The concept of capital and the determination of the general and uniform rates of profit: a reappraisal

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1 The concept of capital and the determination of the general and uniform rates of profit: a reappraisal Mario L. Robles Báez 1 Introduction In the critique of political economy literature, the concepts of average, uniform and general rates of profit of capital have been usually treated as synonymous and used indifferently. 2 Marx himself is responsible for this, as it is shown by several passages of volume III of Capital. However, we think that they are not the same concept, but three different concepts. Let us briefly present how these three rates of profit has been usually conceptualized in the literature, pointing out their similarities, differences and the problems, according to us, they confront. Firstly, the average rate of profit is seen in two different ways: on the one hand, as a weighted average of the differential rates of profits of the different branches of industrial capital, and, on the other hand, as a result of a proportional relation between total profit produced by the total social capital and total advanced capital. However, as an average, it can not be but the result of an arithmetical operation, practical o theoretical, on the basis of the differential profit rates or of total profit and total capital advanced. This means that, as such, this rate does not have a real existence. Secondly, understanding uniform as an equality of differences, the notion of uniform rate of profit is referred to the process of equalization of the differential rates of profits of the many industrial capitals in which the total social capital is divided; equalization resulting from the 1 2 Professor of Departamento de Producción Económica, Universidad Autónoma Metropolita-Xochimilco For example, W. Semmler (1984: 28) writes, in a same page, on the one hand, that Marx assumes ( ) that through these movements of capital between industries there arises a tendency toward the distribution of surplus value according to the capital advanced, i.e., a tendency toward the average profit rate and toward prices of production as more concrete regulating centers for market prices and, on the other, that Marx assumes that market prices fluctuate around their centers of gravity and that profit rates fluctuate around the general rate of profit. Moreover, there are author who argue that [t]he concept of uniform rate of profit is neither necessary nor reasonable for understanding accumulation, price formation or profit formation. (Farjoun, 1984: 12)

2 process of competition and mobility of them. It is thus that the uniform rate of profit is usually conceived as the result of a tendency towards the equalization of the differential profit rates in the long run. Considering the existence of contra-tendencies to the equalization and that the long run can exist, this rate could only have however an ideal or a theoretical existence before the long run. 3 This implies that the only way to prove the tendency towards equality of the differential rates of profit of capitals in any particular moment of time would be through the weighted average of them. Finally, it is argued that the general rate of profit is a center of gravity around which the differential profit rates of the different branches of industrial capital fluctuate. 4 As such, it is not only posited as a real presupposed rate, i.e. posited in advanced, to the differential rates in any particular moment of the process of capitalist production and circulation otherwise it would no be able to be understood as center of gravity, but also it is posited, as Arthur (2002: 133) points out, as determined by other generalities, corresponding to the essential determinations of capital, included competition. It is thus presented as a rate that corresponds to the total social capital that, as Arthur (2001: 147) says, has a reality as an individual whole. But since this rate is not visible directly, it could only be visible in any particular moment of time by means of the average rate. The aim of this essay is trying to explain the logical determinations of the uniform and the general rates of profit of capital, and their relation in the context of Marx s presentation of the concept of capital. 5 As it is well known the presentation of this rates is only posited at the abstract level of the concept of capital corresponding to volume III of Capital. This implies, for us, that their full understanding can only achieved as a result of the dialectical articulation of their determinations throughout the different moments (or levels of abstraction) of Marx s concept of capital. However, we will only focus on two important moments of the concept of capital. The first moment corresponds to the logical becoming of value into capital as capital-ingeneral, such as it is presented in part two of volume 1 of Capital. This logical becoming will be For example, M. Glick and D. Campbell (1994: 25) argue that The competitive process, according to the classical economists, consists of a double mechanism that pushes industry profit rates toward equality in the long run Complete adjustment is only theoretical, since achievement of convergence is prevent by constant perturbations. Thus, at any particular point in time unequal rates of profit will be observed. But over a lung-run period, industries should exhibit a tendency toward equal average rate. See, for example, W. Semmler s passage referred in foot note 2. I am agree with Krause (1982: 118) in saying that: The problem of why and how a uniform rate of profit arises is one of the more difficult of political economy. 2

