Re: (OPE-L) Rising organic composition (was: From Ian Wright on Weeks....)

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Thu May 29 2003 - 16:37:01 EDT

>If we make the parsimonious assumption that a non-zero
>percent of profit is accumulated, then if the working population
>is stagnant - once the country has undergone demographic
>conversion for example - we will get a falling rate of profit.
>This makes no assumptions about technology.


I am sorry that I don't have time to think through this reply. But at
the least I hope it prompts you to make further comments about the
meaning and causes of what you call demographic conversion.....

What do you mean by demographic conversion? And why do you treat the
rate of population growth as an exogeneous variable? On classical
doctrine, population growth is an endogeneous variable, no?  If real
wages increase, should not population grow as well? Or are real wage
gains dissipated in increased consumption of luxuries rather than an
increase in population? But then why? Are the joys of new commodities
better advertised than the joys of children?

  Is the demographic transition--viz. zero or negative populationg
growth-- a combined result of stagnation in real wages and rising
costs of child rearing, e.g., average school times and thus the
period of economic dependence of children have risen (I wish I
remembered the argument of Sydney Coontz's book on population)? But
if the absolute or relative stagnation in real wages is a cause of
demographic transition, then it must itself be explained. And if it
is explained by capital's attempt to enforce a rising s/v in order to
counteract a  rising OCC in the course of accumulation, then the
demographic transition, i.e., zero to negative population growth,
cannot itself be the explanation for the rising OCC by which the
profit rate is reduced: while the demographic conversion may put a
limit on the rise in s/v and give further impetus to profit rate-
reducing, capital-intensive growth, the demographic conversion is
itself the prior consequence of the rising rate of exploitation
achieved by capital in the course of capital-intensive accumulation,

Didn't Lenin of  castigate as decadent or degenerate those
proletarians who chose to remain childless in order not to reduce
their own consumption even as capital gave them no other choice than
children or the consumption levels to which the working class had
become accustomed?

Again, I wish I had time to consult again the literature on this topic.

Yours, Rakesh

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