Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Part 1. Marx on 'Technodepreciation' in The Dialectic of Capital[ism].

Dear Readers,

GLOBAL STRATEGIC HYPOTHESES:  In this blog, we have held that what F.E.D. terms technodepreciation -- the technological obsolescence self-depreciation constantly going on within the total social fixed capital -- i.e., that the self-devaluation of capital-value, ‘the self-negation of capital as capital’, is the fatal flaw of the capitalist system -- is the key to the historical dialectic of capital, to the ever-intensifying global crises of capitalism, and to the lawful destiny of the capitalist/world market system as a whole.

We have held that the process of technodepreciation is the key to the cause of the turning point from the global ascendance phase to the global descendance phase of the capitals system, as an historical totality.

We have held that the emerging ruling class consciousness of the process of technodepreciation, ever-worsening in its consequences for their interests as the competitive accumulation of capital proceeds, is the psychohistorical cause of the degeneration of the descendant phase capitalist ruling class into anti-progress, anti-productive forces growth, pro-contracted social reproduction, ‘‘‘humanocidal’’’ ideologies -- which are both anti-science, and anti-technology, to the extent that science and technology are used to advance the social forces of production, to raise human living standards, versus when science and technology for police state surveillance, for preparation for war, for actual wars, and for ever the “innovation” of ever more destructive weapons of mass destruction.  

Ruling class fear of the de facto overthrow of their power by capital[ist] technodepreciation is, we have held, especially the motive force, for their planned humanocide, and for their already globally underway stealth eugenics genocides, with regard to the ruling core of the descendance phase capitalist ruling class -- in particular, the petroleum/finance plutocracy, centered around the Rockefeller ‘ “Eu”-genics ‘ “Family” Political Machine [the Rockefeller Foundations, Exxon-Mobil, J. P. Morgan Chase Bank, Citibank, Bank of America, New York Council on Foreign Relations, Trilateral Commission, Federal Reserve, U. S. Federal Government Executive Branch, UN, IMF, World Bank, ITO, AMA, Southern Baptist Church, etc.] with regard to their fear of the world-market negation of their petroleum industry capital that would be caused by the advent of fusion power.

That is, we have held that ruling class consciousness of technodepreciationis the psychohistorical cause of the “Eu”-genocidal ruling class ideologies of their descendance phase -- ‘‘‘humanocidal’’’ ideologies ofCapitalist Anti-Capitalism, of Human Anti-Humanism, and of Anti-Marxian Marxianism, i.e., to the turn of the strategy of that ruling class toward the goals of productive forces growth reversal, hence of 95% global population reduction/ destruction, publicly “justified” on the basis of pseudo-ecological excuses, which make that ruling class a threat to the survival of the working/“middle” class, i.e., of the growing majority of humanity, globally:  a threat to the survival of global humanity; :  a threat to the survival of the human species entire.

Because the dialectical-scientific work of Karl Marx, toward elucidating “the [political-]economic law of motion of modern society”, is the starting point of the theory of capitalism’s developing self-demise presented herein, it would be right to ask ¿What does Karl Marx have to say on the subject of the process that we name technodepreciation?

The purpose of this series is to address that question.



Part 1.  Marx on Technodepreciation.  Introductory Passages. 

Let us begin our examination and consideration of Marx’s writings, bearing on the topic of technodepreciation, with Marx’s general statement, from the «Grundrisse», on the ‘meta-dynamics’ of the self-imposed demise of that historically-specific human social system founded, and foundered, upon “the capital relation” as predominating “social relation of production” --

...the development of the productive forces brought about by the historical development of capital itself, when it reaches a certain stage, suspends [i.e., “«aufheben»”-negates -- M.D.] the self-realization of capital itself, instead of positing it.   

“Beyond a certain point, the development of the powers of production becomes a barrier for capital; hence the capital relation a barrier for the development of the productive powers of labor.”   

“When it has reached this point, capital, i.e. wage labor, enters into the same relation towards the development of social wealth and of the forces of production as the guild system, serfdom, slavery, and is necessarily stripped off as a fetter.” 

The last form of servitude assumed by human activity, that of wage labor on one side, capital on the other, is thereby cast off like a skin, and this casting-off is itself the result of the mode of production corresponding to capital; the material and mental conditions of the negation of wage labor and of capital, themselves already the negation of earlier forms of unfree social production, are themselves the result of its production process.” 

