[Marxism] Re. Question

Ed George edgeorge1963 at gmail.com
Wed Feb 6 04:42:42 MST 2013


To answer Andrew Pollack.

First. To say that ‘the ruling classes of each successive mode of 
production had an ongoing desire and need to get richer and richer and 
get more and more power repeat ad nauseum’ poses the question of why 
they would want to do so (get richer and richer, etc.). It doesn’t 
explain anything, other than suggesting something about human nature 
which I wouldn’t accept.

Second. If ‘the first capitalists were not just competing with each 
other, but ... also ... taking over the markets and workforces of the 
old ruling  class...’, then that is not capitalist competition in the 
sense we’re talking about it here, competition between *capitals*, 
within which accumulation of surplus-value and technical change occurs, 
but *primitive accumulation*, which Marx specifically demarcates as 
‘accumulation which is not the result of the capitalist mode of 
production but its point of departure.’

This still doesn’t explain the imperative on the part of capitalists to 
accumulate within a regime of competion amng capitals. Competition 
itself doesn’t explain it. This from the Grundrisse: ‘A. Smith explained 
the fall of the rate of profit, as capital grows, by the competition 
among capitals. [...] A. Smith’s phrase is correct to the extent that 
only in competition—the action of capital upon capital—are the inherent 
laws of capital, its tendencies, realized. But it is false in the sense 
in which he understands it, as if competition imposed laws on capital 
from the outside, laws not its own. Competition can permanently depress 
the rate of profit in all branches of industry, i.e. the average rate of 
profit, only if and in so far as a general and permanent fall of the 
rate of profit, having the force of a law, is conceivable prior to 
competition and regardless of competition. Competition executes the 
inner laws of capital; makes them into compulsory laws towards the 
individual capital, but it does not invent them. It realizes them.’

*******

Of course, you're right, "it can't be simply competition between
  capitals that *in itself*
  provides the imperative to accumulation."

  That's why I conjured up the imaginary aristocrat (or whomever, my
  grasp on the transition is shaky).

  Once class society was established, the ruling classes of each
  successive mode of production had an ongoing desire and need to get
  richer and richer and get more and more power repeat ad nauseum. How
  they did so differed by mode of production. But in addition, within
  each one were new embryonic ruling classes whose wealth was made
  possible by new productive forces (technical change) which, to be
  realized, required new relations of production. So the first
  capitalists were not just competing with each other, but were also
  wiping out or taking over the markets and workforces of the old ruling
  class, and destroying social, political and cultural forces in their
  way.

  That's why it's not turtles.

  Isn't this just ABC Marxism, however poorly and inaccurately I've 
expressed it?




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