[OPE-L:1650] Re: Defining & understanding the accumulation of capital

Paul Zarembka (ecopaulz@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu)
Sun, 31 Mar 1996 06:38:24 -0800

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On Sat, 30 Mar 1996 glevy@acnet.pratt.edu wrote:

> Paul Z: I'm not sure what you are getting at. It would help me if you
> could either give examples of writers who from your perspective
> inaccurately use the expression "accumulation of capital" or evaluate the
> entries by Ben Fine in Tom Bottomore ed. _A Dictionary of Marxist Thought_
> (1st edition, Cambridge, US, Harvard University Press, 1983 pp. 3-4) or
> James Russell in the _Marx-Engels Dictionary_ (Westport, CT, Greenwood
> Press, 1980, pp. 4-5).

In my view almost all Marxists use the term "accumulation of capital"
casually and pretty close in meaning to simply "capitalism", except that
when "accumulation of capital" is written it is supposed to carry some
kind of theortical charge to it. Ben Fine's definition in the Bottomore
dictionary is just one more example. If one reads it carefully, an
actual definition of accumulation does NOT come out and he winds up
talking about almost of of Capital Volumes 1, 2, and 3 in two pages.

Fine writes "the essence of capital [is] that it must be accumulated..."...
"Initially, accumulation takes place through the transformation of the
relations of production....accumulation is necessary to guarantee an
expansion of te workforce, to provide it with raw materials and allow for
economics of scale in the supervision of labor"..."For machinery and
machinofacture, accumulation proves for the necessary fixed capital and
expnded use of raw materials and labor associated with it."
"Accumulation is not, however, simply a relationship between the
production and capitalization of surplus value." Etc.

So what is accumulation? For him, it is everything and therefore (in my
view) nothing.

And he also makes a mistake when he states that "While the object of
accumulation of capital is productivity increase...". This is exactly a
neoclassical conception of "accumulation of [its use of the word] capital."

In this posting, I do not include a definition. First the existence
of a problem needs to be recognized.

Paul Z.