beyond resistance 19th june: ‘capitalist crisis’ and other session details

Our ‘Beyond Resistance’ summer school is now just two weeks away. The event takes place from 11am-6pm on Saturday 19th June at 96-100 Clifton St, London EC2. All welcome. Click here for a new page listing session and ticketing information.

We have confirmed more details of the session on the capitalist crisis, which will feature speakers David Harvie (Turbulence; The Free Association; Lecturer in Finance and Political Economy, University of Leicester) and Alan Freeman (International Working Group on Value Theory; Co-editor, Critique of Political Economy).

The current crisis has been the worst since the Great Depression. And just as with the great depression it caught the left largely unprepared. The need to understand the current crisis and the nature of crisis under capitalism has never been greater. Continue reading “beyond resistance 19th june: ‘capitalist crisis’ and other session details”

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recession and the rank-and-file

Sheila Cohen explores the relation of capitalist crisis to upturns in working-class struggle

Clearly, it’s difficult in the midst of the current “double dip” recession to predict whether further key struggles will follow the Vestas and Visteon occupations, or indeed the less obviously recession-related struggles of engineering construction workers, Leeds refuse collectors and postal workers – not to mention current disputes affecting airline employees, tube workers and bus drivers. The list could go on, and indeed has spurred recent thoughts of a “mini-upsurge” – but are these struggles symptomatic of recession or simply of the general (and grim) rigours of an unrelenting neo-liberal capitalism?

It has never been straightforward, historically, to work out whether recessions spark resistance or dampen it. The arguments are obvious on both sides of the coin – capitalist crisis, with its persistent tendency to dump the effects on the working class, can spur struggle through anger and desperation (the nothing-to-lose syndrome) or suppress it through the terrible fear of job loss, a disaster for working-class families. To use a wise old footballing adage, “It could go either way” – but which way will it go? Continue reading “recession and the rank-and-file”

on the roots of the economic crisis and some proposed solutions

Andrew Kliman, author of Reclaiming Marx’s Capital, spoke at our London forum on ‘Causes and Implications of the Economic Crisis’ on Wednesday 8th July. For those who missed Andrew’s excellent talk, this article explains some of his positions on the crisis.

Some prominent radical economists and non-economists have denied that Marx’s theory of the tendential fall in the rate of profit helps to explain the current economic crisis. I want to begin by explaining why they dismiss this theory, and then argue, to the contrary, that the current crisis does have a lot to do with the tendential fall in the rate of profit as analyzed by Marx.

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In the 1970s, as an outgrowth of the New Left, and because of the global economic crisis of that decade, there was a renewal of scholarship that attempted to reclaim Marx’s value theory and theories grounded in his value theory, such as his theory of the tendential fall in the rate of profit and his theory of capitalist economic crisis. But these efforts met with a strong reaction, in the form of a resurgent myth that Marx’s value theory and law of the tendential fall in the rate of profit had been proved internally inconsistent. It needs to be stressed that the resurgence of this myth of inconsistency came from within the Left; almost all of the critics of Marx’s value theory in this period, and ever since, have been Marxist or Sraffian economists. Continue reading “on the roots of the economic crisis and some proposed solutions”

the commune’s pamphlets: reprints now available

More copies of our pamphlet series, many of which had sold out, are now available. The text of each of  the seven pamphlets is online (see the list of subjects below), but you can also order paper copies – £1 +50p postage per copy.

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Write to uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to place your order. We take payment by cheque (addressed to ‘The Commune’, at The Commune, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St. John Street, London EC1V 4PY) or by transfer to Co-op account S/C 089299, A/C 65317440. Continue reading “the commune’s pamphlets: reprints now available”

2008 : The spectre of Karl Marx returned.

From the Commune, May 2009, a view presented at the outset of the Great Recession.

 

In January 2007, the Financial Times, declared that emerging market economies would continue to power ahead. Capitalism was triumphant. The ghost of Karl Marx had been laid to rest. But then just when the progress of the unfettered market appeared unstoppable it spectacularly crashed.  Some of the world’s biggest banks collapsed. The housing and credit bubble burst. In September 2008, Northern Rock in Britain and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the USA were rescued by governments with huge sums of tax payers money. The Bradford and Bingley building society was salvaged by the state and the Lehman Brothers financial empire fell to the ground. Alan Greenspan, former chairman of the federal bank, in the USA, confessed that his free market confidence in the self-interest of bankers had been wrong. (1)

Bourgeois politicians were forced to eat their words and stand on their heads. The mantra of government economic intervention bad, free markets good, heard for over two decades was replaced by nationalization of banks and government bailouts for failing capitalists and capitalism. In October 2008 the New Labour government, a champion of the free market for a decade, bailed out leading banks with £50 billion. This was only the first bailout. Another bailout followed only months later. The Neo-Liberal free market melt down was so shocking that The Times carried a portrait of Karl Marx with the words: ‘he is back’. (2)

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Continue reading “2008 : The spectre of Karl Marx returned.”

capitalism, keynes, socialism

by Nathan Coombs

In reaction to the global economic crisis, in his cover story for the current issue of Prospect magazine Geoff Mulgan tantalisingly holds out the promise of what life would look like ‘After Capitalism’[i]. The only problem is that his hodgepodge of possible routes beyond capitalism – foremost the vague vision of “servant capitalism” – not only do not transcend capitalism, are not only being articulated by those with the greatest stake in promulgating capitalism (he even cites David Cameron as playing a part), but are even aspects of capitalism with us today: the same aspects to have played their part in inducing the global crisis that supposedly marks the beginning of a new epoch.

Amongst his suggestions of routes beyond capitalism he includes Keynesian investment in green industries, the pluralisation of company governance and the introduction of “personal welfare counts” (previously called the welfare state?) It does not take a whole lot of nous to work out that this is hardly a portrait of a world ‘after capitalism,’ but simply an extrapolation of contemporary trends within capitalism: precisely those trends that have historically prevented the possibility of any ‘after’. Continue reading “capitalism, keynes, socialism”