Economics is a topic that vexes me. Even among lefties a training in this pseudo-science always seems to lead to a curious dogmatism. You ask what seems like a simple question and often as not, you get some canned answer that suggests the question hasn’t even been understood. But then perhaps my simple questions are simply imbecile.
Something I’ve been pondering lately is the topic of what capital has to do out of existential necessity, as contrasted with what it likes to do if it can. (Life process vs immanent tendency, let’s say.) This seems to me like a useful distinction.
For example, my comrades all assure me that Marx proved capital must expand or die, but nobody has ever been able to lay out for me the steps in this theorem. Empirically, of course, we find that it has a strong immanent tendency to expand, but if my distinction holds water, that’s not the same thing.
And then of course we also find it has a strong immanent tendency to destroy accumulated capital, war being the locus classicus.
As far as I can see, there’s no obvious reason why capital couldn’t get along just fine even under some fairly strong legal or regulatory or tax constraints. (This should not be misread as a defense case for capital, by the way; I’m as eager as the next comrade to see the end of it.)
As far as I can tell, the problem is really political, not technical or essential; with capital in the driver’s seat, who’s in a position to impose such constraints? Or motivated to do so? Corollary: If someone were in a position to impose those constraints, what would be the point of keeping the capitalists around?