[OPE-L:1752] Re: Defining & understanding the accumulati

Paul Cockshott (wpc@cs.strath.ac.uk)
Fri, 12 Apr 1996 09:21:46 -0700

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>Yet, when we talk about the IRA, we shouldn't forget what Marx calls the
> "latent" part of it. This is something the normal unemployment figures
> never even make a stab at measuring.
The latent reserve refers, if I recall correctly, to the population in
subsistence relations who can be drawn into industry. This is a
historically transient
feature. In the UK it was essentially exhausted about 100 years ago.

The exhaustion of the latent reserve produced real social effects - it permited
the formation of a stable hereditary proletariat able to support general rather
than just craft unionism, and was the precondition for the rising social weight
of the working class during the first half of the century.

I'm also extremely suspicious about all claims of labor shortages.
Economically, even from a neoclassical perspective, such claims make
little sense. If you can't get the workers you "need," bosses, well,
Then, why don't you just raise wages and/or train some people. What?
It wouldn't be profitable? Ah.

This is to take the neo-classical model of elastic supply curves for

I would argue that if you have
i) a developed capitalist economy, with the latent reserve exhausted
ii) a significant portion of surplus value, say over 30% being accumulated
Then you will get labour shortages, simply because the working population
can not grow at the same exponential rate.

This does lead to rising wages, but by themselves rising wages do not add
more hours to the day. What does occur in concert, is the generalisation of
overtime working. This provides some degree of elasticity in the labour
supply. But significant increases in labour demand changes in social
relations -
in particular the progessive displacement of the patriarchal mode of
production in food preparation and child care with socialised production -
either socialist or capitalist.

To the extent that the accumulation of capital slackens and stagnates, labour
power ceases to be a scarce commodity and the economic necessity for the
displacement of patriarchal production diminishes.

>Claims of labor shortages are thus either
>(a) ideological attempts to get State policy to increase the IRA
>(b) thinly-veiled for State subsidies (e.g., to train the workers instead
> of the firms incurring the expense themselves).

Paul C
This is surely a bit strong!

If capital accumulates exponentially in modern capitalist countries
with only replacement or sub-replacement birth rates, then labour shortages must