clyder at clyder at
Tue Sep 23 03:54:12 MDT 2003

Quoting Tom O'Lincoln <suarsos at>:

> Clyder: >>You should not assume that they reinvest it just because marx
> said so.<<
> D'Oh. 
> >>If you spent a day or so going through the statistics it would be
> possible to see if that was true. I would not bet on it though.<<
> Just out of curiosity, how do you think capitalism has grown over the past
> 200 years, if the bosses don't reinvest their profits?
> Juriaan's answer, on the other hand, seems very sensible to me.
My scepticism is based on hard investigation, going over the UK
statistics from 1851 to 1971 and finding that for the period 1870 to
about 1907 the accumulation rate was derisory - less than 10% of 
surplus value being accumulated. The rest was spent on servants,
fine houses in the country etc.

You have to be very careful what you mean by capitalism growing.

During those years, material production clearly grew, but that is
due to technical change. It does not require that the value of
the capital stock grew.

If you mean that the proletarian population grew, well that did occur
but only a very low rate of accumulation is required to sustain the 
growth of variable capital once a population has already been largely
converted from indepent producers to wage labourers.

Consider that the rate of exploitation in capitalist countries is
typically in excess of 100%. If the major part of that were being
accumulated you would be getting enormous rates of growth of capital
stock, or you would be getting huge organic compositions of capital.
Neither of these actually occur.

>From some very cursory examination of the US figures about 3 years ago,
I remember that the rate of accumulation was relatively rapid then 
by historical standards ( at the height of the dot-com bubble ) but
that in large part it was financed by inflows from abroad. This would
imply a relatively low accumulation rate by domestic capital.

However, there is never any substitute for the hard work of real
research. Check it out and report your results.

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