Full text: Accumulation and Technology

24 
in the old industries. If it is not, the displacement occurs 
and starts a downward spiral. 
The post-war history of European countries shows an interesting 
contrast: 
In the first period there was a large displacement of labour 
in agriculture and other industries in connection with 
strong productivity increases there. This labour was 
absorbed as soon as it become available by growing industries: 
The growth was based on the import of araerican technology - 
a cathing up process- and of american consumption patterns. 
The pull was stronger than the push. 
More recently,the opposite is the case: The basic industries, 
steel, heavy chemicals etc as well as some saturated 
or mature consumers goods industries (cars ) have redundant 
labour and there are no or not sufficient industries 
to absorb them. The push is there but not the pull. 
No doubt the situation is made more difficult by the 
fact that while in the former case the displacing industry - 
agriculture - was a low wage industry the basic industries 
which are now displacing labour are privileged in wage and 
fringe benefits. This in practice is even more important 
tnan the question of location which hardly impeded the 
shift from agriculture. 
The two cases correspond roughly to the two patterns of 
technical progress which we find in Marx: One, adaptive, 
which is induced by scarcity of labour. The other, autonomous, 
proceeds in the absence of new absorbing industries. 
Technical progress can act quite as viciously as Marx and 
the late Ricardo argued, but it all depends on the dynamic 
charachter of the economy.
	        

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