Re: [OPE-L] the global labor force and capital accumulation

From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Mon Jan 16 2006 - 09:42:22 EST

Re: [OPE-L] the global labor force and capital accumulatio> But I would argue that the fundamental apologetic mistake Freeman 
> makes is to confuse the source of the present global oversupply of 
> labor vis a vis capital with its source in Malthus' time.


Perhaps, but neither we should not confuse the source(s) of the present 
over-supply of labour  power with the source(s) of the over-supply of 
available labour power  in the various historical periods that Grossman 
referred to.  There are some similarities but a large part of  the context 
that R. Freeman is talking about -- the dramatic increase in workers 
producing for international markets due to the entry of workers from the 
PRC and Russia (and other now independent nations that were once part 
of the USSR and many Eastern European nations) -- is quite different from 
that in the time of Malthus or Grossman.  

Whether one believes that the USSR, the PRC, etc. were socialist or state
capitalist,  it is clear that most workers in those nations were not producing
commodities for sale on international capitalist markets.  Of course, there
was some production for international markets which varied in different 'socialist'
nations and periods, but this was more in the form of  trade within 'socialist blocs' 
(e.g. trade between the USSR and COMECON nations) than a generalized 
production of commodities for sale in global capitalist markets.  Obviously, this 
development -- the 'freeing-up' of large amounts of workers from 'socialist' nations  
now employed by private capitalists for  export-led commodity production -- was 
something that Grossman could not have anticipated. (So I am not advancing a
criticism of Grossman; I am only noting a way in which the current period is

There are other disanalogies and analogies: even if one  accepts Grossman's 
argument,  one can not reasonably claim that the current transition "is a 
necessary and  constitutive element of capitalism."  Yet one might claim that 
this "can and should only be a transitory tendency".  OTOH,  the increase in 
the  quantity of workers employed by capital for the production of commodities
on global markets in India and some other less developed capitalist nations 
could be viewed as another concurrent tendency.  But, that tendency also has 
to be put in the context of other concurrent tendencies, e.g. the growth in 
the informal (petty commodity producing) sector in some of the same social
formations. This is important when thinking about the extent to which the
entry of new workers into the employed wage labor force changes  variable 

In solidarity, Jerry

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