“The growing incompatibility between the productive development of society and its hitherto existing relations of production expresses itself in bitter contradictions, crises, spasms.”

“The violent destruction of capital, not by relations external to it, but rather as a condition of its self-preservation, is the most striking form in which advice is given it to be gone and to give room to a higher state of social production...

“Hence the highest development of productive power together with the greatest expansion of existing wealth will coincide with depreciation of capital, degradation of the laborer, and a most straitened exhaustion of his vital powers.”

“These contradictions lead to explosions, cataclysms, crises, in which, by momentaneous suspension of all labor and annihilation of a great portion of capital the latter is violently reduced to the point where it can go on fully employing its productive powers without committing suicide.”

“Yet these regularly recurring catastrophes lead to their repetition on a higher scale and finally to its violent overthrow. [pp. 749-750].

[Karl Marx, Grundrisse:  Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft), translated by Martin Nicolaus, Penguin Books [Middlesex: 1973], emphases added by M.D.].

The above passage does not address technodepreciationdirectly.

But it does address ‘‘‘the depreciation / destruction of capital[-value]’’’ as an element of the “crises” of the capitals-system -- those regularly recurring catastrophes [like the one that Terran humanity is presently suffering through -- openly, ever since 2007 C.E.], that “lead to their repetition on a higher scale and finally to its [i.e., to the capital-relation’s -- M.D.] violent overthrow [of “the capital relation” as predominating human production-relation -- M.D.].”  

One would hope that the violence of the predicted “violent overthrow” of “the capital-relation” as predominating “social relation of production” can be mitigated in a world polity that has achieved some advancing degree of formal, representative democracy, as Marx too envisioned, in a latter statement.  But that remains to be seen.

Technodepreciation of capital -- “destruction”, “depreciation”, and “annihilation” of older capital-value, of past-accumulated fixed capital-value -- is caused by the growth of the social forces of production, also driven by the capital-relation -- by what amounts, in its most general result, to the growth of human societal self-productivity, or of the human societal ‘‘‘self-force’’’ of the self-expanding self-reproduction of human society.

In this passage, Marx attributes the cause of capitalist crises -- with their concomitant “destruction”, “depreciation”, and “annihilation” of capital-value -- ultimately to the growth of the social forces of production fostered by capital itself.

Marx does not make explicit the detailed mechanism(s) of this “destruction”, “depreciation”, and “annihilation” in this passage, except in that, once a crisis breaks out, “momentaneous suspension” of much of production, and of much of the social economic process as a whole, at least furthers this “destruction”, “depreciation”, and “annihilation” of capital-value.

¿But could there be a connection, in Marx’s theory, and in reality, between ongoing, gradual productive force growth induced technodepreciation of capital-value, and aperiodic capitalist crises, with their sudden and intensified manifestation of capital-value “destruction”?

The passage above does not even explicitly address, let alone answer, this question. 

But it does, at least from our point of view, implicitly pose this question.

Let us therefore consider some other passages, in which Marx more closely verges upon our question, and upon its answer.

The following passage, again from the «Grundrisse», describes a general economic “law” of depreciation of “products” values in general, as a consequence of the growth of social productivity/of “the social forces of production”, without yet explicitly applying this “law” to the “capital” species of value --

... the general economic law [is] that the costs of production constantly decline, that living labor becomes constantly more productive, hence that the labor time objectified in products constantly depreciates ... [p. 135].

[Karl Marx, Grundrisse, ibid., emphases added by M.D.].

In the next passage, the application of this law of ‘productivity-devaluation’ to capital-value is explicit --

... The constantly ongoing devaluation of capital, owing to the increase in the force of production, has to be compensated ... [p. 317].

[Karl Marx, Grundrisse, ibid., emphases added by M.D.].

This passage is in the context of describing the necessity of positive profits to the [continued] existence of a capital-based system of human social reproduction. 

But this passage does not explicitly address the question as to whether a growing proportion of profit allocated to this ‘“compensation”’ of the constantly ongoing devaluation of capital, owing to the increase in the force of production, i.e., the use of a growing proportion of profits to offset growing “write-offs” of the book value of technodepreciated fixed capital assets [which figure as increments of capital loss expense, netting out against revenues, in the accounting period, and in the periodic profit/loss statement, in which they are recognized], and, consequently, the allocation of that growing proportion of profit away from other uses of profit, could manifest as a secular fall in the accounting rate of profits, or as a secular fall in the rate of return on fixed capital investments.

