Part 2 of Perelman

Mark Jones markjones011 at tiscali.co.uk
Sun Jan 12 16:49:09 MST 2003




  ##I am here shown tools that no man in his sense's, with us, would
allow a labourer for whom he is paying wages, to be encumbered
with; and the excessive weight and clumsiness of which, I would
judge, would make work at least ten per cent greater than with those
ordinarily used with us. And I am assured that, with the careless and
clumsy treatment they must always get with slaves, anything lighter or
less rude could not be furnished them with good economy, and that
such tools as we constantly give our labourers and find our profit in
giving them, would not last a day in a Virginia cornfield -- much
lighter and more free from stones though it be than ours. So, too,
when I ask why mules are so universally substituted for horses on the
farm, the first reason given, and confessedly the most conclusive one,
is that horses are always soon foundered or crippled by them, while
mules will bear cudgelling, or lose a meal or two now and then, and
not be materially injured, and they do not take cold or get sick, if
neglected or overworked. [Olmsted 1856, pp. 46-47; cited in Marx
1977, p. 304n]
Scarcity shows up, therefore, not simply because of natural
shortages, but because of the inability of capitalism to utilize nature
effectively. This failure of the capitalist system is particularly true
with respect to the biological processes involved in agriculture.
"Cotton and Scarcityo
What may have caused Marx to have changed his mind about the
potential of capitalist agriculture? His skepticism concerning the
potential of capitalist agriculture first occurred during 1862, when he
was in the process of writing the "Theories of Surplus Valueo. During
that time, the prices of important raw materials, especially cotton, had
reached their highest point since the Napoleonic Wars (Farnie 1979, p.
162). The shortages of cotton, popularly known as the Cotton Famine,
proved to be a momentous economic event in the world economy.
The actual extent of the Cotton Famine is a matter of dispute. Some
modern scholars note that the outbreak of the Civil War in the United
States followed a period of severe overproduction on the part of the
British textile industry (Farnie 1979, p. 138ff). Thus, they identify the
crisis with overproduction, rather than shortages brought on by the
war. For example, Farnie maintains that the British cotton
manufacturers preferred to blame their problems on disruption in
cotton supplies rather than their own business mistakes.
According to this view, the Civil War could not set off crisis, since
the British expected a very short war. Speculation that new cotton
supplies would be forthcoming kept cotton prices relatively low, at
least until 21 July 1861, when the Confederacy won its first military
victory at Bull Run (Ibid. p. 141). Thereafter, speculation exacerbated
the shortages (Ibid.; and Brady 1963). Cotton was held in the British
ports in anticipation of a run-up in future cotton prices.
Eventually, as cotton stocks became depleted, the price of cotton
soared. During a three week period in August-September 1862, cotton
prices rose by 50 percent (Farnie 1979, p. 145). By this chronology,
the cotton famine made itself felt only after the crisis had begun.
Engels' correspondence casts some doubt on Farnie's thesis. His
letters show a qualitative difference between his attitude before and
after supplies were disrupted by the Civil War. Before that time, he
wrote numerous letters to Marx about the sorry state of the cotton
industry (for example, Engels to Marx; 9, 11 and 17 December 1857
and 7 October 1858; in Marx and Engels 1983, pp. 220-23 and 343-
45).
Engels suggests that the Civil War affected the availability of cotton
in two stages. Initially, the South, fearing a blockade, unloaded as
much of their cotton as possible, rather than to keep some stocks as
hedges (Engels to Marx, January 26, 1860; in Marx and Engels 1985,
p. 7). Thus, the Civil War was responsible for a surplus rather than a
shortage of cotton. Once the conviction spread that the war would
persist, the depleted stocks contributed to the eventual run up in cotton
prices.
Engels' personal circumstances also seemed to contradict
Farnie's thesis. Although he took the earlier crisis seriously, he was still
able to maintain his standard of living. Rather than be discouraged, he
suggested to Marx, "The present crisis provides an opportunity for a
detailed study of how overproduction is generated by expansion of
credit and "overtradingo" (Marx to Engels, 11 December 1857; in
Marx and Engels 1983, p. 221).

