The first step for altering Marx’s framework concerns the power of competitive forces on firms and Marx’s Law of Value. For Marx ‘competition makes the immanent laws of capitalist production to be felt by each individual capitalist, as external coercive laws’ (Capital, vol. 1, p. 555). But from the outset competitive pressures were not felt with the same force by all individual capitalists. Some firms were large and strong, some weak. For the weak firms the Law of Value (the need to squeeze as much surplus value as possible from their workers and to introduce the most productive techniques possible in the short run) was felt with vigour. But capitalists owning stronger firms were able to relax pressure on workers at times or to wait before introducing new machinery until it had been proved profitable. For them the Law of Value was less coercive. They enjoyed a margin of discretion over their policies.
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