The next passage is even more explicit about this constant devaluation of the existing capital, caused by capital’s increasing [of] the force of production, and about where, in Marx’s systematic-dialectical method of presentation of his theory of capital[ism], the consideration of this technodepreciation phenomenon belongs --

... Looked at precisely, that is, the realization process of capital -- and money becomes capital only through the realization process -- appears at the same time as its devaluation process [Entwertungs-prozess], its demonetization. 

And this in two respects. 

First, to the extent that capital does not increase absolute labor-time but rather decreases the relative, necessary labor time, by increasing the force of production, to that extent does it reduce the costs of its own production -- in so far as it was presupposed as a certain sum of commodities, reduces its exchange value:  one part of the capital on hand is constantly devalued owing to a decrease in the costs of production at which it can be reproduced;  not because of a decrease in the amount of labor objectified in it, but because of a decease in the amount of living labor which it is henceforth necessary to objectify in this specific product. 

This constant devaluation of the existing capital does not belong here, since it already presupposes capital as completed. 

It is merely to be noted here in order to indicate how later developments are already contained in the general concept of capital.

Belongs in the doctrine of the concentration and competition of capitals. [pp. 402-403].

[Karl Marx, Grundrisse, ibid., emphases added by M.D.].

This passage perhaps explains why Marx, in the four volumes of his great treatise -- Capital, A Critique of Political Economy. -- refers to, invokes, or describes the process that we call technodepreciation relatively rarely, even in his vol. III exposition of the law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall, the fatal flaw of the capitals-system, that he himself discovered:  the process of technodepreciation is a [world-]market-based, competition-enforced process.

Marx’s original method and plan for his systematic-dialectical presentation of his dialectical, immanent critique of the capitalist-ideology-compromised science of classical political economy, published in his first book-length exposition of his critique of political economy, his 1859 A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, called for, not four, but six volumes, with the following titles, in the following order --

1: Capital

2: Landed Property

3: Wage-Labor

4: the State

5: Foreign Trade

6: World Market and Crises.

The first “volume”, entitled Capital, was to set forth “the general concept of capital”, or of “Capital in general”. 

The phrase “presupposes capital as completed” probably refers to Marx’s view that “later developments”, like the [world-]market-based, competition-enforced process of technodepreciation, could only be properly, dialectically addressed, to Marx’s “audience”, after the presentation of “the general concept of capital” was already in place, i.e., only after the first “volume”, Capital, had been completed, and assimilated by Marx’s “audience”.

In numerous passages of the «Grundrisse», and of Capital, volumes I-IV, where Marx characterizes certain portions of those text’s contents as anticipating “the doctrine of the concentration and competition of capitals, Marx indicates that this content is to be fully developed only in the final, World Market and Crises, “volume”.

But the four volumes -- of Capital, A Critique of Political Economy. -- that we actually have from Marx [and from Engels, who brought volumes II and III to readiness for publication after Marx’s death] are all parts of just the first planned “volume”, the “volume” entitled Capital.

So we never got Marx’s full, systematic[-dialectical] rendition of ‘technodepreciation’, and of its connection [if any, but we hold that it would have been the key] to capitalist crises, that “belonged” in/to the final planned “volume”, the “volume” that was to have been entitled World Market and Crises.

Of all of the extant, posthumously-published manuscripts by Marx, it is the «Grundrisse» [English translation:  Foundation] -- the “Foundation” draft for Marx’s entire planned “Critique of Political Economy” -- that comes closest to providing a sketch toward all six of the originally planned “volumes”.  [It is possible that the extant but still unpublished manuscript by Marx, entitled The Money System as a Whole, might come closer still].

The account of the capital-system’s lawful ‘‘‘evolutionary dynamics’’’ and ‘revolutionary meta-dynamics’ that Marx presents in the four volumes of Capital does not focus on the mechanisms and processes of the enforcement of capital’s laws by the competition among individual capitals. 