By contrast, with the onset of the Cotton Famine, Engels mood was
significantly different. Although Engels was usually unperturbed by
personal setbacks, by July 1862, his letters contained frequent
complaints about the difficulties that the cotton scarcity caused him
(Engels to Marx, July 3, 1862, Early September 1862, 9 September
and 16 October; in Marx and Engels 1985, pp. 382, 413, 414. and 418
respectively). In addition, he was forced to significantly curtail his
expenditures (see below). During this period, he did not rejoice about
the coming crisis. Instead, his letters referred to hardships that the
Cotton Famine was imposing on him. Of course, a sample of a single
producer does not constitute a convincing proof of the state of the
industry, but it does provide more evidence for the traditional view of
the cotton crisis.
This evidence is not conclusive. Apparently, some of the cotton
manufacturers came to the same conclusion as Farnie, but only in the
midst of the Cotton Famine. Marx himself reported on the annual
meeting of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce in early 1862 in
which Henry Ashworth enunciated the Farnie thesis (Marx 1862a).
Despite the diligence with which Marx followed British business
developments, Ashworth's idea seemed to be new to Marx.
Consequently, Marx seemed to believe that the Civil War set off that
Cotton Famine until that point. Moreover, the materials that Marx
included in the third volume of "Capitalo did not support that idea that

the crisis was a crisis of overproduction.
Regardless of the extent to which the disruption of the cotton
industry was due to overproduction or the Cotton Famine, the
consequences were clear enough. Marx noted:
##As the result of the American Civil War and the accompanying
cotton famine, the majority of cotton workers in Lancashire were, as
is well known, thrown out of work. [Marx 1977, p. 720]
The prolonged bout of unemployment endured by the British textile
workers during the Cotton Famine caused them great hardships (Marx
1861, p. 56; 1862, p. 241; and 1862b, p. 247). Engels wrote to Marx,
on November 5, 1862, that according to their friend Dr. Gumpert, the
crisis was taking a significant toll on the workers' health (Marx and
Engels 1973; 30, p. 295). Henderson confirms Engels observations
(Henderson 1973, Ch. 5; but see Farnie 1979, p. 157). Matters
became so bad that even "Timeso fulminated against the heartlessness
of the Cotton Lords (see Marx 1862b, p. 247).
A few years later, in 1866, as British industry turned to India for
cotton, rice culture was restricted. The result was the infamous famine
of 1866, "which cost the lives of a million people in the district of
Orissa alone" (Marx 1967; 2, p. 141).
The importance of cotton for Marx's political environment was
enormous. According to Riazanov, the First International resulted
from the crisis, precipitated by the curtailment of cotton exports from
the United States during the Civil War (Riazanov 1973, pp. 140-41;
see also Hobsbawm 1968, p. 51).
The state of the cotton industry was not without personal
significance for Marx and Engels. The year 1862, when Marx's
analysis of capitalist agriculture was about to change, was a time of
"disheartening material suffering" for Marx (Rubel and Manale 1975,
p. 174), to a great extent due to the Cotton Famine. Engels, who
depended upon the firm of Erman and Engels for the bulk of his
earnings, was unable to supply Marx with much money. Early in the
year, the depressed conditions in the cotton trade forced Engels'
factory to work at only one-half capacity.
Prior to the Cotton Famine, Engels had maintained two separate
residences: one for receiving his bourgeois friends; and one for
himself and Mary Burns. With the onset of the crisis, he had to save
on rent by living with Mary Burns full-time (Engels to Marx, 28
February 1862; in Marx and Engels 1973: xxx, p. 215).
Later in the year, Engels significantly informed Marx that the
marxian theory of rent was too abstract to contemplate at the moment;
he was too involved in the cotton crisis (Engels to Marx, 9 September
1862; in Marx and Engels 1973: xxx, p. 284).
Engels' tightened circumstances had disastrous consequences for
Marx's finances. Moreover, Marx's tenuous relationship with the
"New York Tribuneo was finally severed in that year. In August of
1862, Marx wished that he knew how to start a business (Marx to
Engels; 20 August 1862; in Marx and Engels 1973: xxx, p. 280). He
continued, paraphrasing Faust, "Gray, dear friend, is all theory, and
only business is green" (Ibid.). Before the end of the year, he informed

Kugelmann that he had tried to obtain a job with a railway office, but
his handwriting was inadequate (Marx to Kugelmann, 28 December
1862; in Marx and Engels 1973; xxx, p. 640). By the beginning of the
next year, Marx's family lacked coal to warm the house and enough
clothing to go outdoors (Marx to Engels, 24 January 1863; in Marx
and Engels 1973; xxx, pp.ÜjÜ314-16).
In the midst of the cotton crisis, Marx intensified his economic
research. During this period, his thinking took a decidedly different
turn. Previously, he had not paid much attention to the theory of rent.
In the middle of 1862, Marx began his intensive researches into the
theory of rent (see Marx to Engels, 2 August 1862; in Marx and
Engels 1975, pp. 120-23). In addition, about the same time Marx
reversed his previously optimistic prognosis for capitalist agriculture.

