Final crisis - or, can capitalism go green ?

Nicholas Siemensma nsiemensma at yahoo.com.au
Mon Jul 14 20:22:08 MDT 2003


 --- Jurriaan Bendien wrote: 
> Historical experience suggests
> that, if cornered, the
> owners of capital will search a way out...
> This is the spirit in which Lenin remarked, at the
> time of the 2nd Congress
> of the Comintern, "there are no absolutely hopeless
> situations for capital",
> there is always another way out, another way the
> save the system, if given a
> chance, and you ought not to rule out any
> possibilities apriori in this
> sense. The implication of Lenin's somewhat
> surprising statement is, that (1)
> getting rid of capitalism is a political act, which
> must tackle the
> foundations on which the system is based, namely
> private capital ownership
> and the ability to trade in assets, goods and labour
> without serious
> restrictions, (2) an economic collapse of itself
> implies nothing at all
> about the ability of capitalism to survive, because,
> provided private
> capital ownership and the ability to trade remains
> intact or is restored,
> then the system can always find a means to revive.
> At most you can say that
> an economic collapse provides a climate more
> conducive to the "political
> act" Lenin talks about...
> The prophets of doom, who are forever saying that
> the final, unresolvable
> crisis of capitalism is at hand, and focus on the
> tendency of the system to
> break down, are therefore engaging in an irrelevant
> activity. 

While we mustn't forget the hideously dynamic and
adaptive qualities of capitalism, nor should we reject
the notion of a "final crisis" as a priori or
nomothetically religious or mystical.  Of course, the
Second International took this "inevitability" to be
the theoretical heart of Marxism, a core belief which
others would later problematise, along with the
dialectic between objective forms and processes of
crisis, and the subjective responses by different
social classes.  But this imposes the necessity, as
part of a exploratory and hypothetical method, for
these questions to be explored and asked once more,
not rejected out of hand.  The notion of "final
crisis" is of course a technical argument as well as a
theoretical one, and easy dismissal of it is wrong.

As for Mattick (I knew one of us would bring him up!),
he too fell into productivist error, but that's
another story.

Nick 

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