[OPE-L:6363] RE: Rates of Profit?

=?iso-8859-1?Q?Abelardo_Mari=F1a_Flores?= (abmf@hp9000a1.uam.mx)
Fri, 27 Mar 1998 13:09:52 -0600

1. I agree with Chris Arthur's distinction between the 'general rate of profit' and the 'average rate of profit'. In my opinion, although both are 'numerically' identical, conceptually they express two qualitatively different notions and are situated in two different levels of abstraction. The 'general' rate of profit has an objective content that is independent of competition ; it is a determination of capital in general. The 'average rate of profit', as an objective reality (not as a mathematical exercise), is the tendencial result of competition ; it is a determination of the many capitals.
2. I also agree with Arthur when he asserts that competition is constrained by the general rate of profit. This would mean that the tendency to the equalization of the individual rates of profit, determined by the interaction of intersectorial and intrasectorial magnitudes, operates within a general background, determined by social magnitudes.
I don't think that competition ever makes the general rate visible inasmuch as the tendency towards the equalization of individual profit rates develops always through its own negation, that is through the permanent differentiation of individual profit rates. This happens because it is simultaneously truth that individual capitals are 'share-holders' of a 'global enterprise' and, as such, are 'brothers' (therefore, the 'justification' of the tendency towards equalization), and 'enemies' that confront one another (which explains the permanente 'rebellion' against the 'justice' represented by the equalization and, therefore, the endless reproduction of heterogeneous individual profit rates). In this sense, I think that the two approaches Arthur proposes do not exclude each other. The reality of capitalism is twofold. Capitals certainly are "fully individual beings" who try to maximize their individual profit rates, who fight and try to destroy one another, who migrate between se!
ctors, etc. But, at the same time, capital in general really exists, confronting as a class against the working class, delimiting "national" spaces of accumulation, supporting the conformation of States, confronting with other States, etc. In this sense the 'average' rate of profit which individual capitals incessantly tend to approach (but which they actually never can reach) is their 'general' rate of profit which they all contribute to conform and which determines the conditions of their competition, although it does not have an 'empirical' existence.
3. I agree that a necessary condition for the tendencial equalisation of individual profit rates is the *mobility of capital and labor*. Now, although the development of the capitalist mode of production promotes such mobility, it also generates specifically capitalist barriers to its full achievement (associated to capital concentration and centralization). Therefore, the equalization remains as a tendency and is *never secured*.
Abelardo Marina-Flores