Significantly, in his description of constant capital, "raw material,
auxiliary materials, machinery, etc.," raw materials were given first
place (Ibid., p. 120). In addition in 1862, Marx first associated crises

and raw materials shortages. He observed:
##A "crisiso can rise... through "changes in the value of theo
elements of productive capital, particularly of "raw materialso, for
example when there is a decrease in the quantity of cotton harvested.
Its "valueo will thus arise.... More must be expended on raw materials,
less remains for labor. [Marx 1963-1971, Pt. 2, p. 515; see also pp.
517 and 533].
The problem with raw-material supplies plays a very important role
in Marx's later theory of economic crises.
This idea is not surprising, although it comes only a few pages after
the very optimistic assessment of the prospects for the evolution of
capitalist agriculture cited above (Ibid., pp. 109-15). Under these
conditions, Marx realized that, while the accumulation of capital
facilitates society's mastery of the forces of nature, the social
relations
of capital create tendencies that make for an irrational treatment of
resources.
After 1862, raw-materials were given far more prominence in
Marx's work. From that time on, when addressing the increasing
difficulties in producing enough raw-material for industrial
production, more often than not he brought up the example of cotton.
His use of this example is not surprising.
The dramatic effect of the Cotton Famine clearly illustrated the great
disparity between the production of cotton and the corresponding
development of industry. Although great advances in industrial
productivity were obvious to everybody, no significant improvements
in cotton production had occurred since the cotton gin. Consequently,
raw material production was unable to accelerate fast enough to match
the rapid expansion of demand.
The short-run supply elasticity of agricultural produce makes trade
in such items particularly vulnerable to speculative pressures, leading
to "sudden expansion soon followed by collapse" (Marx 1967: ii, p.
316). In addition, to the extent that agricultural production does grow,

it does so by increasing the cultivated area rather than productivity.
He
wrote that the cotton supply increased only because of an "expansion
of production in one place and in another importation from remote
and previously less resorted to, or entirely ignored, production areas"
(Marx 1967: iii, p. 119).
For Marx, the example of cotton clearly illustrated the manner in
which a particular mode of production may inhibit technical progress
(see, for example, Marx 1977, pp. 303-04; and Genovese 1967, esp.
Ch. 2). By the time "Capitalo was written, Marx insisted that raw
materials, especially cotton, made up "the most important element in
all branches" other than wages (Marx 1967: iii, p. 117; see also p.
106).
Of course, Marx was well aware of the importance of agriculture's
role as an industrial supplier well before the Civil War. He had noted
the fact that the production process depends upon the continued flow
of raw products and raw materials (Marx 1974, p. 728). Indeed, in the
"Grundrisseo, he had chided Ricardo for failing to recognize the
importance of the industrial demand for agricultural production (Marx
1974, p. 640), but Marx had not followed up that insight until the
terrible costs inflicted by the Cotton Famine.
Although Marx explicitly devoted only one section of the third
volume of "Capitalo to the cotton scarcity (Marx 1967: iii, Ch. vi, Sec.

3), the subject was very important to him. Recall his observation that
the "spirit of capitalist production in general ... may be very well
studied in the cotton shortage of 1861-65" (Marx 1967; 3, p. 121). He
had earlier referred to "that all-important branch of industry, cotton"
(Marx and Engels 1850, p. 282; see also 1850b, p. 498) and to the
period in which he wrote as "the "cotton ageo" (Marx and Engels
1850b, p. 501; cf. Hobsbawm 1968). Elsewhere, he referred to the
Irish potato and slave produced cotton as the "two pivots" of the
British economy (Marx 1861a, p. 64). He also described the cotton
industry as the "dominant branch of Great Britain's industry" (Marx
1861, p. 79). Not only were cotton fabrics the major product of
English capitalism of Marx's time, but the cotton industry took the
lead in introducing the giant factories that characterized modern
technology for Marx.
References to cotton thus reinforce Marx's general observations
about the limits to capitalist agriculture, whereby industrial demand
outstripped raw materials supply. One might object that cotton was
produced by slaves,rather than by wage labor. Despite the similarities
between the plantation owner and the capitalist (see Mintz 1977; and
Engerman and Fogel 1974, pp. 73; and Perelman 1983, Ch. 5), the
social relations of capitalism are distinctly different from slavery. In

