[Marxism] Capital accumulation, the US and philistinism

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Feb 15 21:31:39 MST 2007


Joaquin wrote:
>I don't know shit about South Africa, nor about "capital accumulation,"
but
I will admit to rolling on the floor laughing my ass off upon reading
this
sectaran pot shot by Phil. 

>A new commandment hath been given unto us:

>"Thou shalt write a book on capital accumulation (preferably while
still in
your 20's)!"

>That Lenin's investigation was motivated by political needs, the debate
with the Narodniks, is something that Phil has "forgotten" in reducing
this
aspect of Lenin's life into an engraving on stone tablets.


Actually, Joaquin this is just philistinism.

I'll give you an example of why it might have been useful for US
Marxists to study capital accumulation in their own country.

It might have enabled them to comprehend, at the height of the postwar
boom, the problem of the falling rate of profit and how a new recession
was on the agenda and therefore be able to *prepare* in advance for it.

Instead, the SWP was left trailing in the wake of the end of the postwar
boom and taken by surprise by its consequences (not least, the retreat
of the new social movements).

Shane Mage actually wrote a very good PhD right at the start of the
1960s on the falling rate of profit in the US.  Let me guess - neither
you nor 99 percent of the rest of the SWP ever heard of it much less
read it.

Let me give you another example, this time from NZ.

In 1984, Labour was re-elected to power here.  Most of the left thought
this was going to be a typical ho-hum Labour government and even
welcomed its election after 9 years of a particularly socially
reactionary National Party government.  If the SAL, the American SWP's
go-fors in this part of the world, had have comprehended anything much
about capital accumulation in NZ they would have been aware that this
would *not* be a normal Labour government but, because of the state of
capital accumulation here at that point in time, would be one which
would have to carry out the biggest attack on the working class in half
a century.  

The non-comprehension of the NZ left, or at least most of it, meant they
were devastated by the attacks of the Labour government.  Taken by
surprise, battered and lost much of their membership.  By 1990 the SAL
had lost about two thirds of its members.  They just could not
comprehend what had happened.

And the working class itself had suffered a massive defeat.

So an understanding of capital accumulation was actually vitally
necessary for very practical political reasons, not for some absurd
"stone tablets" nonsense. 

So your appalling philistinism actually has real consequences in the
real world.

Your comment that the American left understood American capitalism has
me rolling around the floor.

What next - how about slinging off at dialectics or at some other
central part of Marxism as a joke.

Don't bother us with talk of capital accumulation, we're Americans.  

And this on a Marxism List!

Phil







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