interview with andrew kliman

Duvinrouge: Can you tell me what the key message of your new book, The Failure of Capitalist Production, is?

 

Andrew Kliman: The Great Recession was waiting to happen. There were unresolved problems in the system of capitalist production that had been building up over a third of a century. The rate of profit fell and never recovered in a sustained manner, which resulted in persistently sluggish investment and economic growth, which in turn resulted in rising debt burdens. And these problems induced governments to solve them or paper them over with policies that made the debt build-up even bigger.

DVR: Your book is full of statistics and as we know interpretations of statistics can be very different. It would appear that your choice of historical cost as opposed to current cost is crucial. Please can you explain the difference?

 

Accountants can value assets at their current cost or at their original cost when they were acquired. The latter is usually called their “historical cost.” Both methods have their place. But one thing you can’t do is compute the rate of profit, i.e., the rate of return on investment, by dividing profit by the current cost of the capital assets. It’s not wrong to do this; it’s impossible. What you wind up with just isn’t a rate of return on investment. What the assets are currently worth is simply not the same thing as the amount of money that has actually been invested in them. To measure the latter, you have to take their historical cost and subtract depreciation.

Continue reading “interview with andrew kliman”

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july 8th london forum: kliman speaks on the capitalist crisis

Andrew Kliman, author of ‘Reclaiming Marx’s Capital’, will be giving a talk in London on Wednesday 8th on ’causes and implications of the capitalist crisis’. The meeting takes place from 8pm at the Lucas Arms, Grays Inn Road, near King’s Cross.

Kliman, a member of the USA’s Marxist-Humanist Initiative, has argued that we have to see the current crisis as part of a wider structural crisis of capital, and moreover has argued that statist and Keynesian solutions to the crisis are a dead end for the working class. See our October interview with him here.

The meeting is being jointly hosted by The Commune and The Hobgoblin group.

All welcome. Plenty of time for discussion. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more info: map of the venue appears below. Continue reading “july 8th london forum: kliman speaks on the capitalist crisis”

reminder: 9th february reading group meeting

The next meeting in our reading group on ‘communism from below’ takes place on Monday 9th, and the reading material is available online.

While reading the texts, we ask people to think about these questions:

– Is Parliament a neutral arbiter between classes? Does the state bureaucracy have autonomous interests of its own?
– Is state intervention in the economy in Britain today at odds with the interests of private capitalists, and is it of benefit to workers?
– To what extent is it worthwhile for the labour movement to have a parliamentary wing?

The first text is The new forms of appearance of state-capitalism by Andrew Kliman. It argues that the crisis shows that state intervention is not in contradiction to free-market ideology: pro-privatisation dogma means the state squeezes social services and yet uses huge amounts of public cash and regulation to more safely structure capitalist exploitation.

Section 18.4 of Istvan Meszaros’ Beyond Capital argues that because capital’s dominance over the working class extends throughout society, we cannot consider that capital and labour have a “level playing field” in Parliament. Rather, the parliamentary-state apparatus serves to balance the interests of competing capitalists in the interests of capitalism as a whole, and so it follows that we need to look beyond such structures in order to effect real social transformation.

The meeting is taking place from 6:30pm on Monday 9th February. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to request a printed copy of the texts, register your interest and find out more details of the central London venue. Click here to download leaflet.

reading for 9th february reading group

The reading for the next meeting in our reading group on ‘communism from below’ is now online.

While reading the texts, we ask people to think about these questions:

– Is Parliament a neutral arbiter between classes? Does the state bureaucracy have autonomous interests of its own?
– Is state intervention in the economy in Britain today at odds with the interests of private capitalists, and is it of benefit to workers?
– To what extent is it worthwhile for the labour movement to have a parliamentary wing?

The first text is The new forms of appearance of state-capitalism by Andrew Kliman. It argues that the crisis shows that state intervention is not in contradiction to free-market ideology: pro-privatisation dogma means the state squeezes social services and yet uses huge amounts of public cash and regulation to more safely structure capitalist exploitation.

Section 18.4 of Istvan Meszaros’ Beyond Capital argues that because capital’s dominance over the working class extends throughout society, we cannot consider that capital and labour have a “level playing field” in Parliament. Rather, the parliamentary-state apparatus serves to balance the interests of competing capitalists in the interests of capitalism as a whole, and so it follows that we need to look beyond such structures in order to effect real social transformation.

The meeting is taking place from 6:30pm on Monday 9th February. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to request a printed copy of the texts, register your interest and find out more details of the central London venue. Click here to download leaflet.

new pamphlet – “the crisis: an interview with andrew kliman”

For our latest pamphlet, on the subject of the current economic crisis, we interviewed Andrew Kliman (author of Reclaiming Marx’s Capital) on the crisis of global capitalism, prospects and alternatives. The text is reproduced below. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com if you would like to order a hard copy of the pamphlet (£1).

Q. Descriptions of today’s crisis have included headlines proclaiming the “collapse” of the system.  How would you characterise the current crisis?

A:  There hasn’t been a collapse yet.  If there were one, you’d know it.  But there’s indeed a danger of collapse-of the financial system, and thus of the capitalist system as a whole. That danger was most acute and severe in mid-to-late September, prior to the U.S. Treasury’s $700 billion-plus bailout measures, but it persists even now [November 2].

The crisis is a crisis of “confidence.”  “Confidence” here isn’t some general optimism about the future of capitalism, but lenders’ confidence that the monies owed them will in fact be repaid. When that kind of confidence is shaken, as it has been, lending dries up. But production and trade depend crucially on lending–not only loans to build factories, malls, and offices, and to buy additional equipment–but also loans just to get from today to tomorrow, to pay workers, buy supplies and inventories, etc.  So any “credit crunch” has an effect on the so-called real economy.  If confidence were to be severely shaken, such that there’s outright panic in the credit markets-we were evidently rather close to that point in September, and the threat of such panic persists-there would be almost no new lending to speak of.  The “real” economy would grind to a halt in fairly short order.  That’s a collapse. Continue reading “new pamphlet – “the crisis: an interview with andrew kliman””