this sense, the example of cotton might be interpreted as diverting
attention from the relationship between the capitalist mode of
production and scarcity. For Marx, no such problem existed. Slave
production and capitalist production were a part of a larger unity
based on a world division of labor (see Marx 1977, pp. 579-80; see
also Perelman 1983, Ch. 5). White and black labor both participated
in "a two-fold slavery" (Marx 1861a, p. 20). In a letter to Annenkov,
dated 28 December 1846, he wrote:
##Direct slavery is the pivot of our industrialism today. Without
slavery no cotton; without cotton no modern industry.... Slavery is
therefore an economic category of the highest importance. [Marx to
Annenkov, 28 December 1846; in Marx and Engels 1975, p. 35]
A few years later, he found a similar thought in an extract, which he
copied from "The Economisto of 21 September 1850:
##That the prosperity of Manchester depends on the slave trade
in Texas, Alabama and Louisiana, is as curious as it is alarming. [p.
1049; cited in Marx 1849-1851, p. 232]

In the wake of the Cotton Famine, Marx began to
recognize the connection between the structure of market
incentives and the fate of the environment. Of course, he
had always understood the importance of nature, but
before that time he had not integrated his observations
about natural resource utilization into the core of his
analysis.
In "Capitalo, Marx noted that capitalists, with their fear
of making long-term investments, avoid sinking money in
long-term improvements in forestry (Marx 1967: ii, p.
235; and 1977, pp. 892-93), soil conservation (Marx
1967: iii, p. 617; and 1977, p. 376), and other durable
investment projects. Furthermore, capitalists' single-
minded pursuit of profit blinds them to the totality of
natural processes. As Engels warned:
##Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on
account of our human victories over nature. For each such
victory nature takes its revenge on us. [Engels 1876, pp.
74-75]
For Marx, the overestimate of capital's ability to control
natural forces was particularly valid for agricultural
production. In "Capitalo, Marx explained that the rate of
surplus value was unaffected by the increasing difficulty
in producing foodstuffs during the period 1799 to 1815
only because real wages fell, while labor was forced to
work longer hours at a more intense pace (Marx 1977, p.
666; and 1963-1971; Pt. 3, p. 408). Only Malthus, among
all the classical economists, seems to have noticed this
relationship (see Marx 1977, p. 666n). Elsewhere, Marx
added cheap colonial imports and new technology to this
list of causes offsetting the difficulty in producing food
domestically (Marx 1963-1971; Pt. 2, p. 460).
Until the last years of his life, Marx continued to stress
that an agricultural crisis threatened the "'apparently' solid
English society" (Marx to Danielson, 10 April 1879; in
Marx and Engels 1975, p. 298).
"Resource Scarcity and Capitalo
Social relations were always uppermost in Marx's
analysis. The social relations of capital were the principal
relations which he sought to elucidate in his analysis of
scarcity. As a result of these social relations, capital itself
generates scarcity.
The impact of resource availability on both capital and
the accumulation process is important (see Marx 1963-
1971; Pt. 2, p. 516; and 1977, p. 579). In other words, the
scarcities of certain natural resources periodically appear,
and often persist, for reasons such as those noted by
Marx. These bottlenecks must be seen in terms of their
effects on profits, accumulation and capitalist
reproduction as a whole.
Marx had long intended to address the question of
scarcity. We know that he had expected that his critique
of Malthusian rent theory would show "how the price of
raw materials influences the rate of profit" (Marx to
Engels, 30 April 1868; in Marx and Engels 1942, p. 242).
Contrast this evaluation with his earlier expectations that
his study of Malthus' rent theory would somehow prove
that enormous strides in the production of raw materials
would diminish the relative importance of rent (Letter of
14 August 1851; in Marx and Engels 1973; 27, p. 314).
Even before the Cotton Famine, Marx had noted the
increasing relative importance of the industrial
consumption of agricultural produce (Marx 1974, pp.
771ff). More significantly, in the "Theories of Surplus
Valueo, he had even associated this movement with the
rising importance of constant capital, relative to variable
capital (Marx 1963-1971; Pt. 1, pp. 219 and 195).
Nonetheless, these early incidental remarks were not
followed up by subsequent analysis. Instead, Marx left
them hanging.
Given the strategic importance of cotton at the time of
the Cotton Famine, Marx's analysis of scarcity took on a
greater urgency. Rising cotton prices began to represent
an increase in the organic composition of capital. He had
alluded to that possibility earlier (Marx 1963-1971; Pt. 1,
p. 195). In the wake of the Cotton Famine, that possibility
had become a reality. For example, Chapter 6 of volume 3
