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By Philip Mirowski (auth.)

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This requires either bringing more land into cultivation or more intensive cultivation of existing land. In either case, the result is a fall in the productivity of labor on the marginal unit of production, a decline in the rates of profit and investment, and eventually an end to the growth process due to exhaustion of natural fertility. Ricardo treats capital accumulation as a process by which persons work for an external end: realization of the innate productive potential of the earth. The ends and decisions of agents only play the role of realizing the potential productivity of nature.

These are aggregate or systemic laws of economic growth. The classical theory also includes laws of systemic growth but treats them 26 THE RECONSTRUCTION OF ECONOMIC THEORY in the way it treats production price, as independent of both the market and the survival and growth of firms. This is the most apparent for Ricardo who grounds the expansion of the capitalist economy in the natural fertility of the earth. In order to increase the social capital, which Ricardo assumes to consist exclusively of a wages fund, it is necessary to produce more of the subsistence required to hire and sustain the laborers.

The struggle over shares stimulates the market in such a way as to allow all firms to accumulate (albeit at different rates). It follows that the intensity of the struggle over market shares can enter into the determination of aggregate growth. This suggests a basic weakness in the classical method of treating competition which, as wc have seen, requires that we consider the result of competition without regard to the process of competition. It is clear, however, that the struggle over shares of the market for a given product proceeds within definite limits.

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