Re: [OPE-L] glossary for V1 of _Capital

From: Dave Zachariah (davez@KTH.SE)
Date: Wed Jan 09 2008 - 17:49:40 EST

I am not criticizing Marx; I have no objections to the quote that Howard 
gave. My only point was to force the terminology to be more precise: If 
one claims that "capital is a relation" then what precisely, if 
anything, does "accumulation" mean?

Depending on the use of "capital" it can mean the growth of

   1. a certain quantity of money.
   2. the means of production.
   3. a relation.

(1) is very superficial. For instance, a growth in debt of one agent to 
another would constitute accumulation of capital. It is possible to 
quantify, but as Paul C mentions it is a slippery concept.

(2) may at first seem problematic because it is a heterogeneous 
collection of goods, i.e. a vector, but this is not a problem if one 
measures its total labour-value. Note, however, that a socialist economy 
would also "accumulate capital" in this sense. Therefore, as Ian 
mentions, it is important to distinguish (1) and (2) as "money-capital" 
and "real capital" respectively.

(3) I found ambiguous and tried to answer using set theory, which 
essentially means a growth in the workforce employed by capitalist 
firms. It seems like Paul Z had a similar use in mind. This is 
quantifiable too and in is the long-run bounded by population dynamics.

Finally, in an article Paul Z also suggests that capital should be 
measured by the rate of exploitation, but this is hard to claim to be an 
accumulation of some quantity.

//Dave Z

on 2008-01-09 18:54 Dogan Goecmen wrote:
> Dave, we seem to need some clarifications here.
> Marx defines capital explicitly as relation because isolated approach 
> would not make any sense.
> So for example an approach to capital without considering labour would 
> not make any sense.
> If you are arguing against Marx's conception of capital please make it 
> explicit so we know how to
> approach your claims. Methodologically, relational approach goes back 
> to Leibniz, Smith, Hegel and Marx - not to Descartes.
> Dogan
> -----Ursprüngliche Mitteilung-----
> Von: Dave Zachariah <davez@KTH.SE>
> Verschickt: Mi., 9. Jan. 2008, 18:40
> Thema: Re: [OPE-L] glossary for V1 of _Capital
> on 2008-01-09 15:53 Paul Zarembka wrote: 
> > I don't think so but I suppose this is clear enough from my messages. 
> > Paul 
> > 
> > --On 1/9/2008 3:23 PM +0100 Dave Zachariah wrote: 
> > 
> >> But if one says that capital *is* a relation, then "capital 
> >> accumulation" 
> >> --- by definition a quantitative process --- loses its meaning and 
> >> Marxist 
> >> economic theory will be obscured. 
> >> 
> Ok, I know you disagree. But then if capital is by itself a relation, 
> what does it mean to "accumulate relations"? Can an agent do so or only 
> the economic system? 
> Relations are subsets of cartesian products between sets of agents. Then 
> according to the argument above, "capital accumulation" suggests that 
> the cardinality of relation (set) that constitutes capital is increasing. 
> //Dave Z 
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