Forwarded from Jurriaan (Trotsky and imperialism)

Carrol Cox cbcox at
Sat Jun 2 10:59:57 MDT 2001

Jurriaan wrote:
> Mandel points out that if you accept the notion of "colonial superprofits"
> (surplus-profits)

Note that "superprofits" (at home or in the colonies) may result, not
from a higher rate of profit but from any rate that is higher than zero.
If a given capital is (say) $1 billion, but it is possible to only
invest $900 million at (say) a 10% rate of profit, then to discover
another location (or another product) which on the remaining $100
million will return only 5%, that 5% is _still_ a superprofit because
the alternative (at home say) was _zero_ (the capital lay uninvested).
If that capital remains in (say) CDs are 5%, and there is no place in
the domestic market where they can be invested (loaned) for that amount,
then a return (in a colony) of 1% on that 100 million will be a
superprofit (the bank is only losing 4% not 5%).

Unused capital is a deep threat to the stability of capitalism; this is
what makes capitalism a fundamentally 'revolutionary' system: it _must_
change (grow) or die, while other modes of production not only need not
grow to survive, they can even shrink and still be (as it were) healthy.
Hence 'imperialism' (plunder, tribute) is an option for a given power in
a pre-capitalist formation, it is the very life-blood of a capitalist
social formation. Odysseus (in the _Odyssey_ )can, more or less for the
hell of it, slaughter 50 maidservants (producers of textiles, mainly).
By the same token, he could have, equally for the hell of it, given them
all a week of. A capitalist textile manufacturer, on the other hand,
_must_ to extract as much surplus labor from them as possible.


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