[OPE-L:3364] RE: accumulation of capital revisited

andrew kliman (Andrew_Kliman@msn.com)
Fri, 11 Oct 1996 14:45:27 -0700 (PDT)

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A reply to Jerry's ope-l 3345.

Jerry: "Under capitalism, there is wage-slavery, not slavery."

Would you say US prisons today are "under capitalism"?

Jerry: "It is the presence and threat of unemployment itself that means that
capital does not need a whip. The 'whip' is the threat of unemployment."

Then why have supervisors over workers at all? Not to mention machines.

Jerry: "The freedom and coercion of the marketplace is an essential
characteristic that defines social relations under capitalism."

How do you propose to test this assertion?

Jerry: "Let's begin with the following question: why do you consider
supervisory/management costs (e.g. administrative costs, guards salaries) to
be 'all constant capital'?

"These are deductions from surplus value, are they not?

"In the case of state employees, they should be paid for out of state revenues
-- right?"

They are constant capital because they are necessary to set value and
surplus-value producing labor in motion. They are either financed out of the
constant capital component of the value of output or *past* surplus-value, in
the case of expansion or net rise in prices, just like machines and materials.
State employees are directly paid from state revenues, but state revenues
come from taxes and borrowing, mostly. So the question is where the taxes
come from and what they represent. In the case of the above items, and a lot
more, they are coming from the capitalists. To see this, simply ask who would
foot the bill to maintain "social order" in the absence of the State.

It doesn't ever matter who pays directly or what fund they take it from. Who
ultimately bears the cost, and the function the expenditure plays are what
matters. From the vantage point of a department store, for instance, their
purchases of the stuff they sell, the wages (> 0!) they pay, the cost of
supplies, advertising, etc., all seem to be capital outlays, definitely not
profit. But this is all really a deduction from profit (s-v).

Jerry: "It seems to me that it is consistent both with Marx's methodology and
his plans to first consider capital *before* analyzing the state. It's not a
question of realism -- it's a methodological principle of moving from the
simple and abstract to the complex and concrete methodically in 'stages'."

Forget the State for the moment. What about models in which R = 0. Not only
is it unrealistic, it is impossible under capitalism and, according to you,
that should make it impossible to analyze capitalism when this assumption is
invoked. Right? So I'd like you please to start giving everyone a hard time
who ever assumed, explicitly or implicitly, that R = 0.

Jerry: "Money and competition are more abstract categories (in terms of when
they are *first* introduced) than the armaments-producing sector, etc."

This begs the question. You are presupposing what you need to prove, namely
that Marx moves from abstract to concrete. Besides, all of this is irrelevant
to the issue of models that represent capitalism. Requiring that a model
include the object of the lower stages but not the objects of higher stages
doesn't allow one adequately to represent the operation of capitalism. Can
you represent capitalism adequately by having models with commodities but no
money? Commodities and money but no capital? Capital but no labor-power?
Labor-power but no production? Etc.

Andrew Kliman