Sunday, April 28, 2013

What You Can't Make Up

Louis Proyect, unrepetant marxist, moderator of the Marxmail chat room, and a man who imagines himself to be some sort of genetically modified organism, seamlessly combining the acquired? inherited? implanted? traits of a radio shock jock and Marxist militant with his senior citizen ranking as one grumpy Alter Kocker, didn't have a very good day yesterday, Saturday, April 27, 2013.

First, he decided he would attend the Historical Materialism conference being held at NYU.  Attending almost anything at NYU, an institution that in relation to the lower Manhattan communities in which it resides makes Robert Moses look like Jane Jacobs, is a mistake and will, or at least should, induce nausea, vertigo, fever, and rash in those lacking proper immunization.

Then, while performing his usual trick of misrepresenting the analysis Robert Brenner has offered for the origins of capitalism in Britain, and the reason British agriculture was able to support a  productivity of labor, a population growth, a commercial and, sooner rather than later, a manufacturing network superior to other countries in Europe, some professor, a mere academic mind you, had the temerity to act like... well like a militant,  and actually "interrupt" our Howard Stern/James Cannon/Billy Crystal fusion candidate, suggesting Howard/James/Billy "get to the point."

Can you imagine?  Oh the outrage!  The audacity!  The arrogance.  Oh, the horror, the horror!  Oh, the humanity! The humanity! (that last part boiling up from memories of films of the Hindenburg disaster). 

Well, Louis wasn't about to allow that to go least not for more than 8 hours or so because at around 9 PM, Howard/James/Billy decided he'd get in touch with another member of his DNA recombinant fusion ticket,  Arnold Schwarzenegger.  And so he posted this:

Dear Professor Chibber,

I have established that you were the person who interrupted me during the discussion period during the workshop on Neil Davidson's new book on the bourgeois revolution this morning at the Historical Materialism conference at NYU. I didn't quite hear what you were saying, but it sounded something like "What is your question...get to the point."

Of the three workshops I attended today, not a single chairperson said something along those uncharitable lines. By and large, people made much longer comments than me and far more in the name of some sect--the sort of thing that wastes time.

It was all the more unexpected to hear this from you since you were not a chairperson, number one, and number two you were going to be speaking at a closing plenary session on Sunday night to an audience of hundreds. Frankly, I thought it was very petty for you to interrupt me in that manner considering the power you exercise both at NYU in your capacity as associate professor and as someone who has written dozens of articles in places like the HM journal or NLR on the questions under debate. You couldn't wait for me to complete my 3 minute intervention while you have had the opportunity to defend your ideas on the Brenner thesis to a broad swath of the left community owing to your hard earned intellectual capital as a recipient of many highly coveted and prestigious awards.

I honestly don't know why you walked out immediately after making your remarks because I would have liked to take them up with you face to face. Don't worry, I have no interest in taking them up with you any further since I have said all I have to say at this point on the Marxism mailing list. My only advice is not to pull this bullshit on me ever again or you will truly regret it.

Yours truly,

Louis Proyect

Short version:  "Fuck you, asshole."  and  "I'll be back."

Me?  I particularly like the the "take them up with you face to face" part.  Why?  Well, years ago, when I used to periodically appear  on Proyect's list only to get unsubbed or unsub myself, Proyect and I carried on, behind the scenes, a nasty bit of e-correspondence where I repeatedly offered to give him the opportunity to say to my face what he, apparently, only would say from behind the screen of his computer.  Louis wasn't in touch then with his inner Arnold, or his implanted Arnold, then so he declined my offers as immature, childish, worthy of a high-school lunchroom, etc. etc. etc., which, by the way, they were.  Why, once, I even journeyed up to his neighborhood, rang his doorbell to invite him to the nearest Starbucks where over espressos, or milk and cookies, we could settle our differences properly, like adolescents, Starbucks being the closest thing approximating a high-school lunchroom.  Alas, Louis wasn't at home.

Anyway, I've mellowed over time, with age, and with two outstandingly dazzling beautiful brilliant granddaughters.  Have I told you about my brilliant beautiful granddaughters?  Plus I figure I've got a limited number of civil wars, throwdowns, punch-ups left in me, and I want to save them for when they really count-- like maybe getting one in smack on the gob of someone big and more than just self-important, like maybe Henry Kissinger.

But Proyect... nah....there's just no percentage in it.  I mean I've debated him on a few lists about his studied mis-apprehension of Brenner, his slavish me-tooing of Peak Oil-ism, etc. etc. but really, when you get right down to it, I've been called worse things by people better than Proyect so I'm not going to waste my Metrocard on a trip to his neighborhood, that's for sure.

But what's got into our Alter Kocker?  Steroids, you think?  Can't be.  Makes the joints brittle.  Ask ARod.  Or Canseco.  or Giambi.  Odds are, for Louie to throwdown like that, Chibbers must either be confined to a wheelchair or legally blind. OR.......or Louie is just peacocking like he tries to do when making his so-called interventions, or writing his movie reviews, or moderating his list.

If only I had known that all it takes to put our Louie, Louie in a fighting mood is a bit of heckling, well back in the days before I mellowed, and before I had two dazzling, brilliant, beautiful granddaughters (did I mention my granddaughters?), I would have followed Louis around from conference to conference heckling to the best of my ability. 

And you can take that to the lunchroom.

High School Class of 1965

April 28, 2013

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pardon the Extrusion, Part 1

1. Marx undertakes his critique of small "c" capital prior to, during, and after his critique of big "C" Capital as an object lesson of sorts for the "Theses on Feuerbach":
IX.  The highest point reached by contemplative materialism, that is, materialism which does not comprehend sensuousness as practical activity, is the contemplation of single individuals and civil society.
X.  The standpoint of the old materialism is civil society; the standpoint of the new is human society, or social humanity.

Then comes the famous XI: Die Philosophen haben die Welt nur verschieden interpretirt, es kommt darauf an sie zu verändern.

Well, we know how this works.  No sooner is interpretation critiqued and exposed as more than inadequate but rather as an actual condition of alienation, of alienated labor, than the critique and exposition are themselves recuperated through interpretation.   "Marx meant this...Marx meant that...Marx really meant something else."  

What Marx meant, the interpretation of Marx is nothing.  The conditions, the path of Marx's own labor in developing his critique are everything.  Marx's begins with the collapse of Hegel's attempt to account for history as the product of reason; with the failure of reason to reproduce itself, and be reproduced in social humanity.

