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Saad-Filho A Capital Accumulation and the Composition of Capital

Saad-Filho A Capital Accumulation and the Composition of Capital

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Published by kmbence83
This paper reviews the Marxian concept of capital accumulation in the light
of Paul Zarembka's (2000) recent contribution, taking into consideration
the concepts of competition and composition of capital. It shows that
accumulation is best understood through a class analysis. However, the
capital relation is influential at different levels and it encompasses a broad
range of features of modern society. In this context, this paper proposes a
richer and more encompassing analysis of accumulation.
This paper reviews the Marxian concept of capital accumulation in the light
of Paul Zarembka's (2000) recent contribution, taking into consideration
the concepts of competition and composition of capital. It shows that
accumulation is best understood through a class analysis. However, the
capital relation is influential at different levels and it encompasses a broad
range of features of modern society. In this context, this paper proposes a
richer and more encompassing analysis of accumulation.

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Published by: kmbence83 on Aug 13, 2009
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CAPITAL ACCUMULATION AND THECOMPOSITION OF CAPITAL
Alfredo Saad-FilhoABSTRACT
This paper reviews the Marxian concept of capital accumulation in the lightof Paul Zarembka's (2000) recent contribution, taking into considerationthe concepts of competition and composition of capital. It shows thataccumulation is best understood through a class analysis. However, thecapital relation is influential at different levels and it encompasses a broadrange of features of modern society. In this context, this paper proposes aricher and more encompassing analysis of accumulation.
In the latest issue of
Research in Political Economy,
Paul Zarembka (2000)published an important contribution to the analysis of capital accumulation. Inhis article, Zarembka shows the potential ambiguities in Marx's texts, discussestheir implications, and reviews the debates between Lenin, Bukharin,Luxemburg, Grossman and others. 1 The full implications of Zarembka's articlecannot be pursued here. In what follows, I offer a modest contribution to hisanalysis, incorporating a more detailed analysis of the composition of capitaland a broader understanding of accumulation.
The
composition of capital (including the technical, organic and valuecompositions, or
TCC, OCC
and VCC) is highly important for Marx, and itplays an important role at several stages in his analysis. For example, the
OCCMarx's
Capital
and Capitalism; Markets in a Socialist Alternative,Research in Political Economy, Volume 19, pages 69--85.Copyright © 2001 by Elsevier Science Ltd.All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.ISBN: 0-7623-0838-9
69
 
70 ALFREDO SAAD-FILHOis famously the pivot of the transformation problem and the tendency of therate of profit to fall,2 and it plays a critical role in Marx's theory of rent, 3 andin his analysis of technical change and capital accumulation (see below). Inspite of the importance of this concept, the composition of capital has oftenbeen explained cursorily and understood only superficially and incorrectly inmost of the literature.This article shows that a clearer understanding of the composition of capitalcan help to substantiate and contextualise some of Zarembka's claims, andcontribute to the development of Marx's theory of value, exploitation and capitalaccumulation. The argument is developed in four sections. The first brieflyreviews the Marxian concepts of capital and exploitation. The second explainsthe meaning and significance of the TCC, OCC and VCC in the simplest (static)case, for heuristic purposes, and in the dynamic context, more relevant for ourpurposes. The third analyses in more detail the relationship between capitalaccumulation and changes in the technical, organic and value compositionsof capital. The fourth section summarises the argument and draws briefconclusions.I. CAPITAL AND EXPLOITATION
LA. Capital and Wage Labour
For Marx, capital is a social relation between two classes, capitalists andworkers. This relation is established when the means of production are monop-olised by the capitalists, that employ wage workers in production for profit.Once this class relation of production is posited, capital exists in and throughthings, namely, the means of production, commodities, money and financialassets employed in the process of valorisation:
Capital is not a
thing,
any more than money is a
thing.
In capital, as in money, certain
specific social relations of production between people
appear as
relations of things to people,
or else certain social relations appear as the
natural properties of things in society ...
Capital and wage-labour.., only express two aspects of the self-same relationship. Moneycannot become capital unless it is exchanged for labour-power ... Conversely, work canonly be wage-labour when its
own
material conditions confront it as autonomous powers,alien property, value existing for itself and maintaining itself, in short as capital ...Wage-labour is then a necessary condition for the formation of capital and remains theessential prerequisite of capitalist production
(Capital, 1,
pp. 1005-1006). 4
There is a relationship of mutual implication between capitalism (the modeof social production), wage labour (the form of social labour), and thecommodity (the typical form of the output):
 
Capital Accumulation and the Composition of Capital
71[The] relation between generalised commodity production [GCP] ... wage labor andcapitalist production is one of reciprocal implication. First... when labor becomes wagelabor ... commodity production is generalised. On the one hand wage labor implies GCP
..
On the other hand, GCP implies wage labor•.. Marx shows.., that capitalist productionis commodity production as the general form of production while, at the same time,emphasizing that it is only on the basis of the capitalist mode of production that all or eventhe majority of products of labor assume commodity form... Finally, the relation of wagelabor and capital is also one of reciprocal implication for Marx. Capital is a productionrelation between the immediate producers and their conditions of production which, separatedfrom them and passing under the control of non (immediate) producers, dominate them ascapital... [T]he rest of the features of capitalism could be seen as the necessary resultantsfollowing from any one of these essentially equivalent central categories (Chattopadhyay,1994, pp. 17-18).As a totality engaged in self-expansion through the employment of wage labour,capital is primarily
capital in general.
This is the general form of capital. 5Capital in general can be represented by the circuit of industrial capital,M-C-M', where M and M' are sums of money-capital and C represents theinputs, including labour power and means of production; the difference betweenM' and M is the surplus value.The circuit of industrial capital represents the essence of capital, valorisationthrough the production of commodities by wage labour. However, capitalproduces not only surplus value; at the social level, the outcome of the circuitis the
expanded reproduction
of capital or, following from the concept of capital,the renewal of the separation between capitalists and wage workers. For thisreason, Marx claimed that 'Accumulation of capital is... multiplication of theproletariat'
(Capital,
1, p. 764). In other words,The capitalist process of production.., seen as a total, connected process, i.e. a process ofreproduction, produces not only commodities, not only surplus-value, but it also producesand reproduces the capital-relation itself; on the one hand the capitalist, on the other thewage-labourer
(Capital,
1, p. 724)•
LB. Exploitation
The capital relation implies that the means of production have been monopo-lised by a relatively small number of people. In contrast, the majority is forcedto sell their labour power in order to purchase commodities that, as a class,they have produced previously (see
Theories of Surplus Value, 3,
pp. 490--491).Therefore, capital is a
class relation of exploitation,
which allows capitalists tolive off the surplus value extracted from the working class:Capitalism, and hence capital, requires a lot more by way of the social than private propertyand the market ... What it does depend upon is wage labour, able and willing to produce

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