From: Paul Cockshott (wpc@DCS.GLA.AC.UK)
Date: Tue Dec 05 2006 - 18:00:42 EST
Ajit I see that I had misread you when I thought you said I would be unable to persuade capitalists that they got their profits from the exploitation of labour. You actually said I would be unable to persuade students - this is a hypothetical question of course, but given the figures you gave where labour was getting less than 1% of the output produced, then I think I would have no difficulty in persuading students that workers were exploited. __________________________ I think this is the most important theoretical sticking point for you. The point I'm trying to make is made by workers all over the world every day these days, i.e. the spector of "jobless growth". The capitalists do keep reinvesting their profits but the technical changes are taking place simultaneously and its nature is such that though the growth in total output are taking place but simultaneously either employment is stagnant or even declining. I'm just trying to work out the theoretical consequences of this scenario. In India the left is arguing for a move toward 'labor intensive' job creating technology or minimum employment guarantee etc. I wrote a short piece on this kind of scenario in EPW sometime ago (it came out on July 2, 2005). I attach the draft file for you. ________________ I have seen your paper, and it strikes me as similar to papers that were being written by people like Diane Elson in Britain 15 years ago. Then again we had people arguing that what we had was jobless growth, that capitalism was incapable of providing full employment and that the answer was to demand a basic state income. At the time I was very skeptical and wrote pamphlets arguing against this position. I was speaking at the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung 3 weeks back and was struck by the way many German Left economists were also saying the same thing today. I think these views are prompted by a particular conjunctural situation, one that Germany today and Britain under Thatcher shared. ( I don't know enough about the Indian economic conjuncture at the moment to comment on whether it shares traits with these periods ) My analysis of the unemployment which existed in the 1980s and early 90s in Britain was that its causes were not technological change, but a combination of monetary, fiscal and income distribution issues. I think the same factors are currently operating in Germany. I put the high level of unemployment down to : 1) Restrictive monetary policies which hindered capital accumulation. 2) An obsession with reducing the state budget deficit 3) A shift in the distribution of income from the working class towards the rentier class who have a lower propensity to consume What is the current share of accumulation in the Indian GDP? I was looking at China's statistics a few months ago and saw that their accumulation rate ran at 50% of gdp. Would employment in India not be rising rapidly were India experiencing similarly high rates of capital accumulation? > More generally though, I don't see why you think > that positing examples that are so far out of the > range of the normal is enlightening. The fact that > examples with these sort of ratios do not exist > indicates that there are dynamical laws which > prevent their occurrence. _____________________ That's the only way I know how to do theory. I think to think that there is a dynamical law that prevents the things that do not exist from occurring is to argue that whatever does not exist cannot exist--does not make sense to me. Cheers, ajit sinha __________________________________________________ I agree that one should be open to the possibility that circumstances may change. But on the other hand, all my experience as a Marxist economist since I started working in the area in the early 1970s has taught me that one always has to return to the empirical if one is not to be mislead by speculation. Every time I have carried out an empirical investigation it has taught me something new, something unexpected, and has resulted in a deepening of my theoretical understanding. Thus if we see certain regularities arising - such as the consistently narrow range of rates of surplus value shown in Zachariahs study: http://reality.gn.apc.org/econ/Zachariah_LabourValue.pdf One has to ask why this exists. The most plausible explanation is that there is some dynamic mechanism that keeps the rate of surplus value within certain relatively narrow bands. It is possible that it is all just chance, but the odds against it being just chance seem very high.
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