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

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Fri May 30 2003 - 13:10:08 EDT

>I dont claim any expertise on demographics, but it is fairly evident
>that once a country becomes fully industrialised the birth rate falls
>Reasons for this will be many, the dissolution of patriarchal economic
>relations and the participation of women in the labour market, the
>availability of contraception on a general basis, the replacement
>of filial piety by state pensions and mutual funds. Whatever the
>detailed causes, the fact remains that a couple of generations after
>industrialisation capitalist countries seem dependent on immigration
>to ensure population growth.

Paul C,
Several problems here:

1. new fertility techniques could lead to demographic growth

2. postponement of retirement age, better health and infrastructure
in the third world, more liberal immigration policy, further
proletarianization of householders and dependents, assimilation of
workers from massive non capitalist informal markets all could solve
capital's labor constraint, even if population growth approaches zero
or goes negative. I don't think one can build a theory of breakdown
or general crisis on the basis of demographic conversion. Your claim
that capital only has only 50 or more years seems totally arbitrary
considering points 1 and 2. You have in fact encouraged all of us to
reconcile ourselves to the rule of capital for the indefinite future.

3. if one wants to save theory of breakdown, then one has to defend
Shaikh's theory of how and why the OCC will increase as a result of
the competitive nature of capital and/or TSS's theories of why
technical change will  tend to reduce the growth of the OCC below
that of TCC. Neither theory is necessarily founded on the labor
constraint, though TSS examples tend to assume a stationary
population. Of course, I assume that the Bauer-Sweezy theory of
general crisis does not reveal the barriers to capital which could
explain a protracted general crisis. I am sure Michael L has a
different perspective.

And an unrelated point: that superfluous and idle capital has
hitherto warded off the complete collapse of profitability through
purely speculative investments in the US securities' market and
through conversion into the fictitious capital issued by the US
Treasury does not mean that pressure will not mount and is not
mounting for a competitve inter imperialist struggle over the control
of investment outlets.

Lenin has already been vindicated ironically as the collapse of the
Soviet Union allowed for a renewal of inter-imperial rivalries; the
collapse of speculative frenzy could well mean new inter-imperial
rivalries for the control of potentially productive investment
outlets for overaccumulated capital--Lenin would be vindicated again.

So, I would also be interested in your comments on Henryk Grossmann's
chapter on "Die Funkion des Kapitalexportes im Kapitalismus. Die
Ueberakkumulation von Kapial und der Kampf um die Anlagesphaeren. Die
Rolle der Spekulation im Kapitalismus." I think Grossmann does a fine
job extracting the rational kernel from Lenin's theory.

In terms of theory of imperialism, Grossmann also developed Bauer's
hypothesis of how value can be transferred on a global scale through
the formation of prices of production. Of course if one rejects
Marx's theory of value that hypothesis is not available.

By the way, I just had a difficult but rewarding time translating
paragraphs of Grossmann's chapter on slavery which includes very
interesting criticisms indeed of Luxemburg and Weber.

Yours, Rakesh

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