From this wreckage, from the capitulation of Hegel's system to things as they are,  Marx extracted the irreconcilability of production and need, of surplus with subsistence; of the labor process and the value process despite, or because, each existed only in the organization of the other; both existed as one.  

II.  Back in the day when she knew she was talking, Margaret Thatcher, the late Margaret Thatcher, the too little too late late Margaret Thatcher was quoted as saying, "There is no such thing as society," which amounts to, I guess,  the damned Dame's anti-thesis on Feuerbach...more or less.

But give the devil his due, and his baroness, Thatcher almost knew what she was talking about.  She most certainly knew what she wouldn't talk about, and that was class struggle.  She wouldn't talk about it because she was waging it.  So she dropped the "no such thing as society" in as a place-holder for the anti-love that dare not speak its name.  No society, because society is a historical product and we know that the bourgeoisie imagine themselves, recognize themselves, kiss mirror reflections of themselves while shaving, as the end to history.  Was, but not now.  Was, but won't be, won't ever be.

"There is no such thing as society," said Thatcher, channeling Jeremy Bentham.  Bentham said:  "The community is a fictitious body, composed of the individual persons who are considered as constituting as it were its members. The interest of the community then is, what?—the sum of the interests of the several members who compose it,"  thus establishing that nothing is quite so important to the ideology of class society than the denial of class.

Bentham, dead since 1832, but with head and skeleton preserved, dressed, and padded with hay, is kept on public display as the so-called "auto-icon"  at the University College of London.  On the 100th, and again on the 150th anniversary of  the founding of the College, its directors had the corpse rolled into to its meetings where auto-Jeremy was asked its opinion on the current state of Britain.  No record of Bentham's response has been released, but could there ever be a more perfect representation of the status of British capitalism than the one provided by the directors of the University College?  Asking it's own corpse for advice?

So anyway, in her death as in her life, Thatcher established herself as the most perfect offspring of the coupling of British political economy and British empiricism.  The greatest ignorance, pettiness, venality is the greatest good.

So there's no society and definitely no history, there's only nature, and nature's most perfect, and natural, creation, the market.

Ahistorical, timeless, eternal, powerful, just, merciless, a place for everything, and everything finds its place in the market-- if I didn't know better, I'd think the bourgeoisie were pantheists.

III. Marx knew what he was talking about too.  And what he was reading.  If history was not a product of reason, and vice-versa ; if society did not function as a manifestation of reason-- then how were history and society produced?  And how did human beings become both producers and products of such "irrationality"?

In essence, Marx begins, not with a labor theory of value, but with the labor theory of history-- human beings appropriate  the material world through their labor--and that labor activity, that laboring activity, is social.  It is mediated, organized, configured by the social relations compelling, permitting, enabling, or expropriating that labor.  

History has no telos, no purpose, but the labor process does, and that purpose is the satisfaction of human needs.  It is the peculiar, unique, specifically human characteristic of human labor, that in seeking to satisfy those needs,  that labor produces more than what is needed and more needs.  Both, the production of surplus and the development of more needs occur and only have meaning because of the social character of that labor process.  

That human labor that can be objectified, embodied not simply in objects fashioned by human hands, but embodied in conditions that convert the objects of labor into property, into the property of others. 

Labor is posited then as wealth-producing,  as social only in its own opposition; in its subjugation by objectified labor; in the opposition of labor to the conditions of labor.

The point here?  That "irrationality" is an historical condition, a manufactured product, a social organization of the labor process.  Willkommen in der Welt von Wert

IV.  Marx's critique of capital is the opposition of labor to the conditions of labor; that is the immanence in his immanent critique of capital.  At some point every self-contradiction, every manifestation of conflict, every moment of capital gets traced back, and move ahead, to the opposition of labor to the condition of labor. And there are many, many moments of conflict which, because they are moments, can be more or less acute.  

The severity of the conflicts in any particular moment depends on the overall development of capital- the "breadth" so to speak of its exploitation of wage-labor;  the intensity of its development in any one sector, locale, region country--the "depth" so to speak of its exploitation of wage-labor; and the obstacles capital has created to expanding its breadth by its breadth; the obstacles it has created to increasing its intensity of exploitation by the intensity of exploitation; and not only the obstacles it creates, but the obstacles it accommodates and  integrates by absorbing all exchange, all circulation, into its circulation.  All conditions of appropriated labor, all  objectified property becomes basic to capitalist appropriated labor; to capitalist property.

V.  Everything you need to know about "developed" capitalism, "developing" capitalism,  "equilibrium," the organic composition of capital, the value composition of capital, necessary labor-time, surplus labor-time is here:
Like many of his Inca ancestors, Juan Apaza is possessed by gold.  Descending into an icy tunnel 17,000 feet up in the Peruvian Andes, the 44 year old miner stuffs a wad of coca leaves into his mouth to brace himself for the inevitable hunger and fatigue.  For 30 days each month Apaza toils, without pay, deep inside this mine dug down under a glacier above the world's highest town, La Rinconada.  For 30 days he faces the dangers that have killed many of his fellow miners--explosives toxic gases, tunnel collapses--to extract the gold that the world demands.  Apaza does all this, without pay, so that he can make it to today, the 31st day, when he and his fellow miners are given a single shift, four hours or maybe a little more, to haul out and keep as much rock as their weary shoulders can bear.  Under the ancient lottery system that still prevails in the high Andes, known as cachorreo, this is what passes for a paycheck: a sack of rocks that may contain a small fortune in gold or, far more often, very little at all. ["The Real Price of Gold,"  Brook Larmer, National Geographic Magazine January 2009].
and here:
Even at showcase mines, such as Newmont Mining Corporation's Bau Hijau operation in eastern Indonesia, where $600 million has be spent to mitigate environmental impact, there is no avoiding the brutal calculus of gold mining.  Extracting a single ounce of gold there--the amount in a typical wedding ring--requires the removal of more than 250 tons of ore...
...Nur Piah is part of that force itself.  Pulling a pink head scarf around her face, the mother of two smiles demurely as she revs the Caterpillar's [model 793 truck, 21 feet tall, 43 feet long], 2337-horsepower engine and rumbles into the pit at Batu Hijau...
Most inhabitants of Sumbawa are farmers and fisherman who reside in wooden shacks built on stilts, their lives virtually untouched by the modern world.  But inside the gates of Batu Hijau, Newmont has carved American-style suburb, where some 2,000 of the mine's 8,000 employees live.  Along the smoothly paved streets there is a bank, an international school, even a broadcast center...Families arrive in SUVs for free-pizza night at a restaurant overlooking a lush golf course.
...Higher prices and advanced techniques enable companies to profitably mine microscopic flecks of gold; to separate gold and copper from rock at Batu Hijau, Newmont uses a finely tuned flotation technology that is nontoxic, unlike the potentially toxic cyanide "heap leaching" the company uses in some of its other mines.  Even so, no technology can make the massive waste generated by mining magically disappear.  It takes less than 16 hours to accumulate more tons of waster here than all of the tons of gold mined in human history.

