Re: (OPE-L) Re: From Ian Wright on Weeks and Simple Commodity Production

From: rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU
Date: Wed May 21 2003 - 15:11:19 EDT

For accumulation to founder on a shortage of exploitable labor power
with a rising TCC or OCC, the mass of the capital invested has to
increase enough to compensate. And the mass of capital invested may well
increase absolutely as well as a percentage of surplus value in order to
beat off a falling profit rate with a greater mass of profit. Perhaps
then endogeneous population growth is insufficient for the accumulation
on which the capitalist system depends--what about the demographic and
potential pension crises of Western Europe and Japan? It matters not the
size of the global surplus population for that population may not be
available due to health and infrastructure for exploitation. There could
be a real shortage of available and exploitable labor power, and
accumulation could founder on just that even without the increased
worker power from a tight labor market to which Paul C alludes.
If Guy Bois has theorized a law of population for feudalism, then
perhaps there is a  law of population for capitalism:  Capitalism cannot
generate the population growth which itself needs (and is thus not
itself a totality, as Paul Z suggested in implicit criticism of Michael
L) and thus has to break open pre-capitalist (in particular lineage?)
modes of production which become a source of super-exploitable labor
power, precisely defined.  Claude Meillassoux has argued such in
Maidens, Meals, ?. Sydney Coontz  reviewed the previous literature. Marc
Linder has written a book on population policy, and has a wonderful
discussion of how capitalism can create a reserve army of labor out of
any population base. Maria Sophia Quine has an excellent book on
European population policy in the first half of the 20th century.


Quoting "michael a. lebowitz" <mlebowit@SFU.CA>:

> At 15:17 20/05/2003 +0100, Paul Cockroft wrote:
> >gerald_a_levy wrote:
> >>Paul C wrote on  Tuesday, May 20: > It (Capitalism, JL) is
> inherently a
> >>transitory mode
> >> > of production that can only persist so long as it is surrounded
> >> > by pre-capitalist production. *Why* can't capitalism persist
> after the
> >> disappearance ofpre-capitalist production? In solidarity, Jerry
> >My hypothesis, based mainly on the history of British capitalism,
> the
> >historical lead example is that once the latent reserve army of
> labour,
> >both internal and external is exhausted, then over accumulation of
> >capital occurs with the following effects:
> >
> >1. Organic compositions tend to rise
> >
> >2. Demand for a static or falling labour pool inhibits constrains
> >     the production of surplus value
> >
> >3. Inherent tendancies towards deflation set in in consequence
> which
> >     can only be masked by monetary and fiscal intervention by the
> >    state.
> >
> >4. As a consequence of factor 2, the social weight and influence of
> >     the working class rises.
> >
> >5. A combination of 3 and 4 lead to an increasing pressure to use
> >     non-capitalist modes of accumulation - raising the issues of
> >     social control of accumulation as live political issues.
>          I'm not certain that I understand the reasoning here. If #1
> is
> occurring, then it does so by recreating the reserve army. And the
> impulse
> to this is greater, the more the labour pool is static or falling.
> So, if
> workers are displaced, if the resulting weakness (all other things
> equal)
> of the working class means a rising rate of exploitation, how do you
> get to
> #4 ( not to mention for that matter #2)? The argument might hold
> without
> #1, but there was a section 2 to Vol. I, Ch25.
>          in solidarity,
>            mike
> ---------------------
> Michael A. Lebowitz
> Professor Emeritus
> Economics Department
> Simon Fraser University
> Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6
> Currently based in Cuba. Can be reached via:
> Michael Lebowitz
> c/o MEPLA
> Calle 13 No. 504 ent. D y E, Vedado, La Habana, Cuba
> Codigo Postal 10 4000
> (537) 33 30 75 or 832  21 54
> telefax (at

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