3 treated by means of what we have called its qualitative and quantitative determinations and their unity or measure. We will argue that the unity of its qualitative and quantitative determinations, that is, the measure of its realization, is manifested by the quantitative relation or proportion between surplus-value produced and total advanced capital. To this relation we have called the rate of valorization of capital as capital-in-general; rate which, according to our interpretation, constitutes the presupposition of the uniform and general rates of profit. The second moment corresponds to the passage to the multiplicity of capital. It is important to emphasize that the context of the multiplicity of capitals is here conceived as that which corresponds not to the many individual capitals, but to that of the many particular capitals invested in different branches of social production. 6 We have divided this moment into three moments particularly important for the comprehension of the movement by means of which capital producing capital is posited as socially existing many capitals and as a total social capital, and, consequently, to the position of the rates of profit corresponding to them. The first refers to the movement through which the essential determinations of capital-in-general are manifested in the appearance as phenomenon. 7 At this moment the rate of valorization becomes the rate of profit. The second correspond to the passage from capital-in-general to the many existing capitals by means of their reciprocal interactions, i.e. of competition between capitals of different branches of production. 8 The third refers to the position of total social capital as a result of the movement of the existing many capitals and therefore to the position of the last ones as fractions of the former one. These two last moments allow us to comprehend the position of both, the general rate of profit corresponding to the total social capital and of the uniform rate of profit The matter will be presented most easily if we conceive the entire mass of commodities, of one branch of production, as a single commodity, and add together the sum of the prices of many identical commodities to arrive at one price. (C.III: 283) Essence must appear Hegel says (1993: 479) at the very beginning of section two (Appearance) of The Doctrine of Essence of his Science of Logic. In relation to the notions of competition within the same branch of production and of competition between different branches of production, see TSV, II: Two important considerations must be pointed out about the first notion: 1) Competition between individual capitals within the same industrial branch of production is presupposed. Through this form of competition, one and the same value and price for identical commodities is established. 2) If the organic composition of the individual capitals which conform a industrial branch of production are unequal, their rates of profit are always equally unequal; they never become equal. Only having the same organic composition that they are able to have the same rate of profit. This is opposed to the neoclassical theory which postulate that all individual capitals within a branch of production obtain the same proportional profit in the long run. 3

4 corresponding to the different fraction in which the total social capital is divide. The first moment is treated in the first part of volume III of Capital, while the second and third are treated in the second part. We think, as Arthur (2001) does it, that, methodologically, this movement follows to a certain extent the dialectics of the one and the many of Hegel s Science of Logic: the first moment corresponding to the position of one ; the second to the position of many ones and the third to the one One. 1. The logical becoming of capital as subject and the rate of valorization of capital-in-general In both his Grundrisse and Capital, volume I, Marx treats the determinations by means of which value in the form of money becomes the general form of capital. In the Grundrisse, he explicitly refers to this: To the extent that we are considering it here, as a relation distinct from that of value and money, capital is capital in general, i.e. the incarnation of the qualities which distinguish value as capital from value as pure value or as money. Value, money, circulation etc., prices etc., are presupposed, as is labour etc We are present at the process of its becoming. This dialectical process of its becoming is only the ideal expression of the real movement through which capital comes into being. The latter relations are to be regarded as developments coming out of this germ. (G: 310) In the second part of volume I of Capital, the point by which Marx begins the process of becoming of value as capital is the distinction between the two different forms of money circulation: money as money, C-M-C (or simple circulation, which is a presupposed form to the second one) 9, and money as capital, M-C-M. As in any passage from one moment to the subsequent in Marx s presentation, the passage from the first form to the second one implies a dialectical transformation, which is expressed by the negation of the foundations and laws of simple circulation: 9 The examination of the simple circulation shows us the general concept of capital, because within the bourgeois mode of production the simple circulation itself exists only as preposited by capital and as prepositing it. (Marx: 1987: 505) In Capital, commodity, money and simple circulation is the object of the first part of volume I. 4

5 The form of circulation within which money is transformed into capital contradicts all the previously developed laws bearing on the nature of commodities, value, money and even circulation itself. (C.1: 258) 10 As we will see, this passage does not only implies the inversion of the foundations and laws corresponding to simple circulation, but also the inversion between subject and predicate and the transformation of the end of the process. In first place, it must point out that we think that Marx considers following and inverting the fundamental principle of Hegel s system that to the substance has to be thought at the same time as subject 11 that the principle underlying the transformation of money into capital is that the value-substance, that is, objectified (abstract) labour-substance, in the form of money, becomes the form of capital, which fundamental character is being subject, and that, in order to acquire this character, it has to become a social-thing-substance that determines and increases itself by means of its relation of identity with itself and that, as such, it becomes an independent entity, which no only underlies but also dominates the reality constituting the totality of capitalist society. Some of the main considerations on the movement of the logical becoming of the valuesubstance into capital-subject we observe in several of Marx s texts are the following ones: (1) it is a product of a determined historically social relation: the capitalist social relation; (2) that value in itself is a movement or process in which and by means of which relating with itself determines itself as capital; (3) that its movement realizes itself in a sequence of moments or phases through which it preserves itself, increases itself and renews itself; 12 (4) that its phases are constituted by In the Grundrisse, Marx writes: Capital comes initially from circulation, and, moreover, its point of departure is money. We have seen that money which enters into circulation and at the same time returns from it to itself is the last requirement, in which money suspends itself. It is at the same time the first concept of capital, and the first form in which it appears. Money has negated itself as something which merely dissolves in circulation; but it has also equally negated itself as something which takes up an independent attitude towards circulation. This negation, as a single whole, in its positive aspects, contains the first elements of capital. (G: 253) See Hegel, 1993: 383 and 580; 1994: 18, 439 and 470. An excellent explication of this principle is found in Henrich, 1990: We says inverting because we thing that the inversion Marx makes of this principle refers not to the idea that the substance is transformed into subject, but to its speculative construction, that is, to the idealist method through which Hegel presents the process of thinking, under the name of the Idea, as an independent subject, as the creator of the real world. Capital is not a simple relation, but a process, in whose various moments it is always capital The first quality of capital is, then, this: that exchange value deriving from circulation and presupposing circulation preserves itself within it and by means of it; does not lose itself by entering into it; that circulation is not the movement of its disappearance, but rather the movement of its real self-positing as exchange value, its self-realization as exchange value. (G: ) 5

