Short note – few thoughts (Grundrisse, pp 386-423)
1. The necessary of the working day will shorten by a rise in the productivity of labour, only if the latter touches the means of reproduction of the labour-force. A rise in the productivity in the industry of jewelry would have no affection at all in the necessary part of the working day. Of course, Marx refers here to a general rise in the productivity, which includes the means of reproduction of the labour-force.
2. A rise in the productivity of labour is meaningful for the capitalists only if it is accompanied by a change in the rate of exploitation, that is, if it lowers the ratio of necessary labour to surplus-labour (rising thus relative surplus-value). If the rate of exploitation rests the same after a rise in the productivity, then surplus-value produced will be less (both in mass and in %), profit will lower as well. Therefore, capitalists do not raise the productivity of labour unconditionally, braking the evolution of the means of production, if needed. That is a good reasoning for the limitation of capitalism in improving the means of production indefinitely – many cases can be drawn as examples; lately I was told the case of aircraft construction.
3. Alternatively, a rise in the productivity can be meaningful without a change in the % of expl. in the framework of competition but again, if capitals advanced with the new production relations are much bigger, producing thus bigger mass of surplus value. Take the case 60+40 (+40) and the next one: 700+300 (+300). The % expl. is the same (100%), the % profit is lower but 300 is much better than 40. Note that the Organic Composition of Capital (OCC) has changed (it has been raised) and that this is actually the argument for the falling tendency of the rate of profit. After all “relative surplus value rises much more slowly than the force of production, and moreover this proportion grows ever smaller as the magnitude reached by the productive forces is greater.”
4. Very insightful (I need to think further on the implications of this point concerning the emergence of financialisation, italics in the original, bold is mine): “The creation by capital of absolute surplus value -- more objectified labour -- is conditional upon an expansion, specifically a constant expansion, of the sphere of circulation. The surplus value created at one point requires the creation of surplus value at another point, for which it may be exchanged; if only, initially, the production of more gold and silver, more money, so that, if surplus value cannot directly become capital again, it may exist in the form of money as the possibility of new capital. A precondition of production based on capital is therefore the production of a constantly widening sphere of circulation, whether the sphere itself is directly expanded or whether more points within it are created as points of production. While circulation appeared at first as a constant magnitude, it here appears as a moving magnitude, being expanded by production itself. Accordingly, it already appears as a moment of production itself. Hence, just as capital has the tendency on one side to create ever more surplus labour, so it has the complementary tendency to create more points of exchange; i.e., here, seen from the standpoint of absolute surplus value or surplus labour, to summon up more surplus labour as complement to itself; i.e. at bottom, to propagate production based on capital, or the mode of production corresponding to it. The tendency to create the world market is directly given in the concept of capital itself. Every limit appears as a barrier to be overcome. Initially, to subjugate every moment of production itself to exchange and to suspend the production of direct use values not entering into exchange, i.e. precisely to posit production based on capital in place of earlier modes of production, which appear primitive [naturwüchsig] from its standpoint. Commerce no longer appears here as a function taking place between independent productions for the exchange of their excess, but rather as an essentially all-embracing presupposition and moment of production itself.”
5. “It is equally a tendency of capital to make human labour (relatively) superfluous, so as to drive it, as human labour, towards infinity.” It came to mind the attempt in Greece to expand the limits of people getting their pension from 65 to 69 or even 71, while unemployment is rising significantly.