Crisis of capitalism?

TimW333521 at aol.com TimW333521 at aol.com
Sun Apr 30 17:10:00 MDT 1995


I am happy to see a discussion of the "crisis" of capitalism because I
believe many on the left use the term without thinking the matter through
theoretically.  The usual technique is simply to state that capitalism is in
crisis and then give examples of political problems, poverty, leveling off of
income growth, flight of jobs abroad, etc.  I believe this banalizes the
term.   More important: it can lead to false political perspectives based on
promises of iminent revolution.

The classical Marxist model sees crisis as caused by the inability of the
capitalist mode of production to any longer contribute to the growth of the
world's productive forces.  Many thought (e.g both Trotsky and Stalin!) that
this stage had been reached in the Depression of the 1930s when  there was an
actual destruction of productive forces.  However we define our present
juncture, I believe we need to put this conception of our "epoch" behind us.
 Clearly the productive forces have grown fantastically since the 1930s so we
cannot be in the "last" stage of the "death agony" of capitalism.

I believe that the huge economic changes now taking place in the U.S. and
other countries, rather than being a reflection of the decay of capitalism,
are product of its "revolutionary" nature.  What I mean by this is that a
combination of changes in technology and the spread of advanced productive
forces to new regions, is having a wrenching impact on most countries of the
world.  We can call that impact a "crisis" as long as we recognize that it is
a crisis of development and change not stagnation and decline.

This by no means lessens the burden of these changes upon working people.
 Quite the contrary: the struggle today is over who will benefit from
technological progress: the working people here and in other lands (including
developing economies such as Mexico) or the rich who today are the only ones
really benefiting.

Just look at the pace of change in computers, in biotechnology,
communications.  Does anyone serious propose these changes will come to a
stop?  Look at the number of newly developed nations, particularly in the
Pacfic Rim, but also in Latin America.  Will this trend also stop and reverse
itself?  (If that is the case why worry about NAFTA?)

A crisis of development can pose as severe challenges and create conditions
for as large mass movement of social change as a crisis of decline or
collapse.


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