Sunday, November 27, 2011

Capital: Volume 1, Chapter 25 by Karl Marx

Chapter 25: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation

- A growing demand for labour-power accompanies accumulation if the composition of capital remains the same

  1. "I call the value-composition of capital ['the mass of the means of production'], in so far as it is determined by its technical composition [necessary labour for employment of the means of production] and mirrors the changes in the latter, the organic composition of capital." - 762
  2. "The reproduction of labour-power which must incessantly be re-incorporated into capital as its means of valorization, which cannot get free of capital, and whose enslavement to capital is only concealed by the variety of the individual capitalists to who it sells itself, forms, in fact, a factor in the reproduction of capital itself. Accumulation of capital is therefore multiplication of the proletariat." - 763-4, emphasis mine
  3. Bernard de Mandeville, The Fable of the Bees, "it is the interest of all rich nations, that the greatest part of the poor should almost never be idle, and yet continually spend what they is manifest, that, in a free nation, where slaves are not allowed of, the surest wealth consists in a multitude of laborious poor;...To make the society happy and people easier under the meanest circumstances, it is requisite that great numbers of them should be ignorant as well as poor; knowledge both enlarges and multiplies our desires, and the fewer things a man wishes for, the more easily his necessities are supplied." - 765
  4. "Just as man is governed, in religion, by the products of his own brain, so, in capitalist production, he is governed by the products of his own hand." - 772
- A relative diminution of the variable part of capital occurs in the course of the further progress of accumulation and of the concentration accompanying it
  1. accumulation increases as constant capital increases and variable capital decreases - 774
  2. "Capital grows to a huge mass in a single hand in one place, because it has been lost by many in another place. This is centralization proper, as distinct from accumulation and concentration." - 777
- The progressive production of a relative surplus population or industrial reserve army
  1. "With the growth of the total capital, its variable constituent, the labour incorporated in it, does admittedly increase, but in a constantly diminishing fact it is capitalist accumulation itself that constantly produces, and produces indeed in direct relation with its own energy and extent, a relatively redundant working population, i.e. a population which is superfluous to capital's average requirements for its own valorization, and is therefore  a superfluous population." - 782
  2. "The working population therefore produces both the accumulation of capital and the means by which it is itself made relatively superfluous; and it does this to an extent which is always increasing." - 783
  3. "there must be the possibility of suddenly throwing great masses of men into the decisive areas without doing any damage to the scale of production in other spheres. The surplus population supplies these masses." - 785
  4. "The condemnation of one part of the working class to enforced idleness by the overwork of the other part, and vice versa, becomes a means of enriching the individual capitalists" - 789
- Different forms of existence of the relative surplus population. The general law of capitalist accumulation
  1. "The greater the social wealth, the functioning capital, the extent and energy of its growth, and therefore also the greater the absolute mass of the proletariat and the productivity of its labour, the greater is the industrial reserve army...The relative mass of the industrial reserve army thus increases with the potential energy of wealth...This is the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation." - 798
  2. Ortes, 18th century Venetian monk, "In the economy of a nation, advantages and evils always balance each other:...the abundance of wealth with some people is always equal to the lack of wealth with others...The great riches of a small number are always accompanied by the absolute deprivation of the essential necessities of life for many others. The wealth of a nation corresponds with its population, and its misery corresponds with its wealth." - 800
- Illustrations of the general law of capitalist accumulation
  1. 1846: "the introduction of the free-trade millennium" - 802
  2. "If the extremes of poverty have not lessened, they have increased, because the extremes of wealth have." - 806
  3. "The intimate connection because the pangs of hunger suffered by the most industrious layers of the working class, and the extravagant consumption, coarse or refined, of the rich, for which capitalist accumulation is the basis, is only uncovered when the economic laws are known." - 811
  4. "Nomadic labour is used for various building and draining works, for brick-making, lime-burning, railway-making, etc. A flying column of pestilence, it carries smallpox, typhus, cholera and scarlet fever into the places in whose neighborhood it pitches its camp." - 818
  5. "In the construction of the cottages, only one point of view is of significance, the 'abstinence' of the capitalist from all expenditure that is not absolutely unavoidable." - 820
  6. Dr. Julian Hunter, Public Health, Seventh Report, 1865, "The cost of the hind [i.e. agricultural labourer] is fixed at the lowest possible amount on which he can live...the supplies of wages and shelter are not calculated on the profit to be derived from him. He is a zero in farming calculations." - 834
  7. "There are always too many agricultural labourers for the ordinary needs of cultivation, and too few for exceptional and temporary requirements." - 849
  8. "Ireland is at present merely an agricultural district of England which happens to be divided by a wide stretch of water from the country for which it provides corn, wool, cattle and industrial  and military recruits." - 860
  9. "The uncertainty and irregularity of employment, the constant return and long duration of gluts of labour, are all symptoms of a relative surplus population" - 866

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