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Archive for the ‘Capital Volume 2, Part 1: The Metamorphoses of Capital and Their Circuit’ Category

In this chapter we shall be examining the costs supposed by the circulation of commodities. We shall see three classes of costs:

1 those that are incurred in realising the transformations C–M and M–C

2 those that arise in the formation of stock

3 those supposed by the transport of commodities

Alone of the three, the first category, although it supposes the expenditure of labour, does not impart value to the commodities affected by it. The second, insofar as it operates on the product as use-value, imparts value (and therefore surplus-value) to the commodities concerned, even though at the total level it represents a deduction from social capital. The last of these, transportation, although it occurs within the sphere of circulation, is actually a continuation of production within this sphere.

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The passage of capital through production and the two stages of circulation occur successively in time. Let us call the time that capital spends in the sphere of production its production time, and that it spends in that of circulation time its circulation time. The total time it takes to describe its cycle is therefore production time + circulation time.

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I  The circular movement of industrial capital and its cycles

Let us summarise.

We have seen the three cycles of industrial capital:

I M–C … P … C′–M′ the cycle of money capital
II P … C′–M′–C … P the cycle of productive capital
II C′–M′–C … P … C′ the cycle of commodity capital

The overall movement can be described like this:

M–C … P … C′–M′ . M–C … P … C′–M′ . M–C … P … etc.

The three cycles can also be represented like this, with Tc standing for ‘total circulation process’,

I M–C … P … C′–M′
II P … Tc … P
III Tc … P (C′)


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The cycle under consideration is

C′–M′–C … P … C′

The premise of the cycle is C′; if there is reproduction on an expanded scale, the concluding C′ is greater than the starting C′, hence C′′:

C′–M′–C … P … C′′

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The cycle under consideration is

P … C′–M′–C … P

This formula represents the ‘periodically repeated function of the productive capital’, in other words, not just production, but reproduction. ‘It signifies that the function of the industrial capital that exists in its productive form does not take place once and for all, but is periodically repeated, so that the new beginning is given by the point of departure itself.’

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In volume 1 we saw the cyclical movement of capital as:

M–C … P … C –M′

But M′ is also ‘new’ M in the next cycle, i.e. functions not only as the end point of one cycle of capital but also as the starting point of a new one. Given this, that the movement of capital describes a circle, it is possible, therefore, to view this movement of capital from three different points of view (as three different cycles), taking in each a different element as the starting point; respectively:

M–C … P … C′–M′ the cycle of money capital
P … C′–M′–C … P the cycle of productive capital
C′–M′–C … P … C′ the cycle of commodity capital

In the first three chapters of volume 2, each cycle will be considered separately.

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