From: Michael Williams (michaelj.williams@TISCALI.CO.UK)
Date: Wed Nov 05 2003 - 17:03:03 EST
PaulC wrote I would like to distinguish between the accumulation of accounting claims and the accumulation of capital proper. An accumulation of money is simply an accounting operation, it indicates that there is a growth of credit and debit entries in the accounts held by the banking system. By itself this involves no accumulation of value. This can be seen for several reasons: 1. At an intuitive level one can see that it is merely an accounting entry and does not represent 'real' wealth that can be used. 2. At a purely accounting level, the process of the growth of money here involves strictly balancing debit and credit entries so that it is a zero-sum game when taken accross the banking system as a whole. 3. The artificiality of such claims to value is demonstrated by the phenomenon of inflation. 4. At a definitional level, value is defined by Marx and Smith in terms of embodied labour, and such accounting entries have no particular relation to embodied labour. In principle capital can accumulate as gold, but that is a physical object, requiring labour to produce it. Accumulation as gold is in principle no different from accumulating as any other semi-finished product. [MJW] But this seems to me just to be a response to my perhaps too truncated point. Expanding a bit: capital accumulation is in principle indifferent as to the use-values in the production of which it is invested.This indifference is manifest in capital in the money form. Clearly I am not disputing that Smith and Marx made a distinction between productive and unproductive wage labour. I am rather probing the sustainabilty and insightfulness of that putative distinction Mike: but capital as such is not tied to particular use-value productions, but flows around in pursuit of profitable sectors in which to invest. Paul This is a metaphor. What is really happening here? Are you talking about purchases and sales of stocks and shares or are you talking about accumulation of real capital assets? If it is real capital assests, these require the expenditure of labour to obtain them. In which case the 'flow of capital' is just a mystified reflection of the movement of productive workers from one sort of activity to another. When 'capital flowed into Railways', what actually happended behind the appearance was that hundreds of thousands of workers started building railways under the direction of the railway barons. [MJW] yeah - and when smaller amounts of capital flow into Group 4 (etc) a number of workers start producing security services. When capital flows into banking, many (more) workers start producing intermediation and other financial services. So where's the relevant difference?
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