...Nur Piah is focused more on the present than the future...Her husband makes some money as a timber trader bu Nur Piah's salary--about $650 month--paid for their two story concrete home.  As if in tribute, she has hung on one wall a large painting of the yellow Caterpillar 793.[Larmer]
and here:
Rosemery Sanchez Condori is just nine years old, but the backs of her hands are burnished like aged leather.  That's what happens what a girl spends time pounding rocks under the Andean sun.  Ever since Rosemery's father fell ill in the mines of La Rinconada eight years ago, her mother has worked 11 hour days collecting rocks near the mines and hammering them into smaller bits to find flecks of overlooked gold.  On school holidays, Rosemery sometimes helps her mother on the mountain....
In small scale mines around the globe, searching for gold is a family affair.  Of the world's 12 to 15 million artisanal gold miners, an estimated 30 percent are women and children...
...Remote and inhospitable.... [La Rinconada] is, nevertheless growing at a furious pace... a visitor first sees the glint of the rooftops under the magnificent glacier....Then comes the stench.  It's not just the garbage dumped down the slope, but the human and industrial waste that clogs the settlement's streets.  For all its growth--the number of mines perforating the glacier has jumped in six years from 50 to around 250--La Rinconada  has few basic services: no plumbing, no sanitation, no pollution control, no postal service, not even a police station.  The nearest one, with a handful of cops, is an hour down the mountain.  This is a place that operates, quite literally, above the law.
La Rinconada's frenzied expansion has been fueled by the convergence of rising gold prices and, in 2002, the arrival of electricity.  Miners use pneumatic drills now with their hammers and chisels.  Traditional leg-driven rock grinders have given way to small electric mills.  Electricity hasn't made mining any cleaner; if anything mercury and other toxic material are being released into the environment more rapidly than ever before.  But nearly everyone agrees that La Rinconada has never produced so much gold. 
Many miners at La Rinconada don't officially exist, either.  There are no payrolls--just those bags of rocks--and some mine operators don't even bother writing down workers' names...The manager at one of La Rinconada's larger operations says his mine yields 50 kilos every three months-- more than $5 million worth of gold each year.  His workers, on their monthly cachorreo, each pull in an average of about ten grams of gold, or around $3000 a year.
...In small-scale gold mining, UNIDO estimates two to five grams of mercury are released into the environment for every gram of gold recovered...According to Peruvian environmentalists, the mercury released at La Rinconada and the nearby mining town of Ananea is contaminating rivers and lakes down to the coast of Lake Titicaca, more than a hundred miles away. [Larmer]

VI.  Some things that might reflect on overproduction, circulation, time of circulation, profitability and disproportion are here:

The accumulation of capital is the conversion of the appropriated surplus value into the conditions of future labor-- which is to say the capitalization of profit as the means and material of production, which is to say the realization of the value encapsulated in those molecules of capital called commodities as money and the conversion of additional living labor into objectified labor through the exchange with money.  The market for the commodity is all other commodities

Capital realizes itself as capital only by the reengaging of wage labor.  However it can only achieve this realization through the exchange of all capitals, with the products of other capitals.  This not just and not simply a metamorphosis of capital, a change in form.  Rather, the change in form is a validation of any individual capital's viability.  And more.  The metamorphosis is a process of distribution; it is an allocation of the total social surplus value to particular capitals according to the efficiency and the size of the capitals employed.

This is the process that establishes an average rate of profit, and not just.  It is the means whereby capital reproduces itself as a whole simultaneously with and at the expense of the reproduction of its constituent parts, its individual capitals.  At one and the same time, capital can only realize itself through the reproduction of all capitals while each capital achieves its share of  that reproduction-- profit-- through the exclusion of portions of other capitals.  Reproduction and devaluation, exchange and exclusion are the determinants and the negations of capital.

It is in this process, this circuit of capital, that capital, all capital, sees its own realization as an obstruction, an obstacle, a barrier to the expropriation of surplus labor-time, to surplus value. Circulation time, the time it takes to transform the commodity into money, is the time that is not, or not yet, money.  It is non-production time, and as such, in the attempt to reduce circulation time, every capital tends to overproduction, pushing more commodities into the markets to realize some portion of surplus value, quickly enough, to sustain more production.  As a consequence, equilibrium, proportion, balance, are conspicuous only in their necessary absence.  Equilibrium, proportion, balance may in fact occur, but only by chance, just as a commodity's value and price may coincide.  Imbalance, disproportion, lack of equilibrium are essential to the reproduction of capital.

Reductions in the circulation time of commodities through improved transportation of the physical commodities into the networks of exchange is accompanied by improved networks for transmitting the abstraction of the commodity, its value, through these networks-- through the development of the instruments of credit.   

The capitalist credit system specifically comes into being as a result of the separation, the differential, the conflict between production time and circulation time.  This system specifically does not come into being as a means of swindle or looting.  The credit system is not the result of capital's self-devalorization.   Origin and function are one, and that one is to quicken the metamorphosis of capital into the money form, even at a discount, especially at a discount, as the discount can be offset, so every capitalist thinks, is compelled to think, by the increased production that has been already compelled by the each previous recapitalization of the extruded surplus-value. 

Next:  Part 2,  A Study of Railroads

S. Artesian

April 27, 2013


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Last Word on Wasting Necessary Time

Apropos of nothing so much as to how little Michael Heinrich understands of small "c" capital, there's this from David F. Noble's Forces of Production: A Social History of Industrial Automation, Oxford University Press, 1984:
Second N/C {numerical control, the original designation for digitally coded and controlled automatic machine tools} machine tools represented a substantially greater fixed capital investment than conventional machinery. N/C machines were more expensive to buy, more expensive to maintain, and--in many cases--more expensive to operate productively. Thus, cost effective use of the equipment was essential to offset the fixed capital cost, merely to break even. Moreover, because this new technology was evolving so rapidly, existing equipment quickly became obsolete. Thus it was important that it pay for itself as early as possible. Cost-effective use was vital to insure the quickest return on the investment in N/C.
Essentially, N/C equipment was cost effective if its use resulted in a reduction of the unit cost of each part produced, such that the savings gained thereby outweighed the investment in the equipment (in the case of GE, this mean the unit cost not only of each part but of the final assembled engine). [p.266-267]
Now to anyone who has worked in an industry that makes capital investments, big capital investments, this is not news.  This is ABCs.  That Heinrich can pretend at being an expert, an analyst of Marx's work, without grasping how capitalism actually operates is but another index to the undeveloped condition of the revolutionary struggle.

