From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Mon Nov 01 2004 - 05:29:02 EST
Rakesh: Presumably the message from Kaleckian theory to the working class is simply this: "help the ruling class overcome any 'Protestant' inhibitions against luxury, consumption and decadence, for the stability of your employment depends on their use of credit lines to finance their overconsumption." We can safely assume that capitalists will consume enough to realize all of surplus value. To be sure, this puts a burden on them. Imelda Marcos had to shop a lot and find room in her closet for new pairs of shoes. Who cares? ------------------------- Paul I think it is certainly true that a sufficient level of unproductive expenditure will offset any tendency for the rate profit to rise, simply because sufficient unproductive expenditure puts an end to accumulation. What one has to consider is whether this is a likely situation to occur, and under what circumstances. I think that something rather like it occurred in late Victorian Britain, and was related there to the bourgeoisie adopting the mode of life of the landed aristocracy - buying large country estates employing armies of servants etc. However this stage seems to have come to an end during the 20th century when accumulation resumed at a somewhat faster rate. There seem to have been a couple of factors that were influential in this: 1. The influence of government policy aimed at preventing mass unemployment - this was crucial after 1945 2. Possible influence of international competition stimulating the need for more industrial investment. My calculations showed that from the start of the 20th century the rate of accumulation out of surplus value rose. Any identification of causes here is inevitably speculative but I tended to think that it was competition with Germany and America that may have been relevant. However the effect of government policy on accumulation post 45 is only comprehensible as a consequence of the recession after 29. This in turn indicates that the luxury consumption of the rich was already an unstable basis for absorbing surplus value. I don't know if anyone has figures to show that luxury consumption fell at the end of the 20s? Of course one has to take into account the fact that several new industries were opening up to stimulate industrial accumulation in the 20s. If you turn to the US today, what is the percentage of surplus value that is accumulated and what is the percentage that is spent unproductively - have any of you US resident OPE-List people worked this out? ------------- Rakesh Why Andrew T thinks that has proven to be a greater source of problems for the capitalist system as a whole than periodic drops in profitability from rises in the OCC I have no idea; he certainly does not show that various phenomena can be traced to the problem that he isolates. So his theory does not have the consilience (to mis use Whewell's word) that Grossman's theory had. Paul I am at a disadvantage in not having seen Andrew's paper, but it looks to me as if he is merely drawing peoples attention to some old results from the 30's that are perhaps not as well known as they should be.
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