Re: [OPE] free competition

From: <>
Date: Sun Apr 17 2011 - 08:25:10 EDT

I'm not sure I follow you. It seems to me that you recognize an objective
stage of 'competitive' capitalism prior to 'monopolistic' capitalism. What
you are then discussing is the ideology of 'free' competition growing out
of the 'competitive' stage of capitalism. If this is the case, I wouldn't
disagree with you. If not, then my following comments are valid, in part
repeating previous posts of mine.

>> I'm sorry, but there are several questions that your last posts suggest
>> to
>> me:
>> wouldn't it be necessary to make a distinction between commercial
>> monopolies, one of which was the South Sea Bubble, and industrial
>> monopolies, which could only have appeared after the Industrial
>> Revolution
>> and maybe only after the second ind rev of around the last quarter of
>> the
>> 19th century?
> Claus:
> Yes, that's a valid distinction. More important still from the perspective
> of
> the bourgeois champions of free competition is that the South Sea
> Company was a *monopoly which was created by the state*. Their call
> for free competition was especially an attack on the right of existence of
> those type of monopolies and hence also a challenge to the Crown.


If this is a valid distinction, if industrial monopoly capital only
appeared in the late 19th century, then this can legitimately be a part of
the characterization of imperialism as an objective stage in the
development of capitalism. This would also mean that industrial
monopolies, at least as the dominant form of industrial capital, would not
have existed prior to this time. If the structure of the industrial
markets was not monopolistic (or oligopolistic), it must have been of some
competitive kind; additionally, if industrial monopolies were not created
by the state, they must have been grounded on the objective, ie economic
control of markets by the industrialists, which can only be based on the
greater part of the market being supplied by one or a few capitals. This
seems to me to be a big difference from what can be called 'competitive'
markets, ie when individual industrial capitals are not centralized to the
point that allows them to control the markets.

>> And wouldn't it be necessary to take into account the
>> changes experienced by the joint stock companies, in their juridical
>> form,
>> from the first to the second of the mentioned historical periods? and
>> the
>> same in relation to the banks and the framework of the banking industry
>> and their relations to both commercial and industrial capital in both
>> periods? The same with respect to the colonial systems of the period of
>> the domination of commercial capital and that of industrial capital?
> Yes, all of that happened. But, that's where the difference lies: you
> refer
> above to actual historical trends whereas 'free competition' from its very
> beginning and conception was inherently ideological (and idealist) -
> it was an *ideal* to be aspired to from the standpoint of one section of
> the
> bourgeoisie.


As I understand it, you seem to agree with me in that some sort of
competitive capitalism before the late 19th century is an actual
historical fact. But in this case the ideology of 'free competition'
cannot be considered to be idealistic. It may have been an idealization of
actual competition, but not an ungrounded one.

>> Finally, I wonder what are the objective criteria you have in mind in
>> order to say that there was or that there wasn't free competition before
>> the changes of the late 19th century. It seems to me that one has to
>> consider that there are no pure situations, say a pure free competition
>> or
>> a pure monopolisation. Thus, is it possible to define degrees of
>> competition and of monopolisation that would allow to characterize the
>> two
>> periods?
> Yes, there are no pure situations, but that is a statement about reality.
> What you are not recognizing is what this expression meant to those who
> advocated it, its genesis, and the role that this concept played in
> bourgeois *ideology*.
> Capitalism was never even close to attaining the ideal of free
> competition.
> It was an ideal - similar to (but not quite the same as) 'perfect
> competition'.
> As for the 'objective criteria', there are only certain criteria which are
> relevant from the standpoint of the meaning of this expression - and they
> concern the government regulation or - as advocates of free competition
> prefer to say - 'interference' by the state in the process of competition
> by capitalist firms and firm-decision-making. The acts which I alluded to
> with reference to Britain comprise an objective body of evidence
> concerning
> these questions.


What I mean with 'objective criteria' does not refer to government
regulation, but to the degree of actual control of markets by industrial
capitals. If there is market regulation in order to prevent exaggerated
concentration of markets (ie monopolization), this means that the latter
objectively exists: the centralization of industrial capital is produced
by the economy, by the process of accumulation itself. What the state does
is to attempt to set limits to it. Thus I'm back to my point: there is a
structural stage which has been called imperialism (not by Lenin himself,
who simply accepted the name already in use) and which differs from the
previous stage of capitalist development. What Lenin did was an attempt to
identify the objective economic grounding of this stage in the process of
capitalist accumulation, and he has found it in the process of
centralization of capital (primarily industrial, followed by commercial
and banking capitals).


> In solidarity, Jerry
> _______________________________________________
> ope mailing list

ope mailing list
Received on Sun Apr 17 08:26:36 2011

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sat Apr 30 2011 - 00:00:04 EDT