[Marxism] Michael Heinrich versus the crisis-mongerers

Angelus Novus fuerdenkommunismus at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 10 14:39:01 MDT 2008


Interesting piece on your blog.  I will forward it to
Michael to see if he has time to respond, generally I
think he appreciates substantive critique.

I will just restrict myself to briefly providing some
context, since I think Michael would do far better
defending his arguments himself.

> I know next to nothing about Heinrich except that
> 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.

There is no denying that at the moment Michael has a
very big following.  His introductory book on
_Capital_, "Kritik der Politischen Ökonomie.  Eine
Einführung" is a bestseller on the left over here, and
is already in its sixth printing.  I am currently
translating the book into English in the hopes of
finding a publisher in the English-speaking world, as
I think it is the finest introduction to all three
volumes of _Capital_.

The success of the book, I think, owes as much to a
rekindled interest in reading Capital as to Michael's
considerable gifts as a teacher of the material.  The
student group of Die Linke, Die Linke.SDS, has started
a program to educate its members to give courses on
university campuses.  Michael is one of the advisors
and his book is frequently *the* secondary literature
used these days (judging by my own experience in the

Michael is also the managing editor of PROKLA, one of
the flagship Marxist scientific journals in Germany
(the other would be Das Argument, associated with
Wolfgang Fritz Haug).  PROKLA is probably best known
colloquially as the journal associated with Elmar
Altvater, whose name is probably familiar to Marxmail
subscribers who read Social Register.

In more academic circles, Michael is also known for
his defense and extension of the "monetary"
interpretation of Marx's value theory.  To get a
somewhat "popular" explication, there is another
article I translated on MRZine:

Louis wrote regarding the reference to a renaissance
of collapse ideas in Germany in the 1990s:

> Once again, I have no idea who he is referring to.

I should note that Michael is indirectly referring to
the school of "Wertkritik" around Robert Kurz and the
groups _Exit!_ and _Krisis_, who have a very
idiosyncratic theory of capitalist collapse based upon
a misreading (IMHO) of a specific passage in the
Grundrisse.  Their theory is then welded to a
historical-philosophical theory about how the
"classical worker's movement" was merely a
system-immanent modernization movement within
capitalism, rather than a revolutionary force. 
Michael and representatives of this school have
debated on a number of different occasions, although
at a recent congress hosted by the collective of
Antifa groups "...Ums Ganze!", Norbert Trenkle of
Krisis sort of indicated that they no longer adhere to
a theory of collapse in an "automatic" way.

Dogan Gocmen wrote:

> I think that Heinrich not a Marxist at all.

Michael is certainly not somebody who would have much
regard for constructions such as "dialectical
materialism" or "historical materialism" or
interpreting Marx's collected works as constituing a
coherent system.  Michael also maintains that there is
a definite break between a work like the Parisian
Manuscripts and a work like _Capital_.

But he definitely regards Marx's critique of political
economy as the best theoretical guide to understanding

> his critique of political economy goes back to 
> Proudhon rather than Marx

This is a truly ignorant statement, considering that
Michael explicitly states in many of his writings
exactly why he regards Marx's theory as *superior* to

> He is not more than a social democrat

Amusingly enough, one of the house intellectuals of
the DKP published a theoretical pamphlet with the
title "Is Michael Heinrich a Social Democrat?".

(those who know the DKP, for years a "left" appendage
of the SPD, will know why that is so funny)


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