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of them,
therefore, pass into the product and enhance its value, while
another portion remains fixed in its old use-form and re-
tains its value. It persists as an instrument of production
and retains the form of fixed capital. An ox is fixed capi-
tal, so long as it is a beast of toil. If it is eaten, it does not
perform the functions of an instrument of production, and
is, therefore, not fixed capital.
That which determines whether a certain portion of the
capital-value invested in means of production is fixed capi-
tal or not is exclusively the peculiar manner in which this
value circulates. This peculiar manner of circulation arises
from the peculiar manner in which the means of produc-
tion yield their value to the product, that is to say the man-
ner in which the means of production participate in the
creation of values in the process of production. This, again,
arises froffl the special nature of the function of these
means of production in the labor-process.
We know that the same use-value, which comes as _ prod-
uct from one labor-process, passes as a means of production
into another. It is only the function of a product as a
means of production in the labor-process which stamps it
as fixed capital. But to the extent that it arises itself out of
such a process, it is not fixed capital. For instance, a ma-
chine, as a product, _ a commodity of the machine maau-
facturer, belongs to his commodity-capital. It does not be-
come fixed capital, until it is employed productively in the
hands of its purchaser.
All other circumstances being equal, the de_ee of fixity
182 Capital.
increases _ith the durability of the means of production.
This durability determines the magnitude of the differencebe-
tween the capital-value fixed in the instruments of labor and
between that part of its value which is yielded to the prod-
uct in successive labor-processes. The slower this value is
yieldedmand some of it is given up in every repetition of
the labor-process--the larger will be the fixed capital, and
the greater will be the difference between the capital em-
ployed and the capital consumed in the process of produc-
tion. As soon as this difference has disappeared, the instru-
ment of labor has ceased to live and lost, with its use-value,
also its exchange-value. It has ceased to be the bearer of
value. Since an instrument of labor, the same as every other
material bearer of constant capital, yields value only to the
extent that its use-value is converted into exchange-value,
it is evident that the period in which its constant capital-
value remains fixed will be so much longer, the longer it
lasts in the process of production, the more slowly its use-
value is lost.
If any one means of production, which is not an instru-
ment of labor, strictly spesl_ing, such as auxiliary substances,
raw material, partly finished articles, etc., yields and circu-
lates its value in the same way as the instruments of produc-
tion, then it is likewise the material bearer, the form of
existence, of fixed capital. This is the case with the above-
mentioned improvements of the soil, which add chemical
substances to the soil, the influence of which is distributed
over several periods of production, or years. In this case,
a portion of the value continues to exist independently of the
product, it persists in the form of fixed capital, while an.
other portion has been transferred to the product and cir-
culates with it. And in the latter case, it is not alone a
portion of the value of the fixed capital which is transferred
to the product, but also a portion of the use-value, the sub-
stance in which this portion of value is embodied.
Apart from the fundamental mistake--the confounding
of the categories "fixed capital and circulating capital" with
the categories "constant capital and variable capital"--the
confusion of the economists in the matter of definitions is
based on the following points:
Fixed Capital and Circulating Capital. 188
They make of certain qualities, embodied in the sub-
stances of the instruments of labor, direct qualities of fixed
capital, for instance, the physical immobility of a housc.
It is always easy in that case to prove that other instruments
of labor, which are likewise fixed capital, have an opposite
quality, for instance, physical mobility, such as a vessel's.
Or, they confound the definite economic form, which
arises from the circulation of value, with some quality of
the object itself, as though things which are not at all cap-
ital in themselves, but rather become so under given social
conditions, could be of themselves and intrinsically capital
in some definite forms, such as fixed or circulating capital.
We have seen in volume I that the means of production in
every labor-process, regardless of the social conditions in
which it takes place, are divided into instruments of labor
and objects of labor. But both of them do not become capi-
tal until the capitalist mode of production is introduced,
and then they become "productive capital," as shown in the
preceding part. Henceforth the distinction between instru-
ments and objects of labor, based on the nature of the labor-
process, is reflected in the new distinction between fixed
and circulating capital. It is then only, that a thing which
performs the function of an instrument of labor, becomes
fixed capital. If it can serve also in other capacities, owing
to its material composition, it may be fixed capital or not,
according to the functions it performs. Cattle as beasts of
toil are fixed capital; if they are fattened, they are raw ma-
terial which finally enters into circulation as commodities,
in other words, they are circulating, not fixed capital.
The mere fixation of some means of production for a cer-
tain length of time in repeated labor-processes, which are
consecutively connected and form a period of production,
that is to say, the entire period required to complete a cer-
tain product, demands advances from the capitalist for a
longer or shorter term, iust as fixed capital does, but this
does not give to his capital the character of fixed capital.
Seeds, for instance, are not fixed capital, but only raw ma-
terial which is held for about a year in the process of pro-
duction. All capital is held in the process of production,
184 Capital.
so long as it performs the function of productive capital,
and so are, therefore, all elements of productive capital,
whatever may be their substantial composition, their func-
tion and the mode of circulation of their value. Whether
the period of fixation lasts a long or a short time, according
to the manner of the process of production or the effect
aimed at, it does not determine the distinction between fixed
and circulating capital. 2°
A portion of the instruments of labor, which determine
the general conditions of labor, may be located in a fixed
place, as soon as it enters on its duties in the process of pro-
duction or is prepared for them, for instance, machinery.
Or it is produced from the outset in its locally fixed form,
such as improvements of the soil, factory buildings, kilns,
canals, railroads, etc. The constant fixation of the instru-
ment of labor in the process of production is in that ease
also due to its mode of material existence. On the other
hand, an instrument of labor may continually be shifted
bodily from place to place, may move about, and neverthe-
less be continually in the process of production, for instance,
a locomotive, a ship, beasts of burden, etc. Neither does im-
mobility in the one case bestow the character of fixed capi-
tal on the instrument of labor, nor does mobility in the other
case deprive it of this character. But the fact that some
instruments of labor are attached to the soil and remain
so fixed, assigns to this portion of fixed capital a peculiar role
in the economy of nations.