[Marxism] [Fwd: [historicalmaterialism] Seminar: Towards A Marxist Analysis of the Global Crisis]

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 6 07:33:58 MST 2009

http://www.iire.org <http://www.iire.org>

Seminar: Towards A Marxist Analysis of the Global Crisis
On 2-4 October, the IIRE held its first international Economy 
Seminar on the Global Crisis. Thirty-six participants, economists 
and non-specialists, from Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America 
attended the three-day event which was open to activists from 
different tendencies of the radical left.

The objectives of the seminar were to analyse the nature,
characteristics and consequences of the current global economic
crisis, from perspectives relevant to social activists, and to 
fortify the global network of Marxist economists. All talks will 
be available at the IIRE podcast, which we expect to launch with 
the next newsletter. For now it is possible to download all the 
talks in one file (original languages, more than 500MB).

Three main questions guided the various sessions of the weekend.
First, what is the nature or cause of the crisis? Second, what are 
the social, economic and political consequences? Finally, what are 
the links between the current economic crisis and the global 
ecological and food crises? A solid look at Keynesianism, Ernest 
Mandel's contribution on long waves and economic cycles and a 
(self-)critical take on discourse and propaganda were activities 
that peppered the debates.

The seminar kicked off with a well-attended public meeting on the
crisis with guest speakers Chris Harman of the SWP in Britain and 
IIRE fellows Michel Husson of the French National Institute for 
Statistics and Economic Studies and Claudio Katz of the University 
of Buenos Aires.

François Chesnais (France) opened the seminar itself with an
introduction on the role that the so-called financialisation of 
the economy had in the global crisis. He stated that the crisis 
cannot be labelled either financial or financialised. Rather, the 
current crisis has its roots deep in the process of capital 
accumulation, which, revealing its contradictions, should lead us 
to look at the dynamics of productivity, the rate of profit and 
its distribution. The discussion that followed generated a debate 
between over-accumulation versus under-consumption as explanations 
for understanding the crisis.

Ozlem Onaran (Turkey), Claudio Katz (Argentina) and Bruno Jetin
(France) presented reports on the conditions of the European, 
Latin American and Asian economies. The debates paved the way for 
a deeper understanding on how the crisis is perceived and dealt 
with in the different regions. Participants concluded that an 
essential characteristic of the crisis is the lack of de-linking 
tendencies among countries and continents; on the contrary, the 
efforts to save capitalism have been concerted and almost unanimous.

Michel Husson (France) and Klaus Engert (Germany) analysed the 
crisis in the framework of the theory of long waves. According to 
this theory, elaborated by IIRE founder Ernest Mandel, it is 
possible to use important endogenous factors, i.e. related to the 
logic of capital and its internal contradictions, to explain the 
general fall in accumulation that began during the 1970s and has 
not yet concluded. This discussion left open the possibility of a 
new ascending wave of economic growth and capitalist accumulation 
dependent on such exogenous factors as a radical change of the 
relationship of forces between the classes. One of the 
conclusions, therefore, was that another wave of attacks on the 
working class is most likely on its way.

Eric Toussaint (Belgium) emphasised that there is no automatic 
link between the fact that the crisis is being paid for by workers 
and the popular masses, and an increase of social struggles. 
Political, ideological and organisational factors will also play a 
role in the development of the struggles.

Esther Vivas (Spain) and Daniel Tanuro (Belgium) brought in a
fundamental analytical dimension with their introductions: the
economic crisis cannot be observed in isolation from the global
ecological and food crises. Vivas presented the causes and 
structure of the food crisis: the current model of agricultural 
and livestock production is in a large measure responsible for 
climate change.

Tanuro demonstrated how the official, ruling class responses to
climate change are insufficient, unreal, irrational and even put 
us in more danger. He argued that eco-socialists should push for 
and end to unnecessary production, the retraining of workers in 
affected sectors and the development of a new agricultural model 
instigated by radical anti-capitalist measures.

Overall, the analyses revealed that the crisis is systemic, that 
those who are paying for it are the popular and working classes, 
and that now, more then ever, it is necessary to build an 
emancipatory, global anti-capitalist and eco-socialist project.

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