Capital accumulation, conscious regulation and the USSR

Juan Inigo jinigo at
Mon Nov 7 19:53:30 MST 1994

I will briefly unfold here what I find are the general determinations that
make the capacity for the conscious regulation of social life develop as a
human potency alienated in capital, and the specificity of the USSR.

The historical absence of the capacity to consciously regulate the social
metabolism process when the capacity of direct personal relations to do it
has been surpassed by the development of society's material production
forces, takes shape in the autonomous regulation of social life. The
contradiction between the necessity to coordinate all the individual
metabolism processes into the social one and the historical impossibility
of doing it through the cognition by each individual of his/her
determinations as a concrete subject of that social process, is solved
through this autonomous system of regulation by making the material
production to be at the same time the production of the general social
relation. The general social relation thus takes shape in the development
of use-values into commodities, material things that have a specific social
determination: the abstract labor materialized in them is represented as
their capacity to relate among themselves in exchange thus socially
relating their producers, i.e., is represented as their value.

These relations and mode of production have an immediate necessity: to
transform the social production of use-values regulated through the
production of value into a material production that has the production of
value itself as its immediate general necessity, that is, the
self-valorization of value, capitalism. All human potencies are then
alienated as capital's potencies; human beings are then produced by capital
as its specific personifications that can but realize its specific
necessities, the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The constantly renewed
production of relative surplus-value is the most powerful way capital has
to valorize itself.

This production develops through two basic concrete forms: the constantly
increased concentration of capital and the constant advance in the
subordination of social production and consumption to science. The constant
increase in the concentration of capital means, to the proletariat, the
brutal, murderous, concrete forms that "the general law of capitalist
accumulation" takes through it. But it also means that the regulation of
social production increasingly needs to take shape through conscious direct
regulation, which is inherent inside of any individual capital, as each of
the capitals that imposes itself in the process of concentration and
centralization covers an increasing part of social production. Moreover,
the increased scale of each individual capital and the increased complexity
that the social metabolism process acquires in the production of relative
surplus-value, make the process of capital accumulation to necessarily take
concrete shape through the direct regulation of social production in the
form of political action. To the proletariat, again, the subordination of
production and consumption to science means that the organization of
production needs to overcome the limits that arise from each bourgeois'
capacity to personify his/her capital. Capital thus turns a part of the
proletariat itself into this personification. Alienated in capital as this
capacity to organize production may be, and it absolutely is, the
proletariat is now not only in charge of direct production but in charge of
organizing production. The proletariat thus becomes the necessary general
personification of its own general social relationship.

Consequently, the development of capital accumulation turns the bourgeoisie
into a completely parasitic class with no function at all in social
production. Therefore, capital turns the bourgeoisie into a useless
obstacle to capital accumulation, as the bourgeoisie unproductively
consumes part of the surplus-value, excluding it from becoming new capital.

Yes, a capital accumulation process where the managers and the direct
workers are all wage laborers, that is proletarians, and capital is a
collective property under the necessary form of state capital, is the most
developed form of the alienation of human potencies as capital's potencies.
Capital goes in this form as far is it can to produce the necessity, and
therefore, the conditions, for its own revolutionary annihilation into the
society of the freely associated individuals, in the hands of the very
proletariat whose fetishistic general social relation it is. The autonomous
regulation of social life through the self-valorization of value is
superseded into its conscious regulation, socialism or communism.

I will add here what I've said in a previous post:

>Marx discovered that, being capital the general social relation in
>present-day society, all human potencies are alienated as capital's
>potencies. Therefore, there isn't a single social form in our society that
>isn't determined as a concrete form of capital. The state sector is not a
>counterbalance for capitalism. It's capitalism in itself, "pure"
>_Socialism_ is certainly not _capitalism plus the collective ownership, and
>then the ownership by the state, of capital_, as some Marxists would like
>it to be.

As a mere process of self-valorization, the accumulation of capital has no
qualitative limit in itself other than that purely quantitative one. It is
thus a world process in essence. Still, this determination realizes itself
through the development of the national processes of capital accumulation.
Now, the concentration of capital as state property does no longer express
that capitalism has completely developed its necessity to overcome itself,
but a specific mode of the national form that the process of capital
accumulation as simply such takes. And it happens that, taken in itself,
the national form isn't an expression of capital's potencies to overcome
itself into the general conscious regulation of social life, but a specific
historical limitation to these potencies.

