Normal Values and Wages

Normal Values and Normal Wages Permit Surplus Value Under Capitalism

It is important to note that surplus value arises neither from selling com­modities at prices above their real values nor from buying labor power at less than its real value. On this point Marx was insistent. Departures of prices and wages from their norms might cause temporary additions to or subtractions from profit, but the surplus value he was describing was permanent and normal in itself. Surplus value was created for the capitalist employer even when he sold his commodity at its true or normal value and purchased labor at its full normal value.

The value of a commodity is determined by the total quantity of labor contained in it. But part of that quantity of labor is realized in a value for which an equivalent has been paid in the form of wages; part of it is realized in a value for which no equivalent has been paid. Part of the labor contained in the commodity is paid labor; part is unpaid labor. By selling, therefore, the commodity at its value, that is, as the crystallization of the total quantity of labor bestowed upon it, the capitalist must necessarily sell it at a profit. He sells not only what has cost him an equivalent, but he sells also what has cost him nothing, al­though it has cost the labor of his workmen. The cost of the commodity to the capitalist and its real cost are different things. I repeat, there­fore, that normal and average profits are made by selling commodities not above but at their real values