[OPE-L:6507] Re: totality

From: gerald_a_levy (gerald_a_levy@msn.com)
Date: Sun Feb 03 2002 - 09:58:03 EST

Re Rakesh's [6504]:

> For Marx, only once one has discoverd the average rate of profit for
> capital-as-a-whole can one discover the limits to the profit that any
> one capitalist can make.

The limit that any one capitalist can receive? Why is this an issue?

In a macro sense, the potential rate of profit received by any one
capitalist is dependent on the total mass of c, v, s and profit.
A  limit is given tautologically by the fact that an individual
capitalist can not receive more than 100% of the total profit, right?
The limit though for an individual capitalist must be some rate below
100% since an essential character of capital is diversity and competition.

> No matter whether an individual capitalist
> beats off the fall in the average rate of profit at the expense of
> other capitals, the fall in the average rate for the capitalist class
> can plunge the system into the crisis.

"Can" is the operative word above.

But, as put above, this seems to be an obvious and trivial result.
Clearly, if the average rate of profit does in fact fall long enough
and hard enough then there will be a crisis. I doubt that any
classical economists would disagree. I doubt even whether any
contemporary neo-neo-classical economists would disagree. The
disagreements concern most fundamentally the causal mechanisms
of the crisis.

>As GA Cohen may put it: that
> only a few can fit through the escape door (micro) before it shuts
> can only be clarified by understanding the situation of the
> capitalist class itself (macro). Despite the strictures of
> methodological individualism, it seems to me quite precisely accurate
> to speak of the fate of the supra-individual entity of capital, which
> again is itself a concrete individual unlike say a generalized
> concreted abstraction such as boats-as-a-whole (row boats, aircraft
> carriers, tugboats).

[Digression: Bad choice of words, Rakesh!  A row boat and a tug boat are
boats; an aircraft carrier is a ship.  All of these are watercraft:  the
distinction between the two sets of watercraft concerns size (length
overall) -- small craft are referred to as boats (although, even a modern
submarine continues to be classified as a boat because they originally were
small craft) .  See what you did? Don't get me started talking about
boats -- I could go on and on and ....]

Returning to the larger issue: I think that it is misleading to think of
the subject of _Capital_  as only concerning macroeconomics.
This way of looking at the question seems to me to impose a
distinction (between 'microeconomics' and 'macroeconomics')
on Marx that was only brought forward by marginalists at a later
point of time.   However, if we *are* to use these terms then I agree
with  Patrick who in [6330] suggested that one of Marx's
contributions was that he attempted to *integrate* micro and
macro.  (I should add, though, that other classical economists
-- if we are to use this distinction that they didn't use -- also
attempted to integrate micro and macro: e.g. consider the
'invisible hand' doctrine in Smith).  Yet, I should add  that
in Marx there were many micro and macro topics which were
very incompletely (and I believe intentionally so) examined: thus
intra-class diversity ( a micro topic) was not systematically examined
(even though a discussion of that subject is required before one can really
systematically examine class unity)  and the world market (clearly
a macro topic)  forms the *actual* locus of aggregate behavior (indeed,
the presumption of a 'closed economy' , while a necessary stage in the
systematic unfolding of his presentation, was nonetheless an
abstraction -- a point that Marx was very well aware of hence his
plan to finish 'Economics' with  Book 6 on the 'World Market
and Crisis' after examining 'Foreign Trade' in Book 5).

In solidarity, Jerry

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