6 the formal determinations (or forms of existence) it assumes and takes in turn and through which it identifies and differentiates itself; (5) that its formal determinations are constituted by the objective conditions of its production and circulation as capital; (6) that the end of its own process is not only to increase itself, to valorize itself, but also to create itself. This set of considerations on the movement of the logical becoming of value into capital can be embraced in the following determinations: (1) The qualitative determination, that is, a movement through which successively changes its formal determinations (or forms of existence) that assumes and takes in turn without becoming lost in them; (2) The quantitative determination, that is, a movement whose end is to valorize and create itself; (3) The unity of the qualitative and quantitative determinations, that is, the measure of its self-realization and self-positing. O, in other words, the quantitative variation that produces the qualitative transformation of value into capital; and (4) A relation expressing its identity with itself, that is, a movement by means of which relating with itself through the forms of existence it assumes and takes in turn, it does not only preserves, increases and renews itself but also it posits itself as subject. As is evident, this relation is on the basis of the other three determinations. Our main argument is that the unity of these determinations is what allows us to grasp the movement of the logical becoming of value (substance) into capital (subject) 13 and, as a consequence, to explain the emergence of the general rate of valorization of capital as the essential presupposition of the rate of profit. As point of departure of our explanation, let me refer to a passage of volume 1 of Capital where these determinations are linked by Marx, and whose central core is the notion of subject and subject substance: 13 The circulation of capital is the change of forms by means of which value passes through different phases. (G: 626) In this sense, Fausto (2002: 196) pointes out that capital is a unity of a quantitative becoming, of a qualitative becoming and a tautological becoming. For Fausto, the tautological becoming refers to the relation expressing its identity with itself. 6

7 The independent form, i.e. the monetary form, which the value of commodities assumes in simple circulation, does nothing but mediate the exchange of commodities, and it vanishes in the final result of the movement. On the other hand, in the circulation M-C-M both the money and the commodity function only as different modes of existence of value itself, the money as its general mode of existence, the commodity as its particular or, so to speak, disguised mode. It is constantly changing from one form into the other, without becoming lost in this movement; it thus become transformed into an automatic subject. If we pin down the specific forms of appearance assumed in turn by self-valorizing value in the course of its life, we reach the following elucidation: capital is money, capital is commodities. In truth, however, value is here the subject of a process in which, while constantly assuming the form in turn of money and commodities, it changes its own magnitude, throws off surplus-value from itself considered as original value, and thus valorizes itself independently. For the movement in the course of which it adds surplus-value is its own movement, its valorization is therefore self-valorization. By virtue of being value, it has acquired the occult ability to add value to itself. It brings forth living offspring, or at least lays golden eggs. As the dominant subject of this process, in which it alternately assumes and losses the form of money and the form of commodities, but preserves and expands itself through all these changes, value requires above all an independent form by means of which its identity with itself may be asserted. Only in the shape of money does it posses this form In simple circulation, the value of commodities attained at the most a form independent of their use-values, i.e. the form of money. But now, in the circulation M-C-M, value suddenly presents itself as a self-moving substance which passes through a process of its own, and for which commodities and money are both mere forms. But there is more to come: instead of simply representing the relations of commodities, it now enters into a private relationship with itself, as it were. It differentiates itself as original value from itself as surplus-value, just as God the Father differentiates himself from himself as God the Son, although both are of the same age and form, in fact one single person; for only by the surplus-value of 10 does the 100 originally advanced become capital, and as soon as this has happened, as soon as the son has been created and, through the son, the father, their difference vanishes again, and both become one, 110. Value therefore now becomes value in process, money in process, and, as such, capital. It comes out of circulation, enters into it again, preserves and multiplies itself within circulation, emerges from it with an increased size, and start the same cycle again and again. (C.1: 255-6) In the above passage, Marx begins recalling simple circulation and comparing it with the circulation of capital and with capital itself, and focusing on those determinations through which value as a substance becomes subject-capital. Let me expound these determination in turn. 7