Why would we ever take these types seriously?

S. Artesian
April 23, 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Quarterly Review of Overproduction; A Fool's Progress

Provided as part of our ongoing commitment to the public good...

January 3, 2013 Wall Street Journal:  Potash prices down by 50% since 2009, after increasing fivefold 1999-2009.  Since 2002 global capacity has increase 30% to 64 million tons/year.  Demand in 2012 was approximately 9% below the 2007 level.

January 7, Financial Times:  "Massive softening of Basel 3" stipulations.  Full enforcement pushed back from 2015 to 2019.  Final core capital rule allows banks to count a wider variety of assets, including equities and 'high quality' mortgage-backed securities to satisfy capital/liquidity ratios.  Where have I heard this before?

January 8, WSJ: 16,000 TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) container ships coming on line; fleets practice "slow steaming" to reduce fuel costs, and effectively reduce overcapacity:  "Surely if we did not have slow steaming at all implemented on the Far East to EU trading lane, the [hire] rate would be be no  higher than a few dollars per container," analyst with Danish based shipping assurance corporation.   See Marx notes on fixed capital and circulation, Grundrisse.

January 9, US Energy Information Agency:  US oil imports at 25 year low, 6 million barrels/day compared to app 12 million/day 2004-2007.  Domestic production 5 million barrels/day 2008, estimated to reach 8 million/day by 2014.   All hail the shale!

January 10, FT:  UBS chief calls bankers "arrogant."  Arrogant?  Are you kidding me?  They're fucking criminals.  Calling them arrogant is like calling the Klan "prejudiced."

January 11, WSJ: US banks, year end, deposits at $10.6 trillion; 5.3% decline in loans outstanding since 2008.  Loan to deposit ratio, banks S&Ls 2007 equal 95%;  2012 72%.  Cash is king.  Cash is trash.  Either/or, both.

January 16, WSJ: Speaking of US banks, Bank of America has sold off $50 billion in assets since 2010 (is that notional value or market value?  makes a bit of a difference); reduced employment by 11,000; recorded 65% decline in first home owner mortgage products 2012 vs. 2011; has 4.2% share of US mortgage market share vs. 22% in 2009. About time for Bernanke to tell us how healthy the banking sector is.

January 16, FT:  "Drive," they said.  Renault to eliminate 7500 jobs in France account overcapacity; equals 17% of workforce.  Ford closes 20% of capacity in Europe.  GM knocks out 3100 jobs at Opel.  Your, and their,  tax dollars at work. 

January 17, FT:  Italy in recession.  FDI in China-- inbound down 3% in 2011 to $117.9 billion.  Outbound up 28.6% to $77.2 billion.  That sure is some deformed workers state.

January 18, New York Times:  Dell Computer-- spent more money on share repurchases than it has earned throughout its life as a public company.  Cash paid to shareholders who sold: $39.7 billion.  Cash in dividends (includes special)  $139 million.  Market value of company $22 billion.  Brilliant corporate planning.  God bless the liquidationist bourgeoisie.

January 19, FT: Speaking of liquid, US crude production grew more in 2012 than in any year in the history of the domestic industry.  Estimates are for an additional growth of 900,000 barrel/day in 2013.  I think I felt Hubbert attempt to roll over in his grave, but he couldn't get over the peak.

January 21, FT:  Global corporate default rates climbing.  2012 highest since 2009.  85 global companies have defaulted in the past 12 months.  Time for Bernanke to tell us how solid global capital markets are.

January 23, WSJ:  You know that $1.7 trillion in cash US companies have parked "overseas"?  Guess what?  It's right here in the US.  Cash owned by foreign subsidiaries is kept in US banks in US dollars or invested in US govt. securities.    You know, if I was a financial adviser I'd figure out some way to allow the mother company to access that cash without having to declare it as earnings and pay taxes. about if the child lends the money to the parent?  Who would ever be so curmudgeonly as to doubt the wisdom, the charity, the virtue of a child lending to a parent? 

January 24, WSJ:  2012 Asia to Europe shipping volume down 5% vs. 2011.

January 25, WSJ:  Greece breaks subway strike, essentially militarizes workers.

January 25, FT: Say this 10 times, fast:  Monte dei Pasche du Siena.   Say this twice:  bailout.  Say this as many times as you like.  "Irregularities occurred at Monte while being supervised by Italy's central bank when guess who was is charge?"  No, not Belusconi, you cluck.  Draghi.

Januray 26, FT:  UK on the verge of a triple-dip recession.  Government of the twits, the posh, and the punters shrugs shoulders.  Ben and Jerry's sees opportunity for new ice-cream flavor.

January 28, FT:  "Overproduction?  No such thing."  US oil companies extracting shale oil in North Dakota are flaring off enough natural gas daily to power Chicago and DC.  Total US flare gas volume has tripled in 5 years.   The good news is that the US is only in 5th place behind Russia, Nigeria, Iran, Iraq.    Flyer taped to bus shelter in NYC: "Lost, one petroleum peak answers to the name of M. King.  If found please call the offices of the pseudo-Scientific American."

While we're on the subject:  US oil product exports 1992-2004 approximatley 1 million barrels/day.  2010= 2 million/day.  2011= 3 million/day.

January 29,  WSJ:  "Again?"  Yeah, again.  US money funds cut exposures to Eurozone banks.

January 30, FT:  The rights of nations to self-determination-- EU insists on being awarded 30% share of China's telecom market.  Defend the right of Chinese telecom corporations, funded, partially or fully owned, and jointly operated with European, Asian, and American (North or South) capitalists to defend their markets from imperialist reactionary European, Asian and American (North of South) capitalists.  Download the Chairman Mao ringtone now!

Priceless:  Greek Central Bank Governor George Provopoulos quoted:  "What is important is that although GDP continues to contract, confidence is steadily improving."  Only possible answer to that is "Fuck you, asshole." 