Instead, Marx presents an “inner”, “immanent”, “internal”, ‘essence-ial’, ‘concept-ual’, law-of-value logic of capital’s [meta-]dynamics, viz. --

... Conceptually, competition is nothing other than the inner nature of capital, its essential character, appearing in and realized as the reciprocal interaction of many capitals with one another, the inner tendency as external necessity. ...

Capital exists and can only exist as many capitals, and its self-determination therefore appears as their reciprocal interaction with one another). [pp. 413-414].

[Karl Marx, Grundrisse:  Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft), translated by Martin Nicolaus, Penguin Books [Middlesex: 1973], emphases added by M.D.].

-- and again --

Competition generally, this essential locomotive force of the bourgeois economy, does not establish its laws, but is rather their executor. 

Unlimited competition is therefore not the presupposition for the truth of the economic laws, but rather the consequence -- the form of appearance in which their necessity realizes itself. 

For the economists to presuppose, as does Ricardo, that unlimited competition exists is to presuppose the full reality and realization of the bourgeois relations of production in their [M.D.:  historically-]specific and distinct character. 

Competition therefore does not explain these laws; rather, it lets them be seen, but does not produce them. [p. 552].

[Karl Marx, Grundrisse:  Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy (Rough Draft), translated by Martin Nicolaus, Penguin Books [Middlesex: 1973], emphases added by M.D.].

Nevertheless, all of those scruples of the systematic-dialectical method of presentation notwithstanding, telling clues to and hints of Marx’s ultimate theory of World Market [Competition], [Global Economic] Crisis, and the resulting Transition to Political-Economic Democracy, are sprinkled throughout the four volumes of Capital.

Below is a minimal sampling from them, selected with regard to the topic of this blog-entry --

[Vol. II]:  As the magnitude of the value and the durability of the applied fixed capital develop with the development of the capitalist mode of production, the lifetime of industry and of industrial capital lengthens in each particular field of investment to a period of many years, say ten years on average.”

“Whereas the development of fixed capital extends the length of this life on the one hand it is shortened on the other by the continuous revolution in the means of production, which likewise incessantly gains momentum with the development of the capitalist mode of production.”

“This involves a change in the means of production and the necessity of their constant replacement, on account of moral depreciation, long before they expire physically.”  

“One may assume that in the essential branches of modern industry this life-cycle now averages ten years.” 

“However we are not concerned here with the exact figure.” 

“This much is evident:  the cycle of interconnected turnovers embracing a number of years, in which capital is held fast by its fixed constituent part, furnishes a material basis for the periodic crises.”

“True, periods in which capital is invested differ greatly and far from coincide in time.”

“But a crisis always forms the starting point of large new investments.” 

“Therefore, from the point of view of society as a whole, more or less, a new material basis for the next turnover cycle.  [pp. 185-186].

[Karl Marx, Capital:  Volume II, International Publishers [New York: 1967] ], emphases added by M.D.].

This passage even connects, though it does not yet fully explicate, the phenomenon of capitalist economic crisis and the uniquely capitalist phenomenon of technodepreciation [“moral depreciation”]. 

The next passage connects the process of technodepreciation with the law of the tendency of the rate of  profit to fall, but in a dual referential context, which cites the contradictory role thereof, in both causing the fall of the general rate of profit, and in slowing it down, but which does not delineate in detail the differential mechanisms of this dual role --

[Vol. III]:  Given the rate [M.D.:  of profit], the absolute increase in the mass of capital depends on its existing magnitude.

“But, on the other hand, if this magnitude is given, the proportion of its growth, i.e., the rate of its increment, depends on the rate of profit.” 

The increase in the productiveness (which, moreover, we repeat, always goes hand in hand with a depreciation of the available capital) can directly only increase the value of existing capital if by raising the rate of profit it increases that portion of the value of the annual product which is reconverted into capital.” 

“As concerns the productivity of labor, this can occur (since this productivity has nothing direct to do with the value of the existing capital) by raising the relative surplus-value, or reducing the value of the constant capital, so that the commodities which enter the reproduction of labor-power, or the elements of constant capital, are cheapened.” 

“Both imply a depreciation of existing capital, and both go hand in hand with a reduction of the variable capital in relation to the constant.  Both cause a fall in the rate of profit, and both slow it down.  [p. 248]

[Karl Marx, Capital:  Volume III, International Publishers [New York: 1967] ], emphases added by M.D.].

