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§ 1. It lias been seen in the preceding chapters that besides the primary and universal requisites of production, labour and natural agents, there is another requisite without which no productive operations, beyond the rude and scanty beginnings of primitive industry, are possible: namely, a stock, previously accumulated, of the products of former labour. This accumulated stock of the produce of labour is termed Capital. The function of Capital in production it is of the utmost importance thoroughly to understand, since a number of the erroneous notions with which our subject is infested originate in an imperfect and confused apprehension of this point.
Capital, by persons wholly unused to reflect on the subject, is supposed to be synonymous with money. To expose this misapprehension, would be to repeat what has been said in the introductory chapter. Money is no more synonymous with capital than it is with wealth. Money cannot in itself perform any part of the office of capital, since it can afford no assistance to production. To do this, it must be exchanged for other things; and anything, which is susceptible of being exchanged for other things, is capable of contributing to production in the same degree. What capital does for production, is to afford the shelter, protection, tools and materials which the work requires, and to feed and otherwise maintain the labourers during the process. These are the services which present labour requires from past, and from the produce of past, labour. Whatever things are destined for this use—destined to supply productive labour with these various prerequisites—are Capital.
To familiarize ourselves with the conception, let us consider what is done with the capital invested in any of the branches of business which compose the productive industry of a country. A manufacturer, for example, has one part of his capital in the form of buildings, fitted and destined for carrying on his fact-lire. Another part he has in the form of machinery^";: consists, if he be a spinner, of raw cotton, flax, or wool; if £ Weaver, of flaxen, woollen, silk, or cotton, thread; a^Ae^l^e^iiecording to the nature of the manufacture. Food a^^^M^mr his operatives it is not the custom of the present a^^at^M^hould directly provide; and few capitalists, except the producers of food or clothing, have any portion wortife^ijentioniiR% of their capital in that shape. Instead of this, ^|M;i^^st has money, which he pays to his workpeople, an^(fttp^$ifc,Mem fco supply themselves: he has also finished good|t^§is^|p^houses, by the sale of which he obtains more money,. J^^j^gtfey'"ft the same manner, as well as to replenish his stock Q^^|%^/to keep his buildings and machinery in repair, and finished gooda devote the: of the p: and t. hu
;iffi;em when worn out. His money and not wholly capital, for he does not wholly fpirposes: he employs a part of the one, and other, in supplying his personal consumption [y, or in hiring grooms and valets, or maintaining ads, or in educating his children, or in paying taxes, What then is his capital? Precisely that part of his whatever it be, which is to constitute his fund for •'on fresh production. It is of no consequence that a part, the whole of it, is in a form in which it cannot directly the wants of labourers.
Suppose, for instance, that the capitalist is a hardware manuiurer, and that his stock in trade, over and above his machinery, consists at present wholly in iron goods. Iron goods cannot feed labourers. Nevertheless, by a mere change of the destination of these iron goods, he can cause labourers to be fed. Suppose that a portion of the proceeds he intended to maintain a pack of hounds, or an establishment of servants; and that he changes his intention, and employs it in his business, paying it in wages to additional workpeople. These workpeople are enabled to buy and consume the food which would otherwise have been consumed by the hounds or by the servants; and thus, without the employer's having or touched one particle of the food, his conduct has determined so much more of the food existing in the country has been devoted to the use of productive labourers, and so much less con£d in a manner wholly unproductive. Now vary the hypothesis, suppose that what is thus paid in wages would otherwise have laid out not in feeding servants or hounds, but in buying plate
and in order to render the effect perceptible, let us e change takes place on a considerable scale, and diverted from buying plate and jewels to employ•ers, whom we shall suppose to have been yh. peasantry , only half employed on receiving their increased wages, d jewels, but in food. There is not, Country; nor any unproductive case, whose food is set free be imported if possible; a season on their short
and half fed.'
will not lay them
labourers or animals, as
for productive purposes.
if not possible, the labourers allowance: but the consequence commodities, occasioned by the c. capitalists from unproductive to produ<
food will be produced, and less plate without having had anything to do with tl directly, the conversion by individuals of a no matter of what sort, from an unproductive dductive, has had the effect of causing more food to to the consumption of productive labourers. The c between Capital and Not-capital, does not lie in thedities, but in the mind of the capitalist—in his will to emp5 for one purpose rather than another; and all property, however ill adapted in itself for the use of labourers, is a part of capr
so soon as it, or the value to be received from it, is set apart productive reinvestment. The sum of all the values so destined by their respective possessors, composes the capital of the country. Whether all those values are in a shape directly applicable toductive uses, makes no difference. Their shape, whatever it be, is a temporary accident: but once destined for production, do not fail to find a way of transforming themselves into things capable of being applied to it.
