Marx on growth and ‘normal’ unemployment under capitalism

The Political Economy of Development

Karl_Marx_001A brief excerpt from Capital Vol 1, on the dynamism of capitalist growth (what Marx and the classical economists called accumulation), and the necessary creation of surplus labour, the famous ‘reserve army’ of the unemployed, to long run development. It is ideas such as this and their appearance in reality which make me reluctant to fully embrace the Keynesian notion that full employment under capitalism can be both created and sustained:

“The mass of social wealth, overflowing with the advance of accumulation and capable of being transformed into additional capital, thrusts itself frantically into old branches of production, whose market suddenly expands, or into newly formed branches, such as railways, etc., which now become necessary as a result of the further development of the old branches. In all such cases, there must be the possibility of suddenly throwing great masses of men into the decisive areas without doing any damage to the scale of production…

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