I have started to read Karl Marx’s mammoth book of capital volume 2 after completing volume one not so long ago. It’s a text I will return to I am sure over time as holds so much unwrapped knowledge that can hold so much potential in the class struggle and understanding capitalism .
But volume two so far is a very different text. Focusing on a lot more theory behind the movement of capital and the process’s involved not much politics at all compared to volume one. This book is I have been told a boring book and is a hard read I may not complete it as many don’t but at first glance I can tell there is something going on with the movement of capital.
In today’s capitalist society of a financially focused economy certainly in the west excluding Germany dominates.
But throughout this century and the one before everything about capitalism has been focused round speeding the process of things up. Increasing turnover and production.
The idea is that the more and quicker you can produce commodities the quicker you can make a profit and gain an advantage over your competitors.
This has been the way of capitalist production for some time now if we look at food production for example and the example of meat Pigs now are breed now for giving birth to litters 3 times a year now instead of just the one that is normal for a pig.
Also if you read back to Charles Dickens days in his books the meat was mutton but now we all eat Lamb as it was found that you can breed more and eat them younger specifically breeding for consumption.
The whole idea of speeding up production to increase turnover of profit is something that has been as natural to capitalist production as day is to night. Ever since its inception capitalist production has always looked to find quicker and more efficient ways of producing products. Even though this is cancelled out by the huge waste in competition it creates.
The consumption of the working class doesn’t really play a big part in Marx’s first volume of capital but does play more of a part in volume 2. The consumption of the workers is key to capitalism whether workers can buy back the fruits of their labour is often a question posed. One of the contradictions that can play a part in the crisis’s of capitalism is the fact that production is speeded up so much that workers do not earn enough to buy back the fruits of their labour leading to a over production and a big gap between what the workers can afford with their wages compared to the surplus value that is created in their labour time. The accumulation of capital touched on towards the end of the first volume of capital by Marx is revisited in volume 2 the concentration of wealth by one part of society i.e. the rich and the bourgeoisie in other words means that at the other end of the scale there is a mass pool of poverty and deprivation. Of course the ideas of the increased reserve army of workers plays a bigger part and holds workers in work wages down to a minimum.
This accumulation of capital has several affects one it narrows competition in the market and can in a way almost bring the market to a halt at points. As barriers to continue production a mass of wealth in fewer and fewer hands as is the case with the development of capitalism does lead to deeper and deeper crisis’s which capitalism fails to deal with.
The unplanned nature of capitalism and the desperate drive for profit and more profit can lead to huge over production and under consumption by the masses of people but this is again more contradictions in the system and its inner workings.
I feel that the speeding up of capitalist production can lead to deeper and far quicker crisis’s and move the system on closer to the next meltdown. I will continue to read more on volume 2 and blog on any other new things I come across that can help me understand how Marx interpreted the capitalist system.