General Law of Capitalist Accumularion

P8475423 at vmsuser.acsu.unsw.EDU.AU P8475423 at vmsuser.acsu.unsw.EDU.AU
Sun Jul 9 16:53:53 MDT 1995


Just to add to Jerry's comments re "absolute impoverishment" not
having occurred, to whit:

|Increasing impoverishment can only be supported as a relative trend.
|Have wages gone down absolutely over time?  No.  Has pauperism increased
|absolutely over time?  No.  The IRA, wages and pauperism all change
|cyclically (and in other ways) over time.  It is more useful to consider
|Marx's concept here in relation to the overall logical structure of
|CAPITAL than to believe it to be a "prediction" of future changes in
|unemployment and impoverishment.

Jerry's cite from Ch 25--which speaks of a secular trend of
immiserisation--often tends to overshadow another cite from Ch 25,
which has quite a different, cyclical, perception--and it is this
one that, I would argue, has actually applied in practice. With a
boom, the IRA falls, and workers start to demand wage rises, which
eventually eat into capitalist profits so that:

"accumulation slackens in consequence of the rise in the price of labor,
because the stimulus of gain is blunted. The rate of accumulation
lessens; but with its lessening, the primary cause of that lessening
vanishes, i.e. the disproportion between capital and exploitable labor
power. The mechanism of the process of capitalist production removes the
very obstacles that it temporarily creates. The price of labor falls
again to a level corresponding with the needs of the self-expansion of
capital, whether the level be below, the same as, or above the one which
was normal before the rise in wages took place... To put it
mathematically, the rate of accumulation is the independent, not the
dependent variable; the rate of wages the dependent, not the independent
variable." (Ibid., pp. 580-581.)

Cheers,
Steve Keen


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