8 The qualitative determination of the becoming of capital The point of departure of Marx s exposition is the distinction between simple circulation and the circulation of money as capital. This distinction refers us, in first place, to the movement of the becoming of value into capital as a qualitative relation of identity with itself, in which its quantitative determination is presupposed. Marx represents this movement by the cycle M-C-M. First, this distinction posits us in the way of the analysis of the qualitative determination in terms of conceiving value as value-in-process, as a movement by itself. The fact that, in simple circulation, C-M-C, money presents itself as the mediator of the process, allowing the realization of the use-value of commodities by means of the realization of their values, supposes that value has already became an independent entity in the form of money and that money is in movement. However, value (in the form of money) presents itself here as an evanescent mediator that, at the moment of its realization, it vanishes and becomes excluded of the process at the same time. Furthermore, at the end of the process, it, as means of circulation, remains but as a simple residue. Thus, although there exists a movement of money, it is not here value-in-process, nor it itself is a movement. The movement is here a predicate, not a subject. Therefore simple circulation does not have in itself the principle of self-renewal. On the contrary, in the circulation of money as capital, D-M-D, value as an independent entity presents itself as a movement in which it relates with itself following a sequence of phases, that is, M-C and C-M, as internal moments of its own movement, and in which it does not disappear but it preserves and perpetuates itself. Since these phases are constituted by the relationship between the autonomous entities, M and C, which value takes as its material forms of existence and subsumes as moments of its own movement, it changes its forms of existence remaining always in them, as money or as commodity. This supposes that value is able to take all its formal determinations without disappearing in them. Due to fact that money is the only homogeneous and general form of existence value can take allowing the renewal of its own process, its formal process of circulation must start and end with money. The changes in form value can take throughout its own movement imply thus the reflux to its original money form and, with that, allowing the continuous renewal of its own process ad infinitum. As it is evident, value appears here as the mediator of its own process of circulation. Only in this way, value can 8

9 be considered as a movement in which relating with itself through its formal determinations preserves and perpetuates itself and, therefore, determines itself. This process is thus presented as an original value in the money form or value in exchange that circulates, metamorphosing from money to commodity and from commodity to money, and ending in the same value magnitude in the money form: Money which describes the later course in its movement, Marx says, is transformed into capital, becomes capital, and, from the point of view of its function, already is capital. (C: 1: 248) In this movement of differences, the identity, the universal form that is preserved, is that value and, as such, money. As such, Marx says, Money (as returned to itself from circulation), as capital, has lost its rigidity, and from a tangible thing has become a process. (G: 263) Second, the distinction between simple circulation and the circulation of money as capital also posits us in the way of the analysis of the qualitative determination in terms of the inversion of subject and predicate. In simple circulation, value is characterized in two forms: on the one hand, it is characterized as predicate (or determinate) of the two subjects of circulation, commodity and money; this is the reason why it is said that commodity is value and money is value. But, on the other hand, value is presented as a subject reflecting itself on its predicates, commodity and money. This is the reason why it is said that value presents as the essence from which the exchange-value is its form of manifestation, or of appearance. Thus the relation subject-predicate is presented here as a relation of reflection, that is, the subject reflects itself into its predicates. In the circulation of money as capital, it would be possible to state that commodities and money appear as the predicates (or determinants) of value as subject-capital. However, this statement would be not completely true. Given that value as capital becomes subject by means of its own process through which it becomes capital, money and commodities can not only be simply its predicates, but, as its predicates, they must also have the character of becoming. It is this sense that Fausto (2002: 198) argues that the true predicate is,, the flow of money or of the commodity, the movement of the commodity or of money, movement that has as limit money or the commodity, respectively. The becoming subject of value as capital is thus money becoming commodity and commodity becoming money, which limit is, as Marx says, capital is money, capital is commodities. (C. 1: 255) This implies that the predicate of capital be the negativity of 9