February 1, FT: Basel banking committee finds some global banks using models that drastically reduce capital held against assets.  No shit?  Really?  Who would have thunk that?  Wait a minute, sounds familiar-- yeah, isn't that exactly what banks have done throughout the last decade?  All those "quant" models that told all the banks that their value-at-risk, VAR, was really, really, really low, unless something really, really really unusual happened-- like the default rate on the assets securing the derivatives reduced the payments on the instruments that allowed the instruments to present "value", thus causing a general devaluation and a "herd instinct stamped for the exits"?  Something like that.  Short term memory loss is essential to capitalist reproduction.

February 2, FT: Netherlands bails out SNS bank for euro 3.7 billion.

February 7, WSJ: US coal exports, 2012, at 115.7 million tons; 2008= app 55 million.

February 9, FT:  EU hawks pursue self-deconstruction:  push strong reduction in cross-border projects.   Sounds like a plan.

February 12, WSJ: Pope resigns-- "sick of being infallible."  College of cardinals advises "You're making a big mistake."  Rank and file confused.  "How can that be?"

February 14, WSJ:  Great proletarian cultural revolution figures out primitive accumulation. From village to villa:  China seizes farmland, sells same for development of villas, etc.  Here's how it works:  village provides "compensation" to farmers of 9 yuan/sq. meter.   Village sells to developer for 640 yuan/ sq. meter.  Developer sells villas for 6900 yuan/sq. meter.  What happens to farmers? Guess.  Impoverished, marginalized, itinerant, migrant work force, or.. they die.  The important thing, as the central bank governor of Greece said, is that confidence is increasing.

February 19, WSJ: Correa reelected.  Great victory for oil and mineral deposits.

February 20, FT:  Shocker.  Hard to believe.  Alabama fucks up.  Anti-immigration laws drive immigrant labor out of state. Poultry processing  and agriculture sectors starve for labor.  "We didn't fully think through the economic effects of the law.  We shot ourselves in the foot."  U of Alabama economics professor channeling his own great-great-great grandfather.

Mining and metal companies rase $249  billion in capital in 2012, down 27% from 2011, "soft prices" as metal inventories climb.

February 21, FT:  Fed worried about the assets on its balance sheet.  Talk about being a day late and a few trillion dollars short..... .  Fed now classified as presenting systemic risk by the Fed.

February 22, WSJ: The invisible hand at work:  Continuous mining machines not equipped with sensors to shut down if human becomes entangled in machinery. 4 miners killed in West Virginia.  Rule proposed in 2011.  No action.  MSHA does not issue an emergency order requiring sensors.

February 23, WSJ:  Maersk warns on container shipping: "Unless the container shipping industry reduces capacity, there will be a continuous squeeze on freight rates."  Meanwhile, Maersk orders 20 "Triple E" container ships, largest ever constructed, with a capacity of 18,000 TEUs.  "Do as I say, not as I do."  See Marx on circulation time, overproduction of capital ("is always the overproduction of the means of production as capital), and tendency of the rate of profit to decline.  Or just wait, and let Maersk demonstrate it all.

February 25, FT: Cyprus-- center-right defeats "communist" for government.  "Better position" to obtain bail-out.  Sure thing.

February 27, FT:  Italian voter reject austerity.  Monti sent packing.  Same circus, one different clown.  Grillo wins 24% of the vote.   Center-left inspires confidence:  "We will try our best to avoid chaos in Italy."

EU bemoans legacy of Greece:  "Democracy is the Eurozone's Achilles heel," Charles Grant, director Centre for European Reform.  Note to self.  WTF is the Centre for European Reform?  Sounds like a front for the Koch Bros.

March 1, FT:  The secret of my Deutsche success:  Since labor market reform, more lowly paid workers in Germany than elsewhere-- sub-contracting to avoid labor protections; "atypical jobs;" "mini-jobs" paying less than  euro450/month.  Low paid workers now account for 22% of the labor force, 5 percentage points about EU average.  Deutschland Unter Alles.

March 4, WSJ:  Shocker, top 20% of earners in US account for 40% of consumer spending.

March 5, WSJ:  Cyprus-- things not exactly going as envisioned by the new government.  Another shocker.

March 6, FT:  Here comes, there goes:  North American truck production up 136% 2012 vs 2011, but 4Q 2012 down 23% from 4Q 2011.   Classic volatility of overproduction.

March 8, FT:  Greece GDP down 25% since 2008:  FT asks:  "What happens when an electorate decides to vote out leaders for economic policies they disagree with only to find their new leaders being forced to implement the same exact policies?"  Hmmh.........good question.  Let bring it up in front of the Athens soviet. We'll see if they can give some guidance.

March 9, WSJ: News from Japan:  Fukushima Daiichi plant manager say may take 30-40 years to remove melted fuel (think this what Keynes had in mind with his "no use/make work" schemes?).  Site generating 400 cubic meters of contaminated cooling water daily-- so let's see 30-40 years times 365 days times 400 cubic meters/day.... Hope they have adequate, impermeable water containment systems, to prevent leaks.

March 13, WSJ:  No smoking at the Vatican.  China steel output now at 2.21 million metric tonnes daily.  Capacity at 970 million tons-- output at around 717 million tons.  More than half the world's capacity. 

March 13, FT:  Don't worry, we know what we're doing at Fukushima, and we know what we are doing here:  Japan processing methylhydrate-- methane gas essentially "frozen" under such great pressure in the sea bed. 

March 15, FT:  US Senate Report on JP Morgan  "whale" trading:  JPM violated own rules, ignored warnings, misled investigators, and lied.  Sounds like banking to me.  How does it sound to you?

March 18, WSJ:  Cyprus... it gets uglier.

March 18, FT :  Uglier that Lagarde?  Uglier.  Uglier than Schauble?  Uglier.

March 19, WSJ: ...and uglier.   57% of US workers have less than $25,000 in total savings and investments (not including the "value" of their homes).   Society of Actuaries says, "rising life expectancies could add as much as $97 billion to the liabilities of pension plans."  Finally, someone has figured out the problem.  These people are just living too long.  Can't we do something about that?  Oh we are, we are, believe me. 

March 19,  FT:  Moody's estimates cash hoard of US non-financial companies doubled between 2007-2012.  Cash levels, home and abroad top $2 trillion.  Liquid resources of non-financial corporations now sufficient to cover all debt repayments due for the next 5 years.  Well, so much for  the theorists of "fictitious capital." 

March 20,  FT:  and uglier..  Power failure at Fukushima Daiichi, shuts down cooling system. 

