Questions to Consider
Class III: Capital Accumulation, Unemployment, Crises and Wars
March 26, 2017
All page references are to the 1976 Vintage Edition of Capital,Vol. I
Chapter 23: Simple Reproduction
1.Discuss this passage: “If production has a capitalist form, so too will reproduction. Just as in the capitalist mode of production the labor process appears only as a means toward the process of valorization, so in the case of reproduction it appears only as a means of reproducing the value advanced as capital, i.e. as self-valorizing value. The economic character of capitalist becomes firmly fixed to a man only if his money constantly functions as capital.” (p. 711)
2.What is “simple reproduction”? (p. 712)
3.What the “real foundation and the starting-point of the process of capitalist production”? (p. 716)
4.What is the difference between the worker’s “productive consumption” and “individual consumption”? (p. 717)
5. What is “the capital-relation itself”? (p. 724)
Chapter 24: The Transformation of Surplus-Value into Capital
1.What is the “accumulation of capital” or reproduction on an increasing scale?
2.Discuss this passage: “Adam Smith, at the end of a quite preposterous analysis, comes to the absurd conclusion that even though each individual capital is divided into a constant and variable part, the capital of society can be entirely resolved into variable capital i.e. is it laid out exclusively in the payment of wages.”(p. 737) Why does Marx think that this view of accumulation is erroneous?
3. Discuss this passage: “But in so far as he is capital personified, his [the capitalist’s] motivating force is not the acquisition and enjoyment of use-values but the acquisition and augmentation of exchange-values. He is fanatically intent on the valorization of value; consequently he ruthlessly forces the human race to produce for production’s sake . . . What appears in the miser as the mania of an individual is in the capitalist the effect of a social mechanism in which he is merely a cog.”(p. 739)
4.Discuss the context in which Marx quotes the following from a member of parliament, Mr. Stapleton: “The desired goal of English capital is no longer Continental wages, oh no, it is Chinese wages.” (p. 749, f.n. 41)
Chapter 25: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation
1.What is “the organic composition of capital”? (p. 762)
2. What is “the differentia specifica” of capitalist production?
3. Discuss this passage: “The rise of wages is therefore confined within limits that not only leave intact the foundations of the capitalist system, but also secure its reproduction on an increasing scale.”(p. 771)
4.Why does a relative diminution of the variable part of capital occur in the course of the further progress of accumulation and the concentration accompanying it?(p. 772)
5.What is the difference between the concentration and the centralization of capital?(p. 779)
6.Discuss this passage: “In any given branch of industry centralization would reach its extreme limit if all the individual capitals invested there were fused into a single capital. In a given society this limit would be reached only when the entire social capital was united in the hands of either a single capitalist or a single capitalist company.” (p.779)
7.why does the accumulation of capital take place through a continuing increase of its constant component at the expense of its variable component?”(p. 781)
8. Why does capital accumulation constantly produce 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 surplus population”? (p. 782)
9. What is the “peculiar cyclical path of modern industry, which occurs in no earlier period of human history”? (p. 785)
10. Why does Marx say that the “industrial reserve army” or the “relative surplus population “ is “the background against which the law of the demand and supply of labor does its work”? (p. 792)
11.What are the different forms of existence of the relative surplus population?
12. What is “the absolute general law of capitalist accumulation”? (p. 798)