[OPE-L:4769] Re: Re: On "capital scarcity" (reply to And

From: Rakesh Narpat Bhandari (rakeshb@Stanford.EDU)
Date: Sat Jan 13 2001 - 03:23:31 EST

Re Gil's 4766

>  > That's true, over the long haul.  But I'm not talking about the long haul:
>>  I'm talking about the scope for positive returns on accumulation in a given
>>  period, and there, it is certainly plausible that capitalists might come to
>>  a point at which they cannot expect a positive rate of return from
>>  additional investment, either because there are no available workers, or
>  > the wage has been bid up by capitalist demand to a point that prohibits
>>  profitability (the possibility considered at length by Marx in Ch. 25 of V.
>>  I), or marginal investment projects are simply not commercial, or some
>  > combination of these three considerations.

Gil, this is not plausible--you yourself seem to suggest that your 
scarcity argument does not work in the long haul, i.e., in reality. 
For in reality there is never too too much 'capital' relative to the 
working population for there to be positive surplus value. If there 
is too much capital chasing too few workers, then accumulation ceases 
until a sufficient rate of exploitation is achieved. This is why Marx 
calls accumulation the independent variable. Accumulation then 
proceeds with the same quantity of capital vis a vis the same number 
of workers. The initial scarcity situation has not been changed in 
physical terms--so the problem could never have been the "scarcity" 
of things (capital) vis a vis the available valorization base. 
Exploitation is a social relation, not a matter of supply and demand 
relations on the market.

  In fact your argument is the same as JS Mill's neo Malthusian pipe 
dream that through regulation of its numbers (vis a vis the capital 
stock), the working class can attentuate its exploitation (see Marc 
Linder's book on the control of reproduction for an analysis of 
Marx's critique of Mill). Moreover, in today's world, if the mass of 
capital swells out of all proportion to its valorization base--a 
dynamic Grossman considers in detail-- there won't be any waiting 
until a sufficient rate of exploitation can re-established through a 
painful adjustment process in the home country--capital will simply 
be exported. I have said before that in order to prevent capital from 
outstripping the available valorization base even in the short term, 
the opening up of China in particular for imperialist foreign direct 
investment (on the friendliest terms possible) will turn into an ever 
more virulent struggle (it matters not whether the output is meant 
for internal consumption or export). We'll have to keep our eyes on 
the China-Taiwan-US triangle. I suspect that there will be some 
rather disturbing turns in the next several years.

Yours, Rakesh

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