Capital, the Communist Manifesto and Other Writings

By Karl Marx; Max Eastman | Go to book overview

Apart from the time of production, capital must pass through the time of circulation. During this time it produces neither commodities nor surplus-value. The longer the time of circulation lasts, therefore, the smaller, proportionately, is the surplus-value produced. Inversely, the more the capitalist succeeds in reducing the time of circulation, the greater will be the surplus-value. This phenomenon would appear to confirm the false idea that surplus-value is derived from circulation.


CHAPTER XVIII
COMMERCIAL ACTIVITY

(Extracted from vol. II, ch. 6, German ed.)


(A) Purchase and Sale

As we have assumed that commodities are bought and sold at their value, it is only question in these transactions of converting the same value from a commodity form into a money form, and vice versa. If commodities should not be sold at their value, the sum total of the values thus converted remains none the less unchanged; for what is plus on the one side of the balance-sheet is minus on the other side.

The process of conversion requires time and labour power, not, indeed, in order to create value, but in order to render possible the conversion of the value from one form into another. It must be observed, in this connexion, that the reciprocal attempt to obtain on this occasion a surplus quantity of value, does not alter matters. This labour, augmented by the reciprocal evil intentions, creates no more value than the labour which takes place in the course of legal proceedings augments the value of the object of litigation. If therefore, the owners of commodities are not capitalists, but independent and direct producers, the time spent on purchase and sale must be deduced from their labour time; for this reason they have always--in ancient times as in the middles ages--sought to relegate such operations to festival days.

The dimensions assumed by the turnover of commodities in the hands of the capitalists cannot, of course, transform

-233-

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