Notes on Ricardo’s Principles (12) – 価値 11

中湖 康太

Section IV 


The principle that the quantity of labor bestowed on the production of commodities regulates their relative value considerably modified by the employment of machinery and other fixed and durable capital.


In the former section we have supposed the implements and weapons necessary to kill the deer and salmon to be equally durable, and to be the result of the same quantity of labor, and we have seen that the variations in the relative value of deer and salmon depended solely on the varying quantities of labor necessary to obtain them, but in every state of society, the tools, implements, buildings, and machinery employed in different trades may be of various degrees of durability, and may require different portions of labor to produce them. The proportions, too, in which the capital that is to support labor, and the capital that is invested in tools, machinery, and buildings, may be variously combined. This difference in the degree of durability of fixed capital, and this variety in the proportions in which the two sorts of capital may be combined, introduce another cause, besides the greater or less quantity of labor necessary to produce commodities, for the variations in their relative value – this cause is the rise or fall in the value of labor.



The food and clothing consumed by the laborer, the buildings in which he works, the implements with which his labor is assisted, are all of a perishable nature. There is, however, a vast difference in the time for which these different capitals will endure: a steam-engine will last longer than a ship, a ship than the clothing of the laborer, and the clothing of the laborer longer than the food which he consumes.



According as capital is rapidly perishable, and requires to be frequently reproduced, or is of slow consumption, it is classed under the heads of circulating or of fixed capital. A brewer whose buildings and machinery are valuable and durable is said to employ a large portion of fixed capital: on the contrary, a shoemaker, whose capital is chiefly employed in the payment of wages, which are expended on food and clothing, commodities more perishable than buildings and machinery, is said to employ a large proportion of his capital as circulating capital.


It is also to be observed that the circulating capital may circulate, or be returned to its employer, in very unequal times. The wheat bought by a farmer to sow is comparatively a fixed capital to the wheat purchased by a baker to make into loaves. One leaves it in the ground and can obtain no return for a year; the other can get it ground into flour, sell it as bread to his customer, and have his capital free to renew the same or commerce any other employment in a week.


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