[OPE-L:1424] Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: bacon and eltis and Smith

Claus Germer (cmgermer@sociais.ufpr.br)
Tue, 5 Oct 1999 18:47:20 -0300

Paul Cockshott:
> I think that Smith is onto something very significant here. He was
> concerned with
> wealth and its accumulation, and wealth has to be incorporated in
> objects. Capital can only accumulate as forms of matter, so that unless
> produces transformed matter which persists beyond the moment of its
> performance it can not contribute to accumulation.

> I think we have to be clear what we mean by the accumulation of value,
> I suspect that you identify this with the accumulation of money in bank
> accounts. I would identify it with the accumulation of commodities,
> gold money but excluding credit money. As such, this accumulation is
> always a physical accumulation, though denominated in terms of the labour
> required to produce it.

Claus: I understand that you are not talking strictly about Smith's
interpretation. In terms of Marx's theory, money being the *abstract form
of value*, i.e., representing value independent from its natural form, the
way has been opened for accumulation to proceed in its abstract or general
form. Thus, the advent of money has liberated the process of accumulation
of wealth from the need to accumulate it in its varied natural forms.
Hence, in capitalism the accumulation of wealth cannot be thought of as
restricted by the physical form of the use values produced by capital.

If it were true that *capital can only accumulate as forms of matter*,
there could not be capital in sectors that produce some of the so called
services, f.i. teaching in private schools, transportation, etc.
Considering that capital is not a thing, but designates the relation
between dead labor (i.e. means of production used to extract living labor)
and living labor, accumulating capital means accumulating that relation,
which occurs within the so called sphere of production, where productive
capital resides (i.e. means of production and living labor). What
productive capital produces is unpaid labor, which is realised with the
sale of the commodity produced, be the later material or immaterial, long
lasting or consumed at the moment of its performance. The producer doesn't
have to care about what happens to the commodity he produces, because what
he receives is the unpaid labor contained in the commodity sold in the form
of abstract wealth, i.e. value, i.e. money.

The accumulation of gold money should be called hoarding, not accumulation,
and hoarding is how the accumulation of wealth in its abstract form occurs
in a non-capitalist market economy. In capitalism the accumulation of
wealth in abstract form is a process, not an isolated act, is only
accumulation of capital, accumulation of productive capital as above, i.e.,
value in process.

On the other hand, accumulation of banking accounts from the point of view
of capital - which is the correct one for the scientific understanding - is
neither acumulation nor hoarding, it is either loan capital as such or it
represents the inevitable reserves of money capital that appear along the
process of reproduction of industrial capital which the banking system
redistributes to other capitalists. It is temporarily loan capital. Thus
the banking system is precisely the one that prevents money capital from
being sterelized as hoarding. Accumulation of money or forms of credit
money cannot be termed accumulation, they only represent moments of the
accumulation of capital.

Thus, accumulation of value in capitalism is neither accumulation of
use-values nor accumulation of money, whatever its form.

> I dont think that this is right. I think that the labour that goes into
> education
> is productive of surplus value in the economy as a whole by virtue of its

> effect
> in raising labour productivity in the economy as a whole. This effect is
> present
> whether or not the teaching is done by state or private schools.

Couldn't you say, by the same token, that improved machines are productive
because they raise the productivity of labour in terms of surplus value
while they are of restricted use in each sector? The work of the preacher
who convinces the workers that the more they suffer, the more they approach
heaven, would be productive as well, because it enhances the efforts of the
workers. The work of the merchant, whose activity reduces the circulation
time of capital would also be productive, and so on. Restricting your
statement to the *economy as a whole*, i.e., not with reference to an
individual capital, reflection may show us that capital organizes the
social system as a whole in the way to best fit its objetive - to
accumulate -, and in this sense we would find that every activity could be
considered productive.

Claus Germer
Departamento de Economia
Universidade Federal do Paraná
Rua Dr. Faivre, 405 - 3º andar
80060-140 Curitiba - Paraná

Tel: (041) 360-5214 - Ufpr
       (041) 254-3415 Res.

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