Apr 15, 2017

3) Labour of the writers

A capitalist is running a magazine. Magazine is a ‘commodity’. The public buys that magazine and pays its value. The exchange that takes place between the magazine and the money that the buyer pays is ‘simple exchange’. The journalists (including the editor) working in this magazine office and outside writers who regularly contribute to certain columns perform mental labour while all those who participate in the printing work perform manual labour necessary for the production of that commodity. If those writers who do not work as wage labourers in the magazine office send their contributions and take money, such exchanges too will be simple exchanges. Writers who are not wage labourers are Independent producers. If a writer who is an Independent producer gives his writing to the owner of a magazine and takes money, it means he is selling his commodity and taking its value. Let us suppose that the magazine owner paid money to that Independent writer as per the market value. then the expenditure that the magazine owner spent on that writing comes under ‘constant capital’. Let us suppose that an Independent writer prepares an article for the magazine of a capitalist following the techniques wanted by the editor, and takes huge amount of money. Let us also suppose that the magazine is sold in large numbers due to his writing. Owing to this, the capitalist gets huge profits. Who are responsible for these profits? Who produced these profits? Is it that writer?——No. Just as every commodity has a use-value and value, a magazine too will have use-value and value. That writer (other writers as well) is responsible for the use-value of the magazine but he is not responsible for its value. Many people might have bought the magazine ‘such and such a writer’ is writing in this magazine’. 

There is no connection between the views of the buyer of a commodity and its value. The buyer of a ‘toy’ may buy it with an intention ‘to give it as a gift’. He may buy it with the view that ‘it would be great if he has that article in his house’. He may buy a book thinking that ‘humour in this book is good’. He may buy it with a view that ‘this writer writes well’. He may buy a fruit because ‘it is good for health if we eat these fruits’. He may buy an article with a lot of liking or even with dislike. He may buy it due to the fraud of the seller. He may buy a commodity due to many kinds of reasons. Here, it is irrelevant how one has purchased. The view with which a person buys a commodity is not concerned with the ‘use-value’. Taking a commodity and paying its value is connected with the value. As the buyer takes a commodity made of some labour, he gives money in return for that. Whatever be his reason for buying it. The law of surplus value remains the same both when a magazine is sold in large numbers or small numbers. Whether a magazine is sold in large number or small number, each copy of that magazine is made of certain amount of labour. As surplus value comes from each commodity, more surplus value comes when more commodities are sold. 

The surplus value comes from 2 thousand copies would be double than that which comes from one thousand copies. This double surplus value does not come without any connection with the ‘labour’. Labour consumed in the production of 2 thousand copies would be double than that of 1 thousand copies. If the number of copies increases, the labour to be spent for that also increases. More surplus value comes since production is carried out with more labour. The productive labourers that produce the magazine are responsible for the more surplus value obtained through more copies by the capitalist. Let us suppose that there are 10 writers on the whole in a magazine. Out of the 10, 4 are Independent writers and 6 are wage labourers. Let us suppose that another 20 labourers participated in the printing work of that magazine. The productive labourers as well as Independent producers are responsible for the ‘use-value’ of that magazine. But, the productive labourers and the Independent writer are not responsible in an identical manner for the value of that magazine. 

From the angle of ‘value’, the role of Independent writers will merely be the role of providing some ‘means of production’ necessary for the magazine. ‘Yarn’ is necessary for the production of the cloth, isn’t it? That yarn becomes an element in the ‘constant capital’. What would be the relationship between that labourer who produced that cloth and its value? He would have a relationship simply as some one who gave one of the means of production necessary for making the cloth. However, the labourer who made yarn will not have any role in the ‘process of production’ of making cloth out of yarn. Exactly in the same manner, the Independent writer who gave his writing to a magazine will also have no role in the process of production of that magazine. He will not have any role in the production of ‘surplus value’ that comes from that magazine. The expenditure incurred on the writings of Independent writers becomes a part of the ‘constant capital’. The productive labourers working in that magazine are responsible for the surplus value that remains after deducting the entire constant capital and variable capital from the value received from the sale of the magazine. Let us suppose that proprietor of the magazine has taken an article from an Independent writer and gave a very low value and not a ‘reasonable’ value. This is a fraud that has taken place in the ‘commodity exchange’. The person who commit this fraud would definitely gain. The person who has been cheated would definitely lose. Even then this writer is not responsible for the ‘surplus value’ of the magazine. Suppose that proprietor of a magazine pays a lot of money to an Independent writer. Unless he pays it out of ‘surplus value’, it is not possible for him to pay more money in any manner. 

Like an engineer who designs machinery to meet the needs of the capitalist and like the manager who runs the enterprise according to the wishes of the capitalist, the writer who writes using the techniques the capitalist wants is also a person who favours the side of the capitalist. The capitalistic engineer and manager too exist as those who do some labour or the other and who receive more than the ‘value of labour’. Similarly, this capitalist writer too exists as some one who performs some labour; and who receive more than the ‘value of labour’. Such a writer outwardly appears as an Independent producer only. That is, like a person who gives his commodity to the capitalist, takes only its value and makes merely ‘simple exchanges’. But the actual fact is that he writes according to the wishes of the capitalist and takes a larger sum from him. That is, he extracts something in return for his labour and something from the ‘surplus value’. But this fact appears outwardly in such a way that there is much competition among the magazine-capitalists for the article of that writer and hence that article acquired much value in that competition. What appears outwardly is only that much. We can accept the ‘truth’ of competition. We can also accept the second truth that the article got so much value due to the competition among the capitalists. But, if we come to the actual truth, namely, “from where did the capitalist get that ‘more money’ to pay—we will conclude that it is from the ‘surplus value’ only. Let us suppose that this writer is a wage labourer under a capitalist. Then he becomes a productive labourer. He becomes a party to the production of ‘surplus production’. Even then his article would not have excessive value. If it has, then it would be the surplus value of others. 

(From the book An Introduction to Capital by Ranganayakamma)

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