10 the commodity or of money. That is to say, value becomes capital subject no only preserving its identity with itself in each one of its formal determinations (or forms of existence) it assumes throughout its own movement, but at the moment of positing itself in each one of them it is preserving in its opposite at the same time: the wholeness of circulation, regarded in itself, Marx says, lies in the fact that the same exchange value, exchange value as subject, posits itself once as commodity, another time as money, and that it is just this movement of positing itself in this dual character and of preserving itself in each of them as its opposite, in the commodity as money and in money as commodity. This in itself is present in simple circulation, but is not posited in it. Exchange value posited in the unity of commodity and money is capital, and this positing itself appears as the circulation of capital. (Which is, however, a spiral, en expanding curve, not a simple circle. (G: 266) 14 Thus value does not only posits itself as capital subject by the movement through which positing itself as commodity negates itself as money and positing itself as money negates itself as commodity, but, at the moment of positing itself as commodity, it is negating itself as commodity in order to be positing itself as money, and, at the moment of positing itself as money, it is negating itself as money in order to be positing itself as commodity. This is the way in which the movement of the commodity and of money becomes the subject of the process of circulation of capital. Through this movement, value that, in simple circulation, was an essence, it is here transformed in certain way in the mediator of the becoming of money into commodity and of commodity into money. But, since value continues being here an essence, whose character of being subject was sublated, or, in other words, was presupposed, in simple circulation, it is transformed into the essential subject of the circulation of capital, into the essential being of capital. Essential subject that, as Dussel (1985: 123) points out, subsumes the independent entities (money, commodity, product, etc.) as its internal moments, as structural constituents of its being, as essential determinations. But, also, once subsumed and forming already parts of the 14 In the Original Text of A Contribution, Marx says this: Money, while it is in one determination, should not be lost in the other, i.e. it should remain money also in its being as commodity, and, in its being as money exists only as transient form of commodity; in its being as commodity it should be not lose its exchange value, and, in its being as money, its relation to use value. Its entry into circulation must itself be a moment of its stay-by-itself, and its stay-by-itself, entry into circulation. Thus the exchange value is now determined as a process and not merely as a disappearing form of use value indifferent to this use value itself as physical content, and not merely as a thing in the form of money; it is determined as relation to its own self through the process of circulation. (Marx, 1987: 490-1) 10

11 essential being of capital, these determinations descend, return to the world of phenomena, but now as forms or phenomena of capital itself. Thus commodity and money as values will no be forms of an essence any more, but phenomenal forms of an essential subject. The relation subject-predicate in the circulation of money as capital is not thus a relation of reflection, that is, the subject does not reflects itself into its predicates, as in simple circulation, but a relation of inherence, that is, value in the form of capital will be always equal to itself in each of the forms or phenomena it takes throughout of its process of circulation as subject. Capital as essential subject is thus posited as value-in-process, which it is capital in all moments of its own formal process of circulation. Third, the last point refers us to the relationship between substance and subject. In simple circulation, the value substance, that is, abstract labour objectified, presents itself at the level of relative inertia or as a relatively inert object. With the conversion of value as value to value as capital, value as abstract labour objectified passes from the character of a pure substance to a self-moving substance, that is, a social-thing-substance whose essential character is to be subject. Only as subject, the value-substance can unfold its own determinations and, at the same time, to be posited as substance in relations of determination with respect to them. Indeed, in the circulation of money as capital, value as an independent substance becomes the subject of its own (formal) process in which relating to itself through of the forms or phenomena it assumes and takes in turn, money and commodity, preserves and perpetuates itself. 15 This transformation implies, of course, a contradiction: the substance that being a thing in the form of social labour is transformed, by this movement, into its opposite, into subject; the substance (value as abstract labour objectified) which opposes to the subject (capital). However, this transformation is necessary in order to arrive a definition of capital in terms of a subject-movement, because value is not a quantum subjectively established by the agents, but something that is imposed socially and that is, at the same time, quality and quantity. 15 [C]apital, although is a subject (substance), it is in perpetual movement (perpetuum movile, Marx says frequently), it is a process; and it is capital (movement) as is actually in process, in actual potential of selfvalorization. (Dussel, 1985: 271) 11

