General Law of Capitalist Accumularion -Reply

Wed Jul 12 18:13:06 MDT 1995

Jerry, I like your post.  I just read Ch.25 in March, loved it, found
it to be the place where the points Marx was building in early
chapters came together to produce an elegant model of capitalism,
that links the rich getting richer to the poor getting poorer.  Also,
it's a self-limiting cycle, or rather it has feedback mechanisms that
cause things to cycle, which I found very interesting.

I think my reading is very similar to yours.  I esp. appreciated that
line about "modified by many circumstances".  I take that as a
ceteris paribum [all other things held equal] clause that he uses a
lot, esp. earlier in Cap.vol I, as well as here.

I once noticed somebody on the list bad-mouthing the use of ceteris
paribum clauses, but I never followed up to find out what was
supposed to be bad about them.  Not only did Marx use them, but they
seem useful if not downright necessary, when trying to analytically
separate inter-tangled threads of cause, effect and mechanism, no?

But when we [scientists for instance] think this way, some say we are
missing the "wholeness" for the "atomistic" parts.  But no, I know
that there is a "whole" world and that parts are inter-related, I'm
just trying to figure out HOW the parts are related.  I forget whose
post it was that pointed out that the fact of
dialectical/interrelatedness did not address HOW things are related,
but I appreciated that point very much.

It took me a while just to come to think I know what Marx meant by
LAW, too.  It was the style of writing and thinking of his time, and
biologists used to do it all the time too, but not anymore.  It is
considered archaic and now even misleading, because it seems to
suggest that "it must always be so".  But as you have shown in your
post by quoting one of my favorite paragraphs from Ch. 25, Marx knew
better than that.  "Law" means something like "generalization", or
"under most circumstances", it seems to me.


>>> <glevy at>  7/8/95, 10:43pm >>>
I believe that Scott is referring to what Marx called "the general
law of  capitalist accumulation" in Volume 1, Chapter 25 of CAPITAL.

Marx wrote:"... This is the absolute general law of capitalist
accumulation [italicized in original, J.L.].  Like all other laws it
is  modified in its working by many circumstances, the analysis of
which does  not concern us here." ...

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