Unequal Exchange: A Riposte

Scott Marshall Scott at rednet.org
Wed Feb 1 21:09:15 MST 1995


Sudeep said:

>Hence, one could argue that the disturbances and dislocations effected by
>capital are not the first signs of its collapse, but offer instead the
>very conditions of possibility for its expansion.

Economic and social disturbances and dislocations (or crisis) cannot be
resolved out of thin air. Capitalist expansion must "feed" on something
markets, cheaper labor, etc.

Taking into account the class struggle between capital and labor, every
crisis must be resolved at the expense of one class or the other. What
happened to the people of South Chicago steel neigborhoods was the
resolution of the crisis in steel at the expense of the workers and
community. (Of course it's not this simple but it is part of what happened
and illustrates my point.)

Captitalist crisis is very much dependent on your class point of view.
Crisis does not have to mean imminent collapse as we all know. But it
bothers me very much as a victim of the capitalist crisis for the "learned"
to tell me that there is no crisis. I think **this** is most often what
causes passivity in the working class. Without a way to think about what is
happening to you in terms of the crisis of the system then you are left with
blaming yourself or luck or god.

You can only be energized to action when you see a way to fightback and win.
Why does AP, Clinton, the Wall Street Journal etc spend so much time telling
us that there is no crisis? Why are millions spent to try and convince us
that capitalism is the end of history?

Understanding the crisis of capitalism as a systemic problem and not just a
personal misfortune is critical to arousing any kind of fight among the
workers. Some have raised why marxist have so little contact with, or
audience among, the working people (I don't think it true, but for the sake
of argument) maybe it's becauise it is never made sufficiently clear to
working people that marxist intellectuals are partisan of the working class.
That they *really understand* the impact of crisis on their lives. Cold
aloof and academic "objectivity" just won't do.

And let me stress that the cold aloof objectivity I'm speaking of is not a
personal thing or function of personality quirks. I'm sure there are many
delightful warm and friendly bougy economists. The cold aloof objectivity is
learned and developed in ruling class schools and institutions. The ruling
class view of economics is based on seeing economics as something that is
above and independent of the class struggle. The whole foundation of "their"
science is that there is no marxist or working class economic theory - for
capitalist economists there are just "objective" hard cold facts of how
things are. This is the kind of economics that makes workers feel mystified
and helpless in the face of crisis. It is overly technical and sterile.

But watch the look on a workers face when she first grasps the concept of
surplus value - a scientific understanding of exploitation - bright lights.
Experience a workers grasping how racism is used to extract extra profits
out of the working class and you'll see a worker ready to take on the
system. Or explain to workers how the crisis in Mexico will help US finance
capital get an even bigger handle on Mexican oil and how it will hurt both
US amd Mexican workers and you'll have a way of talking about capitalist
crisis that will move people.





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