[OPE-L:6456] Re: general law of value and the world market - refs

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sun Jan 27 2002 - 10:33:13 EST

Re Jurriaan's [6455]:

> <snip, JL>  I would disagree though with Sau when he limits the
> concept of superprofits (surplus-profits or "extra-Mehrwert") to
> capital. Surplus-profits can arise in any branch of capitalist activity,
> for instance through the (temporary) monopolisation of new technology or
> natural resources, or more generally any condition which creates a barrier
> to competitive pressures or gives a special edge in productivity.

Ranjit Sau doesn't limit the concept of super-profits to industrial capital
in _Underdeveloped Capitalism and the General Law of Value_.  Quite the
contrary.  In Ch. 5 ("Rent, Profit and Super Profit"), he wrote:

"Using the term 'super profit' in the broadest sense to include surplus-
profit monopoly profit, and all that, we can now conclude that it is derived
through two means. First, the extra surplus-value is split into rent to
landlords and surplus-profit to the capitalists. *Ceteris paribus*,
super-profit and rent then move in opposite directions. Second, the
oligopoly power of certain capitalists who enter into a cartel give rise to
surplus profit. In this case, average profit and surplus profit are
negatively related. Accordingly, the monopoly bourgeoisie runs into
contradictions on two fronts: one, with the landlord, and the other,
with the non-monopoly bourgeoisie" (127).

You will no doubt be interested in learning that the above was written
after writing several sympathetic pages (125-127) presenting  Mandel's
perspective on surplus-profits. (This highlights the problem of responding
to short quotes: oftentimes you have to see the full text in front of you to
adequately respond. Otherwise, the tendency is, like reading tea leaves,
to read too much into what is in front of you. I've made the same mistake
myself and many others have as well so you are not alone).

> It may be argued, as Mandel did,
> that internationally there is "no effective equalisation of the rate of
> profit", but this would appear to be only a temporary or historical
> circumstance, in function of imperialism - the long term trend would be
> for  rates of profit and productivity differentials to even out between
> countries with the further development of world trade and international
> competition (maybe not so clearly in the case of agriculture, but
> certainly  for industrial goods).

'Temporary', though, can last a very long period of time. For instance,
'temporary'  might correspond to an entire epoch. Thus temporary can
extend into what economists call the 'long-run'.  'Temporary' might
indeed be characteristic of the entire epoch of imperialism.

> I think one of the problems with the Marxian scholarship on
> underdevelopment - insofar as it deals with a real object and not merelyan
> object-in-thought, and leaving aside faulty theories of unequal exchange
> (through lack of a developed concept of the operation of the law of value,
> which leads to a focus on distributional conflicts) -  is a veryrestricted
> view of "primitive (original) accumulation", confusing the original
> accumulation of money capital with the original accumulation of industrial
> capital. Primitive accumulation is something that occurs all the time, and
> under much more varied conditions than Marx describes with reference to
> Britain. In many parts of the so-called Third World there was and isplenty
> accumulation of money capital, yet it doesn't transform into industrial
> (productive) capital - this is what has to be explained.

Is the process of original (primitive) accumulation ongoing?  You might be
interested in reading about the 'new enclosures' at:


There are articles by OPE-L listmembers Michael P and Massimo and
by Werner Bonefeld and the Midnight Notes Collective on just this issue.

In solidarity, Jerry

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