Under this specific form, the capital in question is not an immediate
social property, but only a social property inside a restricted portion of
society. It is, therefore, a specific form of private capital. Of course,
the general transformation inside a national ambit of the bourgeoisie's
private capital into this restricted (on its national basis) collective
capital must, also in general, take shape through a social revolution
inside that national ambit, as this transformation eliminates the
corresponding portion of the bourgeoisie as a class.

As that specific form, the capital in question acquires the potentialities
to self-valorize that result from its scale of concentration on a national
basis, and some others that are specifically inherent in national state
capital: for instance, the conditions of its accumulation can take the
ideological form of being an immediately collectively shared "national
objective" (which is a capacity that the capital owned by the bourgeoisie
is able to develop only through much more self-contradictory paths).
Conversely, this same capital finds a specific limitation concerning its
capacity to develop its circuits as productive-capital as a directly
international process. For instance, it has a specific limitation to
develop the differentiation inside the proletariat, between active laborers
and the consolidated surplus-population that the "general law of capitalist
accumulation" necessarily produces, under the concrete form (which
obviously goes beyond ideological forms) of a dissociated process, where
the consolidated surplus-population can be apparently dismissed as "other
country's problem."

Being thus determined, the greater or lesser success of this capital
collectively owned inside a national ambit in its struggle against the rest
of the private capitals to appropriate surplus-value, does not immediately
express the potentialities that the absolute concentration of capital as a
collective property has when confronted with any type or degree of
privately owned capital. That success just expresses the efficacy of one
specific form of restricted private capital vis a vis the efficacy of the
other forms of private capital, that together with it form society's total
capital, at a certain stage of the capitalist development of the material
productive forces of society.

As I said in a previous post

>Stalinism/"really-existing socialism" is the ideological
>expression of the national accumulation process of the capital that is
>wholly collective property within this national ambit (and therefore, as
>much capital for the whole of the proletariat, and as much private capital,
>for the proletariat of the rest of the national ambits, as any other).
>Therefore, Stalinism/"really-existing socialism" is just an extreme face
>that the alienation of human potencies takes as a national process of
>capital accumulation, consequently carrying in itself the whole brutality
>of capitalism, but also, the whole of its potencies.

Just to advance a little into the concrete forms of this national process
of capital accumulation, it is not a secret that the workers in the USSR
obtained their general share in the total social product under the form of
wages, which means, from selling their labor power. Labor power was thus
socially determined as a commodity and, accordingly, the means of
subsistence the laborers bought with their wages had exactly the same
social form, with money being the substantiated form of their general
social relation. All the imports and exports also had the social form of
ordinary commodities, making it obvious that a really consciously regulated
society cannot actually exist as a part of a world system that is
autonomously regulated. And of course, part of the social production needed
to be confirmed as such through black markets, showing to which extent the
general plan was a specifically contradictory concrete form of the
autonomous social regulation.

Naturally, there was no general place for the social product to take the
commodity form while it moves between the different productive units in
which the unique industrial capital inside the national process of
accumulation was technically fragmented, as it happens inside any capital
that belongs to the same owner. This uniqueness of the owner of capital
along the whole production process was the specific difference that rises
the appearance that the social product didn't take the commodity form as
its general social form. The means of production didn't appear, in general,
under this form at any moment. But, alienated as it could be in its own
general social relationship, we must always remember that it is about a
process of human life which has its final form as such in individual
consumption. And it was in individual consumption where both, the commodity
form that the labor power took and the commodity form of the means of
subsistence, were immediately visible as the concrete forms through which
the autonomous regulation of the social life finally imposes itself.

This national process of capital accumulation took the same specific
ideological form both in those who positively personify it and in those who
personify the national processes of capital accumulation that opposed it in
the struggle for each one's expansion: all of them presented it as the
realized negation of capitalism, that is, socialism/communism. In the first
case, to present the specific alienation of human potencies it was, as the
realized supersession of all alienation; in the second case, to present
socialism as having the same vile and bloodthirsty face inherent in
capitalism, thus consecrating capitalism as "the best of all possible

Juan Inigo
jinigo at


More information about the Marxism mailing list