The productive Orders of Capitalism

Description of the major determinants of capital accumulation for the four main productive orders


Manchesterian 1750* – 1850/71**
* Britain ** Continent
Colonial Consolidated 1850/1871 – 1933*/45**
* USA ** Other developed countries
Keynesian-Fordist
1945 – 1982
Neoliberal
1982 – Today
Productivity (Offer) Strong regarding the past but weak in view of the future: ca. 0.64% annual average growth in G.-B. (1760 – 1850). More vigorous increase: ca. 0.9% per year in G.-B. (1850 – 1945). Very strong increase: USA 3%, Europe 4.8%, Japan 8%, G.-B. 2.4%. Structural and continuous decline of productivity gains: G.-B. 2% (1982 – 1999)
Real Wages (Wage demand) Diminishing or stagnating, representing 30% – 40% of the final demand → necessity of complementary precapitalist markets . Constant increase at an average rate of ca. 1.0% per year in G.-B., representing 45–55% of the final demand → necessity of complementary precapitalist markets (colonies). Very strong growth of 2 – 3% per year (2.2.% in G.-B.). Wages represent 70 – 75% of the final demand → the role of the precapitalist markets (internal and external) has become marginal. Decline of the wage share and slowing of the real wages’ rise (1.2% per year in G.-B.) → need for a third party demand.
Profits Elevated because of the combination of a rising absolute surplus value (the annual labor time increases from 2,670 to 3,470 hours in G.-B. between 1760 and 1825) and of relative surplus value: real wages are stagnant in conjunction with a growing productivity. Henceforth stemming from relative surplus value because of mechanization and a slow decrease of labor time, profits remain at a high level until WW-I. The profit mass grows following the extension of the markets, colonies and real wages. Subsequently, the rate of surplus value decreases following the powerful social revolts between 1917 and 1923, while peaking during the two world wars. Maintained due to elevated productivity gains (work chains and continuous shift work). The important growth of the markets increases the profit mass (growth of investments, of the public sector and the real wages). Elevated, following the compression of the wage share, the end of diminishing labor time and the increase of labor intensity. The rate of surplus value redresses.
Markets (internal and external precapitalist markets included) Pure capitalism’s internal markets are insufficient → need for precapitalist markets, firstly within industrializing countries. Relative exhaustion about 1871 (1850 in G.-B.). The internal markets (proper and precapitalist) are insufficient → need for colonial precapitalist markets (abundant in 1880 – 1910, but relatively saturated by the end of this period). The internal markets of pure capitalism are sufficient. The precapitalist markets have become marginal in the developed countries, and little exploitable in the Soviet bloc and the Third World. A new logic: globalization of markets, export of capitals and development of a ‘third party demand’ (luxury goods, “financialisation”, indebtedness, savings reductions).
Accumulation Circuit Completion Unsold commodities within ‘pure’ capitalism are sold on internal precapitalist markets in developing countries: ancient aristocrats, merchants, artisans, peasants. The colonial markets take over from the internal precapitalist markets, which have become insufficient compared to the global accumulation needs → the two World Wars. The tri-partition of the elevated productivity gains between profits, real wages and state revenues (taxes) assures a parallel growth of production and markets. Compression of the wage share and investments, compensated by indebtedness, luxury consumption, financialisation and reduction of savings.

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