underconsumption again--and Luxemburg
foucault at eden.rutgers.edu
Fri Jan 27 02:59:27 MST 1995
I'd say that underconsumption theory depends on the idea that goods
have intrinsic rather than socially construed value. People can work as hard
as they please producing things that their neighbors don't want. Certainly
the extraction of profit puts a downward pressure on wages, and this in turn
supresses absolute demand. However, variability in the marginal propensity
to consume, and delay between newfound producer efficiancies and the
reduction in consumer demand that reflect those efficiencies provide a really
immense cushion to keep oversupply from being a problem. One can see,
however, the profit being squeezed out of formerly basic industries, such as
agriculture. A complex economy, with several levels of market above the
consumer market, insulates increased productivity/profit from
underconsumption. Also, the bougeoisie can get, and is getting, smaller.
On the other hand, increasingly efficient markets may begin to
deflate the cushion that allows time for overall expansion to compensate for
profit taking. Capitalism does require that inefficiency to hide its ill
effects. The more the proletariat can communicate with one another through
the market, the more odious, and superfluous the capitalist becomes.
"Foreign" markets is really a misnomer since the onset of the modern
capitalist age. One has more, or less, efficiently plugged in markets.
Consider that the "foreign" markets often have the least net consumer demand
to exploit. It is the delay between innovation and valuation on which the
capitalist relies. That is why any alienation among proletariats is
beneficial to the capitalist, whether the products of the first world go to
the third, or the reverse.
Fundamentally people can work harder, accomplish more, and support
more parasites as well. Expansion can overcome profit, but profit suppresses
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