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By J. Short, Zygmunt G Baranski

ISBN-10: 0333382609

ISBN-13: 9780333382608

ISBN-10: 134917761X

ISBN-13: 9781349177615

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The historical evidence suggests not only that capitalism is very resilient, able to adjust to overcome economic limitations, but also that it remains crisis prone, unable to avoid sharp breaks in the accumulation process with all the disruption these entail. But this is also what the theoretical analysis would lead us to expect. What both drives accumulation forward and makes crises inevitable is the anarchic and antagonistic nature of capitalism as a mode of production. It is anarchic in being based on the individual private decisions of capitalists producing for profit.

The consumption of labour-power is the production of commodities whose value, realised in sale, is greater than the value of the labour-power (plus material inputs used up) engaged in production, and the extra value (unpaid labour) is a surplusvalue accruing to the money-owner as an expansion of her/his money holdings. While to the owner of the commodity labourpower, money in the form of the wage is acting as the means of her/his survival, and selling in order to buy does accurately describe the situation, to the money-owner money is acting as money-capital, and the self-expansion of value, or valorisation of value, through buying in order to sell denotes the money-owner as a capitalist.

However, when he analysed how surplus-value was distributed through the competitive process, an understanding of capital as a basically homogeneous category was no longer sufficient. Competing capitals had to be differentiated, and for any given rate of surplus-value, capitals with a greater proportion of workers to raw materials and instruments of production (variable to constant capital) would produce more surplus-value, and hence earn a higher rate of profit. But competition tendentially equalises the rate of profit across competing capitals, and this necessarily implies that commodities cannot exchange at prices equal (or proportional) to their money values.

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Developing Contemporary Marxism by J. Short, Zygmunt G Baranski


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