Again, we hold that Marx’s plan would have led him to intend to detail, and thereby to differentiate, such mechanisms of this causation, and/versus of this ‘dilatorization’, in the final, climactic “volume” -- the planned “volume” on the World Market, on Global Competition, on Global Economic Crises, and on the Global Revolutionary Transition to the human social system / ‘‘‘attractor’’’ beyond capitalism.

This expectation extends even to Marx’s ‘‘‘dual’’’ expression, in volume III of Capital, of the ultimately fatal dialectical internal self-contradiction , or intra-duality, immanent to the capitals-system, in its most general l formulation, in which the process and the “dynamic” of technodepreciation inheres --

[Vol. III]:  The contradiction, to put it in a very general way, consists in that the capitalist mode of production involves a tendency towards the absolute development of the productive forces, regardless of the value and surplus-value it contains, and regardless of the social conditions under which capitalist production takes place; while, on the other hand, its aim is to preserve the value of the existing capital and promote its self-expansion to the highest limit (i.e., to promote an ever more rapid growth of this value). 

The specific feature about it is that it uses the existing value of capital as a means of increasing this value to the utmost. 

The methods by which it accomplishes this include the fall of the rate of profit, the depreciation of existing capital, and the development of the productive forces of labor at the expense of already created productive forces.  [p. 249]

[Karl Marx, Capital:  Volume III, International Publishers [New York: 1967] ], emphases added by M.D.].

These contradictory, diametrically opposing tendencies of the capitals system, (1) unrestricted growth of the productive forces, and/versus (2) unrestricted growth of the accumulated monetary value of the global total social capital, cannot both be fulfilled -- as expressed [a]periodically, in the outbreak of horribly destructive global economic crises [and wars, and genocides, etc.], as well as ultimately, in the global revolutionary transition to full, political-economic democracy.

The next passage connects what we term technodepreciation to Marx’s theory of the progressive rise in the “organic composition” of capital, which resides at the heart of Marx’s “inner”, “immanent”, “internal”, ‘essence-ial’, ‘concept-ual’, ‘law-of-value-logic-al’ exposition of the capital-fatal “law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall”, as presented before the outer, more concrete, more detailed market-competition-mechanisms of this law can be properly presented, e.g., in “volume” 6 --

[Vol. IV]:  With the growth in the proportion of constant capital to variable capital [M.D.:  'c/v up', i.e., growth in “the organic composition of capital”, reflecting the progressive growth in the “technical composition of capital”, as approximately measured by the value-ratio c/v], grows also the productivity of labor, the productive forces brought into being, with which social labor operates. 

As a result of this increasing productivity of labor, however, a part of the existing constant capital is continuously depreciated in value, for its [M.D.:  present] value depends not on the labor-time that it cost originally, but on the labor-time with which it can be reproduced [M.D.:  presently], and this is continuously diminishing as the productivity of labor grows.

Although, therefore, the value of the constant capital does not increase in proportion to its amount [M.D.:  E.g., in proportion to its physical mass], it increases nevertheless, because its amount increases even more rapidly than its value falls. [pp. 415-416].

[Karl Marx, Capital:  Volume IV (Theories of Surplus-Value), Part II, Progress Publishers [Moscow: 1968] ], emphases added by M.D.]. 

However, this passage presents the technodepreciation of the [fixed capital component of the constant capital, especially], as a contributor to the slowing down, not to the speeding up, of the fall in the general rate of profit on capital, at least in its formal, algebraic presentation. 

That is, given the Marxian rate of profit formula, p.r.  =  s’/(c + v), and multiplying both its numerator and its denominator by 1 in the form of (1/v) / (1/v), we obtain an equivalent, but more revealing, expression for the Marxian rate of profit -- more revealing with respect to the role of the “organic composition of capital”, (c/v), in the “algebraic causation” of the fall in the rate of profit:  (s’/v) / ( (c/v) + 1 ).

That profit-rate ratio rises in overall magnitude if the impact of the increase in the “rate of [esp. of the  “relative”, vs. the “absolute”] surplus-value”, (s’/v) -- due to the growth of the societal-[self-re-]productive forces -- outdoes the impact of the rise in the “organic/technical composition of capital”, (c/v) -- also due to the growth of the societal-[self-re-]productive forces -- on the magnitude of the ratio as a whole.   