12 The quantitative determination of the becoming of capital and the measure of its realization If it is true that the movement of the qualitative becoming of value as capital is able to be grasped by the analysis of the cycle M-C-M, the end and result of this cycle is presented as a simple change of money for money, the same for the same, which, according to Marx, it appears to be an operation as purposeless as it is absurd. (C.1: 251) This means that its being for itself is not yet completely guarantied. Since the end of the movement of value that pretend to capital can not be the same value magnitude as that originally advanced in the money form, Marx refers us to the quantitative determination of the becoming of value as capital. Given that value can only become capital through the subject-movement by means of which it itself become capital, its end can not be located out of its own movement, as in simple circulation, but it must be located within it. Since the end of this movement can not be the usevalue and therefore consumption, as in simple circulation, nor the preservation of the same value magnitude originally advanced in the money-form, it can only be the change of its original magnitude, the overcoming of its limit. But, as a subject-movement, the change of its own magnitude must be create, generate by itself. Thus its end must be its self-valorization, its selfmultiplication. The magnitude of value originally in the money-form must be, as Marx says in the Result of the Immediate Process of Production, a fluens positing a fluxion. 16 Given that this end has necessarily to appear in the essential character and in the tendency of its formal process of circulation, the exact form of the cycle of money as capital is M-C-M, where: M = M +, M = the value magnitude originally advanced in the money-form (fluens) and = the value increment (fluxion) created throughout its own process. This value increment is called by Marx surplusvalue. The creation of surplus-value constitutes thus the fundamental quantitative determination of the becoming of value in the money form into value as capital. The relation of capital with 16 In what we may call its first, provisional for of money (the point of departure for the formation of capital), capital exists as yet only as money, i.e. as a sum of exchange-values embodied in the self-subsistent form of exchange-value, in its expression as money. But the task of this money is to generate money. The exchange-value must serve to create still more exchange-value. The quantity of value must be increased, i.e. the available value must not only be maintained; it must yield an increment, value, a surplus-value so that the value given, the particular sum of money, can be viewed as fluens and the increment as fluxion The magnitude of this quantum of value is limited by the amount or quantity of the money to be transformed into capital. So this value becomes capital by increasing its size, by transforming itself into a changing quantity, by being, from the very outset, a fluens that must engender a fluxion. In itself this sum of money may only be defined as capital if it is employed, spent, with the aim of increasing it. (C. 1: ) 12

13 itself thus appears as a process through which it not only preserves and perpetuates itself but also increases itself. It is precisely this value movement in which it posit itself as value preserving and increasing itself that, according to Marx, converts it into capital. (C.1: 252) However, for Marx, the end of this movement is more than its self-valorizing. In the above passage, Marx points out that the circulation of value as capital presents itself as a process by means of which the presupposed value advanced in money form relates with itself as value increasing itself, but that in relating with its own increment as posited by itself, it is transformed, by means of it, really as capital. This means that the end of its own movement is not only the increment of value, but also its own creation: value through its own movement as capital not only increases itself, but engenders and engenders itself. In this sense, value as an automatic subject is not only that which moves and increases itself, but that which posits itself as subject: paraphrasing Marx, in the moment in which the son, the surplus-value, is born, the father, the value advanced in money-form, is constituted as capital, but once this happen and is realized both are one, both become capital. The son engenders the father as the father engenders the son. Or saying it in other words, the self-quantitative variation of value produces its qualitative transformation into capital. This end, as a reciprocal creation, that was as a presupposed end in the movement of its quantitative becoming, it is now posited as a posited end by the capitalsubject. The posited end of the capital-subject which is presented as the final result of its own movement allows us to deduce a category synthesizing its becoming: the rate of valorization of capital. Let us see it. Given that the general formula of capital, M-C-M where M = M + (surplus-value) is the formal expression of the essential internal movement of value as capitalsubject, in which surplus-value results the measure of its self-positing and self-realization as such, we are able to argue that the unity of its qualitative and quantitative determinations is expressed by the quantitative relation or proportion /M. In the numerical example used by Marx where capital is M ( 110) = M ( 100) + ( 10), the quantitative relation or proportion 10/ 100 expresses the positing not only of the 100 advanced but also of 10 created and, therefore, of the total value which results from its own movement of self-valorization, that is, 110, as capital. This quantitative relation or proportion /M is not but the rate of valorization of capital-in-general. This rate is thus the expression synthesizing the self-positing of the value- 13

14 substance as capital-subject. Note that this rate is not but the essential presupposition of the rate of profit of capital corresponding to the moment of the analysis of the determined appearance of general form of capital. Although fundamental for the understanding of the production process of capital, the introduction of labour power and therefore wage labour into the cycle of money as capital will be not treated here because of lack of space. So, presupposing all related with labour and the production of capital, our analysis will continue to the moment of capital as many capitals. 2. The position of capital as many capital and as total social capital and the determination of the uniform and general rates of profit The general object of volume III of Capital is, according to Marx, the presentation of the concrete forms which grow out of the process of capital s movement considered as a whole The configurations of capital, as developed in this volume, thus approach step by step the form in which they appear on the surface of society, in the action of different capitals on one another, i.e. in competition, and in the everyday consciousness of the agents of production themselves. (C.III: 117) As it was pointed out in the introduction, in parts one and two of this volume, Marx presents three moments particularly important for the comprehension of the movement by means of which capital producing capital, i.e. the industrial capital as whole, is posited as socially existing many capitals and as total social capital, and consequently the rates of profit corresponding to them are posited. The passage to the (determined) appearance of capital-in-general In the first section of volume III, Marx begins the presentation of this moment with the passage to the appearance of capital-in-general or the moment in which the essence of capital immediately appears or is reflected in the surface of phenomena. Firstly, Marx focuses into the passage from [s]urplus-value and the rate of surplus-value that are, relative to this, the invisible essence to the rate of profit and hence the form of surplus-value as profit that are visible surface phenomena. (C.3: 134) As any passage to a more concrete moment of the 14