March 21, FT:  and uglier...

March 22, WSJ:  Building for the future.  Chicago plans to close 53 elementary schools, because "children are our future..." and we don't have one.

March 29, WSJ : Somebody must have read The Wolf Report. US corporations tap into overseas cash by borrowing funds for daily operations (HP and GE practice this).  Companies not required to disclose this. Companies can set up their own internal banks in low-tax jurisdiction or set up "self" commercial paper money markets. 

Re Japan March 9:  They don't.  It is.

Next Quarter:  Uglier, still?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Equal Time for the Angels of Our Better Nature.......maybe

Writes Angelus on Louis Proyect's Marxmail:
Sartesian continues to ignore the central points:

1) Heinrich does not deny that the rate of profit (however one decides to calculate it) can decline in reality. It very well can. It can also rise. The point, however, is that one can in no way derive a "law" of the rate of profit to fall at the categorical level that Marx does, and this became clear to Marx himself. Sartesian seems to think that merely asserting that the fall in the rate of profit necessarily follows from Marx's categories is sufficient.

2) Since "the rate of profit" is not a category that actually exists in bourgeois statistics, one actually has to construct a method for calculating it. Not surprisingly, those who wish to argue that the rate of profit is in a state of terminal decline construct their calculations in such a way that "proves" exactly that. That's why I pointed to Doug Henwood's excellent article here as a counterweight:

I agree with Doug's statement about methodology in purporting to calculate the rate of profit:

"Everyone who plays this game does it by different rules. Many esteemed Marxist profit-watchers adjust the official stats in numerous ways, such as trying to eliminate “nonproductive” activity. While I understand the interest in jiggering the numbers, no known capitalist can see or feel the adjusted rate of profit. What they (and their shareholders) care about is the actual rate of profit, reported in cash money, relative to the amount of capital that had to be invested to gain the return."

In any case, this exchange is about as fruitful as arguing with Jehovah's Witnesses, and half as fun. The most that can be said for Sartesian's posts is that at least they're not as mindless as the one that appeared at the Kasama blog, which basically takes up the machine fragment of the Grundrisse to make its case, the very passage that Marx refuted with his concept of relative surplus-value!

Whatever. Spring has come and I'm going to go enjoy it. Anybody who wants to take the effort to construct a rigorous argument against Heinrich that takes into account the arguments that he actually makes should do so, and then maybe contact the editors at MR to see if they'll run it.

I'm done for now.
The discussion of Heinrich's essay is "raging" (excuse the hyperbole) at Libcom and Loren Goldner's Meltdown list as well as Marxmail.  I don't know if Angelus is involved in the discussion on Meltdown but he has withdrawn from the discussion at Libcom as well as his apparent disengagement on Marxmail.  

Word:  nothing is more difficult than the orderly disengagement from persistent opponents.  Just ask the historians of the US Military Assistance Command-Vietnam.  

Regarding the "points" raised by Angelus:  (1) Heinrich does not show that there is no way to derive a categorical law of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline.  He presents the mathematical representation of Marx's exposition and argues that the mathematical representation does not establish a categorical law because the mathematical presentation assumes a constant rate of surplus value.   

If the rate of surplus value increases sufficiently, that is at a rate greater than the rate of the value expansion of the constant capital engaged by the labor, then the rate of profit can rise.

Guess what?  No one is arguing that cannot happen, not even, IMO, Marx.  However, the law is not the law of the decline in the rate of profit; the law is the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline; that is as the mass of capital values, objectified labor,  expands,  and the mass of living labor so employed declines, the proportional increase in surplus value tends to, and trends toward insufficiency in its ability to counter even the incremental increases in the total accumulated capital. 

And why is this a tendency, a trend?  Because every increase in surplus value becomes an increase in the total objectified labor, capital,  that has itself zero new value producing ability but can only transfer portions of its existing value. Thus to offset this trend, either the means of production must be cheapened, reduced in value,  or the exploitation of labor power has to be "excessively" increased in both rate and mass. 

If the mass of capital, if the mass of the means of production loses value, that is to say is devalued, then in fact the rate of profit can rise.  Devaluing the means of production however involves a period of loss in the overall accumulation process.  Improvement in the efficiency of the means of production, reducing costs of production, involves similar loss to the already accumulated capital.  Hence, the conditions for the increase in the rate of profit are both preceded and accompanied by the very elements of crisis that are made manifest when the rate of profit declines.

Since we are talking about limits, trends, tendencies, since we are talking about the reproduction of a social relation of production, since we are talking about a process that is based in the conflict between labor and the conditions of labor, the truth is made manifest in the actual processes of the economy, where the expansion of capital becomes, calls forth, its own contraction.

That's one.

As for (2), I suggest everyone take a look at Henwood's chart on the rate of profit linked by Angelus, and look at the trend.  Henwood charts a rate of profit that peaks around 1968, staggers lower throughout the 1970s and early 1980s, stabilizes in the mid-1980s but does not exceed the previous peak, turns up sometime around 1992. reaches a high around 1996 which again does not exceed the 1968 mark, turns down again, recovers around 2002 but does not exceed the 1996 level before turning down again around 2007...etc. etc. etc.

Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but I think Angelus is providing evidence of the tendency for the rate of profit to fall despite the offsetting efforts of capitalists everywhere. 

Angelus leaves us with "I'm done for now."  We leave him with the words "And still it falls."

April 13, 2013

Friday, April 12, 2013

Down with the Dogs! Up With the Fleas!

Angelus Novus, a close associate of Michael Heinrich, and participant on Louis Proyect's Marxmail list, and the Libcom list, read "Oh You Kid," and he didn't like it.  Wrote the avenging Angelus on Proyect's list:
A pretty underwhelming response.

Heinrich basically does the math to prove that Marx's calculations don't actually support giving his speculations the status of a "law", and Sartesian's response is basically that the math that Marx intended to prove his assertion is not relevant, what matters is the unproven assertion it was intended to prove (!).

I have to say, though, that the various responses to Heinrich are providing a fascinating insight into the religious mentality of a lot of Marxists, conferring sacred text status on manuscripts whose author regarded them as unfinished and unsuitable for publication!
Well look, I've been called worse than underwhelming, and by better people, so no big deal, but the religious thing is not going to go unanswered.

