[Marxism] a question I can't answer: Why do European capitalists prefer stagnation?

S. Artesian sartesian at earthlink.net
Thu Mar 12 08:52:57 MDT 2009

The determining factor in these issues is profitability.  The bourgeoisie 
could care less about the ability of the workers to consume product-- what 
they care about is the rate of profitability in realization of the 
profitability appropriated in production.   After that what they care about, 
in both US and EU or anywhere is preserving power, the power of private 

So... I don't really think it is accurate to say that European capitalists 
prefer stagnation- if we are defining stagnation and growth along US/UK 
Reagan/Thatcher pseudo-monetarist standards. US growth reates during the 80s 
were below that of the 1970s-- the era of "stagflation," much less the 60s. 
And I think the growth rate in the 90s was still below that of the 70s.

Just as a small example-- France's real productivity growth in manufacturing 
during the 90s absolutely matched that of the US during the US "productivity 
boon" of the 1990s-- the US however benefited from its ability to compel 
more hours from more workers.

If the first concern allows the bourgeoisie to be more "magnanimous" in 
realizing the second concern-- that's OK for the bourgeoisie.  In and after 
the recession of 2001 that margin for "generosity"  was reduced-- thus the 
creation of tiers in the labor market, an underclass, somewhat parallel to 
what took place in Japan in the long recession, increased use of 
undocumented, unprotected workers, particularly in agriculture and 
construction, the attack on wages in general, increased export of capital 
and not just to Asia,  but following the recovery of 2003 to Russia and 
Eastern Europe  [think amounts exported to Russia and EE exceeded amounts to 
China for the first time in 2006(?)].

Not all of these efforts were successful-- Chirac, again using France, got 
his ass handed to him, more or less, when he took on the SNCF workers-- but 
again these matters are driven by conditions for profit and its realization, 
and the relative strength of the opposing classes, not a preference for 
"stagnation"  as "stagnation" hardly describes the European performance or 
policies then or now.

As for EU members being unwilling to increase domestic spending-- again some 
members have, some haven't, depending on their individual circumstances. 
France has, triggering a storm in the EU, by subsidizing only national 
operations of automakers , and with national requirements of its domestic 
automakers for employment.

 Ireland however, given its precarious financial situation, has recently 
flipped from spending to austerity.

And.... there is little evidence that expansionary domestic spending by the 
government will do anything to prevent the continued contraction of the 
economy when that contraction is based on declining profitability, on the 
overproduction of the means of production of capital.

Of course there are those who don't thing overproduction of the MOP as 
capital is the source of the present predicament-- that this is a problem of 
fictitious capital, or global imbalance, etc., but that's a horse of a whole 
different color.......

----- Original Message ----- 

> mihaly koltai wrote:
> <snip>
>> The other point I tried to raise is this: German capital actively 
>> supported
>> budget cutbacks and labour market deregulation (which depressed demand 
>> and
>> pushed the German economy into a nasty slump) during and after the 2001
>> recession, because they could rely on an export boom, that made up for 
>> the
>> loss in internal demand.
>> But now, export earnings of German (and in general European) industry are
>> plunging, and internal demand remains depressed - and it seems that the 
>> core
>> EU countries are _still_ unwilling to step up government spending. (not 
>> to
>> speak of Eastern Europe, but that's another story)

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