From: Jerry Levy (Gerald_A_Levy@MSN.COM)
Date: Thu Feb 16 2006 - 09:13:31 EST
> Mmm.... I don't see the Marx quote as pointing to a spatial > dimension: I took his formulation more metaphorically. The entry > under centralization and concentration in Bottomore's Dictionary of > Marxist Thought [written by Anwar Shaikh, JL] makes an intriguing > link, arguing that concentration represents labor process aspect -- > the growth of mass of means of production facing a worker in the > labor process; and that centralization represents the valorization > process aspect -- the growing portion of social wealth qua capital > concentrated in the hands of any given capitalist. The former grows > by accumulation, the latter by competition and credit. Hi Paul A, Well, of course, I could be mistaken but I have some comments/ questions about the distinction suggested above: o The concentration and centralization of capital are first introduced by Marx in Volume 1 of _Capital_. If centralization is to be distinguished by its association with competition and credit, why was it introduced at a level of abstraction where these subjects were not explored? Indeed, not only does Marx refer to the centralization of capital in Volume 1 but he goes out of his way to refer to "centralization proper" (more below on this). o There is a bit more ambiguity to the distinction suggested than appears above since Anu also, in the same paragraph (I'm referring to the 1st edition here) suggested that centralization of capital was a *form of concentration* ("... and the process of increasing concentration through competition and credit, which he calls the *centralization of capital*" [emphasis in original]). o The growth of capital in the hands of an individual capitalist is not _only_ tied to the process of competition and credit, it is _also_ tied to the character of the labor process. o Regarding the quotation from Volume 1 (reproduced below) on "centralization proper, as distinct from accumulation and concentration": * Rather than reading the passage "metaphorically", the word "proper" suggests that it should be read *literally*. Put within the context of other times when he uses this word, I think it is basically synonymous with saying "strictly speaking". * The *spatial* dimension of centralization is clearly emphasized: indeed, in one sentence below he mentions "place" twice. * It is also clear that he is referring to *mass*. o What I have been referring to as the centralization of capital nowhere shows up in statistics on concentration. On the other hand, what is described above as centralization is measured as concentration, especially _market_ concentration. Confusing, eh? o Mergers and acquisitions do _not_ increase the concentration of capital -- if we follow the distinction above. This runs counter to the normal way in which concentration is understood. o If we emphasize the association between centralization of capital and _place_ we can comprehend why it was introduced at the level of abstraction of Volume 1. The centralization of capital, the amassing of capital in one place (or more broadly, the increasing mass of capital in a diminishing number of places), is a consequence of "modern industry", a subject that was explored in Vol. 1, Ch. 15. o On the other hand, if you want to use the above distinction to answer your original question then you could use changes in the _quantity of mergers and acquisitions_ as an indication of changes in the centralization of capital. These statistics are readily available. But, the Shaikh definition of centralization of capital does not really accord with the definition you gave before (also reproduced below) so I don't think those statistics would give you the information you are looking for. You would be better off looking for statistics on _concentration within an economy_ (rather than market concentration statistics). Does anyone else on the list have any thoughts about this distinction between the centralization of capital and the concentration of capital? In solidarity, Jerry [PA] > Perhaps I've got it wrong, but I had understood that > centralization referred to the trend to a smaller number of > capitalist controlling a larger proportion of society's total capital > resources, and concentration referred to the growing mass of capital > focused on any given sphere of activity. [KM] > "Capital grows in one place to a huge mass in a single hand, because > it has been lost in another place by many. This is centralization >proper, as distinct from accumulation and concentration."
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