[OPE-L:2983] Re: Defining accumulation

From: Paul Zarembka (zarembka@ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU)
Date: Tue May 02 2000 - 13:07:44 EDT

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The problem of definition is covered in the first section of my paper

    "Accumulation of Capital, its Definition: A Century after Lenin and
Luxemburg" at


The following two sections carry the issue into Lenin and Luxemburg.
Probably that would lead to more questions and, if so, let me know.

In any case, the "catch-all" refers to the following: almost every time
one reads "accumulation of capital" in a Marxist paper one could
substitute "capitalism" without loss of meaning (I propose you try it for
yourself). "Capitalism" is A LOT of things and it is fine to use it but
theoretically it doesn't have pretentions. "Accumulation of capital"
does. What I'm struggling for is precision in usage (or simply not using
the term), such as I would expect for "rate of surplus value". However, I
think there would be a lot of political fallouts that would result from
the definition proposed at the end of the paper and therefore, at best,
basically I'm targetting a subset of Marxists (or, more modestly,
hopefully to strengthen a political tendency which of course already
exists). At this point, that subset is vague but excludes Stalinism. I
can also report that I came to my basic idea without Luxemburg, but was
amazed at how much her theoretical work dovetails.

Regarding the physicalist strand of bigger heaps of machines, yes, it is
connected to it, but is only a part of the issue.

Please keep in my mind that my work is in progress and I'm trying to nail
this particular thing down as much as possible before trying the next
step. If I stumble, so be it, but it will be less likely the surer the

Paul Z.

******************** http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/PZarembka

P.J.Wells@open.ac.uk said, on 05/02/00 at 05:51 PM:

>> Marx DID define accumulation "Hitherto we have investigated how
>> surplus-value emanates from capital; we have now to see how capital arises
>> from surplus-value. Employing surplus-value as capital, reconverting it
>> into capital, is called accumulation of capital." I argue that this
>> definition, however, is ambiguous and that "accumulation of capital" has
>> become a almost a "catch-all" phrase (a disservice to scientific thought).
> I don't see an obvious ambiguity here, and I'd like to hear more about
>the ways in which "accumulation of capital" has become a catch-all; is
>what you have in mind the fact that the physicalist strand in post-Marx
>marxism talks as if the phrase referred to ever-bigger heaps of machines,
>inventories, etc.?

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