of "Capitalo largely concerned the effect of raw material
price fluctuations on the value of capital.
In fact, many of Marx's discussions of the rising organic
composition of capital relied on the example of cotton
(see, for example, Marx 1963-1971; Pt. 3, Ch. 23, and
pp. 217-21). In a section entitled, "On the Influence of a
Change in the Value of Constant Capital Exerts on
Surplus, Profit and Wages," he concluded:
##This analysis shows the importance of the cheapness
or dearness of raw materials for the industry which works
them up (not to speak of the relative cheapening of
machinery). [Marx 1963-1973; Pt. 3, p. 221]
In a footnote to this citation, he suggested the nature of
his mental association between the discussion of the
analysis of cotton prices and the analysis of the organic,
value, and technical compositions of capital.
##By "relativeo cheapening of machinery, I mean that
the absolute value of the amount of machinery employed
increases, but that it does not increase in the same
proportion as the mass and efficiency of machinery.
[Ibid]
Given the frequency with which he associated the rising
organic composition of capital with cotton, an interesting
question comes to mind: Might not Marx's theory of the
rising organic composition of capital be an obscure, but
convenient method of introducing into his analysis an
important phenomenon usually considered to be
Malthusian?
The 'organic' in the expression, 'organic composition of
capital,' suggests a biological dimension. In fact, the
earliest use of that term occurred in the "Theories of
Surplus Valueo. In January 1863, in the midst of the
Cotton Famine, Marx used this term in an outline of his
later treatment of the falling rate of profit (Marx 1963-
1971; Pt. 1, pp. 415-16). There he wrote:
##1. Different organic compositions of capitals, partly
conditioned by the differences between variable and
constant capital in so far as this arises from the "stage of
productiono -- the absolute "quantitativeo relations
between machinery and raw materials on the one hand,
and the quantity of labour which sets them in motion.
These differences relate to the labour process....
##2. Differences in the relative value of the parts of
different capitals which do not arise from their organic
composition. These arise from the difference of value
particularly of the raw materials, even assuming that the
raw materials absorb an equal quantity of labour in two
different spheres. [Ibid.]
Notice several points about this discussion. Firstly, raw
materials and machinery are lumped together. Secondly,
the reference to the stages of production will be very
important in the next chapter. Thirdly, the reference to the
"relative value  of the  parts ... which do not rise from
their organic composition" suggests that Marx had in
mind two different causes for the value of raw materials
to change. On the one hand, value changes because of the
changing labor requirements. On the other hand, relative
values can fluctuate because of other forces. Coming on
the heels of the enormous upheavals stemming from
speculation in the cotton market, Marx may well have
been thinking about the price instability of raw materials.
I will elaborate on the relevance of this possibility in the
final chapter on fictitious capital.
References to the changing values of raw materials
recur in Marx's later work. He placed a similar thought in
a section entitled "Observations on the Influence of the
Change in the Value of the Means of Subsistence and of
Raw Material (Hence also the Value of Machinery) on
the Organic Composition of Capital" (Marx 1963-1971;
Pt. 2, pp. 275ff). In the next section, he returned to the
subject of the organic composition of capital to explain
how it affected the pricing of agricultural produce.
In a later section, dealing with the subject of
"Compound Interest: Fall in the Rate of Profit Based on
This," Marx referred to the:
##organic ratio between constant and variable capital.
In other words, the increase in the capital in relation to
labour is here identical with the increase of constant
capital as compared with variable capital and, in general,
with the amount of living labour employed. [Ibid.; Pt. 3,
p. 311]
The context of this mention of the "organic ratio" is
especially revealing. Marx began the section by
addressing the possibility that technical change might so
effectively cheapen the cost of living that the rate of profit
might rise. Marx responded:
##The value of labour-power does not fall in the same
degree as the productivity of labour or of capital
increases. [Ibid., p. 300]
Why not? Marx responded with the previously cited
assertion:
##It is in the nature of capitalist production that it
develops industry more rapidly than agriculture. [Ibid.,
pp. 300-301]
This disparity between agriculture and industry was
reflected in the turnover rates in their respective capital
stocks. Concerning this matter, Marx wrote:
##[T]he period necessary to get the product ready for
the market ... is based on the existing material conditions
of production specific for the various investments of
