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We have therefore ignored the reproduction of what distinguishes the productive forces from the means of production, i.e. From the observation of what takes place in the firm, in particular from the examination of the financial accounting practice which predicts amortization and investment, we have been able to obtain an approximate idea of the existence of the material process of reproduction, but we are now entering a domain in which the observation of what happens in the firm is, if not totally blind, at least almost entirely so, and for good reason: the reproduction of labour power takes place essentially outside the firm. It is ensured by giving labour power the material means with which to reproduce itself: by wages.
Wages feature in the accounting of each enterprise, but as ‘wage capital’, not at all as a condition of the material reproduction of labour power.
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I must now expose more fully something which was briefly glimpsed in my analysis when I spoke of the necessity to renew the means of production if production is to be possible. The ultimate condition of production is therefore the reproduction of the conditions of production.
We shall not go into the analysis of this question.
It is enough to have mentioned the existence of the necessity of the reproduction of the material conditions of production.
But thanks to the genius of Quesnay who first posed this ‘glaring’ problem, and to the genius of Marx who resolved it, we know that the reproduction of the material conditions of production cannot be thought at the level of the firm, because it does not exist at that level in its real conditions.
What happens at the level of the firm is an effect, which only gives an idea of the necessity of reproduction, but absolutely fails to allow its conditions and mechanisms to be thought.
However, it is not enough to ensure for labour power the material conditions of its reproduction if it is to be reproduced as labour power.
I have said that the available labour power must be ‘competent’, i.e.