15 presentation, this passage implies also an inversion: In actuality, however, i.e. in the world of phenomena, things are the other way round. (C.3: 138) The aim of Marx s presentation here is thus the logical implications of the conversion of surplus-value, the rate of surplus-value and, I would add, the rate of valorization as categories belonging to the essence of capital to their forms in which they appear as profit and rate of profit at the moment of the appearance of capital-ingeneral. Marx s presentation of this passage begins with the money forms in which the constituents parts of the produced commodity as capital appear: C = k (cost price) + s (surplusvalue). In this formula, the category of cost price represents the money form in which the part of the value of the commodity that replaces the value of total capital advanced (i.e. constant capital plus variable capital) in its production appears, and surplus-value appears as a simple monetary excess over the price cost. This form of appearance of the value of the commodity as capital has the following implications: on the one hand, given that the portions forming the price cost appear as a sum of finished and existing values, the distinction between constant capital (c) and variable capital (v) disappears and, consequently to this, it is not distinguished any element that creates new value. (C.3: 122) Cost price takes thus the form of an independent value that must be always reconverted from its commodity form to its money form of advanced capital in order to be renewed capital s reproduction process. On the other hand, the money excess over the price cost, that is, surplus-value, appears as if it has not sprung from the appropriation of unpaid labour in the production process, but from the sale of the commodity in the market. In this way, surplus-value appears as if it has sprung form all portions conforming the total capital advanced as well from the production and circulation processes of the commodity. This passage to the appearance of the movement of capital-in-general implies two transformations: on the one hand, surplus-value presents itself in the transformed form of profit: As this supposed derivative of the total capital advanced, the surplus-value takes on the transformed form of profit. A sun of value is therefore capital if it is invested in order to produce a profit, or alternatively profit arises because a sum of values is employed as capital. If we call profit p, the formula C = c + v + s = k + s is converted into the formula C = k + p, or commodity value = cost price + profit. (C.3: ) 15

16 This means that, as a transmuted form of surplus value, profit presets itself here as the measure of the self-positing and self-realization of capital-in-general. And, on the other hand, the unity of the essential determinations of capital-in-general is here presented at the level in which its own movement immediately appears at the surface of phenomena In surplus-value, the relationship between capital and labour is laid bare. In the relationship between capital and profit, i.e. between capital and surplus-value as it appears on the one hand as an excess over the cost price of the commodity realized in the circulation process and on the other hand as an excess determined more precisely by its relationship to the total capital, capital appears as a relationship to itself, a relationship in which it is distinguished, as original sum of value, from another new value that it posits. It appears to consciousness as if capital creates this new value in the course of its movement through the production and circulation processes. But how this happens is now mystified, and appears to derive from hidden qualities that are inherent in capital itself. (C.3: 139) 17 The movement of capital-subject appears thus as a relation with itself, in which, through its own processes (o phases) of production and circulation, it is distinguished as sum of value advanced in money form, from surplus-value in the form of profit as something posited and founded by it, and therefore relating with itself as an activity producing profit, independent of its relationship with labour; a relationship with labour that appears simply as a moment of its own movement. This implies that at the moment in which the movement of capital-en-general reflects into the appearance, the measure of its self-position and self-realization is manifested in the quantitative relation or proportion between the magnitude of surplus-value in the form of profit and the magnitude of the value of total capital advanced in money form. This relation or proportion is what Marx calls as the rate of profit of capital (-in-general). 18 This rate is thus the If it is said that capital is exchange value which produces profit, or at least has the intention of producing a profit, the capital is already presupposed in its explanation, for profit is a specific relation of capital to itself. (G: 258) Hence capital appears as capital, as presupposed value relating with itself, through the mediation of its own process, as posited, produced value, and the value posited by it is called profit. (G: 762) In the Grundrisse, Marx says this as follows: Proceeding from itself as the active subject, the subject of the process and, in the turnover, the direct production process indeed appears determined by its movement as capital, independent of its relation to labour capital relates to itself as self-increasing value; i.e. it relates to surplus value as something posited and founded by it; it relates as well-spring of production, to itself as product; it relates as producing value to itself as produced value. It therefore no longer measures the newly produced value by its real measure, the relation of surplus labour to necessary labour, but rather by itself as its presupposition. A 16

