production and only
transferred to the product in accordance with its value, and of another
portion added by the entire labour of the year. This latter portion is
divided in turn into the replacement of the advanced variable capital v and
the excess over and above it, which forms the surplus-value s. And just as
the value of every individual commodity, that of the entire annual product
of each department consists of c + v + s."
Reading for Discussion
We shall use Part 1 of Chapter 21, the last chapter in Volume 2, for a
reading text, attached, and downloadable via the link below.
It is called "Accumulation and Reproduction on an Extended Scale", thus
confirming what Volume 2 is about, namely these two words which feature very
prominently in 21st century South African communist literature: Reproduction
and Accumulation. At seven thousand words, Part 1 of Chapter 21 is
sufficiently short and sufficiently plain in its prose to be read as a
Let it suffice, therefore, for this introduction, to point out that in
Volume 2, Marx is examining the leads and lags in the full cycle of the
accumulation and reproduction of capital, and discovering features that
arise during this circulation (e.g. ".money-capital came forward with
distinctive features not shown in Book I") which have a material effect on
the entire concrete social phenomenon which is Capital with a capital "C".
One such feature is the "hoard" of money that is a necessary phenomenon
within the cycle - the indispensible slack or easement without which the
machinery could not move.
In Volume 1, Marx takes considerable pains to distinguish the miser (who
hoards money) from the capitalist (who puts money into circulation). There
is no contradiction, however, in Marx's thinking. The hoard that arises in
the cycle of capital is a transitional, usable and re-chargeable reservoir,
and not, like the miser's hoard of buried treasure, money that is
permanently withheld from circulation and use of any kind.
Where one must be careful is with the unclear and conflicted representation
of these matters that appears in the vulgar economics of "analysts" in
newspapers and in the mouths of pundits and politicians today, where
"capital" is invariably conceptualised in a limited sense as a hoard. For
example the sentence "I need capital to start my business" always refers to
a hoard, and only to a hoard.
In Marx, "accumulation" refers to the assembly, and the constant reassembly
at an ever-larger scale, of all of the prerequisites for the extraction of
surplus value, and not just to the pump-priming hoard of money.
These prerequisites for Capital also include the market, the proletariat,
the bourgeoisie and the bourgeois state with its bourgeois constitution and
laws, the means of communication, transport and trade, and the subordination
of all other classes to the rapacious needs of the bourgeois class.
In the case of an individual business, the market for its goods or services
is, in particular, a far more critical prerequisite than the prior
possession of a hoard of money.
. The above is to introduce the original reading-text: Capital, V 2,
Chapter 21, Part 1, Accumulation and Reproduction on an Extended Scale, Marx
. A PDF file of the reading text is attached
. To download any of the CU courses in PDF files please click here
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