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Capital Vol 1 Reading Group: Chapter 25

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Spartacus's picture
Spartacus
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Mar 27 2009 12:19
Capital Vol 1 Reading Group: Chapter 25

this thread's for discussing chapter 25, the penultimate section of reading for this group. for reference, the index of all threads to do with the reading group is here.

here are my notes on this chapter.

this is quite an important chapter, so worth discussing i think.

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Mar 26 2009 11:52

in the david harvey lecture on this chapter, he mentions that sometimes the composition of capital can go in the opposite direction to what marx describes, i.e. more variable and less constant. what are these examples, and are they really significant?

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Mar 26 2009 13:53

was he referring to the value composition of capital rather than the technical or organic? - if value composition then crisis or massive increases in productivity could force the value of the constant capital down to a point that the value composition ratio/proportion starts to decrease (relative to what it previously was) rather than increase , and both these instances would be pretty significant events. these increases in productivity would also tend to lower the cost of variable capital as well, but the overall value composition can still decrease without an absolute rise in variable capital itself, it's just a relative thing that's required.

if he was referring to organic or technical composition (and relating to the same sector producing the same thing over time), i can't think of any way in which the composition would reduce rather than increase, apart from things like a massive war or natural disaster which wiped out so much physical and scientific/intellectual 'assets' that humanity had to pretty much start again from scratch or thereabouts, other than that can't really think of any way in which the technical composition would reduce rather than increase over time

was he maybe referring to the situation where through substantial increases in productivity the technical composition of a capital increases while at the same time the value composition of that same capital can decrease?

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Mar 27 2009 12:26

i can't remember the exact details, i'll have another listen to the lecture on monday, but from what i remember he was talking about a decrease in the organic composition in certain industries as a deliberate act, not due to disasters or anything. i believe it may have been referring to some stuff produced by the workerists/autonomists. there was the further example of china where apparently new technology is/was being replaced by old more labour intensive, since labour is so cheap. i'll check on monday though.