17 form in which the rate of valorization of capital-in-general appears or is further concretized at the appearance level. This means that the self-position of capital as capital is manifested here by the degree in which the value of total capital advanced in the form of money has increased its value as profit. Or, in other words, by means of the rate of profit, capital as a relation to itself is presented as the essence of capital that has externally revealed as a relation of identity to itself and as a relation of self-determination and, consequently, the unity of its essential determinations are manifested in the appearance. In the passage to the appearance of capital as capital in-general, surplus-value and the rate of valorization, which are categories of the essence, are thus negated by the transformed forms of profit and rate of profit. In the relation between surplus-value and profit, Marx explicitly says this: profit is still for all that a transformed form of surplus-value, a form in which its origin and the secret of its existence are veiled and obliterated (C.3: 139) and [i]n actual fact, therefore, surplus-value denies its own origin in this, its transformed form, which is profit; it loses its character and becomes unrecognizable. (C.3: 267) It is important to be noticed that this is not a formal negation but a dialectical one, that is, surplus-value and the rate of valorization as categories of the essence of capital are not suppressed as a result of the passage to the appearance of capital, but that they are preserved as the negated presuppositions of the form of profit and the rate of profit, respectively. What grounds is the essence, what is grounded is the appearance. For Marx, these negations are also the result of a further extension of that inversion of subject and object which already occurs in the course of the production process itself. (C.3: 136) As we will see later on, this also implies that value will be negated by price. capital of a certain value produces in a certain period of time a certain surplus value. Surplus value thus measured by the value of the presupposed capital, capital thus posited as self-realizing value is profit; regarded not sub specie aeternitatis, but sub specie capitalis, the surplus value is profit; and capital as capital, the producing and reproducing value, distinguishes itself within itself from itself, the newly produced value. The product of capital is profit. The magnitude, surplus value, is therefore measured by the value-magnitude of the capital, and the rate of profit is therefore determined by the proportion between its value and the value of capital. (G: 746) Considering profit as a transmuted form of surplus-value and expressing the same magnitude of value, Marx presents the rate of profit by the following formula: s p p = = C C Where: p = rate of profit, s = surplus-value, p = profit and C = total capital advanced. 17

18 Capital as relation with itself as another capital and the positing of the general and uniform rates of profit When the essence of capital reveals itself into the appearance, capital presents itself, Marx states, as existing many capitals : 19 Capital exists and can only exist as many capitals, and its self-determination therefore appears as their reciprocal interaction with one another. (G: 414) In the above passage, Marx clearly indicates, following Hegel s notion of repulsion, 20 that this moment corresponds not only to that in which capital as capital-in-general passes into, or becomes into a multiplicity of capitals, 21 but also to that in which the many existing capitals determine themselves and therefore are posited as socially existing capitals by the mediation of their reciprocal interactions with one another, that is, by means of the action of competition among them. This means that, for Marx, any particular capital can only socially exist through its interaction with the many others particular capitals. In the Grundrisse, Marx defines competition as belonging to the essence of capital: Conceptually, competition is nothing other than the inner nature of capital, its essential character, appearing in and realized as the reciprocal interaction of many capitals with one another, the inner tendency as external necessity. (G: 414) Free competition is the relation of capital to itself as another capital, i.e. the real conduct of capital as capital. The inner laws of capital are for the first time posited as laws; production founded on We think Marx uses the Hegel s notion of existent, which is a category of the appearance. I his A Hegel Dictionary, Inwood (1992: 95) says that The existent (das Existierendes) is a thing (Ding) with many properties. What enables it, unlike the something, to have or combine several properties is its emergence from a ground. But the ground or essence is not hidden beneath the properties of the thing; it is fully SUBLATED in the existent. Just a the something belongs to a system of differently qualified somethings, the existent belongs to a system of existents, each of which is a condition of the others, and what properties a thing has depends in part of its contrastive interactions with other things. This repulsion as thus the positing of many ones but through the one itself, is the one s own coming-forth-fromitself but to such outside it as are themselves only one ones. This is repulsion according to its Notion, repulsion in itself. The second repulsion is different from it, it is what is immediately suggested to external reflection: repulsion not as the generation of ones, but only as the mutual repelling of ones presupposed as already present. (Hegel, 1993: 168) [T]he essence of capital, which, as will be developed more closely in connection with competition, is something which repels itself, is many capitals mutually mutually quite indifferent to one another Since value forms the foundation of capital, and since it therefore necessarily exists only through exchange for counter-value, it thus necessarily repels itself from itself. A universal capital, one without alien capitals confronting it, with which it exchanges - - is therefore a nothing. (G: 421, foot note) 18

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