Re: [OPE-L] centralization of capital

From: Paul Adler (padler@USC.EDU)
Date: Wed Feb 15 2006 - 16:55:18 EST

Mmm.... I don't see the Marx quote as pointing to a spatial
dimension: I took his formulation more metaphorically. The entry
under centralization and concentration in Bottomore's Dictionary of
Marxist Thought makes an intriguing link, arguing that concentration
represents labor process aspect --  the growth of mass of means of
production facing a worker in the labor process; and that
centralization represents the valorization process aspect -- the
growing portion of social wealth qua capital concentrated in the
hands of any given capitalist. The former grows by accumulation, the
latter by competiton and credit.
Still pretty murky...

At 4:23 PM -0500 2/15/06, Jerry Levy wrote:
>  > Perhaps I've got it wrong, but I had understood that
>>  centralization referred to the trend to a smaller number of
>>  capitalist controlling a larger proportion of society's total capital
>>  resources, and concentration referred to the growing mass of capital
>>  focused on any given sphere of activity.
>Hi again Paul A,
>What you give as a definition of concentration is what is referred to
>in IO literature as _market_ concentration.  There are separate
>concentration statistics for the overall (macro) economy.
>A quick look at some references in my apt. suggests that Marxists
>define the centralization of capital and the concentration of capital
>quite differently.  Often, they are conflated.
>At one point in _Capital_, [Vol. 1, Ch. 25]  Marx refers to "centralization
>"Capital grows in one place to a huge mass in a single hand, because
>it has been lost in another place by many.  This is centralization
>proper, as distinct from accumulation and concentration."
>Centralization thus has a central *spatial* dimension.
>The centralization and concentration of capital are often distinguished
>in Marxian literature in two other ways:
>1) the *form*, or process, by which capital is combined:  thus
>centralization is often thought to be a consequence of mergers
>and acquisitions and is tied to the processes of  competition and
>2) there is an assertion of *temporal* difference:  e.g. Fine and
>Saad-Filho wrote:  "Concentration is a slow process diluted by
>inheritance, but centralization  through the lever of a highly
>developed credit mechanism and stock markets accomplishes
>in the twinkling of an eye what would take concentration a
>hundred years to achieve." (_Marx's Capital_, 4th ed., p. 86).
>I am not satisfied with these definitions.  To begin with -- to state
>the obvious -- if these terms are to be commonly used by Marxians,
>we should have an agreed upon meaning of them.  Or, is that too
>much to ask?    The first of the 2 ways above [ 1) ] does not
>incorporate the spatial dimension which is apparent from the
>definition of "centralization proper".   The second of the two ways
>above, understates in my opinion the way in which concentration can
>proceed (at times, i.e. unevenly) very quickly independently of
>mergers and acquisitions.  E.g. during a crisis,  many units of capital
>can be wiped out quickly.
>I would like to have different terms which distinguish a process
>which leads to the combination of capital in one geographic area
>vs. the combination of capital in a branch of production or
>macroeconomy.  The former is a useful distinction when thinking
>about the uneven spatial distribution of capital internationally.
>I also think that, other things being equal,  it would be
>desirable to define concentration of capital in a similar way as
>is done in mainstream literature so that we can use without
>re-calculation concentration statistics which are (infrequently)
>published by governments or research institutes.
>In solidarity, Jerry

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