That profit-rate ratio falls in overall magnitude if the impact of the increase in the “rate of surplus-value”, (s’/v) -- due to the growth of the societal-[self-re-]productive force -- in the numerator of the ratio, therefore tending to increase the magnitude of the ratio as a whole, is outdone by the impact of the rise in the “organic/technical composition of capital”, (c/v) -- also due to the growth of the societal-[self-re-]productive force -- in the denominator of that ratio, thus tending to decrease the magnitude of the ratio as a whole.

Therefore, to the extent that ‘productive-force-increase-induced-depreciation’, or technodepreciation, of constant capital, c, ensues, it checks the fall in the Marxian rate of profit to some degree.

There are also several other, more “thought-concrete” passages among the four volumes of Capital, describing the process of technodepreciation in language closer to that of an outer, “surface of society” description, that emphasize only one side of the impact of that process on the profit rate as measured by capitalist accounting practices.

These passages emphasize the fact that write-offs of the still-unamortized book-value of “morally depreciated” -- technodepreciated -- fixed capital plant and equipment, in the accounting periods after the accounting period in which the loss due to premature retirement of plant and equipment is recognized, reducing profit for that accounting period to some degree, and even, in some cases -- especially as the fixed capital component of total capital increasingly predominates as a portion of total capital -- inducing a net loss, a negative profit, for that accounting period, on the contrary, raises the rate of profit-return on fixed capital value in those subsequent accounting periods, by reducing the magnitude of the denominator of that ‘‘‘rate of return on capital invested’’’ ratio, precisely y the amount of that book-value write-off, in each subsequent accounting period.

These passages one-sidedly ignore the one-period, write-off-induced rate of profit fall, or loss, and emphasize only the subsequent accounting periods’ rate of profit rise-contribution.

But, in the “going concern” of the capitals political-economy, as Marx -- more than any other, and rightly so -- so frequently and so rigorously emphasized, those “individual” accounting periods, in which competition-enforced write-offs of prematurely retired -- e.g., scrapped because no longer competitive -- fixed capital plant and equipment continue to recur, even at an accelerating pace, and even with a rising absolute magnitude of write-off losses, as the fixed capital composition of total capital, and the velocity of competition-driven technological development, incarnated in new vintages of fixed capital plant and equipment, continue to accelerate. 

Such continual writing-off of technodepreciation costs against profits can amount to -- and have amounted -- to a secular fall in the capitalistically-accounted rates of profit, as well as the Marxian rates of profit, especially before “special measures” -- e.g., such as the Federal Reserve’s” management of an historically exponential rate of inflation, world wars, and massive “peace-time” “investments” in the unproductive-or-destructive/anti-productive “capital” “goods” of the national-capitalist military-industrial complexes -- are imposed by the capitalist ruling class.

However, there are also a few key passages among the four volumes of Capital that clearly emphasize the loss side of technodepreciation, for capital, and for capitalists, including the following two --      

[Vol. IV]:  Thus Ricardo’s ruthlessness was not only scientifically honest but also a scientific necessity from his point of view. 

But because of this it is also quite immaterial to him whether the advance of the productive forces slays landed property or workers. 

If this progress devalues the capital of the industrial bourgeoisie it is equally welcome to him. 

If the development of the productive power of labor halves the value of the existing fixed capital, what does it matter, says Ricardo. 

The productivity of human labor has doubled. 

Thus here is scientific honesty. 

Ricardo’s conception is, on the whole, in the interests of the industrial bourgeoisie, only because, and in so far as, their interests coincide with that of production or the productive development of human labor. 

Where the bourgeoisie comes into conflict with this, he is just as ruthless towards it as he is at other times toward the proletariat and the aristocracy. [p. 118].

[Karl Marx, Capital:  Volume IV (Theories of Surplus-Value), Part II, Progress Publishers [Moscow: 1968] ], emphases added by M.D.].

The passage above, in its third through fifth sentences, clearly emphasizes the “downside” of technodepreciation for the capitalist class, and the progress of the social productive forces as the cause of this technodepreciation, and, implicitly, as the necessary core of human progress itself, both before, during, and after the capitalist epoch.

