Lump of labour fallacy: In economics, the lump of labour fallacy … is the contention that the amount of work available to labourers is fixed. It is considered a fallacy by most economists, who hold that the amount of work is not static.
In part 2 of this series, I showed why fascist state management of the mode of production is indirect, rather than direct, i.e., why the state seeks to manage the process through its control over money, rather than directly imposing its control over the process of production. This method of management perfectly expresses the way in which crises actually unfold empirically within the mode of production. The first obvious symptoms of crisis are in exchange: unsold commodities, rising unemployment, credit contraction and a fall in GDP. It follows that any attempt to end a crisis will begin with these symptoms, rather than the underlying overaccumulation of capital.
Moreover, this method of approach reflects the problem from the standpoint of capital itself, where the problem, empirically, is not overproduction, but the ‘absence of demand’ for what has already been produced. For capital, the mode of exchange operates as an impediment to the realization of the surplus value already created. By necessity, therefore, the effort of management of the mode of production is directed at overcoming what capital sees as the ‘defects’ of the mode of exchange.
However much we can ridicule the simpletons for taking the result of the process of production for its cause, this much is clear: Between 1933 and 2008, nominal GDP experienced no year over year contraction — that is 75 years of unbroken nominal growth. To give this fact a historical perspective, in the 75 years prior to 1933, the US experienced at least 20 economic dislocations of various types, including depressions and panics. There is no question that fascist state economic management, for all of its silly assumptions, has been an unparalleled success so far as bourgeois economists are concerned. For most of that period, the only contraction in nominal GDP the US experienced were engineered by Washington deliberately to slow nominal growth of money in circulation, of employment and of GDP.
By way of comparison, consider that the Soviet Union experienced about 70 years of unbroken growth employing direct management of production. For all of the success of the Soviet mode of production in this regards, however, year 71 was a motherfucker — the Soviet centralized production system collapsed and the Union quickly broke up. Success along these lines clearly does not in any way guarantee against collapse. In the Soviet Union in 1991 and in the United States in 2008, it was as though 70 years of development was suddenly expressed in a single massive movement of society.
Continue reading “Part 3: Pushing On A String? – The puzzle of the composite commodity in neoclassical theory”