Forwarded from Jurriaan (reply to Carrol)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at
Sat Jun 2 13:03:18 MDT 2001

Thank you Carol for your metaphors about Odyssey and stuff. I am aware of
the significance of "idle (unused) funds" and excess capital, which
incidentally was ably analysed by the Japanse Marxist scholar Kozo Uno.
Mandel makes a similar point in his introduction to Marx's Capital Vol. 3,
noting that investors unable to invest at the average rate of return, may
be satisfied with a lower rate of return rather than accepting no return.
It is actually highly unlikely that a zero return will occur however, given
the existence of such instruments as government bonds and securities.
Concerning the compulsion to accumulate capital, this I argue is
essentially caused by competitive pressures (and, in a modern setting, by
permanent inflation), not by idle funds. In the context of my discussion
with Louis, I meant by "superprofit" a return on capital higher than the
average rate of return in the given branch of activity, or, globally
considered, higher than the average in the given economy as a whole
(extra-Mehrwert). If 900 million is invested at 10 percent, which is the
ruling rate of return, and 100 million at 2 percent, the total capital of 1
billion will have a return of less than 10 percent, i.e. less than the
ruling rate. I agree, from the standpoint of the investor it's better than
nothing, but I would not call it a "superprofit". Lastly, for me
imperialism means more than simply "plunder and tribute". This concept must
relate also to, among other things, the development of the international
division of labour to the advantage of the developed capitalist countries,
i.e. the uneven or one-sided development of capitalism on a world scale. My
argument is that neither Marx nor classical Marxism made a systematic
analysis of this consistent with the labour theory of value. Such an
analysis really only began to be made from the 1960s onwards, initially
somewhat confused however by the ideas of Baran and Sweezy.



Louis Proyect
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