[OPE-L:3255] the quantification of misery

From: JERRY LEVY (jlevy@sescva.esc.edu)
Date: Thu May 18 2000 - 07:26:01 EDT

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WE have been discussing Ch. 32 of Volume 1 of _Capital_ in another
thread re "the expropriators are expropriated" and "negation of the
negation". In the paragraph that ends with the former quote, there is
(amongst much else) the assertion that with the accumulation of
capital "the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degredation and
exploitation grows".

Note that in that paragraph Marx explicitlt puts this in the context
of the *world market*: "the entanglement of all peoples in the net
of the world market, and, with this, the growth of the international
character of the world regime". Yet, where is the theoretical
analysis of the world market and the internationalization of capital
in Volume 1? Moreover, given the subject of "Capitalist Production"
(as distinct from, say, the subject matter for what became Volume 3:
"Capitalist Production as a Whole") how could this theme have been
developed at the level of analysis of Volume 1? Thus, don't we have
to take this (along with the prior quote on "the mass of misery ...."
and the quotes on the growing revolt of the working class and
"the expropriators are expropriated") as *assertions* which have
not been sufficiently developed in the presentation of Volume 1?

One *could* claim that the part of the first quote excerpted above
was explained in the section on the absolute general law of
capitalist accumulation. *If* one believes that there is a general
tendency for the size of the relative surplus population (the
industrial reserve army) to grow over time, then one might also
believe that the "mass of misery" will also grow. And, elsewhere,
Marx establishes that *exploitation* will grow alongside the
accumulation of capital.

So, if we delete exploitation, that leaves us with the question
whether the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, and
degredation will grow with capitalism.

As noted above, he explicitly presents this assertion within the
context of the world market even though he hasn't presented an
analysis of the world market. Further, he tells us that oppression
will grow even though there is no systematic examination of
oppression in Volume 1. Further, unless we take "slavery" to
mean "wage slavery", there is no reason to believe that the mass
of slavery will grow under capitalism (indeed, we might expect
the reverse based on other parts of the presentation in Volume 1).
And "degredation" is something which has many dimensions -- only
some of which have been developed in _Capital_.

Furthermore, how can we test this assertion? I.e. how can we
quantify the growth of the mass of misery, oppression,
and degredation? (it's easier to quantify whether the mass of
slavery and exploitation have or have not been growing).

As noted in a previous post, I also have objections to the
mechanistic assertion in this paragraph that the revolt of the
working class will grow and that the expropriators are
expropriated. Isn't this precisely the "happy ending" that
John H and Paul Z object to? Moreover, it is a "happy ending"
which has not been supported by the prior analysis. Furthermore,
the assertion seems to be that the revolt of the working class
grows as a consequence of the growth of misery, etc. and the
increasing process of proletarianization. Yet, this suggests that
working class revolt increases largely as a result of increasing
misery, etc. But, this ignores the possibility that working-class
revolt can grow for other reasons and in response to other
conditions. Evidently, this is tied to the belief expressed by
M&E in _The Communist Manifesto_ that the only thing workers
have to lose are their chains. This also seems to me to be a very
questionable assertion.

In solidarity, Jerry

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