(OPE-L) two stories about the about the accumulation of capital and the productive working class

From: Gerald A. Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Wed Apr 21 2004 - 20:20:29 EDT

Two stylized, simplified stories:

Both stories include the following narrative:

As the valorization process continues and the rate of
accumulation (as measured by temporal changes in 
money-capital advanced for c and v) increases,  a
consequence is an increase in the centralization and
concentration of capital.  

Story I continues:

This causes an increase in the relative size of the working 
class, including an increase in the size of productive labor 
because smaller units of capital are unable to compete with 
larger units, and hence those who were self-employed (especially 
in agriculture) are proletarianized.  Fluctuations in the demand
for commodity output and labor-power -- and the consequences of 
technical change -- can cause _cyclical_ changes in the size of 
the industrial reserve army and the quantity of wage-workers 
employed by capital who are productive of surplus value, but 
the _long-term trend_ is for the quantity of productive wage-
workers to increase.

Story II offers an alternative scenario:

Those who were self-employed (especially in agriculture) 
are increasingly impoverished and non-viable and, consequently,
move -- primarily to urban areas -- in search of jobs.  Meanwhile,
a stagnant demand for output and productivity-increasing technical
change can decrease the demand by capital for labor-power and
some proportion of these workers are expelled into the industrial 
reserve army.  When neither capital nor the state is capable and 
willing to employ the formerly self-employed peasants, artisans, 
and small-business owners and those who formerly worked for capital
and are now part of the IRA (and when there is no significant income
and welfare support for these groups by the state and capital),  these 
masses are left to their own devices to survive and this increasingly
takes the form of employment in the petty commodity sector. When 
there is mass poverty, the mass of people who are in the petty 
commodity (informal) sector can be huge and the pace of growth of 
this sector can radically increase and the size of the employed, 
productive labor force can shrink.

One could argue that _both_ stories are valid.  I.e. Story I describes
-- in a stylized way -- the process of proletarianization experienced 
throughout most of capitalist history.  Yet, Story II could well describe 
-- in simplified form -- global trends in recent decades.  

Is there any reason to think that Story I will reassert itself more
powerfully and overcome Story II?  Or,  will Story II predominate 
in the foreseeable capitalist future?   Or,  what else is likely?

In solidarity, Jerry

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