marxist crisis theory – cyclical and breakdown

duvinrouge attempts to explain cyclical crises and longer term trends

A lot of Marxists seem confused about economic crises. Some evoke the fall in the rate of profit to explain cyclical crises, some underconsumption, some forget the law of value and sound like establishment economists,  while some just forget the materialist foundations of Marx and drift into a world of subjective will powering the class struggle. So here’s an attempt to explain the nature of an abstract cyclical crisis and how it differs from breakdown.

A cyclical crisis is just over-production. An overproduction of commodities relative to the commodity that acts as the universal equivalent – money. In otherwords, production runs ahead of the market. There is a problem realising surplus value. As the law of value asserts itself commodity production falls, i.e. there’s a recession.

Continue reading “marxist crisis theory – cyclical and breakdown”

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three myths about the crisis

Conrad Russell challenges common left myths about the meaning of the crisis

This article is designed to question a number of theoretical assumptions implicit in much Marxist – including autonomist or left communist – writing on the crisis. In particular, I want to question assumptions around capitalist contradictions, capitalist decline, and the role assigned to financial and ‘fictitious’ capital.

much left analysis of the crisis leans on a shallow understanding of the financial sector

My argument is that these assumptions paint a model of a decaying ‘collapsing’ capitalism (hence my term ‘collapsism’). They also fetishise the mechanics of capitalist functioning at the expense of the real social relation underlying them – the class struggle.  It is class struggle, not some quasi – mystical ‘debt meltdown’ or ‘falling rate of profit’, which constitutes capitalism’s permanent crisis. Continue reading “three myths about the crisis”

david harvey: the enigma of capital

Sharon Borthwick reports on Marxist geographer David Harvey’s recent talk in London

The Great Hall at King’s College London was packed to capacity and beyond on 28th April, with people standing at the sides and sitting in the aisles. It put me in mind of Nathan Coombs surmising on where all the numbers of the left attending academic conferences were the rest of the time.

How can we, maybe, capture and utilise the level of interest shown on these occasions? This particular audience was made up of SWPers and Kings College and other students. The usual papers were sold outside. Continue reading “david harvey: the enigma of capital”

an alternative to the age of austerity

by Chris Ford

The new decade began with The Times predicting an “age of austerity” in the UK which will last for years. We can expect, they said, cuts in public spending to offset the Treasury budget deficit of £178 billion, caused to a large extent by the bank bailouts after the September 2008 crisis.

The view that the financial sector is at the roots of our current predicament is not restricted to the bourgeois papers like The Times. This view is common amongst liberal, Labour Party and socialist opinion. John Cruddas and a hundred other MPs are campaigning for a High Pay Commission, arguing our current predicament was caused by “greed”, as banking and executive salaries grew excessively. There is certainly widespread bitter resentment amongst working class people that we are paying for a loan to rescue the banks. Cruddas appears like a philanthropist from a Dickens Christmas story coming along to help the poor, making the rich share the pain of the recession. But state controls on high pay would only scratch the surface of the crisis: we need something far more fundamental. Continue reading “an alternative to the age of austerity”

bristol reading group, sunday 24th january: capital and capitalism

The first of The Commune’s Bristol reading group sessions will be on Sunday 24th January at 6pm in Cafe Kino on Ninetree Hill, Bristol.

The series of sessions is entitled “Alternatives to capitalism”. The first session is called “Capital and capitalism”. A brief look at the features of capitalism. Capital, wage-labour, profit, capital accumulation and its effect on our lives.This first session sets the scene and will allow us to contast proposed alternatives. Continue reading “bristol reading group, sunday 24th january: capital and capitalism”

the persistent fall in profitability underlying the current crisis

by Andrew Kliman

I have just released a new study of the rates of profit of U.S. corporations, 1929-2007, with emphasis on the period since the early 1980s. It’s entitled “The Persistent Fall in Profitability Underlying the Current Crisis: New Temporalist Evidence.

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You can obtain the text, and an accompanying spreadsheet file containing data and graphs, by clicking on the link. Continue reading “the persistent fall in profitability underlying the current crisis”

social ownership and workers’ self-management

A motion to the Labour Representation Committee conference proposed by The Commune

The Labour Representation Committee notes this year marks the twentieth anniversary of the fall the Berlin Wall, and the beginning of the change of regimes in the USSR and Eastern Europe in the years 1989-1991. Conference salutes the great freedom struggles by the working people, of the communist and socialist oppositionists to the dictatorships which ruled in the name of “actually existing socialism”, such as the rebellions of 1953 in Berlin, 1956 in Hungary and Poland, 1968 in Czechoslovakia, 1980-1989 in Poland, and the myriad struggles in the USSR.

Conference recognises that the legacy of the Stalinist regimes continues to hinder the struggle for a new society today. As part of developing the vision of a viable alternative to capitalism in the 21st century, our movement needs to learn the lessons of their historical failure, including of the previous state socialist conceptions. The Labour Representation Committee conference recognises that: Continue reading “social ownership and workers’ self-management”