[Marxism] [Fwd: [historicalmaterialism] Seminar: Towards A Marxist Analysis of the Global Crisis]
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Nov 6 07:33:58 MST 2009
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
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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