So first things first:  See the evidence for the tendency of the rate of profit to decline is not in the text or rituals of a sect, or in the secret recipes of wizards, demons, or butlers.  The evidence is in the actual historical movement of capitalism.  Those who agree with Marx's analysis of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline don't base the agreement on the irrefutability of Marx's mathematical presentation. They, we, base it on the historical evidence.  Me?  I like to take it back to 1968-1970, and then bring it forward to right here/right now, accounting as best I can for the twist and turns of OPEC, Pinochet, Volcker, Thatcher,  the petroleum sector,  the semiconductor industry, the S&L crisis, the "lost decade" in Latin America, the multiple attacks on the working class of Mexico, the "Clinton" boom, and its end, the Bush wars, the profusion of asset-backed debt instruments, on the basis of changes in the rate of profit and the relation of those changes to increases in capital investment.  Maybe that's just me.  Maybe not.

Others have done work on this current and previous eras.  Shane Mage performed an analysis of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline for the post-WW2 period in the US.  Andrew Kliman, Michael Roberts (and others)  have explored the movement of rates of profit.  All these explorations are based on actual calculations of the rate of profit and the relation of those changes to accumulation of the means of production of capital.

If those of us who have done that work decide that historical evidence is  worth more than Marx's mathematical "proof,"  or Heinrich's refutation of that proof, that's hardly a demonstration of religious faith.  It's an expression of.....materialism, historical materialism.  The real content of history is concrete, and may, or may not be, representable as mathematical symbols.  There is a difference between "proof" (or "disproof") and truth.   See Gödel for further information.

This gets us to Heinrich's section on "The Crisis Theory Without the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall."  Heinrich opens us with this gem:
 Since many Marxists regarded the "law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall" as the foundation of Marx's theory of crisis, they vehemently defended it against every critique.
To the perceptive reader this should be enough to warn us off any further reading.  The assumptions that Heinrich makes on behalf of those "many Marxists" are:1) that Marx provided a "crisis theory" of capitalism  2) that the basis for that theory was the falling rate of profit  3) that the many defended this foundation theory vehemently and against every critique.  Heinrich provides zero historical evidence for these assertions.  Some Marxists I'm sure do think Marx provided a crisis theory, complete and in total in Capital.  Some certainly think the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall is the foundation of that theory.  And I'm sure some vehemently defend it against every critique.

However, the historical evidence is that what Marx meant by crisis, what Marx thought the causes of crisis were,  and the tendency of the rate of profit to fall were not regarded as identical, nor as different aspects of a single identity, nor interchangeable categories for "many Marxists."   Indeed, the historical evidence is that "crisis" and its causes were not well developed in Marx's work, and were not well understood by "many Marxists."

The historical evidence is that the emergence of the rate of profit as a determining limit to capital reproduction gains credence, not as the foundation of a crisis theory, but as part of the reclaiming of Marx's labor theory of value, both of which re-emerge at the end of the post WW2 "golden era," when in fact the rate of profit had declined from a level that has yet to be surpassed.  How about that?  as Mel Allen used to say.  How about that?

Look, the connecting thread in Marx's work that unites his various comments on capitalist crisis is that of overproduction, which "many Marxists" have confused, misunderstood, and even defended vehemently or not, with "underconsumption."

At this point, it's time to bring in that usual suspect, Engels.  Engels, according to Heinrich, heavily revised Marx's original material-- a "sea of notes and constantly interrupted thoughts"-- to make a third chapter on the law, condensing it, rearranging it, "creating the impression of an already largely completed theory of crisis."  Now maybe it's just me, but when I read volume 3, I knew that Engels had revised the material; that the material was almost not presentable in its original state; that rearrangements were made; and that this in no way shape or form represented Marx's complete "crisis theory."  Maybe it's just me, but I think it's clear Marx was not presenting a fully developed theory regarding the ultimate or penultimate crisis of capitalism, since there can be no such thing without the overthrow of capitalism, its abolition by the proletarian revolution, without the action of classes.   I think that implicit in Marx's unfinished explorations of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall is not its role as the death-knell for capitalism, but its functioning as critical, necessary, to the process of counteracting the overproduction of the means of production as capital.  

Heinrich then argues: quickly becomes clear that Marx's considerations do not yield any unified theory of crisis, but contain rather disparate thoughts on crisis theory.  The most general formulation of capitalism's tendency is completely independent of the "law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit." rather its starting point is the immediate purpose of capitalist production, surplus value or rather profit.
If I were a generous soul, I would say that Heinrich is being intentionally hilarious here.  He's pulling our leg and winking his eye and nodding his head in a demonstration of gymnastic prowess last seen when Spiro Agnew proclaimed his innocence, acknowledged his guilt and pleaded "no contest" all at once.

I'm not. And he isn't.  We have disparate thoughts on crisis theory from unfinished notes and manuscripts, which Heinrich presents to us in general formulation, stating that the starting point is the immediate purpose of capitalist production, surplus value or rather profit. And this differs from Engels' work to develop volume 3 how?  Perhaps in that Engels was Marx's closest friend and collaborator?

And that bit that about the "starting point [of capitalist crisis] is the immediate purpose of capitalist production, surplus value or rather profit"?  Exactly how does Marx present the starting point of the tendency of the rate of profit to decline if not directly from the immediate purpose of capitalist production, the expropriation of surplus value and its realization as profit?  Remember all that stuff about the barrier to capitalist production being...capitalist production?

Heinrich then turns to volume 3 and quotes from "Development of the Laws Internal Contradictions," the very part of the manuscript that is a "sea of notes and constantly interrupted thoughts,"[adding his own italics]:
The conditions for the immediate exploitation and for the realization of that exploitation are not identical.  Not only are they separate in time and space, they are also separate in theory.   The former is restricted only by the society's productive forces, the latter by the proportionality between the different branches of production and by society's power of consumption. And this is determined neither by the absolute power of production nor by the absolute power of consumption but rather by the power of consumption within a given framework of antagonistic conditions of distribution, which reduce the consumption of the vast majority of society to a minimum level.
This is indeed interesting and Marx is giving credence to the notion that restricted consumption does present a barrier to capital, despite Heinrich's attempt to disassociate this from "underconsumptionist" theory.

However, the antagonistic conditions of distribution in the capitalist framework are reflections of the social relation between capital and wage labor.  In fact, consumption as consumption does not occur in capitalist society.  Consumption occurs as derivative to and a function of exchange.  The realization of the surplus value in any and all commodities requires exchange, expanding exchange, with wage-labor.  

The consumption of a commodity as a use-value is only possible through the realization of its exchange value, through continuous reproduction of the classes and class relations, bourgeoisie and worker, capital and laborer.  The market for the commodity is the commodity.

