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

page 55. TRANSFORMATION OF SURPLUS VALUE INTO GROUND-RENT
Labor Rent, Rent in Kind


TRANSFORMATION OF SURPLUS VALUE INTO GROUND-RENT: labor rent; rent in kind

If we observe ground rent in its simplest form, that of labor rent, which means that the direct producer cultivates during a part of the week, with instruments of labor (plow, cattle, etc.), actually or legally belonging to him, the soil owned by him in fact, and works during the remaining days upon the estate of the feudal lord, without any compensation from the feudal lord, the proposition is quite clear, for in this case rent and surplus value are identical. . . . It is unpaid surplus labor for the "owner" of the means of production, which here coincide with the land, and so far as they differ from it, are mere accessories to it.

That the product of the laboring serf must suffice to reproduce both his subsistence and his requirements of production, is a fact which remains the same under all modes of production. For it is not a result of its specific form, but a natural requisite of all continuous and reproductive labor, of any continued production, which is always a reproduction, including the reproduction of its own labor conditions. It is furthermore evident that in all forms, in which the direct laborer remains the "possessor" of the means of subsistence, the property relation must at the same time assert itself as a direct relation between rulers and servants, so that the direct producer is not free . . . .

The specific economic form, in which unpaid surplus labor is pumped out of the direct producers, determines the relation of rulers and ruled, as it grows immediately out of production itself and reacts upon it as a determining element. . . . The form of this relation between rulers and ruled naturally corresponds always with a definite state in the development of the methods of labor and of its productive social power. . . .

So much is evident in the case of labor rent, the simplest and most primitive form of rent: The rent is here the original form of surplus value and coincides with it. Furthermore, the identity of surplus value with unpaid labor of others does not need to be demonstrated by any analysis in this case, because it still exists in its visible, palpable form, for the labor of the direct producer for himself is still separated by space and time from his labor for the landlord, and this last labor appears clearly in the brutal form of forced labor for another. . . .

Here, where surplus value and rent are not only identical, but where surplus value obviously has the form of surplus labor, the natural conditions, or limits, of rent lie on the surface, because those of surplus value do. . . .

The transformation of labor rent into rent in kind does not change anything in the nature of rent, economically speaking. This nature, in the forms of rent considered here, is such that rent is the sole prevailing and normal form of surplus labor or surplus value. . . .

Rent in kind requires a higher state of civilization for the direct producer, a higher stage of development of his labor and of society in general. And it is distinguished from the preceding form by the fact that the surplus labor is no longer performed naturally, is no longer performed under the direct supervision and compulsion of the landlord or of his representative. The direct producer is rather driven by the force of circumstances than by direct coercion, rather by legal enactment than by the whip, to perform surplus labor on his own responsibility. . . .

In this relation the direct producer is more or less master of the employment of his whole labor time, although a part of his labor time, at first practically the entire surplus portion of it, belongs to the landlord without any compensation. Only, the landlord does not get this surplus labor any more in its natural form, but rather in the natural form of the product in which it is realized. . . .

Here, as previously in the form of labor rent, ground-rent is the normal form of surplus value, and thus of surplus labor, that is, of the entire surplus labor performed without any equivalent by the direct producer for the benefit of the owner of his essential means of production, the land, a labor which is still performed under compulsion, although no longer in the old brutal form. . . .