Re: [OPE] Reply to Paul Zarembka on the law of capitalist competition

From: Paul Zarembka <>
Date: Sat Dec 13 2008 - 10:44:49 EST


Your reply is a long exegesis on Marx's CAPITAL but focusing upon the
competitive struggles among capitalists in which production and
appropriation of surplus value is the underlying factor. Thus, you arrive
at the following paragraph which I would suspect all or most on this list
already understand:

> If, therefore, we are to construct an adequate theory of capitalist
> competition and what it is really about, what it really turns on, Marx
> argues, we shouldn't go and look at all the exciting things which occur
> in the marketplace when seller A is inventively able to obtain more
> income from overselling or underselling a certain volume of his product,
> and buyer B is ingeniously able to obtain her product at a bargain.
> Rather we look at how the "factors of production" are combined and
> socially organised in the production process, which is the source of the
> new wealth available for distribution in markets. It turns out that the
> essence and power of capital is simply the claim on the surplus labour of
> others, this social relationship, and then the issue is then how this
> claim is asserted, maintained, and extended, in the first instance within
> the production process itself.

As you move onward, you finally write in your last sentence, "Then it turns
out, that the competition is no longer simply a competition between
businesses, but a competition between social classes, a conflict between
capitalist property and the labour that sustains it".

Thus, I come to realize that "competition" is an all inclusive word for you
incorporating both the individualist struggles among capitalists as well as
the class struggle. As the same time, the production of absolute surplus
value, the production of relative surplus value, and the accumulation of
capital (as well as primitive accumulation) have disappeared, or been set
aside. In other words, you jump from Part I of Volume I, past the rest of
Volume I, past Volume II, to Part I of Volume III.

You arrive at the concept of surplus value, but you don't go anywhere with
it. Marx, on the other hand, when he gets to the production of relative
surplus value, says in Chp. 12 of Volume I:

  "It is not our intention to consider, here, the way in which the laws,
immanent in capitalist production, manifest themselves in the movements of
individual masses of capital, where they assert themselves as coercive laws
of competition, and are brought home to the mind and consciousness of the
individual capitalist as the directing motives of his operations."

He makes this remark because he wants to drive to a deeper theoretical
understanding of capitalist social relations of production in which a focus
on "competition" would otherwise become a diversion.

Paul Z.

(Vol.23) THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF 9-11 Seven Stories Press soft, 2nd ed. 2008
(Vol.24) TRANSITIONS IN LATIN AMERICA ~~~Research in Political Economy~~~

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Received on Sat Dec 13 10:46:16 2008

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