[OPE-L:2895] Re: Re: starting point and capital

From: Rakesh Bhandari (bhandari@Princeton.EDU)
Date: Mon Apr 24 2000 - 19:04:58 EDT

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in my reading of Marx, capital can indeed be "conceived, posited, or
defined" without wage labor. The latter, rather than an aspect of the
*definition* of capital, is a *consequence* of particular developments in
the social relations corresponding to the circuit of capital (developments
unspecified in Vol. I, but suggested in Vol. III and elsewhere) that
capitalists predominantly hire and subsume labor power *as a commodity*
rather than either a) lending value producers the wherewithal to finance
means of production, as in the circuit of usury capital, or b) purchasing
labor *services* as a commodity within labor processes run by producers
(i.e., no formal subsumption), as in the putting-out system.
Gil, this is an elegant and helpful formulation of your thesis.
Unfortunately I am away from home, and don't have your paper which lays out
in historical and microeconomic detail those "particular developments in
the social relations corresponding to the circuit of capital." As I
remember Marx's argument, the capitalist mode of production depends for the
expansion of value on the production of relative surplus value through
continuous technical change. This would mean workers are free to move to
the most advanced techique, and out of declining industries. Without such
labor mobility, the arteries of the capitalist system would have to be
hardening--as they were in Nazi Germany in which there was a regression to
formally unfree labor. Here I disagree with Patrick in that I don't think
such slavery at a late stage in capitalism is a more perfected form of
exploitation but rather a sign of decay and weakness. However, I do agree
with him on the capitalist character of plantation slavery. By the way,
this argument is supported by Kenneth Pomeranz's chapter on a new kind of
periphery in his new book The Great Divergence: China, Europe and the
Making of the Modern World (Princeton, 2000).

At any rate, I have trouble understanding how a developed and dynamic
capitalist mode of production could do without anything but mobile free
wage labor. That a fully developed capitalism depends on mobile free wage
labor of course does not invalidate your argument about the problem in chs
4 and 5.

Yours, Rakesh

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