The passage below, the final passage for this blog-entry, even more clearly and ‘thought-concretely’, explicates the anti-profit, loss implications of technodepreciation for the individual capitalist --

Suppose, a certain line of capitalist industry produces a normal unit of its commodity under the following conditions:  The wear and tear of fixed capital amounts to 1/2 shilling per piece; raw and auxiliary materials go into it to the amount of 17 1/2 shillings per piece; wages, 2 shillings; surplus-value, 2 shillings at a rate of surplus-value of 100%. Total value = 22 shillings.  We assume for the sake of simplicity that the capital in this line of production has the average composition of social capital, so that the price of production of the commodity is identical with its value, and the profit of the capitalist with the created surplus-value.  Then the cost-price of the commodity = 1/2 + 17 1/2 + 2  =  20s., the average rate of profit 2/20 = 10%, and the price of production per piece of the commodity, like its value = 22s.”

Suppose a machine is invented which reduces by half the living labour required per piece of the commodity, but trebles that portion of its value accounted for by wear and tear of the fixed capital.” 

In that case, the calculation is:  wear and tear = 1 1/2 sh., raw and auxiliary materials, as before, 17 1/2 sh., wages 1sh., surplus-value 1sh., total 21sh.” 

The commodity then falls 1sh. in value; the new machine has certainly increased the productivity of labour.” 

But the capitalist sees the matter as follows:  his cost-price is now 1 1/2 s. for wear, 17 1/2 s. for raw and auxiliary materials, 1sh. for wages, total 20s., as before.” 

Since the [Ed.:  general] rate of profit is not immediately altered by the new machine, he will receive 10% over his cost-price, that is, 2s.” 

The price of production, then, remains unaltered = 20s., but is 1s. above the value.”

For a society producing under capitalist conditions the commodity has not cheapened.” 

The new machine is no improvement for it.” 

The capitalist is, therefore, not interested in introducing it.” 

And since its introduction would make his present, not as yet worn-out, machinery simply worthless, would turn it into scrap-iron, hence would cause a POSITIVE LOSS, he takes good care not to commit this, what is for him a utopian mistake.”

The law of increased productivity of labour is not, therefore, absolutely valid for capital.”

“So far as capital is concerned, productiveness does not increase through a saving in living labour in general, but only through a saving in the paid portion of living labour, as compared to labour expended in the past, as we have already indicated in passing in Book I ... [M.D.:  for this, see English edition, Capital I, Ch. XV, 2, pp. 392-393].” 

Here the capitalist mode of production is beset with another CONTRADICTION.”

“Its historical mission is unconstrained development in geometrical progression of the productivity of human labour.”

It goes back on its mission whenever, as here, it CHECKS the development of productivity.”

It thus demonstrates again that it is becoming senile and that it is more and more OUTLIVED.

[pp. 261-262]

[Karl Marx, Capital, volume III, The Process of Capitalist Production as a Whole, International Publishers Co., Inc. [NY:  1967], bold italic shadowed underlined and CAPITALIZED emphasis and square-bracket parenthetical inserts added by M.D.].

The eleventh text-unit of the passage above makes the periodic profit-rate-reducing, loss exacerbating side of technodepreciation explicitly clear, for its -- essentially generic or universal -- hypothetical case.

¿So, could technodepreciation-induced secular fall in the industrial capital rate of profit represent the “outer”, [world-]market/competition-enforced, expression of the --

(s’/v) / ( (c/v) + 1 )

--relative-dearth-living-labor[ v]-as-sole-source-of-profit-sourcing-surplus-value’, “inner”, expression of the induction of “the tendency of the rate of profit to fall”?

¿Could the technodepreciation of, and the consequent scrapping/write-off of, fixed-capital plant and equipment of -- especially of advanced-technology-embodying fixed capital -- be the ‘“outer face”’ of an ‘“inner face”’ of the “law of the tendency of the rate of profit to fall”, expressed by the ‘growing relative depletion of surplus-value producing living labor’ in the production mix, reflected in the growth of the ‘‘‘technical/organic composition of capital’’’, reflected in the rising magnitude of the (c/v) ratio?

¿Could the vanishing of the capital-value of accumulated but obsolete fixed capital be the “outer” expression of the relative vanishing of living workers as a component of industrial productive capital as the “inner” expression, of the ‘self-braking’ of the rate of capital accumulation, originally expressed as a secular fall in the rate of profit on industrial capital?


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