§ 2. As whatever of the produce of the country is devoted production is capital, so, conversely, the whole of the capital of the country is devoted to production. This second proposition, howet must be taken with some limitations and explanations. A fund may be seeking for productive employment, and find none, adapte the inclinations of its possessor: it then is capital still, but unemployed capital. Or the stock may consist of unsold goods, susceptible of direct application to productive uses, and not, at
moment, marketable: these, until sold, are in the condition of unemployed capital. Again, artificial or accidental circumstances may render it necessary to possess a larger stock in advance, that is, a larger capital before entering on production, than is required by the nature of things. Suppose that the government lays a tax on the production in one of its earlier stages, as for instance by taxing the material. The manufacturer has to advance the tax, before commencing the manufacture, and is therefore under a necessity of having a larger accumulated fund than is required for, or is actually employed in, the production which he carries on. He must have a larger capital, to maintain the same quantity of productive labour; or (what is equivalent) with a given capital he maintains less labour. This mode of levying taxes, therefore, limits unnecessarily the industry of the country: a portion of the fund destined by its owners for production being diverted from its purpose, and kept in a constant state of advance to the government.
For another example: a farmer may enter on his farm at such a time of the year, that he may be required to pay one, two, or even three quarters' rent before obtaining any return from the produce. This, therefore, must be paid out of his capital. Now rent, when paid for the land itself, and not for improvements made in it by labour, is not a productive expenditure. It is not an outlay for the support of labour, or for the provision of implements or materials the produce of labour. It is the price paid for the use of an appropriated natural agent. This natural agent is indeed as indispensable (and even more so) as any implement: but the having to pay a price for it, is not. In the case of the implement (a thing produced by labour) a price of some sort is the necessary condition of its existence: but the land exists by nature. The payment for it, therefore, is not one of the expenses of production; and the necessity of making the payment out of capital makes it requisite that there should be a greater capital, a greater antecedent accumulation of the produce of past labour, than is naturally necessary, or than is needed where land is occupied on a different system. This extra capital, though intended by its owners for production, is in reality employed unproductively, and annually replaced, not from any produce of its own, but from the produce of the labour supported by the remainder of the farmer's capital.
Finally, that large portion of the productive capital of a country which is employed in paying the wages and salaries of labourers evidently is not, all of it, strictly and indispensably necessary for production. As much of it as exceeds the actual necessaries of life and health (an excess which in the case of skilled labourers is usually considerable) is not expended in supporting labour, but in remunerating it, and the labourers could wait for this part of their remuneration until the production is completed; it needs not necessarily pre-exist as capital: and if they unfortunately had to forego it altogether, the same amount of production might take place. In order that the whole remuneration of the labourers should be advanced to them in daily or weekly payments, there must exist in advance, and be appropriated to productive use, a greater stock, or capital, than would suffice to carry on the existing extent of production: greater, by whatever amount of remuneration the labourers received, beyond what the self-interest of a prudent slavemaster would assign to his slaves. In truth, it is only after an abundant capital had already been accumulated, that the practice of paying in advance any remuneration of labour beyond a bare subsistence could possibly have arisen: since whatever is so paid, is not really applied to production, but to the unproductive consumption of productive labourers, indicating a fund for production sufficiently ample to admit of habitually diverting a part of it to a mere convenience.
It will be observed that I have assumed, that the labourers are always subsisted from capital: and this is obviously the fact, though the capital needs not necessarily be furnished by a person called a capitalist. When the labourer maintains himself by funds of his own, as when a peasant-farmer or proprietor lives on the produce of his land, or an artisan works on his own account, they are still supported by capital, that is, by funds provided in advance. The peasant does not subsist this year on the produce of this year's harvest, but on that of the last. The artisan is not living on the proceeds of the work he has in hand, but on those of work previously executed and disposed of. Each is supported by a small capital of his own, which he periodically replaces from the produce of his labour. The large capitalist is, in like manner, maintained from funds provided in advance. If he personally conducts his operations, as much of his personal or household expenditure as does not exceed a fair remuneration of his labour at the market price must be considered a part of his capital, expended, like any other capital, for production: and his personal consumption, so far as it consists of necessaries, is productive consumption.