La acumulación originaria del capital

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Ilustración de Polyp.org.ku

Alberto Maldonado Copello

Estamos tan acostumbrados a que la sociedad se divide en patronos y trabajadores asalariados que ya ni siquiera nos preguntamos qué son los trabajadores asalariados ni cómo se originan. De acuerdo con las estadísticas del DANE, en Colombia hay más o menos 22 millones de trabajadores, de los cuales cerca de 11 millones asalariados, otros 9,6 millones son trabajadores por cuenta propia y cerca de 900 mil son patronos o empleadores. ¿Por qué hay capitalistas y trabajadores asalariados? ¿Por qué hay unas personas que son dueñas del dinero y de los medios de producción y otras que solamente tienen su capacidad de trabajo y deben venderla para obtener el dinero para comprar los medios de vida que necesitan?

La economía moderna, defensora del capitalismo, ni siquiera se hace esta pregunta. Estudian los salarios y los factores que los determinan, pero no indagan ni tratan de explicar por qué hay trabajadores asalariados, que en definitiva es lo mismo que no preguntarse por qué existe el capitalismo. Para estos economistas y para la gran mayoría de la gente se trata de una situación natural, de algo que tenemos que aceptar en la misma forma que aceptamos que tenemos que comer y vivimos en la tierra. Esta falta de interés es muy útil para el sistema.

El capítulo 4 del primer tomo de El Capital plantea: “Al poseedor de dinero, que se encuentra con el mercado de trabajo como departamento especial del mercado de mercancías, no le interesa saber por qué este obrero libre se enfrenta con él en la órbita de la circulación. Por el momento, tampoco a nosotros nos interesa este problema. Nos atenemos teóricamente a los hechos, a los mismos hechos a que el poseedor de dinero se atiene prácticamente. Pero, hay algo indiscutible, y es que la naturaleza no produce, de una parte, poseedores de dinero o de mercancías, y de otra parte simples poseedores de sus fuerzas personales de trabajo. Este estado de cosas no es, evidentemente, obra de la historia natural, ni es tampoco un estado de cosas social común a todas las épocas de la historia.”1

Marx muestra en El Capital cómo la relación fundamental del modo de producción capitalista es la relación entre capitalistas y trabajadores asalariados. Como en la esclavitud y la servidumbre, la gran mayoría tiene que trabajar no solo para sí misma sino también para sostener a los esclavistas, señores feudales y capitalistas. Con base en la esencia de esta relación, que es la extracción de plusvalor, funciona el capitalismo. La acumulación del capital, consiste en que un capitalista toma parte del plusvalor, en el capitalismo llamado plusvalía, y en vez de consumirlo lo invierte en más medios de producción y fuerza de trabajo con el fin de aumentar su producción o de iniciar una nueva actividad productiva. Se trata de un proceso que se produce dentro del capitalismo en funcionamiento.

La acumulación originaria del capital

Pero, Marx también se pregunta por el origen de esta relación, que no es algo natural sino un producto del desarrollo histórico de la humanidad y escribe un capítulo específico sobre lo que denomina la acumulación originaria del capital, que describe como el proceso de separación de los productores directos de los medios de producción. El capitalismo consiste en que el propietario del dinero encuentra por un lado los medios de producción y por el otro la fuerza de trabajo y los combina en el proceso de producción para elaborar las mercancías.

Cada país tiene una historia particular de la forma en la cual se llegó a una situación en que la mayoría o buena parte de la población es despojada de los medios de producción y queda solamente con su fuerza de trabajo, mientras que una minoría se apropia de los medios de producción y del dinero. Con base en la experiencia de Europa y especialmente de Inglaterra, Marx muestra que los procesos que generan esta disociación son:

  1. a) La expropiación de la gran mayoría de pequeños productores agrícolas, que se ven expulsados de la tierra por los terratenientes y por capitalistas agrícolas, que encuentran oportunidades de inversión rentables. Este proceso se desarrolló mediante diversas acciones violentas contra los campesinos.
  2. b) El gran crecimiento del mercado mundial, de la colonización, del comercio de esclavos, que permitió que, inicialmente, en unos pocos países de Europa se concentraran grandes riquezas en dinero y medios de producción como producto de las actividades de intercambio, de saqueo y estafa.
  3. c) La transformación de comerciantes enriquecidos en productores directos con capitales mayores que permitían la introducción de nuevas técnicas.
  4. d) El crecimiento y transformación de maestros artesanos y pequeños productores en capitalistas.
  5. e) La expropiación de pequeños productores industriales y de servicios, de artesanos, de sus medios de producción, debido a la competencia económica por parte de capitalistas con técnicas más eficaces.

El capítulo sobre la acumulación originaria es una ilustración histórica para mostrar procesos que condujeron a la creación de las condiciones estructurales básicas para el funcionamiento del modo de producción capitalista. Adicionalmente, la expropiación de los trabajadores directos de sus medios de producción continúa permanentemente en mayor o menor escala.

Todavía en Colombia los campesinos siguen perdiendo acceso a sus tierras, sea mediante métodos violentos directos o por la vía de la competencia económica que los quiebra; pero igualmente, trabajadores y dueños de empresas medianas y pequeñas pierden por la competencia económica sus actividades y se ven forzados a buscar empleo como trabajadores asalariados o explorar formas precarias en el trabajo por cuenta propia, engrosando de esta forma el ejército industrial de reserva.

El capitalismo se fundamenta en la expropiación, en la desposesión de la gran mayoría de la población, de la propiedad sobre los medios de producción. Los partidarios del capitalismo defienden a ultranza el principio de la propiedad privada, ocultando que se trata principalmente de la propiedad de los capitalistas porque el resto de la población no dispone de medios de producción. Saben que esta propiedad les otorga un derecho permanente a apropiarse del trabajo de los demás y a concentrar la mayor parte del producto nacional.

1  Marx, Carlos, El Capital, Crítica de la Economía Política, Tomo I, Capítulo 4, página 122-123, Fondo de Cultura Económica, séptima reimpresión, 1975.

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