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I appreciate your question, but I have to plead ignorance. I do not feel
confident to answer it yet, because I haven't studied the subject
systematically yet. I've been kept busy with more mundane matters, I am
afraid. My hunch is that we cannot simply assume by theoretical fiat that
gold producers never earn, or have never earnt, an absolute rent beyond
differential rents. However, I need to know much more about the fluctuating
gold market in relation to the industrial cycle, gold discoveries and their
impact, and the gold industry, in different epochs of capitalist
development, to evaluate that. I would further need to understand better
the social relations pertaining to gold production (these vary by country
There hasn't been much specifically Marxist research into this whole area
far as I know. There is some "classic" theorising by Karl Kautsky, Otto
Bauer and Eugen Varga, to which Prof. Mandel refers. Then (from memory)
there is the Pierre Vilar book and some observations by Suzanne de
Brunhoff, some South African, South American and Japanese writing on it (I
don't have the titles anymore, this issue came up for me once in 1984/85
when Prof. Mandel was studying it - we sent him some data on the gold boom
in 19th century New Zealand).
I can only hope someone else knows the answer to your question.
At 12:41 PM 1/9/00, you wrote:
>Why must one assume that the gold producers earn(ed) no absolute
>rent? That is, if the marginal gold producer earns only the average rate
>of profit, then his production produces no rent. Must this happen?
>Why? Is this a natural thing or social determined concept or something
>necessary to preserve the idea of a computable equilibrium rate of
>What of other producers in sectors that earn rent?
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