[OPE-L:3320] Re: labour-power shortages and Martians

Gerald Lev (glevy@pratt.edu)
Tue, 8 Oct 1996 10:39:46 -0700 (PDT)

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I promised a response to Paul C's [OPE-L:3261] after he clarified the
families question (see #3301):

> The agricultural population existing
> under pre-capitalist economic relations constitues the latent reserve army
> of labour for capitalism. The migration from the countryside to the
> cities is a process of bringing this population under capitalist
> relations. Once this is done, we see the removal of the external labour
> supply upon which the expansion of variable capital had been dependent.

What about the *demand* for labour-power?

We have certainly seen both as a long-term process and as a relatively
recent process, the migration of agricultural producers to cities.

This by itself, however, need not lead to increased employment of variable

For instance, in many developing capitalist nations (especially in Latin
America) in the last 20 years, we have seen a flood of agricultural
producers moving to cities in search of jobs and as a consequence of the
crisis in the countryside. Yet, what happens when they get to the cities?
Very frequently they obtain employment outside of capitalist relations as
petty-commodity producers (part of the so-called "informal sector").

> The net consequence is that accumulation of capital must now take two
> forms:
> a. Accumulation of variable capital takes the form of rises in the
> wage rate, with consequent declines in the rate of profit.

See above.

> or
> b. Accumulation takes the form of growth of constant capital, which, being
> unaccompanied by a growth in surplus value must also depress the
> rate of profit.


In Solidarity,