(OPE-L) Re: / Andrew T on Marx, Luxemburg and Grossman

From: Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM
Date: Mon Nov 01 2004 - 08:57:19 EST

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 C has answered your post suggesting some historical reasons
why the rate of unproductive consumption of surplus value hasn't been
higher.  I'll try a different tack focusing on basic theory.

To think that the capitalist class can get together and decide to
increase unproductive consumption, in the form of increasing
expenditures on luxury goods,  for their mutual benefit presumes
that capitalists by an *act of will* can put aside capitalist competition.
While the "law of Moses and the Prophets" suggested by Marx in
Volume I simply asserts that it is in the nature of capitalists to
accumulate and not to waste surplus value by diverting it from
conversion into capital (i.e. it is a consequence of the assumption
that they are wearing "character masks" and are "capital personified"),
it is -- at a greater level of concretion -- the *force of competition* that
*compels*  individual capitalists to reinvest s at the highest possible
rate.  Indeed, one could argue that a dynamic theory of capitalism
in which technological change takes places requires that s be
reinvested at an expanded rate.

While capitalists haven't by an act of will put aside competition and
decided to increase unproductive consumption of s in the form of
increasing expenditures on luxury goods, it _is_ the case
that individual capitalists _acting individually_ to increase their
_individual_ profit margins have increased unproductive
expenditures in many areas, e.g. in increased funding for
advertising, so that they can capture a greater percentage
of the aggregate s.  And it is the case that the state has
taken from capitalists a greater percentage of the total s to use in
its budget, e.g. on arms expenditures so that the benefits of
imperialism can be maintained and extended and thereby a
greater percentage of value, s, and wealth can flow back to
capital from an individual capitalist social formation.

In solidarity, Jerry

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