Graphic Witness: Hugo Gellert
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Hugo Gellert: Karl Marx' 'Capital' in Lithographs

page 30. THE PRODUCTION OF SURPLUS VALUE


THE PRODUCTION OF SURPLUS VALUE

. . . Of course the general nature of the labor process is not altered in any way because the worker engages in it on behalf of the capitalist instead of on his own behalf. . . . Changes in the method of production brought about by the subordination of labor to capital can arise only at a later stage, and cannot as yet be considered.

The labor process, regarded as the process whereby labor power is used up by the capitalist, has two remarkable characteristics.

First of all, the worker does his work under the control of the capitalist to whom his labor belongs. The capitalist takes good care that the work shall be done in a proper way, and that the means of production shall be suitably used. He takes care that none of the raw material shall be wasted, and that none of the instruments of labor shall be injured. These latter are to be used up only in so far as this is essential to the labor process.

In the second place, the product is the property of the capitalist, not that of the worker who functions as direct producer. Let us suppose that the capitalist pays for a day's labor at its value. The use belongs to him for that day. One who has bought a commodity is entitled to use the commodity and the owner of labor power can, in fact, only give the use-value of what he has sold by giving his labor. . . . The labor process is a process which takes place between things which the capitalist has bought, between things that have become his property. The outcome of this process, the product, therefore belongs to him, just as much as does the wine which is the product of a process of fermentation completed in his cellar.

The product, which is the capitalist's property, is a use-value, such as yarn, boots, or what-not. But although boots are, in a sense, the foundation of social progress, and although our capitalist is all for progress, he does not make boots for their own sake. One who produces commodities certainly does not do so for the mere love of their use-values. . . . He does not want merely to produce a use-value, but to produce a commodity; not only to produce use-value, but value as well; not only value, but surplus value in addition. . . .

The labor time needed for the production of the cotton, the raw material of the yarn, is part of the labor time needed for the production of the yarn, and is therefore contained in the yarn. The same remark applies to the labor time requisite for the production of that fraction of the spindle whose wear and tear, or consumption, is indispensable to the process of spinning the cotton.

. . . Definite quantities of product (quantities determined by experience) represent nothing more than definite quantities of labor, definite masses of congealed labor time. They are nothing more than the embodiment of one hour, two hours, one day, etc., of social labor.

In our example the labor is that of the spinner, the raw material is cotton, and the product is yarn; but these facts now concern us no more than it concerns us that the subject matter of labor is itself already a product, and therefore raw material. . . .

. . . We assume that . . . [the] value [of labor power] for one day . . . [is] 3 shillings [3s.], and that 6 hours' labor are required to produce the average amount of the means of subsistence daily required by the worker. If, now, our spinner, by working for one hour, can transform 1 2/3 lbs. of cotton into 1 2/3 lbs. of yarn, then in 6 hours 10 lbs of cotton will be transformed into 10 lbs. of yarn. Hence, in the process of spinning, 10 lbs. of cotton will have absorbed 6 hours of labor. The same amount of labor time is represented in a piece of gold which has the value of 3s. By the spinning, therefore, the value of 3s. has been added to the cotton.

Let us now consider the total value of the product, the 10 lbs. of yarn. In this quantity of yarn, 2 1/2 working days have been embodied, 2 1/2 days being contained in the raw cotton and the spindle, and 1/2 a day having been absorbed by the cotton during the process of spinning it into yarn. A gold value of 15s. contains this amount of labor time. The sum of 15s., therefore, will be an adequate price for the 10 lbs. of yarn, and the price of yarn per lb. will be 1 shilling 6 pence [1s. 6d.]

Our capitalist is non-plussed. The value of the product is precisely equal to the value of the capital he advanced. There has been no expansion in the value that he advanced; there has been no creation of surplus value; there has been no transformation of money into capital. . . .