capital. In agriculture they assume more of the character
of the natural conditions of production, in manufacture
and the greater part of they mining industry they vary
with the social development of the process of production
itself. [Marx 1967; 2, p. 316]
Recall that the turnover rate of capital is an important
determinant of the rate of profit.
Marx, in his published works, continued to associate the
organic composition of capital with the production of raw
materials, especially cotton. He first mentioned the
organic composition of capital ("sanso organic)
immediately before writing:
##As to raw materials, there can be no doubt that the
rapid advance of cotton spinning not only promoted as if
in a hot house the growing of cotton in the United States,
and with it the African slave-trade, but also made slave-
breeding the chief business of the so-called border slave
states. [Marx 1977, p. 571]
Marx first introduced the complete term, 'organic
composition of capital,' to the public in Chapter 25 of the
first volume of "Capitalo, the same chapter in which he
contrasted his law of the demand for labor with Malthus'
theory of population. The first sentence reads:
##In this chapter we shall consider the influence of the
growth of capital on the fate of the working class. [Marx
1977, p. 762]
Two paragraphs later, he defined the organic
composition of capital. Immediately thereafter, he stated:
##If we assume that ... the composition of capital
remains constant, then the demand for labour ... [will]
clearly increase in the same proportion and at the same
rate as capital. [Ibid., p. 763]
Next Marx turned to a critique of classical political
economy, "Adam Smith, Ricardo, etc." (Ibid., p. 764).
Malthus was conspicuously absent. The central idea of
this discussion was that the poor were necessary to
maintain the rich. In other words, populationism was not
a sufficient explanation of poverty.
A few pages later, in a section, entitled "The
Progressive Production of a Relative Surplus Population
or Industrial Reserve Army," Marx alluded to Malthus
less obliquely. He had been pressing his theory that the
increase in constant capital reduces the demand for
variable capital:
##The working population therefore produces both the
accumulation of capital and the means by which it is
itself made relatively superfluous.... "This is a law of
populationo peculiar to the capitalist mode of production.
[Ibid., p. 784]
Marx then continued with the previously cited idea:
##An "abstract law of population exists only for plants
and animalso and even then only in the absence of any
historical intervention by man. [Ibid, p. 784; emphasis
added]
Malthus is mentioned only twice in this chapter. On one
occasion, Marx wrote, "Even Malthus recognizes that a
surplus population is a necessity of modern industry"
(Ibid., p. 787). On the other occasion, the reference to
Malthus is contained in a long footnote that began:
##If the reader thinks at this point of Malthus ..., I
would remind him that this work in its first form is
nothing more than a schoolboyish plagiarism. [Ibid., p.
766]
"On the Importance of Scarcityo
For Marx, the specter of Malthusianism had to be
exorcised at all costs. Yet scarcity was still an important
consideration. In an effort to answer Malthus once and
for all, Marx fell into the practice of using his category of
constant capital, which he understood to be severely
limited, if not outright wrong (see Ch. 5).
Had he merely demonstrated the Keynesian lesson that
the market could create unemployment and poverty, he
would have been more successful. Had he shown that the
combination of recurrent crises and scarcities can cause
so much hardship for the working class; that the
uprooting of traditional societies faster than they could be
incorporated into the labor markets ensures poverty for a
large portion of the working class; that capital requires
poverty and unemployment to maintain a tractable labor
supply, his contribution would have been unquestioned.
Instead, unwilling to concede any ground to Malthus,
Marx refused to admit the concept of scarcity directly in
Chapter 5 of "Capitalo. He even failed to address the
widespread hardship brought on by the Cotton Famine in
this chapter, except for dating specific events. His
analysis of technological unemployment was excessively
mechanical, almost undialectical. Because this chapter, in
spite of its undeniable importance, was flawed, it
detracted from the rest of his work. Perhaps sensing its
shortcomings, Marx, whose book had previously evolved
in a very Hegelian fashion (see Ch. 4), abruptly turned to
his section on Primitive Accumulation, containing his
analysis of the evolution of capitalist agriculture.
Scarcity, for Marx, was an important category, with
substantial theoretical and political implications.
Consequently, he treated it (overly) cautiously, so much
so that he suppressed it altogether in his most direct
analysis of Malthus, in his chapter on "The General Law
of Capitalist Accumulation."



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