[Marxism] Michael Heinrich versus the crisis-mongerers

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jun 10 13:16:39 MDT 2008

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Louis Proyect wrote:
> After having waded through Rosa Luxemburg, Henryk Grossman and various 
> lesser figures in the course of a discussion of “crisis theory” on the 
> Introduction to Marxism class, I was curious to see what Michael 
> Heinrich had to say in an article titled “The Current Financial Crisis 
> and the Future of Global Capitalism” on MRZine. I know next to nothing 
> about Heinrich except that his work is highly touted by a Marxmail and 
> LBO-Talk subscriber from Germany who uses the tag Angelus Novus. 
> Heinrich has something of a following there apparently.
> The thrust of Heinrich’s article is to make the case that Marxists are 
> wrong to speak in terms of crisis leading to the downfall of capitalism. 
> Not only is it theoretically incorrect, there is nothing in Marx’s 
> writings to support such an idea—at least in their most mature phase. 
> Marx supposedly expected the European-wide financial crisis of 1858 to 
> unleash revolutionary movements, but was somewhat surprised to see that 
> the capitalist system came out of the crisis “greatly strengthened”, to 
> use Heinrich’s words. Heinrich writes:
> "Marx learned a lesson: in capitalism, crises function as brutal acts of 
> purification. The destruction wreaked by crises removes previous 
> impediments to accumulation and frees up new possibilities for 
> capitalist development."
> This formula, of course, found its most refined expression in Joseph 
> Schumpeter’s writings, a highly esteemed bourgeois economist who had 
> read his Marx and who postulated the theory of “creative destruction” in 
> “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy”:
> "Every piece of business strategy acquires its true significance only 
> against the background of that process and within the situation created 
> by it. It must be seen in its role in the perennial gale of creative 
> destruction; it cannot be understood irrespective of it or, in fact, on 
> the hypothesis that there is a perennial lull. . . ."
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