Dominique Meeùs
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Notes de lecture : table des matières, index — Retour au dossier marxisme

Chapitre 10 (L. II) — Théories sur le capital fixe et circulant. Les physiocrates et Adam Smith

We have just seen that, apart from money capital, circulating capital is only another name for commodity capital. But to the extent that labour power circulates in the market, it is not capital, no form of commodity capital. It is not capital at all ; the labourer is not a capitalist, although he brings a commodity to market, namely his own skin. Not until labour power has been sold, been incorporated in the process of production, hence not until it has ceased to circulate as a commodity, does it become a constituent of productive capital — variable capital as the source of surplus value, a circulating component part of productive capital with reference to the turnover of the capital value invested in it. Since Smith here confuses the circulating capital with commodity capital, he cannot bring labour power under the head of circulating capital. Hence the variable capital here appears in the form of the commodities the labourer buys with his wages, viz., means of subsistence. In this form the capital value invested in wages is supposed to belong to circulating capital. That which is incorporated in the process of production is labour power, the labourer himself, not the means of subsistence wherewith the labourer maintains himself. True, we have seen (Buch I, Kap. XXI) that from the point of view of society the reproduction of the labourer himself by means of his individual consumption is likewise part of the process of reproduction of social capital. But this does not apply to the individual, isolated process of production which we are studying here. The “acquired and useful abilities” (p. 187) which Smith mentions under the head of fixed capital are on the contrary component parts of circulating capital, since they are abilities of the wage labourer and he has sold his labour together with its abilities.

MECW 36:209.