In the Grundrisse, Marx writes:
With capital, the consumption of the commodity is itself not final; it falls within the production process; it itself appears as a moment of production, i.e. of value-positing [Wertsetzen].
Consumption to realize value must be value-positing.  And how is value posited?  Only through the dispossession of the laborer; only though compelling labor to present itself as a commodity for exchange in the market for a value equivalent to its, or its cost of, reproduction.  

As capital develops, expands, accumulates to create the commodities as commodities, to appropriate more surplus labor time, to extrude that surplus-labor time as surplus value, proportionately more labor most be expelled from production.  Now haven't  derived the mathematical formula yet, but it seems to me that limits to the social power of consumption, that antagonistic condition of distribution, and  the negative impact that limitation has on the realization of value, on the turnover of capital, derives from the changing organic composition of capital.  And as Marx repeatedly points out, circulation, the turnover of capital is a critical factor in establishing the rate of profit.

Heinrich then takes us to the post-1870 period.  First he mischaracterizes that period as a "stagnation lasting for years..."  The period from about 1872-1895 is anything but a period of stagnation.  It is period of expansion, bankruptcy, recovery, repeated contraction-- but overall capital accumulation grows and grows rapidly worldwide.  In the US the period is not a "long depression."  It is a "long deflation" where changes in production processes, increases in the value composition , drove down prices, and depleted profits, and created brief and weak recoveries. 

I've always said that Marx should have spent more time writing about the long deflation and less time on his calculus.  Who knows what we might have learned?    According to Heinrich, Marx "clearly recognized the need for a fundamental revision of the hitherto existing manuscripts."   The manuscript that Marx had in mind for a complete revision was the first volume of Capital.  That's interesting, since discussions of the rate of profit do not figure in volume 1. 

The problem here is that Heinrich in arguing and rightly so, that Marx did not produce a fully developed "theory of capitalist crisis" is, in effect, setting up a straw man, or straw men.  The, avenging Angelus repackages this with his accusations of "religious orthodoxy" against those who can point to, demonstrate, the importance of rates of profit to the direction of capital.  The problem is that to defeat the straw man, Heinrich has to transform Marxism from a critical inquiry into capitalism, its actual means and methods of reproduction, and to a critical inquiry of texts.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Oh You Kid

Michael Heinrich has written an article in the latest Monthly Review, and you can read it here . You should read it, because I'm not going to summarize it.  Basically, Heinrich argues 1) that Marx never proved that the tendency for the rate of profit to decline is in fact a law, in that Marx's mathematical rendering does not show that"C" must grow at a rate faster than the rate of surplus value and 2) the Marx himself, after the publication of Capital, had grave doubts about the "law."

However, as I think is clear from Heinrich's text this is not about proving an equation.

 From Marx's work it should be clear that this is about the inherent tendency of capital to reduce "v," replacing it with fixed assets, transforming the increased "fc" (fixed capital) into increased circulating capital in order to (1) reduce its cost of production and (2) appropriate a larger share of the total socially available surplus value to achieve an average rate of profit.

Now I think that is what will, must, drive the average rate of profit down; I think this can establish a link between overproduction and the growth of the means of production as capital (linking overproduction to declining profitability in exchange as opposed to insufficient consumption or lack of "effective demand"), and declining profitability to slowing turnover time of the capital invested in production.

My objection is not that the Heinrich is denying the possibility that the rate of profit will fall, is likely to fall, is even very likely to fall; but rather that he asserts the decline is NOT inherent in the growth of the means of production as capital.  Marx is providing the immanent critique of capital, where the very determinations of capital became the basis for its negation.  That's what  Marx's  "immanence" is all about . And immanence does not mean "permanent." There is no "permanent" decline in the rate of profit as capital is quite capable of incinerating productive capacity and living labor in the millions (of whatever units you want-- people, dollars, labor hours); and there is no permanent crisis as crisis is necessary to capital and is a countervailing tendency.

But there is the inherent tendency of the means of production to outgrow their organization of capital, the relation of production which is wage-labor, and that "overgrowth" is pretty well identified by a declining profitability.

Momentary digression:

Back in the day, and I'm sure many have heard this story or versions of it before, (but maybe not my explanation for it)... anyway Henry Ford had a section of the Rouge Plant (IIRC) given over to R&D, with the purpose of creating a completely automated assembly line. He took Walther Reuther on a tour of the facility and supposedly said: "When this becomes reality, Walter, who are you going to organize?"

Supposedly, Reuther, always the empiricist and the wannabe social democrat said, "When this becomes reality, Henry, who's going to buy your cars?"

Well the answer is-- "everybody else" and the lower price of the Ford cars will in theory serve to transfer the profits from the other auto manufacturers, so that Ford will achieve the average rate of profit, which it has thus driven down.

Now imagine that all production in capitalism is automated-- in all sectors. Where then is the surplus value? Nowhere. There is no necessary labor-time that can only be satisfied through the alienation of surplus labor time.  Surplus value cannot be transferred, or allocated when its basis for existence-- necessary labor-time-- has disappeared. While Heinrich may laugh or refer to the absurdity of those who, as a matter of fact, do tease out the conflict between necessary and surplus labor-time by reducing wage-labor zero, such a conflict, revolving around a zero-point, or approaching it even asymptotically, is made explicit by Marx in some of his manuscripts, and is implicit throughout some others, including IMO, The Poverty of Philosophy. "Time is everything; man is nothing. At most, he is time's carcass."

I just want to add, I think Heinrich is historically wrong when he refers to the "crisis theory" of the 20th century as being concentrated this issue of the rate of profit. Much has centered on overproduction vs. underconsumption. Pavel Maksakovsky in his The Capitalist Cycle contends that Marx did indeed provide us with a crisis theory, and Maksakovsky says it's in volume 2. Today we know it as disproportion.

I truly recommend Maksakovsky's book-- it is brilliantly written and brilliant, so brilliant I wish I could agree with him [hell, sometimes I wish I could just agree with somebody]. But I don't because,  at core, in my opinion, disproportion theories become underconsumption theories.

Somewhere along the line we have to come to grips with the necessity for the emergence in the reproduction of capital the reason for declining profitability, overproduction, and disruptions in circulation. I don't think the answers for each, or any, can be achieved without integrating them as a whole.

S. Artesian
April 11, 2013

Monday, April 08, 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful...

...are three

1.  It's 70 degrees here in New York

2. The crocus are in bloom

3. Margaret Thatcher is dead