[OPE-L:1789] Re: Accumulation of capital in Ch. 24 & 25

Paul Zarembka (ecopaulz@ubvms.cc.buffalo.edu)
Sun, 14 Apr 1996 17:32:52 -0700

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Jerry asks:

> A question:
> Holding constant the division of surplus value into capital and revenue,
> if the additional capital is productively invested in more constant
> capital, but the amount of variable capital and the amount of laborers
> remains the same, will accumulation result?

Marx writes that s.v. is used for BOTH more v and more c (apart from the
portion going to revenue). Why? because the basis of capitalist
exploitation is precisely paying workers less that the value they
produce and more workers provide more surplus. No further exploitation is
gained by using all of s.v. for c only unless it changes s/v--but then we
are in production of relative surplus value, not accumulation of capital.

> > 4) Chapter 25 (p. 763 and p. 575)--the beginning of this chapter
> > 5) Chapter 25, (p. 764 and p. 576):
> OK, I'm willing to move on to Ch. 25 if you want to. Both of the quotes
> come from Section 1 which is titled: "A Growing Demand for Labour-Power
> accompanies accumulation *IF* the composition of capital remains the same"
> (Penguin ed., p. 762, emphasis added, JL).

I'm wasn't proposing moving on to Ch. 25, except insofar as the beginning
is a summary of the prior Ch. Anyway, the Progress Publishers edition
does not use the translation "IF" but says "The Increased Demand for
Labor-Power that Accompanies Accumulation, The Composition of Capital
Remaining the Same". The German reads "Wachsende Nachfrage nach
Arbeitskraft mit der Accumulation, bei gleichbleibender Zusammensetzung
des Kapitals". "Bei" is better translated as "with" than "if", but I don't
want to get hung-up on this.

> Section 2 is titled: "A Relative Diminution of the Variable Part of
> Capital Occurs in the Course of the Further Progress of Accumulation and
> of the Concentration that Accompanies it" (Ibid, p. 772).

Note the word "Relative" as an adjective to Diminution. Marx is not
saying that v is constant or goes down, but rather that v/c goes down or
c/v goes up.

The bottom line is that capitalism is a relation of exploitation by
capital over wage-labor and more surplus-value comes from production of
absolute surplus value, relative surplus value, and/or accumulation (more
workers exploited). In my view, economists are trained to think of
accumulation of capital as more machinery (somehow) and its difficult to
get completely rid of that concept when reading Marx. I suspect that if
we were to go back to early Marx we would find this usage there. By
the time Marx wrote Capital he had that conception basically behind him.
However, I haven't researched this presumption of mine.

Paul Z.