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

page 58. TRANSFORMATION OF SURPLUS VALUE INTO GROUND-RENT
Small Peasants' Property


TRANSFORMATION OF SURPLUS VALUE INTO GROUND-RENT: small peasants' property

Small peasants' property excludes by its very nature the development of the social powers of production of labor, the social forms of labor, the social concentration of capital, cattle-raising on a large scale, and a progressive application of science.

Usury and a system of taxation must impoverish it everywhere. The expenditure of capital in the price of the land withdraws this capital from cultivation. An infinite dissipation of means of production and an isolation of the producers themselves go with it. Also an enormous waste of human energy. A progressive deterioration of the conditions of production and a raising of the price of means of production is a necessary law of small peasants' property. Fertile seasons are a misfortune for this mode of production. . . .


The price of land is nothing but the capitalized, and therefore anticipated, rent. If agriculture is carried on by capitalist methods, so that the landlord receives only the rent, and the tenant pays nothing for the land except his annual rent, then it is evident that the capital invested by the owner of the land himself in the purchase of the land constitutes an interest-bearing investment of capital for him, but that it has nothing to do with the capital invested in agriculture itself. It forms neither a part of the fixed nor of the circulating capital employed here; it merely secures for the buyer a title to the annual rent, but has nothing to do with the production of the rent itself. . . .

Take, for instance, the slavery system. The price paid for a slave is nothing but the anticipated capitalized value or profit, which is to be ground out of him. But the capital paid for the purchase of a slave does not belong to the capital, by which profit, surplus labor, is extracted from him. On the contrary. It is capital which the slave holder gives away; it is a deduction from the capital which he has available for actual production. It has ceased to exist for him, just as the capital invested in the purchase of land has ceased to exist for agriculture. . . .

. . . The money expended in the purchase of land, like that spent for the purchase of national bonds, is merely capital itself, just as any amount of values is capital in itself on the basis of capitalist production. . . . For the buyer it can never again perform the functions of capital, any more than any other money which he has finally spent. It figures in his calculations as interest-bearing capital, because he considers the income, which he receives as rent from his land or as interest on his bonds, as interest on the money, which he paid for his title to this revenue. He cannot realize it as capital unless he sells his title again. If he does, the new buyer assumes the same relationship in which the old one was, and the money spent on this transaction cannot transform itself into actual capital by any change of hands. . . .

The expenditure of money-capital for the purchase of land, then, is not an investment of agricultural capital. It is a proportionate deduction from the capital, which the small farmers can employ in their own sphere of production. It reduces to that extent the size of their means of production and thereby narrows the economic basis of their reproduction. It subjects the small farmer to the money lender's extortion, since credit, in the strict meaning of the term, occurs but rarely in this sphere. It is an obstacle to agriculture, even where such a purchase takes place in the case of large estates. In fact, it contradicts the capitalist mode of production, which is on the whole indifferent to the question whether the landowner is in debt, no matter whether he inherited or bought his estate. The management of the leased estate itself is not altered in its nature, whether the landowner pockets the rent himself or whether he has to pay it over to the holder of his mortgage. . . .