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

From: clyder@GN.APC.ORG
Date: Sat May 31 2003 - 15:13:28 EDT

Quoting Rakesh Bhandari <rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU>:

> >
> >I dont claim any expertise on demographics, but it is fairly evident
> >that once a country becomes fully industrialised the birth rate falls
> >dramatically.
> >
> >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
I doubt it, too few of the population have fertitilty disorders
for this to have a significant effect.

> 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 recognise that, what I am saying is that once the latent reserve -
which is what you are describing, is used up, then the constraint
on the growth of the workforce enforces overaccumulation. In the UK
that stage had already been reached by the mid 20th century. For other
european countries it took longer due to the continued existence
of a peasant population well into the 3rd quarter of the century.

>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.

50 years is a rough extrapolation looking at the current state of
industrialisation of China, and comparing it with Japan at a similar

I have to dress my small son now so I will answer other points later.

> 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

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Mon Jun 02 2003 - 00:00:01 EDT