[Marxism] Eight Theses on the Economic Crisis

Matthew Russo russo.matthew9 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 27 14:11:26 MST 2009


Although I had decided not to respond, trusting that others would see the
error in CC's formulation (and A came closest), nobody really hit it square
on the head.  So permit me to take a swing:

"An economic crisis is the crisis of a particular economic regime _withn_
capitalism. There is no reason what3ver to call such a crisis a Crisdis
of Capitalism! There is no reason to think it represents any challenge
to or weakening of Capitalism as such."
...

"So what is the purpose of this endless chatter about the state of the
economy?"

Carrol
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Well, first of all, capitalism only ever exists in a particular, concrete
historical and material form.  IOW, actually existing capitalism is only
ever a particular "economic regime" and the supposed distinction here is
purely tautological once we correct and invert the image of a Great Abstract
God Capitalism hovering above and outside reality, to say that actual, real
particular capitals exist _within_ an overall _political_ economic regime to
the extent that they determine the class character of that regime, and
further subsume the social attributes of that regime to its own laws,
permitting us to describe it as "capitalist".

Now if by "capital-ISM" there is meant a reference to ideology, then
especially in the epoch of "real subsumption" an economic crisis almost
immediately generates a crisis in the political and ideological structures
of capitalism, as we are seeing in the financial media wailing about the
future of "neo-liberal" doctrine, since so much of it has been contradicted
in the present crisis.  By this same token capitalist economic instability
will also produce crises in the structures of the working class and
oppressed.  Under the pressure of the "downturn" phase of the cycle, old
formations will be broken up and out of these new ones will begin
formation.  During this period the class struggle will appear muted.  As
recovery sets is - because capitalism isn't going to be abolished by muted
class struggle - the struggle reemerges in its new formations and overt
class battles make their appearance.  Likewise the bourgeoisie would have
busied themselves developing "new lines" of ideology and repression, just
like any new line of products might be developed for marketing in the
recovery.

At this point both A. and L.P. gave some good examples of this
synchronization of the economic processes of capitalism with that of
politics.  I'd add that in the case of the CRM, the critical phase of its
reformation from a regional to a national movement corresponded  to the
1957-61 "double dip" recession, the most troublesome economic crisis in U.S.
capitalism in the postwar era up to that time.  See
http://www.infoplease.com/spot/civilrightstimeline1.html .  It's the period
depicted in the book and film "Revolutionary Road".  It ends with the
marketing of the new bourgeois "Kennedy" line, the New Frontier for home
consumption, the revamped carrot and stick approach for Latin America, etc.
The overtly militant battles then emerge in the 60's recovery and expansion.
This recessionary period is also that of the Cuban Revolution, indicating
that the transmission of economic crises through the structures of
imperialism might be phased differently than the way it is transmitted
within the imperialist country "hosting" the crisis.

Finally, its no accident that the demise of the New Left corresponds to the
outbreak of the generalized capitalist overproduction crisis of the 1970's.
And so forth.  In fact the correlation is so strong that I think a whole
_science_ of class struggle, and not mere chatter, can be generated on the
basis of the vast sea of data existent from the 1840's - when I believe this
correlation can first be seen as a definite law in certain countries - to
the present.

-Matt



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