[Marxism] Crisis of Capitalism

Matthew Russo russo.matthew9 at gmail.com
Sun Nov 29 15:24:44 MST 2009


"Short version, we are barely past the beginning of this crisis.  We have
barely realized, in terms of consciousness and in loss of value, the depth
of the overproduction in ships, aluminum, steel, copper, clothing, aircraft
that afflicts capitalism.  We are in the early stages of this."

Without being overly "optimistic", I'm in general agreement with A's
perspective, which is not reprinted here.  The stuff about whether this is a
crisis "in", "of" or whatever is purely semantical to me - we all agree that
the economy we are talking about is capitalist, and that it has experienced
some kind of at least conjunctural "crisis".  Does this crisis present an
opening for the working class (that's us)?  Yes!  Will we all walk through
it?  Don't know yet, keep your eyes wide open!

The part that is reprinted above is the objective part of the crisis that I
don't have enough info on to judge its depth and breadth.  One factor is
that since the crises of the 1970's I think the imperialist bourgeoisie have
learned to live with a "certain" level of chronic overproduction, especially
after even the Volcker Shock revealed how deep they would have to go, and
the swaggering Reaganites didn't have the huevos for a "full frontal" on the
U.S. working class, opting instead for their timid "salami slicing"
approach, whining and bulling the Japanese, ripping off the Latins, etc..
Cowards, turned out Ms. Thatcher was wearing the family jewels in that
crowd.

The unexpected (for them) dissolution of the Soviet Union and the more
expected opening of China saved them from that task for a certain historical
period that we all just lived  through.  Alongside the usual orgy of rentier
looting, rather than increase the organic composition of capital at the same
wage rate in the U.S., they deployed that same old c/v ratio at drastically
reduced wages in China.  Yes, there was the "computer revolution", I know, I
work in the industry, but I think this was deployed to increase the turnover
time of commodity and money capital, rather than increase the organic
composition of capital in production via robotization (which is possible),
either here or in China. Rather like the railroad in the 19th century.  Who
needs robots when there are millions of Chinese peasants to turn into
rabotny?  Anyway, that's my rough cut of 30 years of capitalist economic
history.

But here we are again, 30 years later.  Full frontal assault or not?
Depends on whether overproduction has risen beyond that "certain" tolerable
level or not (a level in itself which is relative, relative to a lot of
other variables, such as turnover time mentioned above).  And here is some
evidence from a real "thin cracker crust" D.C., Hayek and Malthus - quoting
  reactionary, ole tobaccy chewin' Tyler Cowen "of Fairfax", economics prof.
at George Mason U. in Virginia:

Dangers of an overheated China

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/business/economy/29view.html?ref=global-home

That's one shoe.  The other that needs to drop awaits (probably) Obama's
next State of the Union speech, where he may or may not announce another
StimPak as part of his economic program.   All I'm hearing is rumors so far,
but the Krugman/Reich crowd is waxing almost hysteric over Larry Summers
supposed opposition to another round - which wouldn't surprise me coming
from that POS.  If the Clintonite Bank Democrat O-bummer opts for
"austerity", then we are looking at an extended period of massive
unemployment not seen in, well, probably in living memory.  In that case,
all bets on "surmounting the crisis" in, of, for, at capitalism are off!
And I can't see how the Great China Overproduction export machine wouldn't
blow a gasket under those conditions.

As for Dubai, don't know if this is another scam or a real problem (I guess
with commercial and residential RE?).  And on that same front here in the
U.S. looks like they are trying their pathetic best to head off another
surge in defaults:

  U.S. Will Push Mortgage Firms to Reduce More Loan Payments

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/29/business/economy/29modify.html?ref=global

"Even as lenders have in recent months accelerated the pace at which they
are reducing mortgage payments for borrowers, a vast majority of loans
modified through the program remain in a trial stage lasting up to five
months, and only a tiny fraction have been made permanent. Mr. Barr said the
government would try to use shame as a corrective..." Ha, Ha, shame yeah
right.

Even the immediate financial phase of the crisis is not over, it seems.

Oh, and food stamps are all the vogue:

Food Stamp Use Soars, and Stigma Fades

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/11/28/us/20091128-foodstamps.html
Check out the multimedia map.

"Oh the stigmas' gone, gone away for good, oh the STIGMA'S gooooone..."
(apologies to BB King).  You can tell the "stigma's" gone 'cuz they got real
white people in the photos.

"Even in Peoria, Ill. — Everytown, U.S.A. — nearly 40 percent of children
receive aid.

While use is greatest where poverty runs deep, the growth has been
especially swift in once-prosperous places hit by the housing bust. There
are about 50 small counties and a dozen sizable ones where the rolls have
doubled in the last two years. In another 205 counties, they have risen by
at least two-thirds. These places with soaring rolls include populous
Riverside County, Calif., most of greater Phoenix and Las Vegas, a ring of
affluent Atlanta suburbs, and a 150-mile stretch of southwest Florida from
Bradenton to the Everglades.

Although the program is growing at a record rate, the federal official who
oversees it would like it to grow even faster.

“I think the response of the program has been tremendous,” said Kevin
Concannon, an under secretary of agriculture, “but we’re mindful that there
are another 15, 16 million who could benefit.”"
If you get food stamps, do they try to screw you out of part of your
unemployment pay?  Just planning for my "future".

-Matt

P.S. More on "neoliberalism" in a separate post.  Hint:  There is a reason I
put it in quotes.



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