malthus and exploitation

jones-bhandari djones at uclink.berkeley.edu
Sat Oct 15 04:50:10 MDT 1994


I needed help on the following: neo malthusianism and the dynamics of the
rate of exploitation.

1. the Malthusianism specific to a late capitalism

>From Mario Cogoy, 1973:

"An author like Malthus, who used underconsumption theory during this
period [during the battle with the rural aristocracy] as an apologist for
unproductive consumption, reflected the *weakness* of capital accumulation
which was not rapid enough to put work again the workers displaced by the
growth of labor productivity under capitalism; this situation required
unproductive consumption.  This situation is different in a phase of
capitalist development in which accumulation has already reached an
advanced state.  Then overaccumulation and the correspoding tendency for a
"reserve army" of the unemployed to form are not effects of an excessively
slow process of accumulation, but an expression of the fact that capital
has reached the limits of its profitability, so that further accumulation
is no longer possible owing to the lack of sufficient surplus value.

"When underconsumption theory and the fear of unemployment reappear as a
consequence of deficient capital accumulation, in an advanced stage of
capital accumulation, its context is quite different than that of Malthus:
the key point is not the weakness of accumulation due to capital's youth
but a tendency towards overaccumulation."

In light of Charles Murray's and Richard Herrenstein's barbaric revival of
social darwinism (featured critically in last Sunday's New York Times
Magazine), I think that Cogoy's argument deserves elaboration.  Can anyone
help me here? Or recommend  readings?

2. the rate of exploitation

>From David S. Yaffe:

"So that the higher the rate of exploitation (the less time it requires to
reproduce the value of labour-power)the greater must be the increase in the
rate of exploitation in order to increase the mass of profits sufficiently
to compensate for the falling rate of profit.
"The tendency of the rate of profit to fall is an expression of the
increasing difficulty in raising the rate of exploitation sufficiently to
satisfy the self-expansion requirements of capitalism as capitalism
progresses."

Does anyone know where this argument has developed, especially in regards
to the current technological revolution? (There is a very good chapter on
this in Rosdolsky's The Making of Marx's Capital).

Citations:

Mario Cogoy, "The Theory of Value and State Spending" in International
Journal of Political Economy, vol 17, no 2 Summer 1987, p 94; this is a
translation of a 1973 essay.

David S Yaffe, "The Marxian theory of crisis, capital and the state",
Economy and Society, vol 2, number 2 May 1973
jb



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