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Whole Lotka Shakin’ Goin’ On

Summary:
In a 1967 festschrift for Maurice Dobb, Richard Goodwin published an influential paper, "A Growth Cycle" on the "class struggle" model of cycles in economic growth. I only became aware of this famous paper because it had occurred to me that the dynamics of relative surplus population, necessary labour time, and socially necessary labour time might resemble a Lotka-Volterra predator-prey model.Painting by Richard M. GoodwinGoodwin's model dealt ultimately with the relationship between wages and profits, which seems like a logical place to start. But I think it is wrong. In my view -- and interpretation of Marx -- a more fundamental disequilibrium exists between labour capacity and employed labour power. There is always a relative surplus population (industrial reserve army) in capital and

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In a 1967 festschrift for Maurice Dobb, Richard Goodwin published an influential paper, "A Growth Cycle" on the "class struggle" model of cycles in economic growth. I only became aware of this famous paper because it had occurred to me that the dynamics of relative surplus population, necessary labour time, and socially necessary labour time might resemble a Lotka-Volterra predator-prey model.

Painting by Richard M. Goodwin
Goodwin's model dealt ultimately with the relationship between wages and profits, which seems like a logical place to start. But I think it is wrong. In my view -- and interpretation of Marx -- a more fundamental disequilibrium exists between labour capacity and employed labour power. There is always a relative surplus population (industrial reserve army) in capital and fluctuations in its size regulates the supply and demand for labour power and thus the value of the aggregate "wages fund."

I suspect that profits (or surplus value?) could be brought into a labour capacity/socially necessary labour time model through something like a predator/prey/parasite analysis, with surplus value being "parasitic" rather than "predatory." The implication of my alternative model is unusual -- "class struggle" appears in it as endogenous to labour -- the counterpart to competition between firms.

I don't do mathematical modeling so if there is anyone who does and finds these comments of interest, I would love to see what you come up with.

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